After all, that's what Philadelphia Inquirer beat writer John Mitchell wanted to do, when he wrote a blog post which accused Boston fans of racism, in response to Kevin Garnett's assertion that Philadelphia fans are "fair weather fans."
Mitchell invoked the incident in which people lashed out against Capitals defenseman Joel Ward on Twitter after he scored the game-winning goal in game 7 of their 2nd round playoff series against the Bruins. He also referenced Bill Russell's feelings on Boston back when he played for the Celtics in the 1950s and '60s.
Some key quotes from Mitchell's post:
Can’t really call this an isolated incident, my friend, not unless you believe that those clowns were gathered together in some sort of Bruins/Skinheads gathering and, after their team went down, they all took to Twitter once Ward drove the stake through Boston’s heart.
No, this wasn’t the whole Boston fan base, not at all. But it’s not a coincidence that Bill Russell, the biggest sports winner in the history of Boston sports, absolutely loathed the city and a fan base that he saw as racist.
So my advice to you, KG, is that you’re better off winning this series, the next one and then the next. Because if you let those stalwart fans down, who knows what they’ll unleash on you. We do know what they are capable of.
Take that how you want.
ESPN Radio's Chris Villani invited Mitchell on his show and discussed it with him for about 15 minutes, during which time Mitchell essentially admitted that he wrote the story to get attention, and it clearly worked. He got Villani's attention, he got the attention of NFL Network's Albert Breer, and he got my attention as well.
There's no denying what happened to Bill Russell. He was treated poorly by many Boston fans in the '50s and '60s, simply because of the color of his skin.
That having been said, Russell wasn't the only athlete who was persecuted because of the color of his skin in those days, nor was Boston the only city with racial hostility.
A quick glance at a history book would reveal that our entire nation was mired in ignorance at the time, and there was a constant struggle for civil rights. Black athletes were just a small portion of an entire race that was being treated unfairly and discriminated against.
Another quick glance at a few articles about the Joel Ward fiasco would show Mitchell that a vast majority of Boston fans and the Bruins themselves were extremely quick to condemn the ignorant few who were tweeting offensive statements about Ward.
Ward's statement after the fact: "I’m definitely getting a lot of support. There have been a lot of Boston fans who have supported me, which is very cool to see. No hard feelings from me."
Based on the overall response, the only educated and informed opinion that one could possibly form would be that Boston fans actually rallied around Ward after a select few idiots exposed their own ignorance.
Mitchell's post was intended to somehow shift the focus from Philadelphia's fair weather fans to Boston's racism, yet he completely ignores Philly's storied history of racism. While talking to Mitchell on his radio show, Villani mentioned the treatment of Curt Flood, Dick Allen, and Jackie Robinson in Philly, which is the equivalent of bringing up Russell.
Interestingly enough, you don't have to go back that far to see pretty blatant examples of racism in Philadelphia. Anyone remember the Valley Swim Club incident in 2009?
If I studied at the John Mitchell School of Attention-Seeking, my headline would be a perfect example of his tactics from a Boston angle.
Am I saying Philadelphia fans are any worse than anywhere else? Nope. At least not today. They've had their moments, just like every other passionate fan base in sports.
Clearly, Mr. Mitchell is just a frustrated Philly fan who is tired of hearing about how the local fans booed Santa Claus, and why they're the worst fan base in sports.
Still, that's no excuse to take it out on a bunch of strangers, John. You're better than that. At least I hope you are. If not, I hope you're unemployed shortly.