A lot of people live in New York City, and a lot of sportswriters are people, and among the many distressing epiphenomena thrown off by the proximity of those two facts is the impulse a lot of sportswriters have to root for the Knicks. Which, in addition to being very hard and gothic for those sportswriters personally, also tends to gum things up for the rest of us, since whenever the Knicks happen to, let’s say, irredeemably suck, we have to put up with a lot of loose talk about how this is a problem, when for us it’s not only not a problem, it’s essentially the 13th day of Christmas.
I mean, there we’ll be — we non–New Yorkers — minding our own business, just quietly enjoying the sight of a team with a $90 million payroll somehow contriving to be terrible in new and profound ways, maybe musing to ourselves about whether the starting five reminds us more of a racehorse dying of a computer virus or a volcano dying of constipation, when pow, up pops some award-winning metropolitan columnist to tell us how coach Mike Woodson can “save the season.” Save it from what, buddy? Delightfulness?
There’s nothing strange about writers weighing in on topics they care about. It’s just that there are so many Knicks-positive opinion makers1 that the voice of the regular fan — that small, bitter, schadenfreude-laced voice — is easily drowned out.
On Grantland in just the last two weeks we’ve had Brian Koppelman on the pain of being a Knicks fan and netw3rk and Jared Dubin on how to save the team — both good pieces, both well-written and funny and insightful, but neither quite striking the delicate HAHAHAHAHAHA note I’m listening for.
Well, no more. I am here to give a voice to the voiceless. I am here to speak for everyone who thinks the flaming neon wreck of James Dolan’s second-most-pathetic blues band is — whisper it — actually sort of funny. Not funny in a way you particularly care about, because who even hates the Knicks at this point? They haven’t been good since Charles Oakley murdered Old Yeller.2 Just funny in the way that watching the team with the second-highest payroll, the largest media market, and the defending NBA scoring champion lose to the Cavs — by double digits! While paying Amar’e Stoudemire $22 million! — is always going to be funny. It’s like watching Icarus fly too close to the sun, only Icarus is in an F-35 Lightning, the sun is Marcin Gortat, and Swizz Beatz is there for some reason.
Despite sustained legal pressure from the Yeller family, persistent rumors that the hit was ordered by Michael Jordan after a late-night poker game in Vegas took an ugly turn continue to be denied by sources around the Bobcats organization.
The Knicks, who play Boston tonight, are 6-15. We need to commemorate the story of their season so far. I live in a small town and have weak morals. I’m going to process all of this in the most logical way possible: by writing angry letters to celebrities.
1. Dear Larry David,
Hi, Larry. Here you are back in November watching your boys in blue and orange lose to the San Antonio Spurs by 31 points. Is this an “awkward moment”? Has your “enthusiasm” been (wait for it) “curbed”? I can imagine you storming off after seeing your team cough up 24 and 10 to Danny Green and saying something pretty discourteous to a barista! You seem curmudgeonly and irritable here, though both Nelly and the kid behind you are doing OK. Perhaps it’s because the tops of your socks are showing? Or, oh, perhaps it’s because none of your lineups makes any sense and Melo still can’t play defense.
YOUR SOCKS ARE STUPID, LARRY DAVID. They don’t even have the Metropolitan Museum of Art in San Antonio and they can still shoot 53.9 percent from the floor against your guys. Literally not one person in San Antonio has ever experienced a single second of culture at any point in their lives, and they can still pick out an open man. They have a museum of their own. It’s called “winning.” YOU GO TO HELL, LARRY DAVID.
2. Dear Adam Sandler,
Have you been working out? No? Really? I guess your performance-douche quilted Mountain Hardwear tunic and sweat-pantaloons just made you look really strong and agile. You seem like you could run a long way in this outfit you have decided to wear in public. You seem like if it came down to it, you could take the court for the Old Knickerbockers in the 41-point loss to the Celtics you’re there to watch in this photo from December 8. Hey, The Old Knickerbocker sounds like the name of a movie you’ll probably make someday! Did you dream about that the last time you slept (16 weeks ago)? The movie won’t be about how your favorite basketball team faced sustained boos from its home fans while losing by the largest margin in any NBA game this season, though. It will be about you dressing like a pilgrim and running into the side of a barn while chasing a farting turkey. So hey, pretty much the same thing after all!
I’m tired of your brand of comedy, Adam Sandler. You coo strangely and seem like you still build forts in your house, which makes me feel sad and gross, like Kenyon Martin after shooting literally any jump shot. Your team beat the Nets by 30 and they’re still worse than [name of movie you have made recently, I think someone got kicked in the nuts, no clue]. Just … just quit being around … places, Adam Sandler. Just quit.
3. Dear Ben Stiller,
Well, heavens to murgatroyd! Somebody’s amused. You’re like, “I’m watching basketball, but my mind’s acting out Lady Windermere’s Fan! Everything’s droll now!” Actually, this photo is from Game 5 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals last season, so you’re probably just happy to be at an NBA game in May. I broke chronology because you look so poncy here and also because it’s hilarious that the Knicks won a playoff series in 2013. Remember when that happened? Enjoy the memory, because that time is done. It’s done, Ben Stiller. Your team is owned by James Dolan. Yeah, you may have easy access to affordable Broadway tickets via TKTS booths conveniently located around Manhattan, but you know what? JAMES DOLAN, BEN, THAT’S WHAT.
James Dolan is so bad at his job, he’s like — oh, man, if only I had a good metaphor here. If only some actor/director had recently filmed an excruciating-looking adaptation of a beloved classic short story — say, one about a guy who lives out his life through crazy fantasies? You know, crazy fantasies, like a hereditary billionaire pretending to be a blues singer and sports magnate? This film would represent a generations-old cultural icon being ruined by an entitled meddler. It would be a great comparison on two levels! If only a shitty movie like that happened to exist! Well, I’m going to cut this short and go read some advance press for Night at the Museum 3. Enjoy your face!
4. Dear Norman Reedus,
I learned your name from Getty Images just now while I was putting together this piece. You’re in The Walking Dead. Get it?
5. Dear Jimmy Smits,
I have nothing against you, Jimmy Smits. You were amazing in The Jane Austen Book Club. But it kind of maybe just slightly seems like you think you’re more famous than you are? I mean, I’m picturing your diary and it’s very: “11 December 2013. Ventured out in public. Wore dark clothes, black hat (indoors), and sunglasses (also indoors). Necessary to conceal face at all times, as Garden crowd could not be trusted to react calmly if identity revealed. High chance I’d be torn limb from limb in an orgiastic frenzy. Wouldn’t be their fault. As a leading member of the celebrity or ‘worshipped god’ class I exercise a power I can’t fully control. They have erected statues of me in every city and they leave offerings for my image at these shrines. Nuts. Chickens. Wine. I am often asked to bless the trade winds. The sheer fact of my presence is sufficient to drive lesser men insane. I try to adapt as best I can. I dream that perhaps one day Madison Square Garden will be a safe place for celebrities sitting courtside, but until then: silence. Disguise. Cunning.”
On the other hand, I can’t imagine a Knicks fan thinking their experience, or their team, is more important than it actually is. That doesn’t sound at all like HAHA I’M BEING SARCASTIC IT TOTALLY DOES SOUND LIKE THEM.
6. Dear Dylan McDermott,
Whatcha so suspicious of, Dylan McDermott? You thinkin’ your team might lose 103-96 in OT against the Pacers? Yeah, they might. Roy Hibbert might block Melo (again), and Paul George might hit some clutch free throws. Could be a tough night for you and your 70 percent of a beard. By the way, pal, that’s some nice shaving you’ve been doing for the past 20 years. Nobody — not Matthew Fox, nobody — has ever kept 70 percent of a beard more consistently than you. They should use you in a commercial for 30 percent of a can of shaving cream. Every single hair of that thing is like its own individual bonsai tree. I bet Chris Isaak comes to your house and plays guitar solos while you shave. That’s just a cool tradition you guys have. I feel that.
Hey, let’s say you decided to grow a beard until the Knicks won four straight? What would happen? Would your beard actually shrink from confusion? Is it like a bird that has spent too many years in captivity and now it can’t fly? Would it lodge a protest about fault tolerances? Both of your nipple zippers are open, Dylan McDermott. Get lost, person I don’t care about.
7. Dear Spike Lee,
8. Dear One Direction,
Hey, I hear what you’re saying, Liam Payne and Niall Horan from the boy band One Direction. You’re saying, “Hey, man, why be so negative? Basketball is a sport of beauty and grace, a celebration of the human form, a kinetic art form that we’re all just privileged to be able to experience. And no set of basketball aficionados anywhere in the NBA is as knowledgeable and passionate about the game as Knicks fans — Knicks fans like us, Liam and Niall from the English-Irish pop band One Direction. Knicks fans have suffered a lot and stood by their team — again, that’s Knicks fans like us, 20-year-old Liam and Niall, from One Direction — so why not wish them the best? Why not root for good basketball? Why not try to create something worthwhile on your own instead of just tearing down other people?”
GET BENT, ONE DIRECTION. I’M TALKING TO REDFOO NOW.
9. Dear Redfoo,
Hey, Redfoo. (Hey, Victoria.) It’s nice that you guys are at a Knicks game and in love. I’m going to be honest, it seems a little weird to me that you’re wearing lensless oversize white novelty glasses and giant leopard lapels and that hair, and also that Victoria is wearing fingerless driving gloves in what is pretty clearly a non–motor sports situation, but that’s OK. I have plenty of my own weird stuff, and I didn’t even cofound LMFAO. I just wanted to say hi because, to tell you the truth, pal, I’m really worried that the Knicks are screwing up Iman Shumpert. And man, Redfoo, I hope they don’t. His minutes have been all over the place, no one knows whether he’s central to the team or not, and there’s been so much friction, all those trade rumors, you name it. And Shump’s only 23, Redfoo. He needs regular minutes. He needs a routine. I know you know this. I’m just nervous.
Sigh. It’s just … he could be a good player, you know? If he hadn’t wound up in that hell-carnival. And I already feel depressed enough about Tyson Chandler. We’ll see. Well, anyway, thanks for listening, Redfoo. You’re a good person. It helps to talk.
10. Dear Howard Stern, 50 Cent, and Paul Rudd,
What’s it like all being best friends with each other? Do you hang out in New York a lot? Do you really “take advantage” of the city? Like one night it’s a Knicks game, the next night a quick trip to the ballet, the night after that maybe a reading at the 92nd Street Y and a late drink on the roof at La Piscine? Do they call you The Three Caballeros? Do you ever think about teaming up to solve museum robberies and cowriting a series of supposedly fictional books about your exploits? Because seriously, I would buy that.
11. Dear Ricky Gervais,
Ricky, time for some real talk. Nothing is this funny. Nothing has ever been this funny. If you compressed every joule of comedy produced by all of humanity in the last thousand years into one atom, then split that atom in some sort of Acme-branded nuclear hilarity device, IT WOULD NOT DESERVE LAUGHTER OF THE INTENSITY THAT YOU ARE PRODUCING HERE. This braying-cockatoo routine of yours is becoming a problem. This is some sort of psychological flop-sweat mechanism, this continuous, merry shrieking. You are not a howler monkey broadcasting your territorial position through several miles of dense forest. You are not an air-raid siren in the Blitz. You are not —
Oh, wait, you’re watching the Knicks? Sorry. I didn’t realize. Carry on, then, Ricky. Carry on.