The Inherent Nihilism of Being a Knick Fan

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March 4, 2015 by NowhereButPop

by Andrew Doscas


It’s really embarrassing that the Mecca of basketball hasn’t seen a championship in over 40 years.  What’s more embarrassing is that there’s a good chance, 10 years from now, I could be writing the exact same article and start it the exact same way, substituting “over 40 years” for “over 50 years”.  This is what it means to be a Knick fan: an inordinate and disproportional amount of misery which after a while gives way to a smothering sense of nihilism.  But for however despondent and deadened we become to the futility of the Knicks, we still care.  And that’s why we’re all fools; all ye have indeed entered, but we haven’t really given up hope yet.

It’s a shame that James Dolan and the rest of his brain-dead trust have, in every way possible, squandered and abused such a fervent and loyal fan base.  If the ultimate goal is to win an NBA championship, what has Dolan done in the past 15 years that’s mattered?  Maybe I’m finally being objective, or maybe my disillusionment has finally given way to an inhumane and exaggerated hopelessness, but the Knicks haven’t mattered since Patrick Ewing left the team.[1]

We all remember how excited the basketball world was during the 2012-2013 NBA season because of the fact that the Knicks were an inexplicably good team.  They won 54 games that year, went 3-1 against the Heat, and swept the Spurs during the season series.  New York was abuzz with a renewed sense of pride in their team, ESPN was uncharacteristically paying compliments to a New York team, and pundits and analysts couldn’t stop talking about how having a good Knicks team was “good for basketball”.  But as with all things concerning New York basketball, it was a flash in the pan, a brief, anomalous moment that would ultimately prove fleeting.  In 15 years the Knicks have only won 50+ games one time, and two years removed from that season, they now boast the worst record in the league, and at one point were on pace to break the record for most losses in a single season.  Like Icarus who flew too high in the sky, it seems that a redoubled sense of mediocrity, one that would make Isiah Thomas say “Goddamn”, is the price to pay for our hubristic belief that the Knicks were finally becoming contenders.

James Dolan inherited a diamond when he took over as owner of the Knicks, he then proceeded to turn the franchise not into coal which still has value, but shit.  He turned the Knicks into a bigger mockery than a coked out Spencer Haywood or an apathetic Bill Cartwright ever could have.  The one thing I will concede to Dolan is that he genuinely wants to turn the Knicks into a winner; he just has absolutely no idea how to do that.  The problem, is that every move he’s made in the past 15 years has either backfired completely (the Allen Houston contract, Stephon Marbury, Isiah Thomas, Amar’e Stoudemire’s uninsured contract), or been an objectively incorrect move to make (trading for Carmelo when you could have gotten him for free six months later, entertaining the idea that Andrea Bargnani could ever be an asset, Eddy Curry/Antonio McDyess, adhering to the heretical belief that lottery picks are utterly useless).  For all of his get-rich-quick schemes to fix the Knicks, we have absolutely nothing to show for it, and from the look of things, the Carmelo extension will simply be the next in an all too long line of leper messiahs tasked with the insurmountable task of leading the Mecca back to the Promise Land.[2]

James Dolan- The sole controller of New York basketball. He’s also been known to fall asleep during Knick games.

The Knicks aren’t just a team that hasn’t won a championship in a really, really, really long time.  They’ve become a team that’s lost in every way imaginable.  Bernard King blowing out his ACL at the height of his career was really the first inexplicable thing to go wrong for the Knicks.  For the silver age of Knicks basketball, the early 1990’s, the Knicks always seemed to be just short of a championship.  Charles Smith, 1992’s big offseason acquisition, being suffocated under a flurry of blocks against the Bulls, John Starks going cold for the worst possible 48 minutes of his life, Patrick Ewing’s missed layup, it seemed like the Knicks found creative ways to lose for three years in a row from 1993-1995.[3]  As if these humiliating losses weren’t enough, in 1997, the Heat beat the Knicks in a second round playoff match after the Knicks were up 3-1 games in the series.  A game four brawl led to outrageous suspensions for all the Knicks best players which sealed the deal for a Heat series victory.  Four outrageous losses in five years kinda makes the 1990’s Knicks a dynasty of gut wrenching losses, losses which no other team has endured.

The supposed missing piece of a championship team, Charles Smith would be just another in a long line of false prophets.

Once you piece together the history of the Knicks and connect it with the current prospects, you get to the point where you start to think that believing in them doesn’t matter anymore.  There’s a difference between rooting for a team and believing in a team, and quite frankly, the Knicks have given their fans absolutely no reason whatsoever to believe in them.  People still pay way too much to see a bad team play basketball, management has no idea how to put together a basketball team, and history, it would seem, is our worst enemy.

This doesn’t mean that I’m no longer a fan, in fact I think this current malaise of despondence is caused by the fact that I really care about the Knicks.  I just can’t bear to watch them sputter out of control like a spiraling plane all too eager to meet the ground head on.  I think that as a fan, myself and everyone else who calls themselves a Knicks fan, deserve better, better than what the Knicks have been delivering.

I’m skeptical of Phil Jackson; I’m suspicious of any big name free agent entrusted to shepherd the Knicks through the desert that we’ve been wandering through for 40 years already; and I’m apathetic to the prognosis of the franchise until I see tangible proof of a recovery.  Even if Adam Silver grants us the #1 pick in this year’s draft and delivers Jahlil Okafor to us on a silver platter, it’ll be at least two years until the Knicks will be a playoff team again, and by that point Carmelo Anthony will be 32 years old with no vertical skills left.  We’re all eagerly awaiting the 2015 offseason as if it were some kind of miracle cure for all of our problems.  The real problem is that that’s the same mindset that’s been governing every single move that the franchise has made over the past 15 years.  And to be honest, it’ll take Phil Jackson more than one offseason to fix what it took James Dolan 15 years to destroy.

[1] Only the Knicks could make me feel like Virginia Woolf.  Ironically enough, she died exactly 50 years to the day before my birth.  I just found this out while looking her up to make sure the simile was apropos.  Things that make you go hmmmm…..

[2] “Fix the Knicks” is also the name of a song by Dolan’s blues band.  It’s a tongue in cheek reference to how the Knicks can never seem to get it right.  Naturally enough, this song draws the most raucous amounts of boos.   Exhibit A that James Dolan should not be in a position to make any decision in life.

[3] Granted the 1 seeded Supersonics had the ignominy of losing to the 8 seeded Nuggets in 1994, Mario Ellie’s “Kiss of death” against the Suns, and the Magic had to put up with Nick the Brick in the 1995 Finals, but these impossible instances of bad luck only happened once for these teams.  The Knicks were the only team to consistently suffer these sudden and unpredictable let-downs.


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