I was fortunate enough to have stayed in Cambridge, Mass. the last year and a half and through either fate or by deductive reasoning (Tavern In The Square? I’ll take a crab juice) I found myself a regular at Parlor Sports.
Yes it was here, Inman Square’s own Cheers but for sports heads, that I became a part of NBA Nerd Night, as christened by bartender Garvey Solomon and cartographer-and-sports-data-visualizer and Grantland contributor, Kirk Goldsberry.
In his preview of the Boston Celtics 2013-2014 season, Paul Flannery has this to say about “Boston’s Best Sports Bar”:
It’s there that I’ve met attorneys, academics and teachers from all over the city. Women and men from all walks of life and backgrounds who are united solely by their devotion to the sport and the promise of a safe haven to talk usage rates and knock back a couple of High Lifes. People I never would have met otherwise have become fast friends, united by a common language that runs deeper than post-ups and isolations.
Where does it come from, and why does it bind us through the interminable 82-game season that never seems to end and the playoffs that stretch on for months? Except for the chosen few, it can’t be the promise of winning that sustains us.
Truer words have not been spoken. Not just of this particular bar and its locals, but of the “real” fans, aka “nerds”.
That is not to say your local sports dive or elsewhere is any less of a sports haven, but rather, it is defined by this congregation of fans.
Be it at a bar, the barbershop, in the bleachers, your sofa, your Tweetdeck feed, an SB Nation blog comments thread, your fantasy league discussion board, your niche Skybox card collection Tumblr, the League Pass Broadband you secretly hate because it freezes all the time, or the bootleg livestream that you have to click out of the many dating site popup ads because you can’t afford League Pass, we are a collective that understands it’s more than just brainless cries of, “sports!" at a TV screen.
Sure, the city of Boston might have its share of egregious homers as would other cities. However, it is in Boston and Cambridge that I personally witnessed this camaraderie amongst sports fans that places themselves as fans of the game over fans of their team.
In his preview, Paul discusses Boston’s bleak outlook with local Celtics fan and Parlor/NBA Nerd Night regular, Joel Strachota.
I mean yes, it is easy to lose faith in a team that has all but completely gutted its 2008 championship roster, coaching staff included, and whose idea of their next savior is a dude that looks like the lost fourth member of the band Hanson.
I too, have seen my Orlando Magic rise and fall and remember the nights when its starting lineup once consisted of Tyronne Lue, Andrew DeClerq, Keith Bogans, Juwon Howard, and DeShawn Stevenson.
Despite your team’s shortcomings, either hometown or adapted, we all come together, united as FANS.
As Paul puts it:
We are fans of teams, yes, but also players. We like the strategies, the highlights and the postgame press conferences. We revel in the nonconformity of a league where the superstars truly are bigger than the sport, and we seek comfort in a well-executed pick and roll.
The game is back and we are once again captives under its spell. We have no choice but to watch and believe in the promise of a brighter day.
Sadly, I have joined Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett in jumping ship from Boston to Brooklyn (booo hisss). So I can no longer participate in NBA Nerd Nights at Parlor Sports.
However, if you find yourself in the Inman Square area in Cambridge/Somerville, be it on a Wednesday night or any other night, then do please make your way in, have a few drinks, some food (order a Goldsberry basket) and make sure to find yourself into a discussion, or seven.