Our fourth edition of ‘Green Runs Deep’ features Mr Tom Westerholm, a writer for both MassLive.com, and Celtics Hub. Tom is easily one of the most likeable Celtics fans that I follow on Twitter. Not only is Tom a fantastic writer, he has a sharp sense of humour, and isn’t afraid to use it.
Please tell us a little about yourself.
“Hey all, my name is Tom Westerholm. I’m 25, and I live in Springfield, Massachusetts, where I work for MassLive.com doing high school sports coverage. Most of my life is dedicated to writing about or playing basketball. Most of the rest of it is spent hanging out with my wife and my dog Bear.”
How did you first become a fan of the Boston Celtics?
“I’m originally from Orange City, Iowa (which is halfway across the country from the Celtics, for you Australians), but my dad was originally from New England, and he grew up watching Russell, Havlicek and eventually Bird. He passed on his Celtics fandom to me, and after a few years, the NBA and I became pretty exclusive. Sure, I still hang out with soccer and baseball from time to time, but we’re pretty clear about the parameters of our relationship.
I recently moved to Massachusetts, about an hour and a half from Boston, and I drive up to Celtics games whenever I can steal a day off from work that coincides with a home game.”
When did you first see the Celtics play? When did you manage to see your first live Celtics game??
“I honestly have no idea what my first Celtics game on television was, but I first saw them live in Minnesota. My dad and I used to drive four hours to see teams play the Wolves, since they were the nearest franchise to Iowa. We saw Boston first in 2009, and I remember being completely star-struck walking down as far as security would let me go and watching Paul Pierce warm up with some lackadaisical free throws and jumpers. I mean, it was Paul freaking Pierce.
Last season, I covered my first regular season Celtics game with media credentials, and I was strangely a little disappointed that I didn’t have a similar reaction. By that point, I had covered the NBA and Summer League a couple of times, so it was a little more normal to see NBA players up close. But Rajon Rondo walked right past me, and it didn’t even really occur to me to be star-struck.
I guess the first time is always the best time.”
Who is your favorite Celtics player? Past? And present? And what do they/have they meant to you as a person, and as a Celtics fan?
“Paul Pierce will forever be my favorite Celtic. When you are in your late teens and teams mean just a little bit too much to you, those generally seem to be the players who stick with you the longest. When Pierce — a guy who spent his entire career (or at least, his entire career that mattered) with the team — won a championship, I was 18. Paul Pierce was EVERYTHING.
I don’t think Rajon Rondo will ever reach that level for me, mostly because I’m a little older and a little more measured (I like to think), but I do enjoy him thoroughly. I like that he’s a little off, a little strange, and that his strangeness feeds into why he’s so effective on the court. He’s unconventionally talented, and that makes him fascinating to me.”
Australia has a tight-knit Celtics ‘family’, as do so many other countries, yet obviously, the greatest Boston Celtics community is in the great city of Boston itself. Can you tell us about how these Celtics communities, whether globally, or in Boston, make you feel a part of such a large, and loving sisterhood/brotherhood?
“Honestly, for my part, I see the community most on Twitter, and I suspect most of those reading this feel the same way. Few people enjoy watching hoops as much as basketball Twitter, and it’s fun to sit down every night with a game and know that people all over the country and all over the globe are watching the same thing, making dumb jokes, bad Photoshop’s, and everything else that basketball Twitter is known for.
As far as the Celtics community specifically on Twitter, I would say it’s as strong — if not stronger — than most of the other ones. There are so many Celtics blogs and writers, and that’s a great thing. There are a million different opinions to be had, so if you think something, someone else probably disagrees with you and will challenge you on it. I enjoy that a lot. I also enjoy the various ways people have been coping with the past two years. We’re all in this together.”
Can you tell us about your experiences writing for Celtics Hub, and MassLive? What has been your reaction over the years to its success?
“Both places have been great. Celtics Hub is a lot of fun, and working under Brian Robb has been everything I could have asked for and more. I’ve gotten to cover the team in person, the Orlando Summer League, and a whole bunch of other stuff no other outlet ever offered me before Celtics Hub.”
MassLive is great as well. I moved to Massachusetts to work for them, and I generally cover high school sports, although they let me fill in for Jay King on Celtics stuff whenever he needs a break. I’m essentially Phil Pressey to Jay’s Rajon Rondo.
I also cover the Basketball Hall of Fame for MassLive, which is located where I live in Springfield. I got to do one-on-one interviews with Alonzo Mourning, Tommy Heinsohn and others this summer. It’s a ton of fun and — once again — incredibly rewarding, but it’s also my 9-to-5, which means I have to be all professional and stuff.”
Overall, both places are amazing, and I definitely couldn’t ask for anything more.”
Last season saw the return of a less than 100% Rajon Rondo, a revolving door of players, and a 25 win-57 loss season. How do you see the 2014/15 season treating the Celtics over 82 games?
“I think we are in for another long one. Boston is definitely better as an offensive unit, and we are seeing a lot of fun cohesion, especially in the front line. But the defense is so, so bad. Asking the offense to come up with 112+ points per night doesn’t really sound like a sustainable way to get wins, and the defense is more than happy to pass out 115-120 point games regularly.”
We make a trade to potentially step forward as playoff contenders. What position do we trade for? Who would be your ideal candidate? And who and what would you give up for it?
“This is a pretty easy answer — the Celtics desperately need a defensive-minded big man. The ideal candidate, of course, is Marc Gasol. As a passer who can work out of the high post but can also bang around the basket, he replaces everything the Celtics will lose by taking either Sully or Olynyk out of the starting lineup, and he would also bring an absurd amount of defense to the table. He’s perfection at the center position.
Unfortunately, there’s realistically no way the Celtics can convince Gasol to come to Boston unless they somehow find a way to put a second good player next to Rondo (and even then, it’s still incredibly unlikely — why would he leave Memphis?). So my ideal candidate is any non-point guard who would make my Marc Gasol pipe dream seem a little closer to a reality. Who I would give up would depend on whom I might be getting back. Everything is available, within reason (so no, Houston, I’m not trading you Rondo for Clint Capela and the 25th pick in the 2015 draft).”
If you weren’t an NBA writer, what would you be?
“I toured for years in a hardcore band, so I might be doing that still. I honestly don’t know. My time is split doing one of four things — working (which means any kind of writing), working out/playing basketball, walking my dog or hanging out with my wife. Maybe I’d just be a hunter/gatherer who shows up to the local LA Fitness to hoop every day around noon.”
Favorite non-Celtic player, current and past? And why?
“Another easy one for me: Steph Curry. I’m a 3-point shooter when I play basketball, so Steph Curry is every one of my daydreams realized. Not only can he shoot the ball better than anyone in the history of the game, he’s so crafty with his handle and his vision. If I could be any player, it would definitely be Curry.
I would also like to note that Gerald Green is a closer second than you would think. I like dunks, and I like players who just drip confidence and are prone to exploding into flames, so I absolutely love Gerald Green.”
Can you share your thoughts on our Boston Celtics community down here in Australia? Do you see a lot of the Celtic Pride in our many members? Any plans to visit us one day? You’ll be welcomed with open arms by all.
“Oh man. I have never had an unpleasant interaction with an Australian Celtics fan on Twitter. You guys are intensely loyal: Somehow despite the time difference, there always seems to be a strong faction watching and live-tweeting every game on whatever blurry live-stream you follow. I’m so spoiled with CSNNE and League Pass that I whine and complain when something goes out and I have to hit refresh, while you all are trying to sort out which green-and-white shaped blur is Jeff Green and which is Rondo. The Australian Celtics community is the actual best.
Real talk, my wife and I are saving money to take an overseas vacation, and we haven’t decided on the location yet. I suspect you could sell us on Australia pretty easily.”
We’re all looking forward to it, Tom.
Celtics Down Under immensely thanks Tom Westerholm for taking part in ‘Green Runs Deep’.
You can check out Tom on Twitter at: @Tom_NBA.