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Celtics fans snap up gear, tickets as NBA Finals come to Boston03:28
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Boston Celtics center Al Horford, left, shoots against Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green during the second half of Game 1 of basketball's NBA Finals in San Francisco on Sunday. (Jed Jacobsohn/AP)
Boston Celtics center Al Horford, left, shoots against Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green during the second half of Game 1 of basketball's NBA Finals in San Francisco on Sunday. (Jed Jacobsohn/AP)

On most weekday afternoons, business is slow at the TD Garden ProShop in Boston.

But not now, not with the Boston Celtics competing for a championship in the NBA Finals. Instead, the place is packed with basketball fans searching for the latest T-shirts, hats and posters.

"Gotta get my Celtics gear," said Angel Calderon, an airline worker from Roslindale, who dropped $150 on a Jayson Tatum jersey and an NBA Finals patch.

The Boston Celtics are tied 1-1 with the Golden State Warriors after two games in San Francisco. The C’s are hoping to gain the lead in their first series game on home court in Boston Wednesday night.

The series, the first Finals for the Celtics in more than a decade, has electrified millions of Celtics fans and sent ticket prices soaring. But the team's success may be particularly exciting for Dominicans.

That’s because veteran Celtics center Al Horford is from the Dominican Republic — the first player from the island ever to make it this close to a basketball championship.

"In the Dominican community, it's an amazing thing — it's a huge deal," said Calderon, whose wife is Dominican.

Boston Celtics' Al Horford heads court after scoring during the fourth quarter of an NBA basketball game against the Golden State Warriors in Boston, Thursday, Nov. 16, 2017. The Celtics won 92-88. (Michael Dwyer/AP)
Boston Celtics' Al Horford heads up the court after scoring against the Golden State Warriors in 2017. (Michael Dwyer/AP)

More than 150,000 Dominicans call Massachusetts home. It's one of the country's largest concentrations of Dominicans.

Calderon plans to watch the games from home, but he’s hoping someone — like his wife — remembers his birthday.

"Who knows, maybe I could get some tickets if I'm lucky enough," Calderon said, laughing.

It would be a pricey gift: from $800 to sit in the balcony, to $20,000 for courtside seats.

Angel Calderon of Roslindale displays his Celtics pride, with a T-shirt showing star Jayson Tatum's son. (Courtesy Angel Calderon
Angel Calderon of Roslindale displays his Celtics pride, with a T-shirt showing Jayson Tatum's son. (Courtesy Angel Calderon)

The Celtics' playoff run is a blessing for people with sports-related businesses, many of which struggled during the pandemic when seasons were shortened and stadiums closed to spectators.

"It was a nice way to come out of the gate," said John Higgins, owner of Higs Tickets across from TD Garden. "I mean, we were closed for 377 straight days, so it was nothing I want to live through again."

Now demand is so high that Higgins worries desperate fans could be taken in by scam artists hawking phony tickets.

“There'll be a lot of fraudsters out there," Higgins said. "Definitely do not pay cash for any ticket whatsoever. Everything should be a mobile transfer.”

Of course, that's not a worry for most fans. They'll be watching the game on television.

But even catching the game on TV could be a challenge for Eric Maddocks, a lifelong Celts fan who now lives in Texas. He already had a vacation scheduled deep in the woods of Maine. He says his only option to follow along could be by satellite phone.

"But it's pretty expensive to use a [satellite] phone per minute up there," he noted, "so I'll be hooking up every possible antenna I possibly can to get reception.”

One way or another, Maddocks plans to join millions of other Celtics fans rooting for the team to take home its 18th championship. Even from the desolation of northern Maine.

"Go C's!" he said, smiling under his face mask.

This segment aired on June 8, 2022.

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Simón Rios Twitter Reporter
Simón Ríos is an award-winning bilingual reporter in WBUR's newsroom.

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