“I love this team”.
When I utter this phrase today, as I often do, I am not referring to my general love for the New York Knicks (the franchise). Instead, I am referring to the particular collection of players who make up this current Knicks team. JR, Cope, Novakaine, Shump, Prigs, Raybaby, Big Tys, Melo, Amare, Brew, Sheeeeed, Camby, Kurt, Kidd, and Flight White. Even professional Knicks fan, Baron Davis. Just read that list of players. Read it again. Ok, read it a third time. Have you found the weak link yet? That one player who you inexplicably can’t stand? Neither have I. For the first time in years – or eons depending on who you ask – the Knicks are a collection of highly capable and likeable characters.Every player brings their unique affability and talent: Shump’s rapping flat-top, JR’s salsa beaters, Copeland’s adorable offensive explosions, Prigioni’s nifty hands and complete failure to communicate in anything vaguely resembling English. With exception of the occasional Felton or Brewer shooting disaster, a Novlacking defensive effort, or Sheed ball don’t lying from downtown for the 12th time in a night, I have confidence in any and every player’s ability to make a positive contribution on the court. (I would have said Kurt Thomas worries me, but his recent string of baby J’s from the elbow has me partying like its 1998)
Heading into the latter part of the Knicks’ season, the players donning orange and blue finally seem to be tried and true New York Knickerbockers. They want to be here. They want to win here. And they can.
In the debacle of a decade preceding this current incarnation of the Knicks, there was never a year when this feeling existed. The roster was saturated with underperforming, uninspiring bores. Much, if not all, of the blame for this should be placed on Isiah Thomas, who assembled teams like a four year-old putting together a 10,000-piece jigsaw puzzle. Indeed, there is much hate directed his way, and rightly so. But more than Isiah, I hated the players. A die-hard Knicks fan, I could never push myself to rally behind the likes of Quentin Richardson or Tim Thomas. They were not good. They were not likeable. Their stench of sweat turned into the stench of losing. And it killed all of the pretty flowers in the Garden. It was basketball death.
There is a website called Sporcle. With hundreds of timed trivia games, the site rivals all other methods of procrastination. Do you want to know what the hardest game on the site is? A trivia contest that requires you to “List every Knick from 2000-2009;” it’s impossible. And it’s disgusting.
When true Knicks fans play, they immediately flaunt their extensive Knicks knowledge by dropping names like Frank Williams, Lavor Postell and Moochie Norris… but, eventually, the task at hand becomes impossible and overwhelming, even for the biggest of Knick fans.
You realize that there are 38 seconds left and you have only filled in 54 out of the 171 empty boxes. When time runs out, all of the answers you missed suddenly appear in bright red. It’s absolutely terrifying. When the rest of the names are revealed, it’s like being in the scariest of haunted houses at the exact moment when the guy dressed as a vampire pops out at you. You know it’s coming, but it still scares the hell out of you. In this particular metaphor, when the vampire jumps out at you, he also happens to be holding all your fat pictures from high school you thought you took off Facebook. It’s a world of shame and misery.
But in order to fully appreciate these 2013 Knicks, it is necessary reflect on this dark time in Knicks history, and the players who did everything in their power to obliterate basketball in New York City. Once we do this, we will never speak of these former Knicks ever again.
The “I Came To NY to Destroy My Legacy and Kill My Career” Players:
Anfernee Hardaway (2004-2006) – Penny Hardaway became Anfernee Hardaway in New York. He lives with his family in NBA Live ’96.
Dikembe Mutombu (2003-2004) – His only contribution to the Knicks was an amazing jumbotron trivia question. The answer was B. Dikembe Mutombo Mpolondo Mukamba Jean-Jacques Wamutombo, said in a bellowing, didgeridoo-like voice.
Muggsy Bogues (2001) – 0.0 points in 0.0 games. He is store manager of a Big and Tall suit shop in Madison, Wisconsin.
Stephon Marbury (2004-2009) – For 43 games, Starbury seemed to be the answer. But the hometown hero’s career quickly faded in New York, eventually leading him to eat a tub of Vaseline for thanksgiving dinner on the Internet. Unsurprisingly, after he left NY, Stephon became a living legend… in China.
Vin Baker (2004-2005) – Vin essentially came out of retirement to join the Knicks. Unfortunately, he left 45% of his body weight and 95% of his basketball skill at home. He currently runs a small bakery – Baker’s Bakery – where he has reunited with his body fat and then some). His basketball skill, however, is nowhere to be found.
Eddy Curry (2005-2012) – Everyone has unique feelings and words that capture how they feel about Heavy Curry. I am uncomfortable speaking on behalf of you. Insert your own caption here.
Steve Francis (2006-2007) – Save for a miraculous three-point buzzer beater – against the Wizards – Steve Franchise was atrocious on the Knicks. He will be forever be known as that guy who finished fourth in the greatest slam dunk contest of all time.
Zach Randolph (2007-2008) – Interesting career arc, no?
Best of the Rest:
The “Blah” Players: Not Bad. Not Good. Blah.
Othella Harrington (2001-2004) – Othella Harrington is the ultimate “blah” player. This classic blaher never averaged more than 7.7 points in 4 years with the Knicks. He now works as a full time Cuba Gooding Jr. Impersonator
Clarence Weatherspoon (2001-2003) – Great name, mediocre Knick. Lives in Downton Abbey.
Moochie Norris (2003-2005) – The Knicks traded a pedestrian Weatherspoon in return for Moochie Norris. This section writes itself.
Tim Thomas(2004-2005/2008-2009) – Hit a couple of big three’s, was briefly my favorite player by default. Now he plays hockey?
Malik Rose (2005-2009) Malik Rose is the iconic “blah” player of these bad Knicks teams. Role player on a Championship Spurs team, blah player on a Knicks disaster. Malik caused three travels using the ol’ “pull the chair out” move. That is all.
Shandon Anderson (2001-2004) – His best year: the 1999-2000 season when he averaged 12.3 points a game. Then he was traded to the Knicks…
Keith Van Horn (2003-2004) – Spent one season with the Knicks, but missed 18 games spiking his hair in the locker room.
Best of the Rest:
The Draft Picks
Renaldo Balkman (2006/20th pick) – A spark plug with no spark; an energy player with no energy. Had to get rid of him twice, and we are actually still paying him more than Chris Copeland and Pablo Prigioni, combined.
Channing Frye (2005/8th pick) – His lone Knicks highlight was a buzzer beater to send a late December 2006 game against the Pistons into double OT. The former 8th overall pick was eventually replaced by Jerome James. Yep, that Jerome James.
Lavor Postell (2000/39th pick) – Lavor had a couple of good games at the Garden… as a junior for St. Johns.
Michael Sweetney (2003/9th pick) – A classic result of the Post-Ewing-Georgetown-Center-Search. The search committee failed miserably on this one.
Toney Douglass (2009/29th pick) – I recently attended Knicks-Rockets at the Garden, not to see Jeremy Lin again, but to personally tell Toney Douglass he still sucks.
Maciej Lampe (2003/30th pick) – I am so embarrassed to admit I chanted for this guy at the draft. A lot of us did. You know who you are. It’s any Knicks fans darkest secret.
Best of the Rest:
The “Seriously, Who the Hell Are You??” Players
Even if you played this Sporcle game 400 times, you still wouldn’t get these guys. Well maybe you would get Bruno Sundov, on the off chance that you visited the zoo he currently works at in Croatia.
Ime Udoka (2006)
Demitris Nichols (2009)
Cezary Trybanski (2003-2004)
Bruno Sundov (2003-2004)
Qyntel Woods- (2005-2006)
Felton Spencer (2000-2002)
Even if we don’t win it all this year, I am forever thankful to Glen Grunwald, of all people, for finally putting together a team I genuinely enjoy watching. With only a couple of championships to our name, rooting for the Knicks has mostly been about rooting for great players: Ewing, Frazier, Oakley, Reed, Starks, Jackson, Debusschere, Houston, Bradley, The Pearl, Bernard and Guerin, among others. After ten seasons of nameless and irrelevant players, its nice to finally root for a group of Knicks we can be proud of again.