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Mayor Michelle Wu is no bandwagon Celtics supporter — she’s a superfan

"The sports teams are such an important part of creating community here,” says Boston Mayor Michelle Wu.David L. Ryan/Globe Staff

Among the Celtics fans gathered at Sam Adams Park near Faneuil Hall to watch Game 2 of the NBA Finals last Sunday were none other than Boston Mayor Michelle Wu and her two sons, 7-year-old Blaise and 4-year-old Cass. With the series starting at the Chase Center in San Francisco, Wu had coordinated with the Celtics and city agencies to give fans an opportunity to cheer on the team from afar.

But Wu’s presence at the event was hardly performative.

No, Wu is not a bandwagoner. She’s a superfan.

Growing up in Chicago in the 1990s, Wu’s introduction to basketball was actually Michael Jordan and the Bulls. Her parents, who immigrated to the US from Taiwan, didn’t allow her or her siblings to watch much television. There was one exception: Bulls games.

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“My parents were immigrants,” Wu said Tuesday via telephone. “In many ways, they felt pretty disconnected from mainstream culture. Basketball was the connecting force.”

Boston Mayor Michelle Wu has deep roots as a basketball fan.Craig F. Walker/Globe Staff

Wu, the oldest of four children, took a liking to the sport. She and her siblings would often pretend to be the players, with Wu as Scottie Pippen, her brother as power forward Horace Grant, and her sister as point guard B.J. Armstrong.

“I don’t think any of us felt qualified to be Michael Jordan,” she joked.

Once Wu moved to Boston to attend Harvard, her fandom shifted. The Celtics were not very good during Wu’s undergraduate years, never advancing out of the first round of the playoffs and finishing 24-58 her senior year. But she still gravitated to the team.

“The sports teams are such an important part of creating community here,” she said. “For me, basketball was naturally where my heart is.”

Wu has since embraced her Celtics fandom.

When fellow Harvard grad Jeremy Lin and the New York Knicks came to TD Garden in March 2012, amid “Linsanity,” Wu tweeted a photo from the stands with the caption, “I’ll cheer for you against any other team but my Celtics!” When Brad Stevens was hired as Celtics coach in July 2013, she tweeted, “I like it!” When Cass was born in 2017, she made sure to outfit him in a Celtics onesie.

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Something Wu loves about the Celtics, and each of Boston’s sports teams, is their role as a “powerful connector” across the city.

“Professional sports and arts and culture can close the gaps between strangers who might not know each other at all but can quickly find a shared passion,” she said. “In Boston, that is pretty universal.”

With this year’s Celtics, Wu admires their journey to the Finals. After spending much of the first half of the season under .500, toiling at the bottom of the playoff picture, the Celtics turned things around, finishing with the second-best record in the East.

“In this role, you can’t miss how powerful it is to bring our city together and to celebrate a team that has gone through so much and grown so much together,” she said. “They’re really showing the power of resilience and fight and teamwork, most of all.”

She also appreciates their willingness to speak out on important issues, most recently evidenced by coach Ime Udoka’s comments following the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas.

Wu has been to TD Garden throughout each stage of the Celtics’ up-and-down season. In December, when they were hovering around .500, she went to a regular-season game with friends. In March, when they were vying for the No. 1 seed, she went with Fenway High School’s boys’ and girls’ basketball teams.

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During the postseason, Wu was in the house for Game 7 against Milwaukee and Game 6 against Miami. (She superstitiously says she was sitting in the wrong seats for the latter.)

Wu, left, has been a consistent presence at sporting events around the city this year. Here, she poses for a selfie with former Mayors Kim Janey and Marty Walsh at the 2022 Boston Marathon.Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff

When she’s not attending in person, Wu and her family will often keep tabs from home. Her sons, in their Celtics hats and shirts, enjoy watching the score very closely, tabulating the difference between the teams. There’s lots of talk about superstar Jayson Tatum and the longest-tenured Celtic, Marcus Smart.

“Marcus Smart is such an embodiment of Boston spirit in just going after it every single time,” she said. “We’re huge fans in the house.”

On game days, Wu will often don a green dress or sport her shamrock pin as much as possible in an effort to “keep the luck up” wherever she is. Now that the Finals are in Boston, she’ll be at TD Garden Wednesday for Game 3.

But cheering for the Celtics is nothing new for her.


Nicole Yang can be reached at nicole.yang@globe.com.Follow her on Twitter @nicolecyang.