It holds undertones of a lack of appreciation or understanding. It's often associated with whining or being a brat. Its closest synonyms are listed as "corrupted," "rotten," "ruined" and "sour."
Yet in the case of Boston sports fans, spoiled may be the only word that can aptly describe them.
That's not meant in a bad way — far from it, actually. It is, however, the only word that can appropriately explain what they were able to experience in the past decade. For a while, the championships seemed to come with relative ease. The Patriots changed the entire landscape of the Boston sports scene in February of 2002. Within a few years, Super Bowls became another ho-hum event.
The Red Sox, of course, shocked the world in '04 before they were the most dominant team in '07. Two more parades for Boston.
And then there were the Celtics. After Danny Ainge assembled an uber-team in the summer of 2007, it seemed like the perfect blueprint to building a champion. Right on cue, the Celtics took care of business. Since then, though, it's been a struggle. Injuries crushed their 2009 title hopes, but this year, fans had every reason to believe that another Larry O'Brien Trophy was a guarantee. Sure, the Lakers were a formidable foe, but this is Boston. Boston just wins.
Well, no. An unreal 3 from Rasheed Wallace, an equally unreal 3 from Ron Artest, a would-be steal from Rajon Rondo that was out of bounds by just an inch, a pair of free throws from Sasha Vujacic. It was infinitely shocking and captivating, but when it ended, the Celtics had lost — fair and square.
The fact that it was fair and square was the part that was perhaps most surprising for the people of Boston. In losses in previous years, there was always a good explanation. Grady Little left Pedro Martinez in too long, the officials made an atrocious pass interference call in Denver, Josh Beckett and Mike Lowell were hurt in '08, Eli Manning benefited from a blatant holding call, Kevin Garnett was out in '09, and so on and so forth. Excuses? Of course, but they all had at least some degree of merit.
This year was supposed to be different. Garnett was as healthy as ever, Rasheed was contributing big minutes off the bench, Rondo became a certified superstar and everything was clicking. Yes, Kendrick Perkins was out, but the loss of Andrew Bynum on the other side was of much more significance.
Yet Thursday night, the Celtics found themselves simply getting outplayed by the Lakers when it was all on the line. The game may have had some great ratings for ABC, but there wasn't a single television in New England that stayed on once the final buzzer sounded.
The loss, no doubt, stings, and it will for a while. The city's sports fans had latched onto the Celtics after the Bruins completed a historic collapse, and now they're left with more disappointment. The Red Sox will certainly help fill the void this summer, but the adjustment from the intensity of the playoffs to the routine of a regular season can be a difficult one.
The time can be used, however, to recall the simple lesson that, despite what you've witnessed in the past 100 months, championships don't come easy. Some sports fans go through their entire lives without ever witnessing their teams win it all — ask anybody in Cleveland. The city of Boston has been blessed with some fantastically entertaining teams this decade, and this year's Celtics team was the latest. It won't be the last.
So, sure, the disappointment will be lingering for some time, and there's no easy way around that. But you can at least take solace in the fact that Tom Brady will be taking snaps in two months, Terry Francona has the Red Sox playing better than anyone, Cam Neely is turning the Bruins into badasses and Ainge has a summer ahead of him to show off some creativity and guts.
Spoiled? Maybe, but that's a small price to pay to be able to witness greatness on such a regular basis.