What did I learn from watching the New York Knicks this season?
I learned a lot of things, none of them good.
I learned that no lead, not even a nine-point lead with less than three minutes left, is safe. I learned that just because a team signs prominent names doesn’t mean they are signing quality players. Finally, I learned that I will never understand Phil Jackson’s unending obsession to make the “Triangle Offense” work in the post-Kobe/MJ era.
In short, I learned very little about professional basketball other than the fact that it is a cruel and misleading game, especially when played at Madison Square Garden. For the record, the South Carolina men’s basketball team has the same amount of wins at the Garden in March as the Knicks do.
Ultimately, I feel like I learned more about myself this season than I did about basketball. Such is life. Hopefully, whichever future Oracle staff member takes up the chore of covering the Knicks will have better luck with how they play, though I’m far from optimistic.
As the season comes to a woeful, dreary end, the Knicks are 28-47 and officially eliminated from playoff contention. This team, which once had what now appears to be megalomaniac aspirations of playoff contention, excitedly looks to a long-term future centered on Kristaps Porzingis. However, now even he is second-guessing that vision of a future together, and who could blame him?
Derrick Rose is likely out the door and Carmelo Anthony is not even sure he’ll survive the summer purge. Add on top of that the fact that Joakim Noah mixed up the wrong GNC supplements and now he has a 20-game suspension, which will bridge into the start of next season for whichever team he’s unfortunately playing for. On a side note, his 20-game penalty is somehow longer than the 15 games doled out to New York Mets closer and known wife-beater Jeurys Familia. One of these days, somebody will have the testicular fortitude to summarily banish domestic abusers, but it doesn’t appear to be anyone in sports in the year 2017.
My digressions aside, I ask you again: can you blame Kristaps? He’s my age (which boggles my mind) and clearly has the talent to be the best European player in the NBA since Dirk Nowitzki. Why wouldn’t you get a little skittish knowing that your franchise is a $3 billion garbage fire run by a SUNY New Paltz alum who will probably end up beefing with you in 20 years?
I know that the franchise is built on the history of the institution and the Garden and all of that sentimentality junk, but just look at Melo. He bought into all of that when he was traded here in 2011 and now they’re going to toss him to the curb like Uncle Phil did to DJ Jazzy Jeff on every episode of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. We all know that it’s not going to be an equal value trade, the Cleveland Cavaliers or Boston Celtics will probably deal menial draft picks and cash for Melo, potentially our last superstar.
To summarize and close this column, I offer an analogy:
Watching the Knicks is like seeing that friend you don’t see very much and you wonder to yourself why you don’t hang out more. So the first hour or so is all about catching up and chatting, which is fun, but then something goes horribly wrong. Then you grimace, take a deep breath and sigh, quickly remembering why you don’t hang out more often. That’s what this tortured fandom is about: mistakes that mount on top of other mistakes, all with the hopeful glimmer of that 1973 championship fading farther and farther away.