Celtics

Mayor Wu’s Celtics fandom runs deep

"I have real faith in this team."

Michelle Wu became a Celtics fan in college, when the team was struggling. As mayor, her fandom has been on full display. David L Ryan/Globe Staff

Major political figures, especially in a town as sports-centric as Boston, have long shown an affinity to the local teams. While Mayor Michelle Wu is no exception, her love of basketball in particular is deeply ingrained. This year, as the Celtics carved an arduous path to the NBA Finals, Wu’s excitement for the team has been on full display. 

Despite adopting the Celtics as her team and Boston as her city, Wu didn’t always bleed green. Born and raised in Chicago, Wu grew up cheering for the Bulls, she recently told The Boston Globe. With Michael Jordan leading the team to six titles, the 90s were a great time to be a Bulls fan. For Wu, watching the hometown team was a special treat. 

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Her parents, who emigrated from Taiwan, were strict about letting Wu and her siblings watch TV, she told the Globe. The one exception, however, was Bulls games.

She and her three siblings were so enamored with the team that they sometimes pretend to be the players, she said. Wu took on the role of Scottie Pippen, the Hall of Fame small forward known for his defensive tenacity. None of the Wu kids felt qualified to be Michael Jordan, she joked to the Globe

The future mayor’s allegiances started to shift when she moved to Cambridge to attend Harvard. In a quest to find and connect with a community in a new city, Wu said she naturally leaned towards basketball and the Celtics. 

“The sports teams are such an important part of creating community here,” she told the Globe. “For me, basketball was naturally where my heart is.”

By 2012, when Wu was earning her law degree from Harvard, she had fully embraced the team. When Jeremy Lin and the New York Knicks faced off against Boston, she tweeted at Lin “I’ll cheer for you against any other team but my Celtics!” 

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Last November, Wu got the chance to meet some of the team in person. Celtics stars Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, and Marcus Smart joined Wu to dedicate the newly-renovated Terrence Clarke Memorial Gym at the Boston Centers for Youth & Families’ Vine Street Community Center. 

Clarke, a Dorchester native, was killed in a car crash at the age of 19. Clarke was an extremely promising player who declared for the 2021 NBA draft after one season at Kentucky. 

Seeing the Celtics players gather, not only to remember Clarke, but to help inspire the next generation of Boston basketball stars made a lasting impression on Wu. 

“These players are incredible role models both on and off the court. They’ve been invested in the city, they’ve been a part of helping to draw attention to the need for youth sports and to support different components of that in Boston,” she told WBUR.

Now a mother of two and Mayor of Boston, Wu still makes time to cheer on the team. In fact, that fandom has now extended to her boys, Blaise and Cass. When interviewed on WBUR the morning after the Celtics lost game two of the Finals, Wu described her kids’ passion for the team. 

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“The boys are relentless. They want to watch the score until the end. They are way off track in their bedtime schedule, so we were a little bit late for school this morning,” she told WBUR. 

One of the hallmarks of this Celtics team has been resilience. After a dismal first half of the season, they vaulted into elite status and claimed the Eastern Conference’s second seed. In the playoffs, they pushed through two grueling seven-game series against Milwaukee and Miami to secure a date with Golden State. Before this week, they hadn’t lost twice in a row during the playoffs. 

When interviewed after the first loss to the Warriors, Wu retained a lot of confidence.  

“I have real faith in this team. They have shown an incredible capacity to grow and to analyze what happened and then come right back the next game,” she said on WBUR. 

Whether or not this faith will be rewarded remains to be seen, but Wu’s fandom appears poised to continue well into the future.

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