A couple weeks back, I featured a Celtics SuperFan that some call "Sportcoat Santa". Well, I finally got a chance to do an official Q & A with the man the Celics have dubbed "Chest-Pump Guy", due to his Jumbotron ritual of pumping his fist on his chest and whipping the crowd into a frenzy.
KWAPT: So how about the basics, tell the readers a bit about yourself
CHEST PUMP GUY: I teach the Greek and Latin classics with a special interest in classical Greek. I teach a summer course in Greece for exceptional high school juniors. The course is Homeric Greek. I'm always looking for high school juniors who are passionate about learning the language of the Iliad and the Odyssey and studying this language as we travel throughout Greece, with classes being taught on archaeological sites. I apply my classical language training sometimes in order to praise the Celtics; e.g., the word "excellence" is composed of two Greek and Latin roots which creatively can suggest "very Celtic". In other words, I tell my students "excellence" can mean "very Celtic". So my experiences at Celtics games, seeing the great plays that the Celtics make, helps me teach excellence to my students. I also usually frequent the Sports Bar Fours (2nd floor) after weekend games, and would invite fans to join me there to celebrate the Celtics game that evening.
K: How long have you been a Celtics season ticket holder? Who normally attends games with you?
CPG: I moved to the Boston area in 1998 and attended Celtics games occasionally, but decided to become a season ticket holder in 2007-08 and what a year in which to begin. My wife usually accompanies me to the games, and sometimes my daughter.
K: What is your all time favorite memory out of all the games you've been to at TD Garden?
CPG: It has to be all the diverse and amazing people–fans, that the Celtics experience has enabled me to meet. Often times people I don't know greet me on Boston streets throughout the year and say to me, "Saw you on the Jumbotron!" Or, "Keep pumping us up!" Even at Heathrow airport in London, a fan recognized me last year and asked me to "do the chest pump." I even met a guy from Rome, Italy, last summer on the island of Rhodes in Greece, who was wearing a Celtics #34 jersey, and together we did a loud Celtics cheer in a busy bazaar and startled a lot of people. Boy, did this Italian know a lot of stats about Paul Pierce. The Celtics unite people not only locally in the States, but abroad. It's amazing how respected the Celtics are in places I visit frequently, such as Greece and Turkey. Two other memories stand out in my mind that I would like to share with you. A fan last year, after a game, came up to me and said, "What you do on the screen is not just for the Celtics, it's for Boston!" He got that right. It impressed me very much to know that someone recognized that my passion for Boston is definitely behind what I do on the Jumbotron.
Another memory forever in my heart is, after a Celtics win last November against the Wizards, I was asked to come down to the Celtics floor. Awaiting me were 12 Celtic dancers and their extraordinary choreographer, Marina Ortega, who said, "Come over here for a photo shoot with the dancers; this is your birthday present!" and I just went sky high with elation. I so appreciate what these dancers are doing at games, especially how their grace, rhythm, and beautiful energy often mirror some of the powerful–sheer poetry moves some of our Celtics make as they execute a play that has to be accomplished–both teams, Celtics and dancers, communally executing through unity, through "Ubuntu", in order to achieve what we all should strive for: excellence!
K: How long have you been a Celtics fan? Were you a fan all your life and what got you interested in the Celtics?
CPG: I have been a Celtics fan since the black and white TV days in the early 1950s when I first saw my initial Celtics heroes, Cousy, Russell, and Auerbach. Their passion and striving towards excellence, first sensed by me then, is what I sense with today's Celtics and why I am a season ticket holder. To attend their games today keeps me young; it takes me back to those early, hallowed, impressionable days of childhood, when I remember watching the Rondo-like moves of Cousy, the KG-like passion and soaring defensive blocks and offensive thrusts of Russell, and the Doc Rivers-like, competent, strategy choreographies of Auerbach. All men to model myself after, then as well as now. So, I have virtually been a Celtics fan all my life!
K: Lastly, what has it been like becoming one of the crowd favorites at the TD Garden? Do a lot of fans approach you?
CPG: I am so proud and honored to be a Celtics fan and to be accepted as an inspiring member of the Boston area community. As history has shown, it is oftentimes no small feat to be praised by your local community. So, I am honored, humbled, and overjoyed, by the acceptance of the goodness that I seem to bring to various peoples hearts. A lot of fans do approach and ask for pictures. I always treat this as a compliment. I appreciate very much those who acknowledge me: people on the T; the ticket takers at the TD Garden; the monitors; the concessionaires; the fans from the balcony area that ask me to look up to them and give them the chest pump after I have done the same on the Jumbotron; Celtics players, like Nate Robinson; the Boston Celtics staff; and anonymous people driving by on a Boston street, seeing me walking, stopping their cars, rolling their windows down and saying, "Are you going to the game tonight?"
I close by saying how much KG's passion for the game has meant to me. I recently read some words of Socrates as recorded by Plato in Book II of "The Republic", which reminds me of KG's presence on the court, bringing a spirited leadership to the game. Socrates is talking to the young Glaucon about the nature of the person to be the ideal leader in an ideal state: "Have you never observed what an irresistible and invincible thing is spirit, the presence of which makes every soul in the face of everything fearless and unconquerable?" And Glaucon responds, "I have." And that's how I respond whenever KG advances toward the crowd and gives his chest pump, inviting us all into the contest–"I have!"
Thanks for this opportunity to express myself about my passion for the Celtics