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Not all NBA fans are feeling forgiving

Nelson Torres, 13, played at Joe Moakley Park in South Boston. He said he didn’t like money getting in the way of the game. Nelson Torres, 13, played at Joe Moakley Park in South Boston. He said he didn’t like money getting in the way of the game. (Essdras M Suarez/Globe Staff)
By Akilah Johnson, Martine Powers and Miriam Valverde
Globe Staff | Globe Correspondent / November 27, 2011
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Not everyone was cheering basketball season’s apparent resurrection yesterday.

Fans and workers in businesses dependent on the Celtics playing inside TD Garden were bitter after months of watching multimillionaires bicker over money. Yesterday’s news of a break in the lockout did not engender feelings of forgiveness.

“To tell you the truth, I kind of just want them to cancel the season,’’ said Adam Kelberman of Newton, who was out with his family near the Garden early yesterday afternoon. “At this point, it’s a waste.’’

Kelberman, a self-described sports nut who sided with NBA owners in the protracted contract dispute, said he had little interest in watching a truncated season and thought “the players should get a slap on the hand and lose their money.’’

NBA players’ and owners’ tentative agreement reached early yesterday morning would launch the 66-game season on Christmas Day with a tripleheader that includes Celtics playing the New York Knicks in Madison Square Garden.

From North End bars and South Boston basketball courts to suburban malls yesterday, people said the 149-day lockout had left them feeling shut out.

“From a business standpoint, it’s a big deal,’’ said Jim Taggart, manager of The Four’s Grille on Canal Street across from the Garden. “We pay our mortgages depending on what happens at the Garden. Like all the businesses in this area, it rises and falls on what happens at the Garden.’’

Without Celtics fans filling seats, Taggart said his business is down by a third at the pub, once voted the number one Sports Bar in America by Sports Illustrated.

On game day, he would more than quadruple his staff. But on a slow day like yesterday, he only needs about 10 employees to serve drinks, bus tables, and wait on customers.

“That’s 40 people who weren’t making money and aren’t going out spending money,’’ he said.

“The NBA has done a lot of damage,’’ he added. “They’re going to have a lot to repair.’’

Amanda Mendoza’s business lies outside Boston, but her sports memorabilia kiosk in South Shore Plaza in Braintree has been affected just the same.

“It’s too late to get merchandise for them now, that needs to be done ahead of time,’’ said Mendoza, 41. “But no one cared about them, only tourists. It’s all about the Bruins, that’s what sells.’’

Celtics season ticket holders Jim Buell and Laurie Daddario care.

For the past five years, the Concord couple visited a Canal Street eatery - Sports Grille Boston - before each game, then headed to section 319, row seven. (“We were like regulars, as if it was Cheers,’’ Daddario said, referring to the legendary fictional Boston bar.)

It’s a routine they replaced this year with watching for news about the end of the lockout. Yesterday, they got it.

“We’re thrilled,’’ she said in front of the arena, where they just picked up tickets for the Bruins, who have served as their live sports proxy.

Still, Buell feels let down by the Celtics.

“I just thought with all the money involved, they should have been able to make a deal that wouldn’t have put the fans out,’’ he said, wearing a sweatshirt emblazoned with the beloved basketball team’s name.

And while Buell and Daddario aren’t ready to rush out and cancel their season tickets, that’s exactly what other fans did.

Stefan Kaluziak, 23, of Boston, said he knows three to four people who gave up their season tickets “because they don’t care anymore.’’ The lockout, he said at South Shore Plaza, took away from the game and will cost the league lifelong fans.

Kaluziak lost money on tickets bought for three games. “This has just left a sour taste in my mouth,’’ he said.

While the streets of Greater Boston were filled with vitriol, sports radio’s air waves waxed more positive, buzzing with gratitude that training camp is scheduled to begin in less than two weeks. Some callers were even excited about the shorter season, saying it could benefit the veteran team with seasoned players.

“I’m just so, so, so, so happy that the lockout is over,’’ said Hector from Providence on 98.5 the Sports Hub’s Johnston and Flinn Show. “I’m so happy that Celtics basketball is returning.’’

On the basketball courts of Joe Moakley Park in South Boston, 13-year-old Nelson Torres said he had missed watching his favorite players, Rajon Rondo, Kevin Garnett, and Ray Allen, and tried to distract himself from the lockout by tuning in to Patriots games. But football just isn’t the same, he said.

And he had not liked seeing money get in the way of the game.

Still, he’s a loyal fan.

“I know they’re going to beat the Knicks this year,’’ Torres said. “They’ve still got it.’’

The lockout changed the way 16-year-old Dionte Coplin thinks about professional sports, he said. “The whole thing was so stupid,’’ said Coplin on the courts at Moakley yesterday. “They were just being greedy.’’

The Celtics are the only Boston sports team he watches. Without them, he said, he spent most of his time playing video games.

And while he is still angry at the players, he can’t wait for that first Christmas matchup.

“I’ll get over it,’’ Coplin said. “They’re my favorite team.’’

Globe staff reporter Gary Washburn and Globe correspondent Seth Lakso contributed to this report. Akilah Johnson can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @akjohnson1922. Martine Powers can be reached at Miriam Valverde can be reached at

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