20,000 Leagues Under The Bench

When the National Weather Service revealed that the recent east coast blizzard had been named Nemo, cynics and nostalgics alike rejoiced.   It’s not everyday that a potentially harmful storm recalls to memory a lovable fish and leading Disney character.

Like everyone else in New York, I was eager to scribe the ultimate Nemo tweet/ Facebook post.  I fired away a quick reference to the storm’s trajectory – coming to us all the way from Australia – a nod of course, to the film.  But after the social media sphere became bloated with “just keep snowing” and “what’s next, Hurricane Simba?” comments, I figured the best approach to arrive at a great Nemo Zinger would be to reference a different Nemo.

A Google search here, a Wikipedia there and boom, I landed on a list of famous Nemos.  There was 1. Charlotte Nemo, an actress, whose career began and ended with her rousing role as Mrs. Hawkins in the 1932 film- Strictly Unreliable 2. Nemo Guest Ranch in South Dakota.  3.Nemo Leibold-Just one of THREE Chicago Black Sox players not involved in the World Series scandal (His .056 batting the 1919 World Series was a result of him actually sucking, not him throwing the game) 4. Everybody’s favorite band, the Switzerland-based Nemo Brass Quintet.

Six Nemo’s down the list I found who I had been looking for: Captain Nemo.  As four of you may know, Captain Nemo is an important character in Jules Verne’s timeless classic, “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea”.  (I should add that I never actually read the book, but I do remember renting the 1973 cartoon version one night for my Weekly Saturday Night Blockbuster selection in fourth grade). From what I remembered, Captain Nemo leads a crew 20,000 Leagues deep in the Sea to murder the Loch Ness Monster while tracking whales…off the coast of France…something along those lines.  Yes. Captain Nemo seemed like the perfect protagonist to use for my puny Nemo Blizzard comment.  But before tweeting “Cant wait to play in 20,000 leagues of snow”, I figured I might as well brush up on the plot. You know, just in case.  So, like any fact checking journalist with integrity, I skimmed the plot on Wikipedia.

And then I saw it. The first sentence I read rocked me to my core:

“The title refers to the distance traveled while under the sea and not to a depth, as 20,000 leagues is over six times the diameter of Earth. The greatest depth mentioned in the book is four leagues.”

Um. What?

Although, as I mentioned, I never read the book, I have been familiar with the book’s existence for quite some time.  And throughout this time, I had always assumed that the title meant they traveled 20,000 leagues DEEP Under the sea.  Now, my error is undoubtedly 170% as a result of me not knowing what exactly a league is… but still. To find out that there was no great “depth,” in the most literal sense, affiliated with this book was pretty jarring. Kind of like the time I found out it’s “all intents and purposes, not “all intensive purposes”.  Or like the time I found out you can’t interchange the word thigh and hip. EVERYTHING I KNEW TO BE TRUE WAS A LIE.

Ok. You’ve indulged me this far.  I appreciate it. Lets talk about how this is even remotely relevant to anything Knicks Basketball. 

As fate should have it, this entire search sequence and subsequent life-altering discovery took place while I was watching the Knicks game. Yes, you caught me. Sometime I only dedicate 96% of my attention to the Knicks, and the other 4% to random and completely irrelevant Google searches.

Only this time, this “random Google search” felt all too relevant. You see, this past Sunday’s embarrassing loss at the hands of the Clippers was the first time this season I doubted the depth of the Knicks.

Do we have any?

The bench that Knicks fans get excited about, the one that Shump raps about… has recently seemed, well, for lack of a better term, shallow.   While STAT’s emergence as a solid sixth man has many Knicks fans proclaiming, “the Knicks are back…again…” it has overshadowed the recent uninspired play from other key bench players.

In Sunday’s loss to lob city, the Knicks’ bench was outscored 48-15.  The 15 came from an exaggerated 9-point STAT effort and a measly 6 from a slumping JR.  They were outrebounded 21-12, and had a combined +/- of  NEGATIVE FIFTY NINE.  That’s absurd.  Unfortunately, this does not seem to be an aberration. In a recent loss to the Wizards, the bench finished with a +/-  of – 20. Again, Amare’s 19 points overshadowed the combined 16 points they received from the rest of their bench.

This team is at their strongest when the bench gets involved.  In an early December matchup against the Heat, a Melo-less Knicks team destroyed their number one target behind 57 points from the bench.  Two weeks ago, the Knicks almost had their largest margin of victory in franchise history, shaming the Kings out of the Garden, and probably out of Sacramento. The Bench? 82 points.

But recent struggles with consistency have Knicks fans worried that a sluggish effort from the bench could spell doom for the ‘bockers come playoff time.

Novak’s Discount Double Checks are less frequent, JR’s All Star snub seems warranted, Copeland and Thomas are comic relief, and I’d be surprised if Ronnie Brewer still knows what a basketball is.  The Knicks need to be deeper. Or, put differently, they need their bench to go 8 leagues, er, players deep. Woodson needs to be able to trust Brewer, Novak needs to knock down threes, and Smith must support Melo with greater consistency.

By the books end, Captain Nemo’s submarine wanders into a Giant Whirlpool off the coast of Norway. Though the book’s other protagonists survive, it is unclear what Nemo’s fate is.  It is suggested to the reader that in fact Nemo, along with his submarine was dragged into the whirlpool…forever.  Perhaps if the submarine were a little deeper Nemo could have avoided the Whirlpool, and would have kept chugging along.  Hopefully we are not saying the same thing about the Knicks when it’s all said and done.