6.16.2009

Why Is It Gnawing on Arkansas?



Not so long ago, I was out at a party, and I met a Dallas Mavericks fan from Eudora, AR who closely follows NBA basketball. We shall call him Frank. Frank professes no extraordinary fondness for any other team, though he does hate Kobe Bryant. Frank is twenty-three, and he has spent his whole life in Arkansas, Tennessee, and Missouri. Frank turns twenty-four this fall, meaning that he wasn't yet nine years old when the New York Knicks lost to the Houston Rockets in the NBA Finals, wasn't yet twelve when the Knicks and Heat first fought, and hadn't yet reached high school when the San Antonio Spurs' dynasty dawned at the Knicks' expense in 1999. By the time Frank had finished high school, the Knicks had begun their steady recession into functional obsolescence. As things currently stand, the New York Knickerbockers haven't been basketball relevant for almost a decade, or about as long as Frank has known enough to really know anything.

So, then, why is it that Frank and I could speak at length during our first conversation about seemingly every transaction, farce, dip, and rise that the Knicks have experienced this century? How could someone who has spent his entire life wholly beyond the East Coast media bubble, consistently amidst a television landscape from which the Knicks have been quickly exterminated, and generally insulated from a miserable foreign-market team know so much about a franchise so insignificant? The only memories of worthwhile Knick moments, to the extent which they exist at all, should come from a time of preadolescence that is often hazy and imprecise. More recently, through tests, high-school social drama, prom, and all of college, the decrepit Knicks were important enough to distract from the immediacy of that life? Even the most devoted Knicks fan, one who is blissfully absorbed in a New Yorker's unique geocentrism, would find this difficult to believe. Trust me. Not least of all because actual Knicks fans have hardly been able to keep up with all of it.

Maybe it's Frank. He is smart, and he has demonstrated impressive recall of sports-related information. He used to work as a radio broadcaster calling baseball games while in college. A self-proclaimed NBA fanatic, perhaps his lifelong passion naturally led to a special interest in the Knicks, even if not wholly conscious. This is somewhat reasonable: I recently made a reflexive reference to Beno Udrih based upon an obscure SportsCenter highlight from several years ago which I only recalled processing after I had invoked Beno's name. To the contrary, though, Frank is quick to admit that he remembers far more about baseball than basketball, and that he isn't always so good with the NBA minutiae of teams not from Dallas. On the surface, nothing about Frank suggests he should have a special affinity for the Brickers.



A more plausible explanation is that in an age of league-wide cable highlights, League Pass (which Frank has never owned, however), and internets, staying up on any team has become dramatically easier. Someone like Frank can follow the Knicks almost inadvertently, merely by seeking out basketball content provided by the leading sources which are now functionally ubiquitous. Further, despite its on-court decline, New York enjoyed special notoriety during the Isiah Thomas years due to the ignominy of paying so much money for so little production, and due to Isiah's almost inconceivable incompetence as a coach and personnel merchant. Ardent NBA man Frank may have been forced to keep tabs on the Knicks, even if he weren't already titillated by the spectacle of an ongoing disaster.

Sex-scandal aside, why the Knicks, though? Other teams have been serially, comically mismanaged. Teams such as the Clippers, the Grizzlies, and, until recently, the Hawks. These are franchises which have served as league-wide jokes, their names mocked and transformed into code words among sports fans at times. Yet, Frank's recall of the macabre details surrounding those teams lags far behind what he knows about Knickerbocker basketball. And he is not alone. The number of sports fans, in general, and basketball fans, in particular, who have no discernable connection to New York but nonetheless speak at length about the team's fortunes and history always surprises me. Something about the Knicks appears to matter more.



New York City is among the older places in the United States. Like many American things, with age comes advantage. Harvard is Harvard, in part, because it was Harvard before other places were anything. Previously, higher education hadn't existed here. Same goes for today's rich people whose families have just always been rich--they got a much earlier start watching investment opportunities come along and interest compound, so they had some distance ahead of would-be equals. New York is no different. That's not meant to minimize Harvard's academic rigor, the hard work which served as the kernel for a family fortune, or, in New York's case, desirable factors including an inviting harbor. But being old has helped to amplify certain intrinsic benefits and conferred upon New York lasting relevance and a presumed meaningfulness.

As the financial industry is realigned and the general American economy is overhauled, New York may lose this rarified profile. For now, though, the presumption is strong: most people don't seem to question that New York is a special place. I was not a history major, but the United States can feel as though it grew up with this understanding, as though appreciating New York's importance were an inherited value.

Regardless of its beginnings, enough people seem to embrace this curious ethereal sense that New York is supposed to be special. And New Yorkers love feeling this way. The architecture, the culture, the shops, the restaurants, the fashion--everything must be the best because it is of New York, and, naturally, it is of New York because it is the best. Tourists have bought into this idea as though it were a marketing slogan; millions of people visit New York under the assumption that they will spend time among something different and largely better. Beyond lofty markers like marble columns and outrageous dresses (some of which connote elitism), pride in exceptionalism permeates even quotidian aspects of New York life, like riding in a subway car loaded with people of every ethnicity imaginable. For the most part, New Yorkers relish these sorts of things about themselves.



I grew up in New York, I lived there as an adult, and I always felt that a majority of the local sports culture was informed by fomented entitlement. The Yankees had always been good, and New Yorkers deserved for them to remain good was the rough reasoning which seemed to fuel the regular fits of Yankee hysteria. Any free agent in any sport was grist for the rumor mill because no person wouldn’t want to live in New York City. Escalating ticket prices to everything were collective validation that New York sports really were just that special. And so forth. The City’s preeminence as a media and commercial capital was wedded to self-satisfaction, and this consummation yielded the perverse climate of impatience and impulsiveness that is manically self-reinforcing. Everything has been infected by the corrosive notion that New York’s teams must be the best because New Yorkers won’t stand for anything less.

(One note: The NFL may have created a safe haven amid this storm, because the league’s ruthless insistence on parity has forced liberation from this lunacy upon the Jets and Giants. The culture of those teams, surely not without insane people, feels more universal, organically connected to the larger national football pastime that has supplanted seemingly everything else. Maybe that is the ultimate triumph of the Shield--it made New York relent.)

The Knicks have a special form of this disease. Unlike the Yankees and Mets, the Knickerbockers are impeded by a salary cap that magnifies mistakes. Unlike the Jets and Giants, the Knickerbockers do not benefit from a countervailing, nearly religious belief system that excuses failure, however disappointing, as part of the natural order imposed by its governing body. Unlike the Rangers, the Knickerbockers are important to more than just a dwindling niche audience. They’ve enjoyed none of these protections. Instead, they are left exposed to the ills of mismanagement; to the ill-advised insistence on mortgaging the future for a passable present; to the ill-tempered response from an expectant fan base. Knicks history in recent decades has been one full of questionable personnel, awful contracts, a strategy which eschews cultivating a sturdy foundation, and a group of fans left to seethe in anger. The Knicks have devolved into the worst of New York.

Underneath these many problems lies one other debilitating symptom: shame. And it’s a shame which stems from something else unique about New York that might help to explain why the Knicks resonate well beyond the area to which they might be--here’s that word again--entitled. Basketball’s home is New York, and the Knicks have desecrated the City’s game.



The Knicks haven’t won an NBA championship since 1973, the most unstoppable player on the planet grew up in Akron, and college basketball’s leading orbits lie elsewhere. It would be easy, upon cursory glance, to survey this landscape and disregard as hubris the claim that basketball belongs to New York. Only, that would be wrong. Almost every basketball institution--UCLA, the Celtics, Marv Albert--owes a debt to New York. Yearly, New York City’s high schools replenish the talent in towns like Storrs, Lawrence, and Chapel Hill. Madison Square Garden remains the most sacrosanct stage for the game’s great performers, all but demanding timeless efforts that can often feel supernatural. To sit among the crowd at a Knicks game is to be immersed in a level of basketball erudition uncommon to any other arena around the league. And then, of course, there’s the street.

Celebrating schoolyard basketball for its soulfulness has become almost trite. One could build a mountain out of the magazines, movies, books, paraphernalia, and web writings dedicated to definitively capturing streetball. The entire And1 brand may have forever destroyed this romance, and some point in our recent past surely stands as a moment of demarcation when the supposed innocence of grassroots hoops was lost. There really doesn’t remain much room for reverie. However weary we may be of this commodification, though, it is no less true that schoolyard games retain the quintessence of the sport. Without the hip-hop montages and corporate sponsorships, pickup games are still exercises in egalitarianism, athleticism, hard work, and determination, set on top of asphalt. The same is true of New York: look past the oligarchs who keep the tallest buildings smooth and shining to see the many other everyday folks who know the rough edges and confer upon the city its creativity and vitality by working jobs, raising families, and hoping to carve out some success.

In this way, New York is the true capital of basketball. Beyond the dizzying array of connections to the NYC that unite almost all of the game’s denizens, New York’s primacy as a streetball center keeps the sport anchored in the five boroughs. Basketball embodies New York’s spirit, and New York embodies basketball’s. Appreciating this dynamic explains why places like West 4th Street are hallowed proving grounds; why the history of the game was likely altered the day that Black Jesus came forth from Philadelphia, held court in Harlem, and dazzled Lew Alcindor; why a palpable chill descends on the building when Kobe shows up to drop 60.



Now, about that shame.

The Knickerbockers are New York’s most visible link to the sport with which it shares a soul; the Knicks are a proxy for the City. And the Knicks, of course, play in the National Basketball Association. NBA basketball is the best-known, best-played form of the sport. A sustained championship drought, therefore, has bedeviled New Yorkers because it has challenged a shared sense of identity. Even if this discomfort is not always articulated as such, the Knicks’ failures have struck at what New Yorkers are about. The place of basketball should field a team which can play it as well as just about any other.

The angst that has accompanied New York’s decades-long run of futility has built ever stronger as years have accumulated. Do not forget that more than any other area team, the Brickers are infected by the warped New York insanity. Patrick Ewing’s arrival in the 1980s was supposed to cure this disease, restoring order and elevating the franchise to its deserved place. That didn’t happen. Instead, he and his charges spent the 1990s annually gearing up for another assault on the title, always falling short, usually in spectacular fashion. A wounded host, Ewing’s teams attracted the illness and provided it with nourishment to grow. A tragic legacy of the Ewing Knicks is that they inadvertently perpetuated a sports culture they were intended to eradicate--or at least satiate--and unwittingly initiated the ugliness that followed.

As Frank can recount with disarming specificity, here’s what came next: foolish hirings, crippling sums paid to worn-out players, desperate attempts to cure the present by hurting the future, largely fruitless drafts, widespread mockery, and steady losing. Steady, outrageous losing--by forty; by accident; without offense; forever without defense; through suspensions; through fistfights on the team plane; through truck parties. All of it brought on by the warped New York reality that was closing in faster than ever and making demands even louder than before. And so, the shame. New York, a place of exceptionalism and basketball capital, was represented by a team which directly defied both.



One of the first questions Frank asked me when I shared that I rooted for the Knicks was, “Are you excited about Donnie Walsh and Mike D’Antoni?” I nodded and said that I was, however it was far from a ringing endorsement. I was being honest; I wasn’t entirely sure.

The new Bricker leadership has restored professionalism to the franchise, one of the many ironic deficiencies previously afflicting a team which has such an active corporate following. And D’Antoni offers the promise of a system which requires discipline and practice, but not at the expense of creative freedom or entertainment. It’s a daring concept that is exciting and engrossing, though not yet proven to be a championship schematic. That, honestly, is the cause for concern. NBA championships are won with defense, and D’Antoni has not yet demonstrated that he can teach it or, more importantly, get his teams to play it well. Further, Walsh and D’Antoni’s first trip to the draft lottery yielded an unproven European who may be too slow for great defense and too frail for great anything. Not exactly the dawning of a new day.

Walsh and D’Antoni’s next opportunity to prove themselves comes in nine days, when they’re back in the lottery at the Draft. Rather than the team’s current players or most recent season, discussion of the Knicks will likely be framed by LeBron James, who, of course, is a Cavalier. But there are few NBA topics as popular as the insinuation that LeBron will sign with the Knicks in 2010. Whomever is traded, or signed, or figuratively told to start looking for a new house, the media will speculate about LeBron. The Knicks took Stephen Curry because he is friendly with James. The Knicks want to trade up for Ricky Rubio because they like his potential alongside James and think that will appeal to LeBron. They took a big man to pair with James. All of this will be said even though there is hardly a preponderance of evidence to suggest that James-to-New York is an actual possibility. So, then, why does everyone keep saying it?

For the same reasons that Frank remembers the Trevor Ariza trade and that people pay so much money on Fifth Avenue for things they can buy at home: the Knicks matter more. The Lakers and the Celtics and the Bulls matter. So do the Pistons and the Spurs. But the Knicks matter more. They carry with them New York’s prestige and the soul of the game, two wholly unique qualities. National media, whose satellite and internets arms reach into the corners of Arkansas, recognize this, and so the Knicks remain a story even when they aren't. This may bother people, but it's the truth; if people didn’t care a little more about New York, the Today Show would spend far less time out in Rockefeller Center. LeBron is viewed as the man who can stand up to the New York insanity, if not cure it. He is viewed as the man who can restore the Knicks to the position which their city demands. And he is viewed as the man who will reward Frank for his continued attention and encourage it through the next drought. That's why everyone keeps saying it; in some ways it feels right.

Think about all of this and prepare accordingly, because the LeBron gossip is going to stop just as soon as New York stops being old, basketball leaves the City, and he signs anywhere else. Frank will surely keep track of that.

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67 Comments:

At 6/16/2009 4:55 PM, Blogger chutneeamerica said...

"Restore"? Were the Knicks ever really that good? Were they ever the center of the basketball universe? Or is this another story self-impressed New Yorkers tell themselves? New York's place near the heart of the game is no more unique than that of DC, or Indiana, or even Los Angeles. And the notion that perennial also-rans like the Knicks are somehow magically more important than the Celtics and Lakers is a big ol' joke. New York is important because we continue to tell ourselves that it is. The snake swallowing its own tail. Rote repetition of this grindingly transparent mythology is so totally un-FD.

 
At 6/16/2009 4:57 PM, Blogger Jiminy Jetpack said...

^ word.

 
At 6/16/2009 5:20 PM, Blogger W2 said...

Tough crowd. I kind of liked the post.

 
At 6/16/2009 6:24 PM, Blogger Beef said...

Frank Williams?

 
At 6/16/2009 8:39 PM, Blogger JHitts said...

OK...THIS is why the rest of the Universe hates (or has a love/ hate relationship with, anyway) New York.

For example: "...if people didn’t care a little more about New York, the Today Show would spend far less time out in Rockefeller Center."

What? The reason why the big TV networks have their HQs in NYC is for no other reason then they've always been there. Because NYC where the money was (for a number of reasons, I suppose...but I am neither a history major or an economist). It's not because everyone in Middle America loves New York or is interested in its plight as a magical/ important place.

It's forced upon us, nothing more. No other reason. Not because New York is somehow more magical than any other place. If, for some odd reason, national TV networks were founded in Little Rock instead of New York, and had their main news operations and talks shows originating in Little Rock, it would be no different.

People would say, "Hey! This morning talk show is really good, and they do their broadcasts from downtown Little Rock! They make it seem really cool! Why don't we visit and see what it's like?"

Obviously this is a reaching example— I've never been to Little Rock, so I have no idea what it's like. And Little Rock is no New York. But that's the point: it COULD be. There's no reason why New York is New York other than "right place, right time."

And New York is no more magical just because it's "older" than Little Rock. It just...exists. It's a place. Probably a cool place. But just a place.

 
At 6/16/2009 8:51 PM, Blogger tray said...

This is yet another one of your posts that could be written in 50 words (and really never had to be written at all). To wit, "New York is a very big, old, and important city. In addition, New York, in some sketchy sense that I don't care to convincingly illuminate, is the true capital of basketball. Therefore, people care a lot more about its irrelevant loser franchise than other cities' irrelevant loser franchises. And rightly so, sort of." Quite an uninteresting and obvious point, which is probably why you felt compelled to dress it up with pointless analogies to Harvard, soporific digressions on outrageously elitist dresses, etc.

 
At 6/16/2009 8:57 PM, Blogger Cracker said...

I live in Arkansas (Little Rock) and the only time I ever really think of NYC is when I think about how much I despise all their teams.

Well, I do occasionally think about The Ginger Man beer bar, which I'll be sitting in next week 3 or 4 times while there on a business trip. But while in there I'll still be thinking about the team hate. :)

 
At 6/16/2009 9:04 PM, Blogger Donna said...

Joey, Dallas is the capital of most of Arkansas. Memphis and Tulsa are also Arkansas cities.

Cracker, is the Ginger Man a chain? Because they also have one in Dallas, and Austin too.

 
At 6/16/2009 9:40 PM, Blogger Jerry Vinokurov said...

Man, some of you guys are taking the Mallarme equivalent of sportswriting and demand it look like Socialist Realism. Lighten up; I'm not convinced that Joey is necessarily right, but it's an interesting perspective on things. The fun is in the interpretation rather than the facts.

 
At 6/16/2009 9:59 PM, Blogger salt_bagel said...

This whole "any one place is just as good as another" argument in the comments is preposterous. Great cities/global cities don't just spring up as a natural process, they are built on confluences of history, geography, commerce, and all kinds of other stuff, some lucky, some intentional. Someone said, "right place, right time." Well, considering there aren't a hundred other cities that are right place, right time, doesn't that make it special?

I think what Joey is trying to do is ascribe this specialness to the Knicks. Personally, I think I agree more with the "center of basketball" as a general concept than with the specific case of the Knicks franchise. But either way, I can at least appreciate where the piece is going. Even in the absolute smallest sense, it's a well-written homage.

wv: yinged

 
At 6/16/2009 11:03 PM, Blogger Dr. Conversion said...

Wow this is a really poorly received piece so far. As much as I hate the Yankees and revelled in the Knicks failures, the point is that I paid attention. I don't even do that for the cubs, let alone the Timberwolves of the world. It's lovely to see that good writing has taken a backseat to a pack mentality on the comments section. You don't have to agree, but aren't you at least happy to get a post that isn't two paragraphs and a youtube link?

 
At 6/17/2009 1:15 AM, Blogger Michael said...

this is weak. thought i was dozing through an espn.com feature until i got to the comments.

2 titles in the early 1970s doesn't breed relevance. If not for the overexposure they get being the home team to over 8 million people in the world's media capital they'd be a complete afterthought.

it's gnarly how much press they get despite being more of a joke than the Clippers over the past decade. god save us if they ever get good/LeBron.

 
At 6/17/2009 1:21 AM, Blogger Patrick said...

There are 13 million people in the greater area of NYC. And it is unusually easy for those people from New Jersey, Connecticut, Long Island and the surrounding areas to travel to amazing courts and play competitive basketball. This is what makes NYC great and what makes NYC basketball great; its easy access to the best possible competition. Not the Knicks. They're just a poorly run franchise that was good briefly enough for Spike Lee to remember it and make an okay movie about it.

 
At 6/17/2009 1:45 AM, Blogger Knockout Ed said...

whoever said "right place, right time" needs to go read "island at the center of the world" by Russell Shorto. NY isn't NY by happenstance. Now I don't think the Knicks are anywhere near as an important as the Celts, Lakers or Bulls. It can't be debated about NY the city being the well from which basketball mystique springs from. Too many great players have come outta that town.

 
At 6/17/2009 1:54 AM, Blogger sarah said...

A lovely post. Thank you for taking the time to write it.

 
At 6/17/2009 4:09 AM, Blogger Phoebus said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At 6/17/2009 6:23 AM, Blogger Alexander J said...

This post makes me think of the hip-hop rant (lupe?) fiasco, mainly because most people can't relate to the new yorker mentality; the Harvard analogy is fitting, why not more talk of the great teams of the 50's (is this the kind of thing they save up for the book?).

When will they make marijuana consumption for NBA players less taboo, and get a visionary gm to combine D'Antoni's offensive system with arbitrary defensive assignments that I like to call RUN THC?

 
At 6/17/2009 8:24 AM, Blogger chutneeamerica said...

Just to clarify: I'm not going along with those who assert that New York City is just another place. If nothing else, as the point of arrival for the ancestors of nearly everyone in this country of any non-Anglo European descent, it's an important place with a richness of history that puts nearly any city other than DC's to shame.

What I'm saying is that New York City's role in basketball is just insanely overrated, and never more so than by New Yorkers themselves. New York basketball, if we're going to be brave enough to stand up to our myths and tell them the truth, kinda stinks. New York basketball players aren't nearly as good as they think they are - granted, that'd be a tough order, since they're all convinced they're the only basketball player on earth. And New York has no higher concentration of basketball courts than any other dense old American city - it's just that the denizens of those other cities don't feel it necessary to propagandize and mythologize each and every blacktop in their zip code. If New Yorkers weren't so embarrassingly provincial about their city, maybe they'd know that.

 
At 6/17/2009 10:18 AM, Blogger Bhel Atlantic said...

The elegance of Joey's prose stylings is certainly excellent. However, as for the content, I agree with those who say that this is full of trite tropes that don't fully ring true.

Also, I thought the story of "Frank", the Arkansas guy who follows the Knicks, was a bit contrived. I don't doubt that you met this person, but I don't think he's very representative of anything. In my anecdotal experience, the teams with the most out-of-town fans are the Bulls and Lakers (because they've been the most successful).

 
At 6/17/2009 10:27 AM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

I had never thought of the Knicks as a proxy for all of NYC's basketball history and legacy and such, including not only streetball, but the college game (in the Garden, often with city schools) when the game was still coming into its own, and the city teams before the game made much of any sense to anyone outside of New York, NJ, and PA. And not only the Rens, but pretty much all relevance Jews have had to the game.

I don't want to tread on hot water with the "Mecca" analogy, so I'll put it this way and offend someone else: The Knicks are like today's Israel to me.

So either you are all much smarter than me, don't know history (yes, only two titles, but the NBA is only part of basketball history) or hate Jews.

 
At 6/17/2009 10:29 AM, Blogger Joey said...

Bhel, it's not that Frank is a fan, per se, but he knows a lot about a bummy team from far away. That's weird. The distance alone isn't. Most of my favorite players are far away. But to retain *so much* about a generally crappy team? And like I wrote, I have met a bunch of people who stay up on the Knicks to an extent that seems uncommon.

In general, I obviously have failed to make the compelling case for basketball's innate connection to New York, and the Knicks' place in that relationship. My bad. Especially because the ending of this post was sort of a trap door into the Bron discussion. I really do think that the persistent rumors are fueled by a distinct focus on New York that owes to some factors I tried to address.

 
At 6/17/2009 10:50 AM, Blogger Kellen said...

The question of whether New York should be important to basketball is uninteresting to me. The question of how it came to be this way is interesting but also ultimately less important.

New York is important to basketball now because people believe in it's importance. This is enough for now. Rucker Park is real. Madison Garden is real. Whether we agree with it or not, Lebron recognizes that these are Important Places. So does Kobe. So do many others.

What this belief is based on is worth examining, but not worth complaining about. As long as players and coaches in interviews continue to feel the urge to wax poetic about how magic it feels to play at MSG, how important it feels to play in New York.

The Knicks are the tragic, ironic flaw of New York. A Great Basketball City's own team is mostly just a foil. It exists so that other teams will have someone to play at MSG. Tragic flaw even seems to be too strong of a word here when the dramatic function of the Knicks might be more like Shakespearean clowns (at least in these days).

Before this spins out of control anymore, here's the takeaway: New York is special because the players in the league continue to feel that it's special, but the function of the Knicks to New York's importance to basketball isn't fundamentally integral to this mystique.

 
At 6/17/2009 12:22 PM, Blogger chutneeamerica said...

Shoals, all I'm saying is that it seems like we're working awfully hard to try to establish that a game that was invented by a Canadian guy in Massachussetts, dominated throughout its history by teams from Los Angeles (UCLA and the Lakers) and Boston (the Celtics) and played at its highest level by a guy who spent all of his formative years in North Carolina, went to college in North Carolina, and played professionally in Chicago, somehow belongs to New Yorkers. Joey's assertion was that the New York Knicks carry "the soul of the game," which is an assertion so patently ludicrous that I actually spent five long minutes trying to figure out if he was employing irony when making it. It doesn't matter: that New York is a Great Basketball Town is beyond dispute. Of course it is. That New York is "the true capital of basketball," "basketball's home," ""the place of basketball"... all of these claims are indefensible, false, and worst of all, groan-inducing cliches of the sort spouted by Mike Breen.

That palpable chill that comes over MSG when Kobe shows up? Um, yeah, that'd be the same one that comes over the friggin' Arco Arena, because that's what happens to basketball arenas whenever one of the league's big dogs is in-house. Those "everyday folks who know the rough edges and confer upon the city its creativity and vitality by working jobs, raising families, and hoping to carve out some success"? Those are the people who do those exact same things in literally every other city and town in the world (with the possible exception of Palm Springs). The operative assertion here is that they are special because they are in New York, and New York is special because they're there. And that the Knicks are special because many of those people play basketball. I'm sorry: no one who has looked or lived beyond New York City's borders could possibly defend that.

So, yeah: New York is a Great Basketball Town, especially if you're into the history of the intersections between the game and the history of Jews in this country. Which, hey, that's great. But, c'mon: so is Philadelphia, and to no lesser degree in any measure other than the degree to which people feel obligated to announce it at every opportunity.

 
At 6/17/2009 12:44 PM, Blogger KandB said...

The relationship between New York's post-9/11 profile and its sports teams/coverage might be a more compelling subject.

As the culmination of Giuliani's policies and the sudden "Where Were You When Da Towers Fell?" love of/claim on the city from people who never would've visited before, Manhattan (and more and more of Brooklyn) got safe. Not just physically, but in the way the city catered to the suburbanite, whether a visitor or the newcomer with tv-constructed dreams of a loft, zany friends, and the right kind of winter coat. These people could waltz in and get the experience they wanted, the retail they wanted, and with less difference & mugging risks, recognizing the street corners from 30 Rock and the Strokes. NY became easy. Even more than ever, NY became the capital of consumer dreams.

So you get athletes (A-Rod, maybe Bron) who see the city as one big portal towards Middle America market share. Not for love of the city, but of it's $ possibilities. You get teams who collect stars to fit into the orbit of Sex in the City & Williamsburg, instead of a coherent line-up. An interesting turn: aside from the Giants (and Eli's an interesting example), the teams have been a big anti-climax. Numerous stars landed in the Yankee dugout or on the Knicks bench and couldn't handle the pressure and the frontoffices made fevered, spotlight-driven moves. Thus the drama and tabloids that are the real focus of fans, media, etc. when it comes to NYC sports today. The trades and firings Frank knows about--they're never simply trades and firings, they're events in New York, they're in the mix with Madonna and Project Runway, they may even be sensational.

And so we get further from the city game, the diverse mix, the grit that might be appealing in the 90's Knicks. We get a high-octane offense starring Zach Randolph. Insert present day NY rap analogy right hurrrrr.

 
At 6/17/2009 1:22 PM, Blogger Julie said...

Circumlocution, by definition is the art of abusing language simply for the purpose of illustrating one's supreme ability to contort said language... this blog a)does that and b)clearly demonstrates a thorough bias. My theory with this "Frank" character conversation is the author steared Frank into divulging whatever information he had. No doubt Frank would have never have devoted one cerebral cynapse to the Knicks at this party had the author not wanted to discuss them himself. I think most sports fans know most things about most teams thanks to the ease of information. In no way does this conclude that the Knicks/NY are more important.
Maybe experience a thought provoking conversation and you'll write a thought provoking blog :)

 
At 6/17/2009 1:26 PM, Blogger milaz said...

Coming to the States in 2000 to study I thought the whole US was like NYC. That's the image of America that the world has. In the end I never made it to NYC after four years of university in Ohio. To be honest, I feel it's like going to Athens and not seeing Parthenon... and NYC and it's imagery define what the US is. If you wrote a book on the US the statue of liberty at least would/should be on the cover of it.

And while basketball for me always meant Chicago (and those Bulls made me learn more about the city itself as well) I will always follow NY because it's familiar, it's the big apple, it's like you know even if you've never been there - blame Hollywood perhaps but we have all been there through the movies.

If LeBron is indeed a person who likes to stay close to home we might never see the star LeBron in NY... but he can win at either, given the right personnel. It's a nice thought... NYC means a lot to the world and so does LeBron for the basketball world, but there's a lot more than a pretty story to it... And in the end, I'd prefer to see LeBron with Cleveland writing history there, and making me learn more about Cleveland.

 
At 6/17/2009 1:27 PM, Blogger Richard said...

>>In 2008-2009, Nate Robinson sold more jerseys than Dwight Howard, and David Lee sold more than Melo.
>>Stephon Marbury's shoes were successful enough that now Al Harrington has his own.
>>In each year of the Isaiah reign, the Knicks were still the most valuable franchise in terms of net worth.

Of course the sheer population of the area can explain all of this, but I think it also speaks to just how badly New Yorkers are chomping at the bit to root for a competitive team and, more importantly, a bonafide superstar.


The Lakers have had Kobe, Shaq, Magic, Kareem, Wilt, and West to brag about. The Bulls had Jordan. The Knicks have...Pat Ewing? Oakley? Bernard King? Clyde? The reason why New York's status as The Basketball Mecca is so often questioned is because New Yorkers haven't been given players that we can really consider our all-time franchise star. We tried to pump up lesser talents like Starks, Sprewell, and even Marbury, but we couldn't look in the mirror and beleive that.

If we get Lebron or Wade, the level of obnoxiousness and homerism will reach levels that have yet to be seen in professional sports. Kobe in LA and Jordan in Chicago would be the only possible comparisons, but the smug, self satisfied nature of New York message-board trollers should not be underestimated, nor should the internet-illiterate stone cold bball junkies who go to every North Jersey high school Thanksgiving tourney to see who's got a chance of going D-1.

Not to get all romantic, but I'm not sure how many people know about the legions of diehards in and around New York who will go see Lincoln vs Boys and St Anthony's vs St. Pats in the same weekend just for kicks. The guys who talk about Power Memorial vs LaSalle in '66 like it was last week. There are a lot of these guys and they sure as shit don't check draftexpress or browse 82games for adjusted +/-.

Basketball in New York, is like baseball in America. Theres a bunch or exagerated lore, ole timey conjecture, and an unfortunate proclivity to talk about the sanctity of the game, but you cannot question the passion of the fans. Blogs and the 'nets in general have made it easier to be a diehard in Arkansas, but New York is still most definitely the center of the basketball universe and as soon as we get a figurehead more deserving than Pat Ewing, the rest of the hoops world will know just how deeply the city breathes hoops.


WV: Bednest

 
At 6/17/2009 1:34 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

@Julie, by "blog", do you mean "post"?

 
At 6/17/2009 1:36 PM, Blogger Michael said...

This isn't rocket science. More media = more coverage of minor stories.

NYC has the most media on the planet. They write what's in front of them. Thus, there is more coverage of the Knicks than anyone else.

 
At 6/17/2009 1:37 PM, Blogger Bobby Generic said...

"That palpable chill that comes over MSG when Kobe shows up? Um, yeah, that'd be the same one that comes over the friggin' Arco Arena, because that's what happens to basketball arenas whenever one of the league's big dogs is in-house."

I don't really like this sentence. MSG is the big stage, not for the fans, but for the players, and that's what makes it different. If Kobe is more amped to play in MSG (which he is), then everyone is more interested to see how he is going to perform. New York isn't the only place that has this effect, but it certainly is one of few, and the fact that it's still the case when the Knicks are terrible does speak to the power of the city and its draw. You don't have to overthink it; the media pays more attention to New York, so people pay more attention to New York...Kobe scoring 61 at MSG was a top sports news story for days, even though the Knicks suck...he's scored 60 a handful of times, including once in 3 quarters against the Mavs (granted, it was in LA), but most people will remember the MSG game more than the others. It's just the way it is, and that says a lot about the draw of New York City/Madison Square Garden.

 
At 6/17/2009 2:34 PM, Blogger dizzle said...

I don't know about that media comment. I doubt that most of the world is reading the new york post or daily news, and last I checked, cnn, conde nast, and the WSJ weren't giving the knicks too much coverage. None of the national tv channels show knicks games. Who is shoving all these knicks stories down everyone's throat?

 
At 6/17/2009 3:17 PM, Blogger Wild Yams said...

The Knicks are relevant in the same way that the Lakers are relevant, and in the same way that Kobe is relevant: because most people want to see those who root for them have the smugness wiped right the hell off their faces. Let it never be said that Laker fans hold a candle to New Yorkers when it comes to arrogance. Laker fans at least can be humbled into relative silence when the team performs poorly, but New Yorkers remain arrogant regardless of how low the Knicks sink, because they'll always point to all that other BS about how "The City" is the center of the universe, etc.

This is why people pay more attention to the ongoing train wreck that is the New York Knicks. People who do not live in NYC and who are not from there and do not root for the Knicks take pleasure in seeing them be such a laughingstock simply because it takes New Yorkers down a notch. It makes their smug grin falter a slight bit, even if only at the corners of their mouths.

But the notion that people anywhere outside of NYC have this belief that "order must be restored" by having LeBron go to the Knicks is just silly. We're all quite happy laughing at them at the bottom of the deep hole they've dug for themselves. We focus on LeBron because he represents a way out of the hole, and possibly an end to our enjoyment in looking at the egg that is all over the faces of New York basketball fans; but we also pay attention because if he spurns the Knicks (especially if he does so for another non-Cleveland team) it will be yet another colossal failure by the Knicks that we can endlessly mock. Arrogant New Yorkers wouldn't even consider that is what the real motivation behind the attention is, and that's why I compared them to Laker fans, to help drive home how they are perceived.

WV: oridas - Wasn't that a brand of tater tots?

 
At 6/17/2009 3:22 PM, Blogger chutneeamerica said...

@BobbyGeneric: I see what you're saying, but again it comes back to this: the media pays more attention to what happens at MSG because of the myth that New York is the capital of the basketball universe. Now you're saying the reason that New York is the capital of the basketball universe is because the media pays more attention to it. I'm not sure how this unravels, but I'm pretty sure I don't buy it. The very same MSG we so often hear described as the friggin' Sistine Chapel of basketball was a third empty for most of the past four seasons.

 
At 6/17/2009 3:52 PM, Blogger Joey said...

@Julie--Yes, I will come clean: this was Scripted Conversation #6. I keep ten laminated conversations on me most of the time. They are three-hole punched and fit nicely in a floppy plastic binder. I found Frank and asked that we go through #6 because I was in the mood to hear someone regurgitate prompts about the Knicks.

Back to the drawing board, though.

 
At 6/17/2009 3:56 PM, Blogger Joey said...

P.S. not sure if it was deliberate or not, but Wild Yams posting a comment about tater tots is kind of rad.

 
At 6/17/2009 3:56 PM, Blogger Bhel Atlantic said...

Here are venues (some no longer extant) that I regard as just as canonically central to the basketball faith, compared to MSG:

Market Square Arena, Indianapolis
Boston Garden, Boston
Cameron Indoor Stadium, Durham NC
The Forum, Inglewood CA
Pauley Pavilion, Los Angeles CA
Chicago Stadium, Chicago
Rupp Arena, Lexington KY
The Palace, Auburn Hills MI
Thompson-Boling Arena, Knoxville TN

 
At 6/17/2009 3:58 PM, Blogger Bhel Atlantic said...

To be fair, both Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Michael Jordan were born in New York City. That's pretty solid.

 
At 6/17/2009 4:04 PM, Blogger chutneeamerica said...

Oh, c'mon: MJ's family moved to Wilmington when he was a toddler and had scarcely ever even seen a basketball, much less gone any distance toward establishing the skills that made him a basketball god. Earl Manigault was born in Charleston, South Carolina. Does that make Charleston, SC the world capital of street-ball?

Somehow I doubt anyone is making that argument.

 
At 6/17/2009 4:30 PM, Blogger Mustard said...

We all know about the Knicks because they play in NY. True. Why? It is not because the city is the home of basketball. NYC has the largest population in the country. It is therefore the largest advertising target in the country. Give New York teams a national stage, you reach New Yorkers at home and abroad, and give the rest of us knowledge about a team we don't actually care about. I could have used that space to learn more about NASCAR.

Same reason we hear more about Mark Sanchez than anyone else in the draft. Population drives coverage, and leads to more knowledge through osmosis.

 
At 6/17/2009 4:49 PM, Blogger Christopher said...

These comments have run so deep that its hard to pick a spot to make a point, but all this debate just reminded me of a google map someone created that plotted the birthplaces of all current NBA players. The East coast concentration was staggering.

To me, NYC Hoops have an mythic aura that is only tenuosly connected to the Knicks, and is really more about history than modern day superiority.

All this said, I'm going to NYC in a couple weeks and have seriously been considering making a day out of finding a dope summer league game to attend or going to the Rucker.

 
At 6/17/2009 5:01 PM, OpenID packers3789 said...

Only a New Yorker would claim New Yorkers have "unique geocentrism." Because people in LA, Chicago, or even Seattle, Dallas, DC, and Miami don't think their city is the best/most important.

 
At 6/17/2009 5:20 PM, OpenID alphabetsoupkitchen said...

Joey,

I thought this was beautiful, insightful, and, in many ways, kind of epic. I think you really captured New York an how both those from there and inside view it.

My own caveat is this: in all this "why New York?" talk, it so often gets overlooked just how big of a failure the last regime was. This isn't like the Grizzlies and Clippers, who make a hefty profit, or the Hawks, who for so long were simply in a coma.

The Knicks made the wrong choices at every possible step. They had the largest payroll ever, gave away ridiculous contracts to non-All Stars like crazy, burned through coaches, and had one of the worst records in the league. They spent more money per win than any other franchise and lost money. Let me repeat that:

They lost money selling basketball to New Yorkers!

I don't know that it really is just a New York thing. I wouldn't be surprised if less people know who David Lee and Al Harrington are than Othello Harrington and Maurice Taylor. The Stephon Marbury sideshow was big this year, but as normalcy returns to team operations, the Knicks lose that car wreck appeal. Just as we love picking at the carcasses of Lindsay Lohan and Britney Spears, so too do we like dissecting overrated and underprepared losers on a team in the "greatest" city in the United States (sorry, Baltimore).

Yes, the Knicks do get more pub than, say, you'd expect the Raiders to get, but as they rise up to mediocrity there will be less there worth analyzing, less to pick apart and gloat over, less to push across the wire. Being in New York matters, but so too does having an angle.

 
At 6/17/2009 5:32 PM, Blogger Justin said...

Joey, you compound your bad writing by trotting out bitter sarcasm in response to criticism. The circumlocution bit was spot-on. Rather than discussing ideas, you fought back with a vicious (and ineffective) attack at the accuser. What you ultimately proved was that your main goal here is flexing nuts over (and not connecting with) your audience. Ironically, you're sort of proving the original point.

This is the last criticism I'm going to lob your way - in the future, I'll just skip your pieces.

 
At 6/17/2009 5:40 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

I actually had a professor write that on a paper of mine once.

blavown: the comments section on this one

 
At 6/17/2009 6:09 PM, Blogger Joey said...

@Justin--oh man. Last time you said I was high-school like and had no feel for flow. You also said, in effect, that my intensity of emotion was was irrational. Where are the ideas there to discuss?

Today, you say I am a bad writer whose bitter sarcasm proves that all I want to do is linguistically teabag people. Again, where is the idea you want to discuss? I've yet to read any criticism from you that invites further discussion about content.

Julie said I was engaging in corcumlocution and then offered a swipe devoid of any discussion-worthy idea. So I can't tell if you're being disingenuous or have a very different notion of ideas that might be fun to talk about.

Should we discuss writing? Fine. There are sentences here that might be florid, or overly long. Maybe I could use an editor sometimes. That's true. If you want to send me a marked up copy of this post, my email is straight.bangin@gmail.com. But there are also conscious choices made to create a style and a certain feel. Some of the words, some of the structure--that is done to present the arguments and information in a kind of way. You may not like those choices, but perhaps you could consider them rather than trying to be someone's dad about everything.

And let me point out that there's wonderful irony in your comment saying not one thing about the Knicks, about why New York may or may not be the center of basketball, about whether the Knicks are or are not a proxy for the City's basketball culture.

 
At 6/17/2009 8:56 PM, Blogger W2 said...

I think Joey just posterized Justin.

 
At 6/17/2009 11:41 PM, Blogger J1Kwon said...

We won't know if it was a charge or not until Justin responds.

WV: swisess

 
At 6/17/2009 11:50 PM, Blogger Alexander J said...

Joey: Do people not like reading words anymore? If so, I'm a tad frightened for everybody. Why was there no picture of Fat Joe for the EBC photo? Why aren't your posts pure perfection alwayzzzz?

Do foreigners with no background in western languages come to NYC and say, "Kanicks" when walking by MSG? Of course not! They just see a sign for free courtside seats to a liberty game!

New York's basketball identity (how it perceives itself, how others perceive it and how it believes others perceive it) has been branded as arrogant territorial posturing time and time again (visions of people throwing their hands up in disgust come to mind, not unlike many new york fans on draft night (both NFL and NBA)); the whole point is that it's not about where you were born (whoever made that Manigault reference, I could smell the vitriol (aqua velva!) coming off that comment).

Lost in the shuffle was the Patrick Ewing tag on the post. Nobody even remarked on it, that was kind of dissapointing to me.

I am glad that people had to "flex nuts" in the process of uncovering deep seated fears by the rest of the country (particularly the bible belt commenters, but no not only them) concerning a vast zionist conspiracy that bankers/bloggers/david stern are in on to keep New York relevant despite an owner who takes his blues licks a little too seriously.

I am glad that basketball can be at once so trivial and so electrifying; shouldn't we all have serious 08-09 hangovers? Nay, not a Zach Galiafinakis among us, except for julie maybe.

 
At 6/18/2009 12:10 AM, Blogger djturtleface said...

Damn, just read the post and all the comments. Somewhat ironically, is the shear length and anger of this entire post proof?

 
At 6/18/2009 2:16 AM, Blogger Matt said...

just read all of this. the answer to the last question is a resounding 'yes'

 
At 6/18/2009 8:07 AM, Blogger salt_bagel said...

I remember writing what I considered to be a pretty sweet short story once for a college class. I had just gotten into Nabokov, so I was all into his intensely layered prose, and my story had a good deal of that. The teacher loved it, but most of the students couldn't stand it. The only other kids who liked it were the talented ones, a little goth girl and a guido-looking dude who you never would've thought was artistic, and reminded me of the one kid on Head of the Class.

Anyway, I think there just aren't a lot of people who enjoy the sound of words and sentences, unless they are coming out of their own mouths. I liked the post.

Oh, and a hallucination comes from nowhere, but a myth has root meaning, however obscured by time. I'm sure some of these people (not all) are too young to have seen what Chris Mullin could do. The further you get from the truth, the easier to discount the myth. And some myths can crumble given time, but NYC is still producing, just not in the sense of pro success. Like Shoals said, it's not just the NBA.

 
At 6/18/2009 9:18 AM, Blogger chutneeamerica said...

@salt_bagel: I've been one of the most irritating voices of criticism on this particular thread of comments, but I just want to clarify: I don't have any problem at all with Joey's writing. In fact, I like it. I like damn near everything that has ever appeared on this blog. I just happen to strongly disagree with the premise that New York is the center of the basketball world, the capital of basketball, whatever. You can choose to understand that as sour-grapes, hating on New York, "deap seated fears" (as Alexander J characterized it), whatever. Believe it or not, I like New York. My favorite part of my family is from New York. But basketball's not. That's all I was saying.

OK, I'm going to stop now. I promise.

 
At 6/18/2009 10:07 AM, Blogger Wolf said...

Julie said I was engaging in circumlocution and then offered a swipe devoid of any discussion-worthy idea.

First, I am not offended by circumlocution. Big words and pompous posts are part of the reason why I read this blog.

But I share Julie's reservations, that the conversation was steered by the fact that you were willing to talk about the Knicks. It is possible (and, to me, seems even likely) Frank would have been equally versed talking about, say, the Toronto Raptors. You present no evidence to the contrary -- but of course, that is hardly relevant, since the whole argument isn't supposed to hinge on the knowledge of a single person.

What is relevant though and, in my opinion, worthy of discussion, is whether there are simpler explanations. Either the one given by Julie, or one that hasn't been talked about yet: the Knicks are more interesting, not because of New York, but because they participated in objectively interesting story lines. A HOF-coach quitting on his championship team to come to NY; Portland (and others) getting rid of supposedly untradeable head cases; cheap shoes; an outrageously high payroll and nothing to show for it; now lead by a head coach with one of the most recognizable, influential, and popular playing styles; etc. I'd certainly be intrigued too if all of this happened in Oklahoma.

 
At 6/18/2009 1:25 PM, Blogger Octopus Grigori said...

Is it annoying and unhelpful to point out that a lot of you motherfuckers can't spell for shit? We need more Indian pre-teens up in here to straighten shit out.

 
At 6/18/2009 2:53 PM, Blogger Ty said...

I think the most fascinating thing about the Knicks, and one of the main reasons they still command so much attention, is that it all fell apart so fast. The Ewing-era Knicks were always supposed to be *this* close to overcoming the Bulls or Pistons or whomever, and this perennial contention (as well as the Cradle-of-Basketball mystique, and also maybe a little bit of big-city Rooting for a Winner) made Kicks tickets legendarily hard to get.

Of course, being from Michigan, I only know this because I was a teenager in the 90s, and all of NBC's ratings-juggernaut comedies were set in New York, and all of them featured at least one episode about Getting Knicks Tickets. I also remember that SI cover story about a could-he-play-in-the-NBA-he's-so-good-dude named 'Booger'. This cultural flotsam all bobbed up to the top of my head while I read Joey's post--backing up his contention that Middle America has had the "The Knicks Are Important" meme piped into their heads by New York-centric media.

But Ewing's departure, and Isiah's folly, turned the not-quite-sublime into the patently ridiculous. The Knicks went from being the hottest thing going in New York--and therefore, the world, right?--to being comically, laughably bad in what seems like only a season or two. Each new story pushed the Knicks farther and farther into the realm of surrealism. As Mike Lupica said during the end times, "I don't think Isiah Thomas can currently get a job anywhere in basketball, except the three he has with the New York Knicks".

Anyway, I loved the story, and it rang completely true with me, the guy from Middle America, who doesn't even like basketball but knows way too much about the crappy Knicks.

Peace
Ty

 
At 6/18/2009 2:59 PM, Blogger Ty said...

Oh also, for the dude who floated the Palace as a rival to Madison Square Garden--I live an hour away from said venue, and I think the Palace is more revered as a concert hall than as a temple of great hoops.

Peace
Ty

 
At 6/18/2009 3:53 PM, Blogger JHitts said...

Ty: The Palace is a nice venue, but is it a "basketball cathedral"? Probably not. Although they did win those 2 Bad Boys championships there, so maybe that's what makes it somewhat special and memorable.

Also, I feel like, as a fellow Michigander, we were interested in the plight of the Knicks for the sole reason that Isaiah was running the show. I wonder if that's why a lot of Middle Americans/ Midwesterners paid attention, because he was a guy that they were intimately familiar with already.

I mean, if someone like Starks or Ewing had come back to the fold and run the franchise into the ground, you think we in Michigan or Chicago or Indiana would have been so interested? Doubtful.

 
At 6/18/2009 4:52 PM, Blogger Joey said...

A U of M '03 grad, I revere the Palace for two reasons:

1) It introduced me to Dippin' Dots, the ice cream of the future;

2) I once sat twenty feet from Scottie Pippen there, and Scottie is my alpha and omega.

Good points about Isiah's resonance in MI.

 
At 6/18/2009 6:27 PM, Blogger Bhel Atlantic said...

It was probably slightly blasphemous for me to include the Palace of Auburn Hills on my list of basketball cathedrals, but I grew up near Detroit and attended a few Bad Boys playoff games as a kid, so I'm biased. But the Palace has certainly seen some darn fine ball since it was built in '88.

 
At 6/18/2009 11:09 PM, Blogger JHitts said...

Maybe it's just not old enough...give it another 10 years and another championship or two (knock on wood) and maybe it will be elevated to Cathedral status.

 
At 6/19/2009 1:13 AM, Blogger Joey said...

photo postscript: the image of baron shooting a three at the rucker comes from the rise high school all-star jammy that they have every august. i was at it two years ago (which was awesome), and among the coolest things i ever saw was boom talking to someone while effortless swishing threes, alternating with his left and right hands. he never broke his rhythm as he chatted with this dude and nailed jumper and jumper.

 
At 6/19/2009 6:21 PM, Blogger tray said...

I don't think there's any debating that people care about the Knicks because the Knicks play in New York. Transplant this franchise anywhere else and all these exciting narratives with the insane GM and the prodigal point guard and what have you would've gotten so much less media play, and not just that - even without the distorting effect of what gets covered, so many fewer people would care. But the point's so damn obvious that you could've spared us all the verbiage. I'm insanely long-winded myself, but there's good long-windedness (James, Proust, you at times) and totally wasteful prolixity, like a four-paragraph lead-in to make the simple point that somewhere in Arkansas there's a guy who obsessively follows the Knicks. A lead-in which shows absolutely nothing, because the fact is that somewhere in Arkansas, there's a man who obsessively follows the Thunder, and one who follows the Sixers, and one who follows the Grizzlies, etc. And of course, there are way more Arkansans who follow the Knicks than the Sixers (or the Yankees than the Angels). But (a) we knew that already, and (b) the story of Frank doesn't illustrate that. It shows nothing, and it isn't even an interesting example of anything because Frank doesn't seem to know why he follows the Knicks, so his case doesn't help illuminate the phenomenon of non-New Yorker Knick fanhood whatsoever.

 
At 6/19/2009 11:16 PM, Blogger Chris said...

People don't care more about NY, New Yorkers care more about it. Sports media is driven by ratings, which is why they focus their coverage on the city with the most people. The biggest problem with New York sports fans is that they confuse the economic feasibility for sports passion with actual sports passion. No Knicks season ticket holder with EVER care more about basketball than a guy in rural Kentucky who hasn't missed a local high school game in 40 years. New Yorkers, however, think that just because the Knicks season ticket holder can fly to LA and Miami to catch games he's a bigger fan.

The worst part of this post is it reflects the lacks of connection to reality that New Yorkers have, which is created by the media bubble that force feeds stories about New York. I'm a huge sports fan, and just like Frank I could spout for hours about the Knicks. It's not because I like them, rather I have to sift to boring tales about an irrelevant franchise just to get to anything good about a real team. I routinely watch Sportscenter for hours, and it's not because I like SC. It's because that's how long I have to wait to watch a highlight from a non-east coast team. During that time in which I wait for my 10-second clip of a team in contention, news about NY sports teams is unintentionally osmoted into my brain.

New Yorkers think that their teams are special because media outlets like SC follow them so much, and they're followed so much because they're special. This kind of tautology sickens me and forces me to scrounge for real coverage. I wish this wasn't so, and I like this site because it actually covers the whole league. Please don't let this site get away from this.

 
At 6/20/2009 8:05 AM, Blogger Alexander J said...

CHRIS: Is your last name Dudley? If so, this would explain the poorly-timed vitriol against your former squad!!!!

 
At 6/21/2009 3:16 PM, Blogger matt said...

Eudora is way down there, and I doubt the Meir Chayim Temple (avg. attendance 15) in nearby Desha county is pushing a love for the Knicks.

I think Joey is right that all eyes are on NY for basketball, but a few asides about Arkansas:

1.) Arkansas is not quite the South (capitol S), not quite the midwest, and we're definitely not Texas.
2.) The Razorbacks are it. We've been starved for a good team since the 90s. Of course we're going to watch and commiserate with programs on hard times.
3.) We're also all familiar with fmr-Hog Kareem Reid's streetball days.

Because there's no pro-team to compete for attention, people fall all over the place. And don't even get started on Nolan Richardson. Too many emotions.

 
At 6/22/2009 6:36 PM, Blogger jacob said...

I'm reminded of study cubicle graffiti from Helen C. White library.

Scrawled by one a castaway from flyover country: "people from New York suck"

...was retorted by a citizen of the world's capitol with: "just jealous."

That exchange provided a neat summation for midwest/east coast relations. tee hee

I enjoyed the post and the following discussions. Whether you like Joey's post or not give the man props for putting himself out there to so many people. Christ it's not easy.

 
At 6/25/2009 1:39 PM, Blogger INDIA BASKETBALL by: JDBASKETBALL said...

i played against that guy, way back in the day- he was the real deal!

 

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