Hello Knicks fans … or former Knicks fans … or people who have come here to share in the devastation felt by Knicks fans.
The shocking trade of Kristaps Porzingis will probably go down in franchise history as one of those “Where were you when you heard?” moments. I was getting set to drive to work when I heard that our beloved cornerstone was being dealt to Dallas. I teach English as a Second Language to adults in the evening. The job provided a healthy dose of perspective at that moment — it’s hard to walk into a room full of Afghan refugees and tell them, “Sorry I’m a little off my game tonight, but I have some real problems … problems you couldn’t possibly understand.”
But now I’m home, and I’ve been asked to share some thoughts. As to the details of the trade, I’ll let others cover that. Instead, I’d like to talk about what I feel right now …
Nothing. I feel nothing … or pretty damn close to nothing. I’ve been a Knicks fan for three decades now, so this isn’t my first rodeo. I remember the Ewing trade, the Eddy Curry trade, the Steve Francis trade, the Bargnani trade, and on and on. I remember stomp around in a fit of rage when I learned the Knicks wouldn’t be re-signing Jeremy Lin. And Kristaps meant more to me than all of those players, except Ewing. He was an impossible set of physical dimensions and basketball skills. He was homegrown, drafted by a franchise who had neglected the draft for ages. He was Latvian Moses, chosen to lead us out from decades in the desert. And now he’s gone, and I can’t seem to bring myself to care all that much.
What has happened to me? Have age and wisdom taught me that there is more to life than sports, or has this wretched franchise destroyed any semblance of hope? I’d say it’s more a case of the latter. The Knicks have calloused my soul.
Throughout this season I have struggled with the idea that I would never watch Kristaps play in a Knicks uniform again. It usually burst from my subconscious as scraps of black humor, busting my man Shwin’s balls on Slack. Whenever he’d say, “Imagine this team when KP comes back,” I would respond, “What makes you think he’s ever coming back?” I didn’t really believe it, but I also didn’t not believe it, if you know what I mean. Such can be the innermost thoughts of a Knicks fan.
Now that the parting has come to pass, I find myself unable even to muster the energy to choose a scapegoat. Should Steve Mills and Scott Perry be trusted? Of course not. They probably panicked at the worst possible moment. They probably made the classical Knicks error of relying too much on free agency. But I also don’t trust the Porzingis camp, either. And my rational mind has always recoiled a bit at the prospect of paying a max contract to a player who has never shown he can stay healthy.
Experience has taught me that this deal won’t work out for the Knicks, because no deal ever works out for the Knicks. Kristaps will flourish in Dallas. He shall return to the Garden with a fiery vengeance, and the Knicks will be annihilated. Hell, he won’t be the first player to take revenge on the club. Dennis Smith Jr. lit up the Knicks for a triple-double just last night. Two years ago the Knicks passed on Smith in the draft, and despite a lackluster career thus far, Smith has made the Knicks pay in pretty much every match-up since. Now he is a Knick, traded for Porzingis, who now takes his place in the cycle of revenge. The Knicks are fate’s punching bags.
So why root for the punching bag? If you’re old enough, you remember the good times. If you’re young enough, maybe you still hold out hope. Maybe it’s sheer stubbornness. Whatever the case, we march ever forward, only now without our Unicorn. Kristaps Porzingis is gone, but the Knicks are still here. We are still here.
A game will be played Friday night at MSG. It’ll probably be a circus. The Boston Celtics will most likely kick the ever-loving crap out of what remains of the New York Knickerbockers. I invite you to come and watch with me.