Local Celtics fans cheer loud, proud in Dallas | News

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DALLAS — Boston sports fans are everywhere.

In Texas, those Bostonians may be few and far between. But the ones that have relocated here for one reason or another have stayed true to their roots and are cheering loud and proud for the Celtics in this year’s NBA Finals against the hometown Mavericks.

Moving to Texas from the Northeast is a bit of a culture – and weather – shock. But if there’s one thing that remains constant for those individuals, it’s their love and pride for all things Celtics. It’s simply something that never leaves you, regardless of where life takes you.

“It’s definitely different here. I really miss New England and know I’m not going to be here forever,” said Madeline Green, a 2017 Newburyport High School graduate now living in Dallas with her boyfriend.

“But I love all Boston sports, I love the Celtics and so does my boyfriend,” Green said. “So this year has been great, and now that (both the Celtics and Mavs) are in the Finals, it’s been really fun to sort of poke fun at all my co-workers that are big Mavs fans.

“I believe the Celtics are going to win – and when that happens, I’ll really be able to rub it in.”

Lucas Walbach, a former Pentucket Regional High School track standout who grew up in Groveland, prefers a mix of both worlds.

“I watched the Celtics’ 2008 (championship) run and this year have been watching the entire season; definitely a big Cs fan,” said Walbach, who moved to north Dallas for work.

“My boss (David Wilson) is my childhood best friend, so he’s my roommate along with another friend from Groveland (John Schwartz) that lives with us now. So my household is just kids from Groveland out in the middle of Texas watching games in the midst of Mavs fans. It’s been interesting.”

Ian Croall is a diehard Celtics fan from Nahant who later moved to Salem but has resided in the Dallas area since 2007.

“Being kind of the outlier here, it gives you an identity a little bit,” Croall said. “So it’s kind of mixed into my personality now more so than if I still lived in Massachusetts.”

Croall sported a Jayson Tatum Celtics jersey to work the day of Game 1 of the Finals last week and has his entire office decked out in Celtics memorabilia.

“My friends here hate it,” added Croall’s 13-year-old son, Declan, who was born in Texas but immediately latched on to his father’s Celtics fandom. “We have a lot of arguments in our group chats, and I usually get kicked off them because I win the arguments. One of my friends today tried to say that (Dallas’s Derrick) Lively is better than (Boston’s Kristaps) Porzingis; that’s just insane.”

Like many of the other Celtics fans now living in The Lone Star State, the Croall family has had a lot to brag about this season. Boston cruised to a league best 64 wins in the regular season and held a 2-0 Finals series lead over the Mavericks heading into Wednesday night’s Game 3 in Dallas. They’ve looked like the better team in virtually every aspect of the game, too.

But even when Boston isn’t winning titles — Declan and his younger sister Callie, for one, haven’t seen their beloved squad reach the top of the mountain just yet, as they weren’t born when the franchise claimed its last championship in 2008 — fans make it clear who they’re rooting for.

Declan has attended former Celtics’ guard Marcus Smart’s summer basketball camps in Dallas for a few years now and is usually the only one who’s repping Celtics’ gear.

“Earlier this year we went to see Marcus and Memphis play in Dallas. I wore his shirt and I booed Kyrie (Irving) every time he had the ball,” said Declan. “The fans were all staring at me; it was a fun time.”

Green runs deep

For Jenn Anderson, a North Shore native who played basketball at Peabody High School (Class of 1989) and has lived in Dallas since 2012, the feeling is mutual. She, too, isn’t afraid to make her Celtics’ fandom known in her new home state.

“I got my nails done and they’re Celtics green,” she said.

Her 14-year-old son Braedan’s room is even covered in Celtics and Bruins relics.

“I really hope they can win it all,” Anderson continued. “They deserve it. They’ve been in the Finals before, but finally have a well-balanced team that can get to the top.”

When this year’s Finals kicked off at Boston’s TD Garden last week, there weren’t a whole lot of Mavericks blue jerseys to be found in the stands. In Dallas, however, the presence of Boston green is visibly prominent.

There’s a handful of local bars and restaurants where Celtics fans can link up and share their love and support for the team. Others choose to avoid the crowds entirely and cheer from the comfort of their own homes.

‘Ready to rub it in’

With get-in ticket prices through the roof for Games 3 and 4 at American Airlines Center — with upper-level balcony seats going for more than $700 — many Celtics fans here can’t justify dishing out that kind of cash to catch their team live and in person. Heading into Wednesday night’s tilt, those same fans hoped for another Boston victory and a commanding 3-0 lead so that prices would drop for Friday’s Game 4.

If not, they will gladly tune in on TV. And if the Celtics continue to roll, their passion and energy might just outmatch that of Mavericks’ fans in their hometown.

“Mavericks fans are definitely passionate, definitely enjoy rooting for the Mavs. But I didn’t see half of these people in April,” Ian Croall said with a laugh. “There’s definitely a bit of front-running going on.”

“Sometimes the crowd is half and half (with Mavs and Celtics fans),” Anderson added. “There’s so many transplants from Mass. living here now that sometimes you don’t realize that it’s the Dallas team playing; you kind of feel like you’re still at home at the Garden.

“The Finals may be a bit different, but the Boston fans that are here are definitely great.”

Nick Giannino covers the Boston Celtics for CNHI Sports Boston. Contact him at NGiannino@nobmg.com and follow along on Twitter/X @NickGiannino_GT.

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