Big Byron Breakdown: How is Anyone a Fan of the Knicks?
There are several great mysteries in this world; How did Steven Gerrard get away with that dive in the 2005 Champions League Final? Whose cruel idea was it to have an ‘s’ in the word lisp? Who pays for Tinder Plus? Why do people down-score on ‘Come Dine With Me’ when they didn’t like the food even before arriving? And how am I not settled down with a nice 10/10 Instagram model with low self-esteem that will rub my stomach, feed me fresh fruit and call me papi? Was that too specific? We’ll move on.
Possibly the greatest mystery of them all is how I and millions of others have remained a fan of the New York Knicks after nothing but years of disappointments. New York’s seemingly bottomless pit of bad luck has transcended through generations and over a dozen general managers and head coaches. Twice in under a decade, the powers that be have put their faith in elderly, injury prone big-men with Antonio McDyess and Amare’e Stoudemire. Twice in under a decade, the powers that be have attempted to build around talented New York natives in hope of bringing glory back to MSG with Stephon Marbury and Carmelo Anthony. The Knicks are always gonna Knick, and this was summed up back in 2011 when they picked up Chauncey Billups’ option in the summer, and then two weeks before the start of the next season used the one-time amnesty to waive him (instead of Stoudemire) to clear space for Tyson Chandler.
After 3 years of losing, and twice starting a roster from scratch, then president Phil Jackson decided to slander the franchise player in Carmelo Anthony and the future of the franchise in Kristaps ‘The Unicorn’ Porzingis. He then attempted to trade Porzingis and drafted unknown French talent Frank Ntilinka over Dennis Smith Jr and Malik Monk on the basis of him being more suited to the triangle, before being fired 3 days later and scrapping all plans of continuing with the triangle (a decision that may be looked back on with regret for years to come).
The reason for continuing to support is simple, switching teams is a cardinal sin, I live in England and I’d feel guilty turning my back on a team after I’ve made the unbreakable vow to support them through rich and poor, through sickness and health; I understand this must be even more unthinkable for a New York native. Each year we tell ourselves that it’ll be different; maybe we’ll sign that marquee free agent, maybe we’ll luck out in the lottery or just maybe we’ll construct a team capable of at least pushing towards the playoffs.
Knicks fans understand the franchise has done almost nothing to inspire confidence in anyone looking in from the outside. Knicks fans also understand when they’re doing right, if only because of how rare that is to witness. Trading Melo now does seem right, and it seems that even the Knicks can’t do that properly.
The Knicks gutted their roster in 2011 to acquire Anthony. He (and they) could have waited until that summer to sign via free agency, and strengthen a team on the rise, but Anthony wanted the sign-and-trade to maximize his pay. He got three years and $60 million, but the team lost its depth and most of its roster flexibility. Two years ago, the Knicks gave the then-30-year-old $125 million (the max was $130 million), a no-trade clause and a trade kicker. Last month, Jackson asked owner James Dolan to buy out Anthony. Instead, Dolan bought out Jackson.
But, there may be something to look forward to. They’ve hired Scott Perry, a seemingly respected and respectable human being who paid his dues working several positions for several organizations and has now set up shop in the Big Apple. It goes badly when the Knicks hire big names who have no front office success (Jackson; Isiah Thomas) and they’re dumb for forever swinging for the fences, for not having the patience and foresight to build from the ground up.
Rookie lottery choice Ntilikina has yet to play a single second as a Knick, having suffered knee soreness in his first practice. Dennis Smith Jr, taken one spot later by Dallas, was the highlight of the Summer League, and so some have already tweeted about the Knicks having blown their pick. Ntilikina hasn’t even played yet and he’s already being labeled a failure. Not because of anything he’s done or hasn’t done, because Knicks.
It is now beginning to become clear as to what the Knicks are doing. Ntilikina, 6-foot-5 and just 18-years-old, is a project, but a project who projects to impact both ends of the floor like Porzingis. His passing, shooting from distance and 7-foot-1 wingspan suggest a diverse talent. They suggest upside. They suggest defense. Diversity, upside and defense are not typically words that are associates with this franchise.
Smith looks like he will be a wonderful player, offensively; He appears to be reminiscent of Derrick Rose in his pomp. Two years ago Porzingis was second on the team in shots per game; last year he fell to third, behind Anthony and Rose. Going forward, that doesn’t add up. Ntilikina, conceptually, does. It may not work out. But it does make sense. Hopefully, there will be some positivity on the horizon.
So how does anyone root for the New York Knicks? There’s no great, deep reason behind this. We root for them because we have to, and we’ll keep doing so, no matter how many more times they let us down.