When Ryan Hollins turned down offers from several other NBA teams to sign with the Boston Celtics, he figured it was the opportunity of a lifetime. He would get to play for one of the most storied franchises in professional sports alongside three future Hall of Famers.
The response from his family and friends when he told them the news was a bit more tepid.
"We can't stand the Celtics," they said. "But, you know, congratulations."
Hollins, a UCLA alum and Pasadena, Calif., native, grew up in a world where the Celtics were the enemy. When he was asked Sunday if he is hearing grief from his California-based support system, Hollins' eyes grew wide.
"Am I?" Hollins said. "Am I?"
"They know the situation," Hollins said. "I've got a lot of people in my corner."
After Hollins cleared waivers with the Cavaliers, the Celtics were his first choice due to his relationship with Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett. Hollins was a high school graduate entering his freshman year at UCLA when he first met Pierce.
"That's Paul Pierce," Hollins said, again re-enacting his wide-eyed stare.
Hollins and Pierce can commiserate about their Boston-Los Angeles dilemma. Pierce hails from Inglewood, Calif., which was once home to the Lakers in the Great Western Forum. Pierce had lifelong friends rooting vehemently against him in both of the Celtics' NBA Finals appearances against the Lakers.
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