Since this March, Richard “Treats” Dryden became a Knicks Wall contributor focusing on sneaker trends. To close the book on the Knicks’ most proud post-season effort—since he first experienced the 1994 playoff series against the Indiana Pacers—Treats profiles the other treasures in his collection of NYK gear.
I stopped noticing that I was wearing my Carmelo Anthony jersey almost an hour after the Knicks lost Game 6 of the NBA Semi-Conference Finals. Putting on Number 7 in the home colors: white, orange, blue and a touch of silver became a conscious thought when I packed the uniform as a change of clothes. It just felt comfortable. It’s a size XL, too long though, even with my height. The jersey has to be the basketball equivalent of a tall tee. Didn’t A$AP Rocky kinda make those cool again? Walking through the Lower East Side with my family en route to the annual New York City Type-Off was easy in my noticeable attire. Car horns weren’t blaring at the sight of me, in support of New York’s do-or-die game in Indiana. No pedestrians making small talk about what singer Rihanna recently had to say about J.R. Smith hanging out late at a nightclub.
In the media capital of the world, there is no fourth wall between athletes. New Yorkers, whether or not they’re fans of the Knicks feel the need to comment on their affairs just to be apart of the conversation. It’s like talking about the weather. Most recently, the weather in NY has been unpredictable with the climate shuffling between orange and blue skies and grey clouds daily. So, there’s always something to talk about. Wearing any Knick player’s number, you take on a hailstorm of controversy. It’s that level of self-consciousness that fans like myself carry on their shoulder; this chip that has no relationship to the other chip—a championship.
Pride has new meaning as Knick fan. An Internet photo meme was passed around this season during the height of the Knicks 54-win season providing perspective of the past and present. The photo, split into four quadrants showed four periods of New York Basketball with a profound quote. “If you wasn’t down since these guys (Patrick Ewing and John Starks), supported these guys (Latrell Sprewell and Allan Houston), suffered during these guys (Stephon Marbury and Eddie Curry), don’t start cheering for these guys (Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith).”
The cashier lady at my local supermarket—granted she’s older than me—probably has wisdom of those light and dark days of the Knicks. It didn’t stop her from badgering Carmelo Anthony as if he was the bane of the team’s existence; championing Amar’e Stoudemire as the best asset to the Knicks. My team unity supported STAT’s contribution to the team, but the reality is that his ship has sailed. His rhythm on the court just isn’t there. His God forsaken spin move is so predictable when he comes into the lane, it’s easy pickings for any defender, or a traveling violation. That’s why Carmelo is in the driver’s seat. Like him or hot, without Melo, the Knicks would not have made it this far to Game 6.
My tax guy at the Cobble Hill H&R Block has a soft spot for the Knicks. An elder man, old enough to be my abuelo saw the Knicks win their second NBA title in 1973. He knows what the light at the end of the tunnel looks like. Maybe that’s why he had a glimmer in his eye worthy of precipitating a tear. I’ll never forget that look.
Last summer, I spent the most money I had ever spent in my life on an article of clothing when I purchased Spike Lee’s Knicks-inspired hoodie. He held a sample sale at the 40 Acres and a Mule store in Fort Greene, Brooklyn where he was also promoting his film, Red Hook Summer. Merchandise from all his other films was for sale: embroidered patches from Malcolm X and School Daze, T-shirts from She Hate Me and Crooklyn. Much of it was actually sold out in the end. Then on a special rack hung Spike’s custom gear like a Nike Destroyer jacket in the purple and white colors of the Gamma fraternity from School Daze and a Nike hoody beautifully decorated like it was made for the captain of the New York Knickerbockers. In fact it was. A blue patch for “40″ and an orange “A” branded the hoodie with Spike’s 40 Acres and a Mule production company. 7 gold (plated?) pins adorn the patches: an MVP pin, a basketball, a treble clef, a star, a bullhorn, and two that read “No. 1″ and “Cap_t.,” are the medals earned by the unofficial floor general of the team. The back also has “The Republic of Brooklyn” screen printed on it. The detail makes it worth every cent as much as the sentimental value that it belonged to one of the greatest directors of all time. To that end, wearing it throughout the season made me feel like I was court side at Madison Square Garden.
My boo and I made a weekend out of going to Atlantic City to see Diplo, then capped it off with Knicks playing their last game of the regular season against the Brooklyn Nets. It was my plan that afternoon to wear the Carmelo Anthony jersey I got for Christmas to the game, but I forgot it at home. Nor did I have the Spike hoody with me either. I felt naked without proper Knick regalia to cheer them on. During half-time I hit the gift shop for something I could use to show my team pride as I was flanked by Nets fans in my section. So I bought a scarf. Cold weather lasted long until at least early April, making it practical to wear during the feeling of a winter blast. It resembled those high quality scarves soccer fans wear or wave in allegiance like a flag. Adidas makes this one. It reminds me a lot of the David Beckham Real Madrid scarf that I bought hours before Real Madrid C.F. won La Liga against Barcelona in 2007. I did not get to bask in a Knick victory the way I did for Madrid. Witnessing a loss at The Garden has become a weird tradition for me. I don’t actually remember ever seeing the Knicks win when I was in attendance. I’ve been privileged to be able to afford a ticket or go with someone as their guest. Personally, I’d rather watch at home just to rule out my superstition.
This weekend, I’ll get around to watching the Knicks exit interviews along with the opinion of sports analysts on what went right and wrong this season. The recaps were too much to bear on Saturday night. Sure, I’m happy the Knicks made it this far. I’ll take this team over any squad coached by Isaiah Thomas or Larry Brown. Between last season and this one, I have memories of each game with friends and family that I’ll hold dear. Ones that I’ll share with my son when he’s old enough to crunch the minutia of the Knicks. For now, I need to thank NYK for giving me those moments. I’m forever proud to call them New York’s home team.