Widgets Magazine
I love the Knicks. I always have. I remember running to the living room after dinner on Friday nights to watch them play. They were led by a perennially underrated David Lee and JCrossover, the smooth, slick Jamal Crawford. I jumped whenever our spunky, streaky, 5’9” spark Nate Robinson entered the game. Not yet knowing what it feels like to have a bona fide star, those guys were my heroes. Those teams never won many games – how could they when guys like Malik Rose and Jerome James got minutes – but they nurtured my fandom into a piece of my identity. Back then, I was too innocent to get bogged down by the losing. With no expectations, I celebrated every win for the gift it was.

Golub: What it means to be a Knicks fan

This column reflects the opinion of the writer and does not in any way reflect the views of The Stanford Daily.

 

I do not like the Knicks. Melo bothers me when he plays lazily and takes too many bad shots; Coach Jeff Hornacek irritates me with his flailing attempts to incorporate the triangle offense, an outdated offensive system that has only worked with either Michael Jordan or Kobe Bryant and deserved its death in the NBA; I hate the arrogant Phil Jackson talking to his players through the media and overpaying for injury-prone, past-their-prime vets (sorry Joakim, it’s true); and most of all, in a special section of my heart, I reserve a pool of fiery, sticky, poisonous rage for James Dolan. He is, in no particular order, the worst owner in all of sports, the man who covered up a sexual harassment lawsuit, the culprit of the Knicks’ embarrassing downfall and the sordid, slimy individual that kicked out one of the Knicks’ all-time great players – Charles Oakley! – from Madison Square Garden and had him arrested because Dolan can’t take a little criticism. The Knicks are a garbage truck engulfed in flames flying uncontrollably down into an abyss of failure and pain. But let me tell you how I really feel.

I love the Knicks. I always have. I remember running to the living room after dinner on Friday nights to watch them play. They were led by a perennially underrated David Lee and JCrossover, the smooth, slick Jamal Crawford.  I jumped whenever our spunky, streaky, 5’9” spark Nate Robinson entered the game. Not yet knowing what it feels like to have a bonafide star, those guys were my heroes. Those teams never won many games – how could they, when guys like Malik Rose and Jerome James got minutes? – but they nurtured my fandom into a piece of my identity. Back then, I was too innocent to get bogged down by the losing. With no expectations, I celebrated every win for the gift it was. Each morning before school, I’d flip to the back of the newspaper to check the standings (I’m not ancient, not everyone had an iPhone yet) and see how many games back we were of that coveted eighth seed in the Eastern Conference. I’d glance at the upcoming games schedule, imagining us stringing together a couple wins and climbing the standings. Eventually, I had to grow up.

Everything changed the summer of 2010. That summer was one of the most important in the history of sports. Most people know it as the formation of the Big Three: It was the summer LeBron ran away to Miami. And sure, I was disappointed he didn’t sign with the Knicks.  Everyone – friends, adults, SportsCenter – had been talking about how we had a real shot of getting him. But my disappointment was overridden by my excitement at getting Amar’e. For the first time in my Knicks-fan life, we had a star. Sadly, that miracle would last only half a season, even though, at the time, it seemed like we were positioning ourselves to win a title. Halfway through the year, the Knicks traded for Carmelo Anthony from the Denver Nuggets. He had demanded a trade and, as a native New Yorker, seemed bent on coming to the Mecca, to MSG. But our immature owner, with an ego far too big for his stubby body, couldn’t wait a year for Melo’s contract to expire. He gutted our roster, trading away three-and a half starters (Gallo, Wilson Chandler, Ray Felton and the illustrious Timofey Mozgov) to add a fancy new engine to the team, all the while ripping away three of its wheels. I’m no mechanical engineer, but that car doesn’t seem built for the long haul. (It wasn’t.) We got swept in the first round and have yet to make it to an Eastern Conference finals.

In the Melo era, the team has changed rapidly and drastically. We had one decent year, losing in six games to the Indiana Pacers in the second round of the playoffs.  After a few consecutive trips to the playoffs, the Knicks are back where they’ve been comfortable under Dolan: the lottery.  

The NBA draft lottery took place this past week, and it gave me a chance to reflect on my team. Unlike the bandwagon Dubs fans (oh, you’re not a bandwagon fan? Name five Warriors before Steph was drafted … yeah) and bandwagon LeBron lovers, I don’t have any victories left to celebrate this year. The lottery was my one shot at getting something good. With our new blossoming star, Kristaps Porzingis (AKA the Unicorn, AKA Porzingod), already fed up with management, we could desperately use a high draft pick to get ourselves a point guard for the future. But instead of moving up, we fell a spot to the eighth pick. I was pissed (sorry to anyone dining in Stern who heard me shout some unsavory things). It feels like the basketball gods laughing at me: “Oh, you wanted that eighth spot so bad?  Well, here you go!” At this point, I’m used to those laughs. I’m used to crushed dreams. I’m used to having my expectations set too high no matter how low they are. With all the terrible things that happened this season, from Dolan kicking out Oakley and calling him an alcoholic, to Phil Jackson telling Melo he doesn’t want him, to Derrick Rose ditching the team without telling anyone, to Kristaps skipping his exit interview and (possibly) accidentally tweeting that he wanted to go to the Clippers, I felt – for the first time in my life – that maybe I was done with the Knicks. Perhaps it was time to move on.  

Now that the season and the lottery are in the past, I’m not quite as close to the edge. I have dropped all my expectations. I still don’t like the Knicks, but I’ll always be a Knicks fan. I hope I can rediscover the joy I used to have back when I didn’t know any better.

 

 

Contact Jack Golub at golubj ‘at’ stanford.edu.