August 12, 2022

Cynthia Amerio knows best. She swears.

Hate is not a positive emotion – empty calories for the soul. But you have to know not to be hateful and know that the Boston Celtics are playing for their 18th NBA championship.

“I don’t like the uniform. I don’t like anything to do with them,” said Amerio, a 55-year-old man from Sierra Madre. “…If Boston was the last team in the NBA, I would choose cricket.”

It’s been a torturous past few months for Lakers fans like Amerio, the team’s bitter rivals who have created a Finals streak built around a friendly core of players. If they wore different colors and only played in a different ZIP code, Amerio would cheer them on, especially against a Bay Area team like the Golden State Warriors.

But instead, they are condemned to the coldest corners of his heart.

“I don’t like Golden State that much, but Boston can’t get number 18. They can’t,” Amerio said. “It took us years to get to No 17 and I don’t see that two years later, they’re 18 and we’re sitting on the sidelines.”

It’s a strange time for the Lakers-Celtics rivalry. Boston star Jayson Tatum is a follower of Kobe Bryant who even wore a Bryant armband for Game 7 in the Eastern Conference Finals. Rajon Rondo won titles in both cities. And Lakers owner Jeanie Buss and Boston owner Wyc Grousbeck are partners in a tequila brand.

Luckily for Amerio and Lakers fans, happier times for the rivalry on the championship court are well documented — happier times that HBO’s “Winning Time” loved to recreate on the back of two iconic Lakers words. history of the team.


The show has used the phrase at pivotal moments, making it a key motivational point for the Lakers. (The show also included a memorable scene with Jerry West driving through Boston, wishing Paul Revere had slept in it).

Max Borenstein, the valley-born show runner for “Winning Time,” said the phrase became a bit of a rallying cry for the first season. Originally, it was written sparingly in a few scripts, but one of the show directors, Payman Benz, saw its potential.

“It took us years to get to No 17 and I don’t see that two years later, they’re 18 and we’re sitting on the sidelines.”

— Cynthia Amerio, Lakers fan

“It hadn’t crossed my mind – and I don’t know why – but it hadn’t crossed my mind that it was kind of a memorable moment. And Payman… he absolutely loved it .

“He made the actors throw in more than what was in the script, and that was really great. He knew. He was like, we should put in more ‘F—Boston’. And I was like , ‘Hell yeah!’ ”

You didn’t need to convince Borenstein. He still carries the injuries of the Celtics beating the Lakers in 2008. Victory in 2010 helped — a sweet redemption, Borenstein said — but it wasn’t enough to stop him from holding back in “Winning Time.”

Kobe Bryant celebrates the Lakers’ Game 7 victory over the Boston Celtics in the 2010 NBA Finals at Staples Center.

(Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times)

Michael Chiklis, the actor played by Red Auerbach, provided the necessary balance – a die-hard Boston sports fan from Lowell, Mass., who ran a bar for heartbroken Red Sox fans at night where Bill Buckner saw a baseball crack his wickets.

He has his laughs now. He talked about the current state of the two teams – one in the final, the other facing so many questions.

“But you know what I would love the most – if the Lakers were good right now. … It’s just not as fun,” Chiklis said. “It’s so much more fun when they’re both great and they go to war.

“There is a hole, a gap, with the struggling Lakers. Even though I can’t stand them, I’d rather see them hunting and watching us fight them. … It’s fun to grind it on the faces of my fellow Lakers fans that they sucked in. But at the same time, I would prefer them to be better.

If it looks like the high road, it’s very temporary.

“It’s so much more fun when they’re both great and warring with each other. There’s a hole, a gap, with the Lakers struggling,”

— Michael Chiklis, actor and Celtics fan

“Yeah, I hate the Lakers. I mean, yeah,” Chiklis said. “I went to Boston University from 1981 to 1985. I screamed until I had no voice on that team. And yes, I called James Worthy ‘Worthless’. We have yelled at all these guys.

Marcus Smart, who watched “Winning Time” and laughed at Boston’s slander, said the team felt that energy every time they left Boston Garden.

“Wherever we go, people are always talking,” Smart said. “It’s really not towards you. It’s just the name of Boston. We are a historic franchise and a franchise like the Boston Celtics, it goes with it. When you do something bigger, you are part of a bigger culture. It happens. You take it and you run with it.

Whatever happens Thursday in Game 6 will ruin someone’s night.

Maybe it was like the early ’80s when Amerio sat outside a bar in San Diego, sobbing on the sidewalk. Or when Borenstein thinks of Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen. Or when Chiklis yelled at James Worthless and Tragic Johnson.

Hopefully it will only be temporary.

Maybe it won’t

“I hated [Kevin] Mc Hale. And I’m a lady,” Amerio said. “But if I saw him on the street today, I would punch him in the nose.

“…Now that I have my three boys, they don’t like Boston. And it’s thanks to me, I hope.