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Rooting for the home team

By Mark Shanahan & Meredith Goldstein
Globe Staff / June 9, 2010

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Does it get better than the NBA Finals at the Garden, against the Lakers no less?

No, it doesn’t. The league’s most illustrious franchises squared off last night in front of a crowd of luminaries that included Patriots QB Tom Brady.

The NBA continued its curious choice of anthem singers, enlisting Georgia native Monica, whose new video, “Everything to Me,’’ features a football player (Ochocinco). Asked if she has a rooting interest in the series, the R&B singer just smiled.

“I think I’ll wait to see who wins before I decide,’’ she said.

The Pats were well represented last night, with Brady, sitting with billionaire businessman and Bill Clinton buddy Ron Burkle, Wes Welker, Fred Taylor, Julian Edelman, Eric Alexander, Tully Banta-Cain, Leigh Bodden, James Sanders, Brandon Meriweather, and ex-Pats Ty Law and Daniel Graham all on hand to support the C’s. Celts alums included legends Bob Cousy, John Havlicek, KC Jones, Bill Walton, Kevin McHale, Walter McCarty, Easy Ed Pinckney, and Dino Radja.

Comedian Dane Cook was in the house, as was Meffa’s Maria Menounos, who told us she’s taken some time off to root for the home team. We also spied Sudbury-bred actor Chris Evans, actress Eliza Dushku and boyfriend Rick Fox, New Kid Donnie Wahlberg and his brother, Bob, Food Network star Guy Fieri, Sox owner John Henry, chefs Michael Schlow and Ken Oringer, and Longwood Events owner Jim Apteker.

Sitting with Celts CEO Wyc Grousbeck and his wife, Corinne, was Boston Culinary Group CEO Joe O’Donnell, while actor Christopher “McLovin’’ Mintz-Plasse, a Garden regular during the Celts’ 2008 playoff run, was seated nearby. Also at the game were hedge fund kahuna Jim Pallotta, developer Ron Druker, flacks George Regan and Joe Baerlein, KISS 108’s Billy Costa, soccer player Taylor Twellman, agents Aaron Goodman and Jill Smoller, former NFL coach Jon Gruden, NBA Hall of Famer Dr. J, band manager Michael Creamer, Fenway Recordings exec Mark Kates and son Nick, Davio’s owner Steve DiFillippo, and the Union Oyster House’s Joe Milano.

Since both were at Game 6 of the Orlando series and Game 2 in LA, Menounos and Cook said they’re the Celtics’ lucky charms.

“They need us here,’’ said Menounos, who told us she’ll be back at the Garden tomorrow and perhaps Sunday.

Cook said he’ll be courtside tomorrow and also Sunday.

“I’ve put more effort into this series than into any relationship I’ve ever had with a woman,’’ said the Arlington native, who isn’t winning many friends in LA with his support for the Celts. “I’ve been doing standup for 20 years and I’ve never been heckled like that.’’

Both said it was a relief to be back in Boston, surrounded by what they called “real’’ fans.

“They’re Laker fakers,’’ Menounos said of the LA crowd. “There were four minutes left in Game 2 and people were filing out to beat the traffic. Can you imagine anyone doing that here?’’

One of the C’s biggest fans, comedian Lenny Clarke, wasn’t in the house last night.

“It’s killing me. When they were on West Coast, I was on the East Coast, and now I’m on the West Coast,’’ said Clarke, who’s busy on the “Rescue Me’’ comedy tour. “At some point, you gotta think KG’s going to wake up and eat Pau Gasol.’’

‘Knight’ arrives early
The release date of the Boston-based Tom Cruise/Cameron Diaz action flick “Knight and Day’’ has been pushed up again and will now be released June 23, which is a Wednesday. Studio insiders tell Variety that the early word on the film is so good the studio wants to get a jump on the weekend and build buzz. Interestingly, the other wide release that weekend is “Grown Ups,’’ the film starring Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Chris Rock, and David Spade that was shot on the North Shore. Both movies got big plugs on the MTV Movie Awards the other night.

Good newsies
Monday was the annual Kelley for Ellie benefit, newscaster Kelley Tuthill’s party for the Ellie Fund. The night’s guests included breast cancer survivor Anne Meisner and her husband, Jeff; event chairs Tuthill and Susan Wornick; and Gail Huff, who had just announced that she was leaving Channel 5. The surprise guest of the night was Wes Welker, who auctioned off a Patriots package and danced with Wornick on stage. . . . In other fashion news, recent New England School of Art and Design grad Michael Moeller will appear on “HGTV Design Star,’’ a reality show premiering on Sunday. Moeller and his competitors will be given home decor challenges throughout the series. The winner of the competition gets their own show on HGTV. Last season’s winner was Baltimore designer Antonio Ballatore, who now hosts “The Antonio Treatment.’’

Keith will go Fourth
Every year, it seems, the Pops wait a little longer to announce the special guest at their July Fourth show at the Esplanade. This year’s guest was announced yesterday: Toby Keith. The country star will join conductor Keith Lockhart and the Pops for a performance to be aired, as usual, by CBS.

Lehane likes libraries
“Shutter Island’’ and “Mystic River’’ writer Dennis Lehane was the guest of honor at the Boston Public Library Foundation Gala over the weekend. Lehane told revelers that having access to a local library branch got him interested in writing as a kid. Not surprisingly, the crowd gave that comment big applause. Guests at the party included Benefit Committee members Janet Wu and Jackie McBride.

Conan touted for Emmy
TBS has bought ads in Variety to campaign for Brookline native Conan O’Brien to get an Emmy for his last work on NBC. Variety’s TV editor, Michael Schneider, wrote that he suspects this is the first time a network has campaigned for another network’s product. TBS would benefit, of course, if Conan gets a statue. O’Brien’s new show on TBS starts this fall.

Fast start-up
Matt Lauzon and the gang at Lexington-based Gemvara rank among the “100 Brilliant Ideas’’ in the new issue of Entrepreneur magazine, and last week they won in the e-commerce category at the MITX Technology Awards, held at the Marriott Copley Place. Backed by Highland Capital, the start-up is an online shopping site for one-of-a-kind custom designer jewelry.

Read the Names blog at www.boston.com/namesblog. Names can be reached at names@globe.com or at 617-929-8253.