On the day that Bob will file his last column as a full-time employee of the Boston Globe after 44 brilliant years, allow me to indulge in a quick story (hey, it's Celtics related) that explains the coolest looking centerpiece in my house.
Back during the 2008 NBA playoffs, Globe video wizard Chona Camomot and I got sent to the Garden early before a game to film one of the many man-on-the-street pieces that I dreaded so dearly. Fans are great, but most have places to be, particularly before a big game, and it's hit or miss what you're going to get when you ask them for a few minutes as they criss-cross North Station. Cause someone to miss a train and it could be bodily harm.
We decided to lighten the mood a bit and film a video about Gino -- you know, the smooth-grooving dancer that Kevin Garnett takes extreme pleasure in watching (and mimicking) in the final moments of a lopsided win at the Garden. Well, we saw a lot of him during that 2007-08 season and the Gino phenomenon exploded.
The people we interviewed were fantastic, some even endured a torrential downpour that ripped through as we filmed (and destroyed a camera in the process). But putting together the video, it needed something. A little extra pizazz.
It needed Bob Ryan.
Back in those days, I'd harass Globe columnists and reporters to do a video stand-up after games, talking about what they wrote or what stood out to them in that game. Poor Bob (and the rest of the Globe staff) must have hated whenever he saw me at a game, camera in hand, wondering if I could "steal him for a couple minutes" after he finished writing. He always obliged, even if it meant waiting for me to finish up whatever else I was doing. For that alone I am forever in debt.
But on this night, after Bob steamrolled through his usual game breakdown (we'd ask for a minute, he'd give us five), I had one more request -- one that I didn't even have the decency to warn him about earlier in the evening. I wanted him, off the top of his head, to tell me about Gino. I don't even know what I was expecting.
Forty-four years ago, there's no way Bob could have ever imagined this would be part of the gig. But he embraced it and thrived at it. I've got the statue to prove it.
There's plenty more I can tell you about what Bob meant to a young journalist. He was the first person I saw when I walked into the Globe sports department as a college freshman looking for a summer co-op, and one of the things I miss most about that place was the proximity of Bob's desk to mine, so I could watch greatness in action daily.
For all that and more, thanks, Bob.
[Hop HERE to watch our Gino video on Boston.com].