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We spoke to the Celtics fan whose name went viral thanks to Taylor Rooks

ESPN

On Thursday, the Celtics dominated the Mavericks in Game 1 of the NBA Finals, and one Boston fan dominated social media thanks to a viral photo showing him talking to a seemingly disinterested Taylor Rooks in the stands at TD Garden.

Many people understandably assumed that the photo in question was taken during the first game of the championship series, but it was actually a resurfaced image that originally recorded by former Nets striker Rondae Hollis-Jefferson when the Boston Celtics hosted his former team last March.

It still made the rounds thanks to a popular NBA Twitter account that put the NBA back in the spotlight shortly before the game began, and the song quickly entered the “guys explaining things to women in public” meme canon, where it enjoyed a highly viral second life.

It was only natural to wonder what the Celtics fan sitting next to Rooks was saying when the fateful photo was taken – and I'm happy to report that I was able to get to the bottom of the mystery after tracking him down.

An exclusive interview with the Celtics fan who became known for his interaction with Taylor Rooks

The man in question asked us not to reveal his identity, but he is a 25-year-old teacher born and raised in New England who was more than happy to answer some questions about what exactly happened between him and the veteran reporter.

Can you give me a brief overview of your Celtics fan base?

I really got into the Celtics in the 2007-08 season with the Big Three. Rajon Rondo was my favorite player growing up. I have his jersey and the one Garnett wore back then. I go to a game every three or four years and it was just crazy that at the one game I went to last year, something like that happened.

How did you end up in the game – and on this pitch?

It was March 3rd of last year against the Nets. The Celtics were ahead the whole game and blew it in the fourth quarter. It was Jayson Tatum's birthday. Taylor Rooks went to his party afterward. I wasn't invited.

My girlfriend got me the tickets for Christmas. We had four tickets in the top tier, but her dad and I moved down after spotting a few empty seats midway through the second quarter.

So we had really good seats, but I get up and go to the bathroom and when I come back, my seat is taken. I had made friends with the guy in front of me and he said, “I respect your effort. If you get kicked out, the seat next to me is free. The lady in the aisle is a TV reporter and I think she's alone, so you can sit here with us.”

So I sit down next to Taylor and I have no idea who she is. I'm a people person, so I start talking. I can make friends pretty easily at a sporting event. I asked her, “Are you a TV reporter?” and she said, “Yeah.” I said, “Do you go to a lot of games?” and she said, “Yeah, this is my first Celtics game in a while.”

I think it was literally a 30 second conversation. She was pretty curt with her answers, but she was friendly and nice. I guess it was just caught at the worst possible moment. I'm not trying to flirt with her at all; my friend is upstairs and she saw us on the big screen when “TAYLOR ROOKS” came up on the screen below.

I still had no idea who she was until I found out the next day that it came up a little after Rondae Hollis-Jefferson tweeted it. Now, a year later, it came back and it was everything I experienced then, times ten.

It's pretty cool and not so cool at the same time.

How did you find out during Game 1 that it was going viral?

The texts just started pouring in. I probably got 25 or 30 and the students showed them to me all day at school. I tried to have a little fun with them. That's what I preach: Don't let things on the internet bother you – especially trolls who post something and then forget about it.

Will I be ridiculed? Yes, absolutely. Will I be ridiculed or fired? No, so that's the silver lining.

Are there any particular tweets or memes that you particularly liked?

Big Cat's posting was a surreal moment. one of the paintings that were really good. I've had so many sent to me. I don't think it's as bad as the other similar memes it's being compared to, but maybe I'm just the only one.

I've read so many articles and people say, “I hope there are people watching him.” When word got out last year, one of my buddies made me T-shirts. I gave them out to my fantasy football league.

At the end of the day, it's all just fun and I think I'm going to be a Celtics meme for the rest of my life whether I like it or not. I'll just have to live with it.

One last question: What is your prediction for the series after Game 1?

Celtics in 4.