Earthquakes, volcanoes! The dead rising from the grave! Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together, mass hysteria! Sixers fans and Celtics fans getting along? It’s the newest phenomenon among the Twitter communities, and you know I can’t resist talking about Twitter culture. It’s as if Sixers fans have turned on each other so much that suddenly, the thought of interacting with Celtics fans isn’t so bad. And to be honest, it isn’t.
I know, I know. If you’d have told me that I’d be having positive interactions with Celtics fans this time a year ago, I’d scoff too. But hear me out. And strap yourself in because I got some news for you. Celtics fans: they’re just like us. Well, most Celtics fans at least. They’re simply joining the conversation. That conversation is often self-aware and humorous, and yeah, sometimes contains trash talk. But at least now, it’s fun.
I took a brief break from Twitter not too long ago that only ended once I noticed how much fun Sixers Twitter was. All the inside jokes and sense of camaraderie transformed Twitter from a wasteland of trolls and harassment to a tight-knit, passionate community. And now, that community has evolved to include Celtics fans. I rounded up some Celtics Twitter members to talk about their Celtics fandom and how it’s grown to include regular interaction with Sixers Twitter.
We joke with each other, retweet our better tweets, and overall agree on a lot when it comes down to it. Jack (@jack_michael17), Adam (@Levinep34), James (@SnottieDrippen), and Jake (@Handsome_Jake_) are among some of my favorite follows on Celtics Twitter and were kind enough to answer some questions for me.
When did your Celtics fandom begin?
Jack: I had always been a basketball fan as a kid. I remember loving Shaq, Paul Pierce, and Vince Carter from when I was really young. My dad is a Celtics fan, so when I started really caring about basketball (around 2007-2008), I basically just followed him.
Adam: I’ve always been a sports fan and watched the NBA since I was young. But being from DC, I really started to get into the league when MJ came back to the Wizards in 2001. Watching a ton of NBA ball that season, I loved the way Paul Pierce played, and thus began my Celtics fandom. Green being my favorite color probably didn’t hurt either.
James: I’m from the MJ era; old enough to witness all 6, but not so old that I didn’t think twice about finding another team once Mike retired the 2nd time. I latched on to the Pierce/McCarty/Walker era Celts; they weren’t really good, but damn they were fun.
Why do you think the Sixers/Celtics rivalry is so strong on Twitter?
Jack: I think the history of the teams is a really small part of it; mostly it’s so strong because every (sane and good) Celtics and Sixers person on Twitter are just good people in general. There isn’t any real animosity that I’ve seen except coming from the accounts with 37 followers and a Patriots or Eagles logo in their avi. The whole “Celtics fans are racist” and “Sixers are Infowars/Ben is a coward” also plays a role. The Sixers are Infowars thing basically rose up as a response to years of Sixers fans calling Celtics fans racist. (Note: You might know Jack from the “Shoot a three, coward” shtick. That’s his shtick.)
Adam: I’d say it’s so strong because of how passionate Philly and Boston are with their sports teams. Located not too far from one another, there are bound to be friends and acquaintances who are fans of each team and converse/talk smack on Twitter. I have friends on both sides from summer camp (along with many Knicks and Wizards fans in worse NBA spots). The playoff matchup last season and the Eagles/Patriots Super Bowl only made the rivalry stronger.
James: Twitter is a caricature of the “real world,” where the best and worst of stuff is amplified. The Celts-Philly rivalry (well, it’s not really a rivalry right now; like Embiid said, Boston owns the Sixers) is definitely real. There’s been fun tension between the teams since the Bird-Barkley days. Iverson and Pierce went at it, and now both teams are vying to be considered among the league’s elite, and the contrasting ways both franchises rebuilt (Process vs. Grind/trades/FA over the years), and this is one of the most fun rivalries in the NBA. It’s a “thing” no matter what, but add Joel’s brash online trash talk and social media personalities like my man Spike Eskin concern trolling Kyrie and dissing Horford, and you’ve got some real fireworks.
Both teams are serious contenders in the East. Why do you think the Twitter communities are starting to coexist?
Jack: I’m going to sound a bit arrogant here, but I think the real coexistence started over the summer, post-playoff series between the teams. A lot of the Sixers people I follow are the “realistic” ones who know how bad the Celtics beat the Sixers last year and into this year. At least in my experience @Ryne_Jones and @SixersAdam were my sort of gateway into Sixers twitter, and I love both of those guys and pretty much all the subsequent Sixers follows I’ve had since then. At this point though, I think the coexistence has just resulted in Celtics and Sixers people being more familiar with each other, and the animosity has been toned down significantly. For me personally, I try to be cognizant of my Sixers followers and when the Celtics play the Sixers I try to not tweet really mean things about the Sixers.
Adam: I think that, in general, people want to talk and interact when their teams are fun and winning. Both teams contending allows for more interaction between the two teams. Another factor may be more nationally-televised games for each team and especially when they play each other.
James: I think both fan bases are feeling the pressure. Colangelo didn’t completely derail The Process, but his bungling and the Fultz fiasco definitely turned up the speed, and judging from Elton Brand’s recent moves, Philly thinks their time is NOW. For the Celtics, the underwhelming start to the season and the weird energy around the team, plus the sudden uncertainty about Kyrie and the future, really rained on this season’s Parade of Optimism. And again, Philly can’t seem to establish any traction head-to-head against Boston, meaning that the fans really can’t battle; it’s pretty one-sided. If either team gets sent home early in the playoffs, the talk REALLY will heat up.
What’s your favorite ongoing bit between the two communities?
Jack: Definitely the communal dunking on SLCdunk that seems to happen at least once a week at this point. It’s another thing that led to the friendship between C’s and Sixers twitter, pretty much all due to the obsession SLC has with both Hayward and the fact that Ben Simmons won rookie of the year.
Brett Brown: ben Simmons shoot a three you coward https://t.co/UnSPiwByEi— Jack (@Jack_Michael17) January 6, 2019
Adam: From the Celtics perspective, bringing up the Tatum trade is fun. Simmons and three pointers. Burner accounts/collars/slants.
James: I think Spike Eskin’s Average Al stuff. He (and plenty of other Philly bloggers/podders) spent alllllll of the ’17-18 season just ripping and ridiculing Horford…then he (and Baynes) led the charge defensively while Boston edged out Philly in the playoffs. Several Philly guys I was cool with blocked me for retweeting their tweets killing Horford. It’s glorious.
[wants to show how much about basketball you know] MAN Al Horford is so fun wish everyone could see this like me, expert.— Spike Eskin (@SpikeEskin) October 17, 2018
What’s the most annoying ongoing bit between the two communities?
James: I think the stuff talking “racist” undertones is kind of whack. It’s just basketball. Boston as a city definitely has a history of some BS, and Philly’s adoption of the “don’t tread on me” snake thing is odd, but come on. Keep it basketball.
What do you enjoy about engaging with the Sixers Twitter community?
Adam: It’s fun to see thoughts on the Sixers from a fan’s perspective. Simmons seems to be very polarizing, even among Philly fans. I also like seeing the interaction with mutual accounts like Bill Simmons, World Wide Wob, The Starters, etc.
I asked each of the guys about a certain Celtics troll that always manages to pop up with a new account whenever you talk trash on a player or the team as a whole and none of them knew who I was talking about. Which makes all of them suspects.
What are your thoughts on Bill Simmons?
Jack: When I was younger, he was a big reason I got into basketball at all. Now I hate him and his bad takes and the fact that people still think his views represent those of most Celtics fans.
Adam: I started listening to the BS Report Podcast in 2008 or so and have read a lot of his material, including The Book of Basketball. What he did with podcasting and writing from a fan’s perspective was revolutionary and very entertaining. I remain a fan, but he has his pros and his cons. I think he knows the game very well, but reads way too much into the body language and psychological aspects of watching a game. People probably think he’s a homer, which he is, but he’s called out this team many times recently, including that they should get rid of Kyrie. I think that Bill’s best skill is hiring, and I prefer to hear him ask the questions and have people like KOC and Lowe (not on his staff anymore, unfortunately) answer the questions. He has good takes and bad, but he’s a huge NBA fan, and I always enjoy seeing what he has to say.
James: I was a huge Simmons fan coming up as a blogger and podder. He’s done an outstanding job building an empire and taking the podcast and blog mainstream. That said, some of his recent NBA takes are horrible. And I get it, he built a brand on being “just one of the guys”/a fan. But that shtick doesn’t really fly anymore. He hobnobs with stars and is a big name in the industry. I respect his grind, love listening to some of the guests he has on, but… Whatever.
That Sixers trade felt desperate – gave up way too much for an expiring FA. And throwing Shamet in the deal was just weird. But fundamentally… their crunch-time 5 is flawed now. No lineup flexibility, nobody to defend the Kyrie types. Why not make same offer for Jrue Holiday?— Bill Simmons (@BillSimmons) February 6, 2019
Do you think the two communities are capable of continuing their peaceful coexistence?
Jack: Absolutely. This could definitely change after a potential playoff series that ends up lopsided in either direction, but at this point, I think there’s been too much interaction and friendship-building online to be able to truly have any real, not-joking animosity between the twitters. Will Celtics fans still hate the Sixers and vice versa? Yes, but the twitters will be fine.
Adam: I think so. We’re all more reasonable than the Temecula Kobe fan, right?
I am eagerly awaiting the eventual Sixers offensive explosion while the Celtics miss open jumper after open jumper— Tribune of the Plebs (@Handsome_Jake_) February 13, 2019
What’s your unbiased prediction for the remainder of the season/postseason?
Jack: For the Celtics, I’m still optimistic, but at this point more cautiously optimistic than I was, say, a month ago. I had been on the “allow Gordon Hayward as much time as possible to get back” train for a while, but there is a point where even I think he needs to be pulled from games if it would allow the Celtics to win. I’m still excited for the playoffs, whether it be a rematch with Philly or Milwaukee, but especially the chance to finally have a series against the Raptors. The toughest part of this season has been adjusting expectations on the fly, especially regarding the wins I thought this team would get before the season started, but for the playoffs I’m considerably less worried.
Adam: For the Sixers and Celtics? I’ll take the Celtics in a tough 7-game series. It really could go either way, and I think every game would be close. I think Boston has a huge edge in coaching. For the entire NBA? Warriors won already … hopefully KD leaves.
James: It’s really hard to give an unbiased opinion, I’m so locked into what the Celtics are doing. Boston blowing those giant leads to the Lakers and the Clippers really bummed me out. It’s so late in the season, and the Celts are still trying to find themselves, that’s a red flag to me. Philly’s moves have me concerned. I think they have the second best starting 5 in the NBA right now, and they bolstered their depth a little bit. Moving forward, I expect Gordon Hayward to continue looking better and better, he’s been great recently. If he comes back to close to what he was, and Kyrie comes back healthy and focused, I still think the Finals is the ceiling for this Celtics team, but Philly (and Toronto, though I’m not as high on the Marc Gasol move as most; I think the Raptors will still be at their best with Serge Ibaka playing center and Pascal at power forward), I believe, is right there with them now, potential-wise.
That wasn’t so bad, was it?
There you have it. Celtics fans: they’re just like us. They love their team wholly and fiercely, and you really can’t fault them for that. Granted, if you’re easily annoyed and can’t take the heat, maybe you should hold off on following Celtics fans for a bit. But if you do decide to take a leap and join the rest of us, you won’t be disappointed. Those light-hearted debates could turn up revelations like this:
He really does— Tribune of the Plebs (@Handsome_Jake_) February 13, 2019
See, Jake? I told you I’d put it in an article.