Anthony Nicolo is living a Boston Celtics fan’s dream.

The lifelong hoop head was on the Garden’s storied parquet Monday night, when the Celtics ousted the Dallas Mavericks to capture their record-setting 18th NBA championship. As green and white confetti rained down from the rafters, Nicolo took in the moment.

It was his second championship celebration. Sixteen years prior, Nicolo was also present when the Celtics defeated the vaunted Los Angeles Lakers on their home floor to win their first title since 1986.

Growing up in a sports-crazed household around Boston, Nicolo loved the Celtics from an early age. His dad pushed him to play sports, but he had another athletic interest.


As a nine year old, he successfully tried out for Lil Phunk, the Celtics’ junior dance team. Nicolo loved working the crowd, and busting a move or two on the sidelines.

When he returned to Boston last year following a stint in Florida, Nicolo wanted to return to the parquet. He was there for every home game this season, watching the Celtics bulldoze their way through the NBA.

“I was there at the championship in 2008,” he said. “When I moved to Florida, I wanted to come back as a Celtics dancer, because they started having males. I’m from here. This is where my roots are. That’s why I wanted to audition.”

While the celebratory champaign dries, Queerty recently caught up with Nicolo to chat about his sports fandom and cheering for a champion. Here’s what he had to say…

QUEERTY: What was it like being at the Garden Monday night?

ANTHONY NICOLO: I knew they were gonna win, but obviously we were all super nervous! It was all so surreal. We danced so much. There’s no words for it! It’s just full circle, because I was there in 2008 as a child. I was 12. Being back there 16 years later, it was just surreal. Emotions were high, we were all crying. It was great to be there with my teammates, because we’re all so close, and my coach. 

Why pursue dancing and sports?

When I saw in 2019 that sports pro dance teams starting having males, I was super interested, because I did it as a child. Obviously, you only know NFL cheerleaders or NBA dancers as women, and they’re in these very high boots and skirts, The vibe has just changed, and people want to see both genders out there. It’s awesome to be part of that.

When the [Tampa Bay Buccaneers] had males, and I was still living in Florida, I was like, “I really want to do that!” All my friends in college, when they were on the team, I thought it was so awesome. My whole family is super into sports. We had season tickets to the Red Sox. I would go to Celtics games as a child. My brother was the quarterback of his football team in high school. Super into sports. I just think representing a huge team in the professional level is what I love to do. It’s just awesome. There are so many perks and benefits and amazing people. You become a better dancer, too. It’s not easy!

What’s one thing about being a cheerleader that people don’t know about?

I feel like some people don’t think we’re athletes, and we’re just there. We do a little dance, we have to look polished and good, and we’re just there. But it is a lot of work. It’s a part-time job, but it’s full-time. We’re learning a lot of choreography outside of actual practice. We endure 3-hour practices three times per week, plus games, we have to be there three hours before. We have appearances as well. We could drive to Rhode Island and have an appearance for two hours representing the Celtics. They’re a lot of fun. I got to do the Boston Marathon, and that was my favorite. I was with everybody at the finish line!

But it’s a lot of work, and it requires a lot of athleticism. Mentally and emotionally, you have to be ready for it. You get critiqued every day, you have to take constructive criticism well. You have to be a team player, you’ve got to be on time and responsible. It’s a lot on your body, especially when you’re gonna be 30 soon! A lot of my teammates are 19 and in college, so I’m like “I remember when I was that young and never got tired.” It’s just a lot on the body. Dancers are athletes… for sure!

What’s your favorite music to get down to?

Definitely hip hop! Then within hip hop, there are so many other styles: old school, new school, breakdancing, popping locking. Hip hop is what I grew up doing, and is always special to me.

Who are your favorite artists?

Literally anything I can dance to with a good beat. I love Nikki Minaj. Usher is great. Any hip hip or rap song. I like Britney, too. Can’t go wrong!

What’s your fitness routine?

I’m so into fitness! My Masters is in exercise and nutrition. I love working out. I work out twice per day. Usually, I’ll go to Barry’s or Solidcore or the gym. Then for my second workout, I’ll go for a walk or I will have dance practice. That’s what I do. I love to stay active 24/7. I work from home at a desk, so I hate sitting. I’ll get up every hour or so and go on a quick walk or do pushups or something. I work out seven days per week, and I try to eat pretty healthy.

What are some of your favorite things to do, when you’re not getting down out there?!

I love to travel. I went to Germany for the Bucs, so that was super cool. I love to travel and explore new places. I’ll go alone, I don’t care! I love to hike and climb. I go to Arizona a lot and do those mountains over there. I love to go to the beach, though it’s hard in Massachusetts. But I love to just be in the sun and be outside. I love spending time with my family and friends and try new restaurants—I love food! I feel like I’m always on the go.

I know it’s hard to choose, but if you had to… who’s your favorite player?

I love [Kristaps] Porzingis. I just think he’s so sweet. He always talks to us. He represents not only the U.S., but Europe, and I think that’s awesome. He was injured, but still pushed through. He’s actually getting surgery this weekend, because he obviously wasn’t ready to play, but played anyway. Somebody whipped him down last night, and I felt so bad. I was like, “Don’t you do that!” So yeah, he’s probably my favorite. They’re all friendly, but he’s unique in that way. He goes out of his way to talk to us, and he’s a great player and he’s so tall. He’s cute!

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