LYNN — Growing up in Lynn, Chris Gasper’s love for sports started just the same as many others — in his home.
“A lot of my passion for sports really started in the home,” Gasper said. “That was the home that was on 86 Richardson Road. It was just watching sports with my dad, my uncles and sort of connecting there.”
That passion is something Gasper turned into a successful career working as a sports columnist for the Boston Globe and a radio host at 98.5 The Sports Hub. Thursday night at the Lynn Museum’s annual meeting, Gasper sat down with the Daily Item’s Steve Krause to share some of that upbringing and talk Boston sports.
“I played basketball at the Lynn YMCA, that’s something I always remember looking forward to very much,” Gasper said. “If you know Richardson Road you know it’s behind Pine Grove Cemetery. When I was a kid, believe it or not, that was like our playground. We would go out there and play pickup tackle football or baseball and my dad would hit me fly balls. That’s what we used to look forward to.
“We would play and I would pretend to be all my favorite athletes, Bo Jackson, Deion Sanders, Raghib Ismail, I would even imitate their touchdown celebrations,” Gasper continued. “At that time, I think young Chris thought he would play for the Patriots or Celtics and didn’t realize he would be 5-foot-9, 100-and-nothing. That was my introduction to sports. It was a lot of stuff in the Lynn community.”
From a young age Gasper always had a passion for reading and writing, another thing he adopted from his family. Gasper developed those skills during his education at Lynn Classical and Boston University.
“I always loved to read,” Gasper said. “It was something that was in the home. It’s something I really got from my mom and my aunt. They’re both extremely passionate when it comes to writing and literature. That’s just the way we grew up.
“I always admired the people that could generate these stories,” Gasper said. “Something that doesn’t exist, it’s a blank piece of paper or a blank screen and from somebody’s mind something is created that allows them to connect to other people. I always thought there was something magical about that.”
With two sports lovers leading the conversation, the discussion naturally landed on what’s going through every Boston Celtics fan’s mind after the team was eliminated in the second round of the playoffs by the Milwaukee Bucks Wednesday — whether Kyrie Irving will remain a Celtic.
“I think (he’s leaving),” Gasper said. “I think he struggled all year long to find the right mood, method, message for leadership. It’s hard to be an individualist and connect with other people and be a leader. I think that was his struggle.
“When you look at the Celtics and what they didn’t accomplish, that frustration, why would you want to stay?” Gasper said. “Why would you want to come back to a place where you feel like your leadership is not heeded, where you’re in a combative relationship with the media?”
Later, Gasper would talk about a Boston sports coach who also has a combative relationship with the media — Bill Belichick. Starting his career with the Boston Globe as a Patriots beat writer, Gasper has had more than one encounter with the Patriots head coach’s icy glares.
“Bill and I have had some fun run-ins over the years,” Gasper said. “One of them was Spygate. He had said he misinterpreted a rule, so I brought the rule with me. I asked him a question and I said the rule seems pretty clear. In the middle of my question he started walking off the podium.
“This is what I’ve learned over the years, he wants to manage and control everything,” Gasper said. “In that building he can do that. That’s the way the NFL works and he’s the unquestioned boss in that building. But what’s the one thing outside of his control? The media.”
Out of the many athletes and coaches Gasper has covered over the years, the most exceptional in terms of conducting themselves is a fan favorite, Tom Brady.
“To have that level of fame and adulation,” Gasper said of Brady. “And to respond the way he does, to treat people the way he does. It’s a minor thing but what I always noticed about Tom is, a lot of times you ask a question and people look at the camera. You ask Tom Brady a question and he looks at you. He makes eye contact. There’s a respect factor there.”