The dominant headline of this NBA season has clearly been the Miami Heat. They have become the team people love to hate, as articles about them crying generate more attention than the actual game. However, I would not mind seeing the Miami Cheat taking home the title. Nor would I mind the Los Angeles Fakers, nor the Boston…um…let’s go with Smelltics
When it comes to local sports team rivalries, the animosity between Nets and Knicks fans is quite bizarre. Reasonably, these two fanbases have little reason to hate each other. They’ve played in two first round playoff series in 35 years. When one team was up, the other team was down – they basically switch roles every decade. I can’t even recall one game you would call “classic” between the two franchises. So why the insults, the chest-thumping, the vile-spewing, and the all-in-all non-well-wishingness?
Basically, the New York sports landscape is shaped by the big brother/little brother relationship. The Yankees and the Mets. The Giants and the Jets. Unfortunately, this also extends to the Knicks and the Nets. However, the Knicks have been the Cooper Manning of older brothers. Since the Nets entered the NBA, the Knicks have won two Eastern Conference titles, and three division titles, while the Nets have two Eastern Conference titles as well, but four division titles. Granted, the Knicks won two NBA titles, but they were during a time when the NBA talent level was diluted by the ABA, where, interestingly enough, the Nets won two championships as well. Granted, I’ll admit the Knicks did have many more memorable playoff series in their 90’s run than the Nets had in the 00’s, but I can pride myself as a Nets fan to say that they never lost a series in which they had homecourt advantage.
So where does this “big brother” attitude come from? The Yankees and the Giants dominate their respective little siblings in titles; their fanbases have earned their arrogance and cockiness. Unless the prerequisite for being the “little brother” is that your team name ends in “-ets”, there is little distinguishing the two teams.
That’s is the main crux of my Knicks hate-itude – a completely undeserved bravado, a false sense being one of the NBA’s storied franchises, a fucktastic douchebagicity. However, as I may be bombarded after this post by Knicks fans wearing Carmelo Anthony jerseys they hastily made with the number “15” because they aren’t true fans who know their own franchise’s history, let me get a few more shots in.
I’ve heard Bill Simmons comment a few time that Knicks fans are the “smartest basketball fans.” Sure. The most objective Knicks fan I found ranks John Starks as one of the top 10 players of all time, rather than the top 5. And to watch them defend Patrick Ewing’s career is like hearing a six-year-old explain how Santa Claus delivers presents all over the world in one night.
I also freely admit that the Continental Arena/Izod Center is the dumpiest place on Earth, and Madison Square Garden is a legendary arena. However, let’s be honest – it is not known for great Knicks performances. When you think of MSG, you think of other team’s players destroying the Knicks – Reggie Miller, Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James. To me, it looks like there is a homecourt disadvantage when playing in the Garden. That must be why the Knicks are struggling so much at the end of this season (either that or they suck).
But, it isn’t all hate. I love Clyde Frazier’s vocabulary. I love JD & the Straight Shot. But most of all, I love Isiah Thomas. For four and a half glorious years, he brought me some of the greatest stories and highlights in sports history (and partially distracted me from the terrible job Rod Thorn was doing). And it looks like Isiah will be back for more. This season has been a dark cloud for Knicks-haters, but fear not – Isiah is our silver lining.