The Knicks are well-represented in media, with fictional characters having fandom as a personality trait or the team used for plot devices.
New York is not only one of the biggest cities in the world, but it’s also one of the most common settings featured in American fiction. What does that have to do with the Knicks, you might ask? Well, characters portrayed as New Yorkers have New York interests. So, let’s navigate these vast fictional worlds and explore who the biggest Knicks fans are in television and movies.
The criteria used for this is simple: does this character talk about the Knicks, watch or attend games, even don the appropriate garb, and if so, how much? Obviously there are a few differences between movies that only last two or so hours and television shows that give characters hundreds of episodes of opportunities. With that being said, this is broken down into two sections: one for movies and one for television.
Before getting into the characters, it’s important to note some common themes we will be seeing in these characters. Writers talk about what they know. Many of these creators, directors, and producers of these characters all have a passion or fandom for the Knicks. This is the most obvious when you are looking at characters in sitcoms, where you can see many similarities with lead characters to the comedians portraying them, such as Jerry Seinfeld or Kevin James.
Let’s start with sitcoms, where not only the Knicks but New York as a whole has its biggest presence.
Seinfeld (NBC, 1989–98)
Seinfeld may be the most New York show of any on this list, and the show goes to great lengths to display many parts of the city. While the show puts much more emphasis on Jerry Seinfeld’s real life interest in baseball and the New York Mets, the Knicks are still a part of the show. Whether it’s George Costanza wearing Knicks shorts to celebrate his newfound freedom or Jerry giving away his ticket to a Knicks game, George is clearly the biggest Knicks fan on Seinfeld. George is not a big enough fan to correctly know the Knicks schedule, but he is a big enough fan to get excited about the opportunity to watch the Knicks host Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls.
Seinfeld‘s original broadcast on air between 1989–98 had the unique opportunity to run during a very good period for the franchise, including a Finals appearance in 1994. George is openly a fan of Patrick Ewing, and like many fans in the late ’80s, may have done—questioning what the Knicks would be without him. He gets upset at Jerry for giving away his ticket for a Knicks game. He may be the lowest on this list, but he does show enough care for the Knicks to be the biggest fan from Seinfeld.
Friends (NBC, 1994–2004)
It is safe to say that Friends is one of the most well-liked shows of all time, and has taken a second life with a younger generation thanks to Netflix.
The Knicks may not have many entire episodes or storylines dedicated to them, but they do have a slight presence throughout the show. On more than one occasion Knicks tickets are mentioned or used as a bargaining tool. Two of arguably the most iconic episodes of Friends revolve around the apartment switch and Knicks season tickets. In “The One With the Embryos” and “The One With All the Haste,” the female leads want to make a bet with the male trio to get rid of an annoying rooster with their apartment at stake. The boys win the challenge and the girls, knowing how big of Knicks fans Joey and Chandler are, desperately try to get them to trade back with Knicks season tickets.
While all of the characters may occasionally wear a Knicks sweater or reference the ‘Bockers or tickets to a game, there is one character presented as a diehard fan: Joey Tribbiani. Joey repeatedly feels the need to tell anyone that will listen that “The Knicks rule baby!”. He is also willing to defend the Knicks and Ewing’s honor to a pregnant woman. No one could question Joey’s fandom with the Knicks, going so far as to continue watching the game while the pregnant woman gives birth and making a diehard Celtics fan say “The Knicks aren’t so bad.”
She’s Gotta Have It (Netflix, 2017–19)
While this one is kind of cheating, as the 2017 Netflix adaptation of She’s Gotta Have It was originally a major motion picture in 1986. However, Anthony Ramos’ interpretation of Mars Blackmon is included for a few reasons.
It is true that both versions of the characters are canonically Knicks fans, but while Spike Lee made Blackmon famous in 1986 and proceeded to draw more attention to the character with his Jordan commercials, that version of Blackmon is associated with Jordan and shoes more than the Knicks. Ramos’ interpretation, instead, draws his sneakerhead, chain-wearing, Brooklyn hat-dawning aesthetic inspiration from the original movie; the orange and blue clearly pulls from the ‘Bockers and Spike Lee’s own fandom. Mars’ entire room is dedicated to Michael Jordan, but his most prized possession in that room? A pair of Jordans, signed by “His Airness” himself after a Bulls-Knicks game, he keeps in a safe. Whether it is the orange and blue backpack and helmet or the Patrick Ewing jersey he wears, it is impossible to watch this show and not associate Mars Blackmon with his Knicks fandom.
Entourage (HBO, 2004–11)
The only show on this list that doesn’t take place in New York might have the biggest Knicks fan of all. Entourage is a simple show about New Yorkers in Hollywood, and it’s full of sports references and cameos aplenty. At the heart of the jerseys worn and highlights watched is real life Knicks esports team scout and friend of The Knicks Wall Jerry Ferrara. Ferrara’s “Turtle” is frequently shown sporting Knicks jerseys or talking about the Knicks. In the same way that Ferrara is probably the biggest Knicks fan on this list in real life, nobody puts their fandom on display more than Turtle. Whether it is wearing a Bernard King jersey or Knicks hat, Turtle can often be seen rocking orange and blue.
When Turtle is trying to help bring his favorite New York restaurant Don Pepe’s to L.A., he calls a few different New York athletes he’s met along the way asking for increased investment. While he gets some choice words from Amar’e Stoudemire, he also states that he had talked to Carmelo Anthony earlier in the day. What that tells us is that Turtle is not only a fan but a friend with the two biggest Knicks of that era.
The King Of Queens (CBS, 1998–2007)
Only one of these shows specifically references New York in the title, and likewise, only one of these characters has their sports fandom in their character biography. Kevin James himself is a self-proclaimed super fan: even having gone as far as naming his daughter after Shea Stadium, the former home of the Mets.
While James’ Doug Heffernan may have more public affection for the Mets and the Jets, his Knicks fandom is often on display. Whether it be his desire to watch Knicks games or having season tickets with his wife, the Knicks are one of the most important things in Heffernan’s life. That is why Doug Heffernan from The King Of Queens is the top pick for the biggest Knicks fan on television. Unlike some of the earlier sitcoms, The King Of Queens did not take place during the best era of Knicks basketball, but that doesn’t stop Doug from loving them just the same, which is the sign of a true fan. Doug is willing to drop all of his plans at the possibility of going to a Knicks game with tickets his father in law got from Latrell Sprewell. Doug Heffernan is all in on the Knicks through the good and the bad which makes him number one on the television list.
Movies present challenges different from those of television, given a shorter time span offers less time to highlight interests and hobbies. These movies still find a way to include Knicks fandom, if not dedicate large portions of the movie to it.
The Other Guys (Columbia Pictures, 2010)
The Other Guys does not dedicate a significant portion of time to the Knicks, but it does allow for an actual game to be shown, which leads to the two main NYPD detectives accepting Knicks tickets as a bribe. Mark Wahlberg’s character, Terry Holtz, gets to sit courtside wearing a Danilo Gallinari jersey, what more could you ask for? The Other Guys makes up for the lack of time with the Knicks with “Knicks Fever!”
Hitch (Columbia Pictures, 2005)
While Kevin James’ lovable loser character Albert Brennaman is not the sports fanatic that his television counterpart is, we do get a chance to see his Knicks fandom represented on his date with Amber Valletta’s Allegra Cole. While Albert is learning to be himself (or try not to be) in his relationship, they go to a Knicks-Grizzlies game where he is shown cheering on Stephon Marbury and the Knicks while teaching his date how to whistle. It is the Knicks date that leads Albert and Allegra to their first kiss…which may be one of the most iconic first kiss scenes in history.
Watching Hitch and figured out the Knicks-Grizzlies game Albert and Allegra attended. Great game! http://t.co/hFCxX23aHL
— Zach Harper (@talkhoops) August 10, 2014
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows (Paramount Pictures, 2016)
This movie has multiple Knicks scenes here with Will Arnett’s character, Vern Fenwick, who is shown coming to prominence in New York City and much of that is associated with the Knicks. He is excited to meet with Carmelo Anthony (making a cameo appearance) and talk about their roles in bringing hope to the city. He is also shown sitting courtside at a game enjoying celebrity row and his newfound fame. He does not make the list, however.
Instead, we need to talk about all four turtles, who are shown at that very same game watching from the rafters enjoying their trademark slices of pizza. Canonically speaking, the Ninja Turtles are as New York as it gets, and we know where their allegiance lies when it comes to sports fandom. It was nice to see them here chanting and cheering for the Knicks and showing their support for, of all people, Lou Amundson. Not only did the Knicks join the cast on the red carpet, but Anthony was inspired to design a turtle power clothing line with Macy’s.
How to Lose A Guy in 10 Days (Paramount Pictures, 2003)
This is the movie that has the most complicated relationship with Knicks fandom. Many Knicks fans notice some gaping plot holes with how the NBA Finals are presented, but that is not what this is about. Matthew McConaughey’s Benjamin Barry is presented as a bro’s bro who lives and breathes three things: work, women, and the New York Knicks. From the Allan Houston jersey hanging in his office to him refusing to make plans during Knicks Finals game or referring to them as “my Knickerbockers,” Ben is clearly as diehard as they come.
What keeps Barry from being top on this list are some of the strange plot devices used to tell the romantic storyline between he and Kate Hudson’s character, Andie Anderson. The Knicks’ Finals series is a key part of Andie’s devious plan to “prove how to end any relationship.” In order for Ben to win his bet in proving he can “win any girl’s heart in 10 days” he is willing to give in to her every demand. That includes missing entire Finals matchups or missing the last minutes of a home championship game for which he was in attendance. While it’s understood that this is played for laughs and part of a movie, who could count any Knicks fan who would be willing to miss the chance to watch the Knicks try to win their first title in 30 years as their top choice?
Eddie (Buena Vista Pictures, 1996)
Okay, so this one is a little unfair, being that the entire movie is about the Knicks, but that doesn’t stop Whoopi Goldberg’s Edwina “Eddie” Franklin.
Other characters may love the Knicks and show their fandom in a variety of ways, but no other character in all of fiction commits their entire life to the Knicks like Eddie.
For those unfamiliar: Eddie is a 1996 movie where the titular character and Knicks superfan Eddie, played by the Academy Award winner, gets an opportunity to become the coach of the Knicks. Before Eddie gets that opportunity however, we see that every aspect of her life is solely dedicated to the Knickerbockers. While she is at work driving limos, if she is not commentating a Knicks game for other drivers, she is calling in her hot takes to Chris Berman on the radio. Her wardrobe consists exclusively of historic Knicks jerseys, her answering machine is a daily revolving New York basketball trivia question, and she never misses a game of her Knicks season tickets.
While this version of the Knicks roster is fictionalized, there is clearly no player that Eddie does not know inside and out. Eddie’s husband, who was also a Knicks fan, shared his love of the team with her and with his death, it made the team that much more impactful to her. She loved her husband, she loved basketball, but most of all, she loved the Knicks—making her the number one movie character.
I would be remiss if I didn’t at least mention the male and female fans from Space Jam in this list. While they didn’t make the top five movies, they are clearly so dedicated to the Knicks that they are unable to notice a trench coat full of aliens sitting next to them. There are plenty of other shows and movies that show or mention the Knicks or the Garden. Miranda Hobbes (Cynthia Nixon) attends a Knicks game in Sex and the City, and Lee (Jackie Chan) always dreamed of seeing the Knicks play in Rush Hour 2. Even though the Knicks did not end up in the version of Uncut Gems that made it into theaters, the Safdie brothers’ Knicks fandom did shine through Howard Ratner. Not only does he keep his most prized possession Knicks championship ring, but he asks Kevin Garnett the tough questions that only a true Knicks fan would ask. In multiple interviews the Safdie brothers said the first thing they asked Garnett was about the Amar’e regular season buzzer beater against the Celtics, and in Uncut Gems Ratner gets a chance to do the same.
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