Real New Yorkers root for the Knicks
There are now two National Basketball League teams within the borders of New York City. The Knicks have been here since 1946, the Nets moved to Brooklyn from New Jersey in 2012. Neither team is doing very well right now, but only one is worthy of your support.
The Knicks are the city’s loveable losers. We got to the N.B.A. finals in 1999 and lost in five games and haven’t come close to that level of glory since.
I was lucky enough to get to a Knicks game not long ago. It was for work and we had great seats. The baseball owner Bill Veeck said a fan’s knowledge of the game is inversely proportional to the price of their ticket and that holds true in basketball as well as baseball. Although Spike Lee probably knows – and I don’t think he was there that night – no fan within the first 20 rows could probably tell you who the Knicks all-time leading scorer is (Patrick Ewing—I had to look that up). These were valuable seats and I wouldn’t have sat there if they hadn’t been paid for by a corporate client that was footing the bill.
People showed up late and left early; that’s not how you should act when you can see the hypnotic pattern on Walt Frazier’s bold brown blazer and see the pained expression on Kristaps Porzingis’ face when he fouls out. If you’ve spent that kind of money on tickets, get there on time.
At any rate, we were lucky that night in that the Knicks actually won the game. It was in overtime and the game seemed to stretch on forever as the Utah Jazz repeatedly fouled the Knicks in order to get possession of the ball (this is a common basketball tactic that rarely helps a team win a game but succeeds in boring the shit out of fans). But the Knicks finished with the win.
The Knicks are New York’s loveable losers on the basketball court. They find new ways to break their fans’ hearts every year, but they are our team. Now some fair-weather fans are supporting the Brooklyn Nets. Since Brooklyn is trendy and the Nets play in Brooklyn, it is fashionable in some circles to support this farce of a team. That they have sleek black and white merchandise I’m sure helps.
Nowhere in sports, until ISIS starts fielding a hockey team, is there a better example of a team that deserves to fail than the Brooklyn Nets. The Nets play in the Barclays Center, which is part of the notorious Atlantic Yards project, a billionaire’s boondoggle that forced middle- and working-class New Yorkers from their homes. The State of New York invoked eminent domain to force people to sell their homes to shady real estate developer Bruce Ratner, who paid off local activist groups to support the effort. It’s a shameful chapter in the city’s history and the Barclay’s Center is an ugly eyesore that is a testament to our sordid age of corrupt politics and the worst kind of crony capitalism.
I don’t care how much the Knicks lose, wearing a Nets jersey is about the most un-New York thing you can do. The Knicks can lose every game between now and 2053, sacrifice puppies center court and I’ll still root for them over the Nets.
But don’t take my word for it. Watch a Knicks game on television and I’m confident you’ll be convinced of their authenticity. It doesn’t matter how much you lose, it’s how you keep fighting and show character that counts. That’s what real New Yorkers do.