Back when I was in High School, I wrote for the paper. We called our lil’ rag “Zeitgeist,” because we were full of all of the hubris and youth, and fancied the notion that reviews of school plays and or random jeremiads calling for the principal’s head on a pike because he wouldn’t reveal our fine, hoary (Columbia Prep is the oldest non-denominational private school in the history of the United States. For serious) institution of learning’s investments to see if we could further tie him to a journalistic stake and light up the tinder we’d wedge ‘round his person, screeching about divestiture hedge funds that dealt with South Africa.
We assumed that his refusal to give up the books was an implicit admission of guilt. The paper was ‘banned’ for about a week for that one, a fact that we wore with the pride of true teenage radical revolutionary—the kind for whom symbolic, change-and-impact-free, chest-thumping victories are seen as the highest achievement possible.
In said paper, a fiend of mine had a column with a lede that always read, “There’s nothing worse than a blank page.”
It’s a fun, catchy line, but it’s also a writer’s trick: Just start writing. Something. Anything. Even if it’s complete gobbledy-gook and you end up chucking all of your early, free-form scribblings in the bin by the time you actually do come up with a coherent thesis.
I mention all this because I’ve been staring at a blank e-page for the last 120-odd minutes, trying to figure out what to say about this game, and I’ve run out of cute/funny/sad gimmicks.
We’ve recapped games from 1993. We’ve gone to fake biblical scripture. We rewrote an entire Beckett novel. We’ve done a Bizarro-world recap, where good is bad, black is white, etc. We’ve revealed personal details about our lives. We’ve exhumed the full meaning of the term “Prryhic.” Not to get all Prospero up in your shizznit, but we’ve definitely reached the “Now my charms are all o’erthrown / And what strength I have’s mine own / Which is most faint / Now, ’tis true, I must be here confined by you,” portion of this Bataan Death March of a season, and we’re just plumb tapped out of clever/interesting/funny ways to talk about this howling, radioactive waste-ridden garbage fire of a team.
I can’t see much point in issuing grades (again), because it implies there’s anything but a complete and total shared blame to be had (again). In the end, this is just a bad basketball team, playing badly. Here’s your recap: “Knicks lose. Are bad team.” Done.
Want more? Well, Beno had a solid game at the point. He moved the ball smartly, limited turnovers and hit shots when called upon. Yes, JR for the most part was very effective. Yes, Timmy Jr. was exciting and hit more than his share of heaves. Yes, Bargs had a revenge-y downright great first half before vanishing in a wisp of Axe Body Wash Spray (I assume he buys it in bulk at Costco) in the second.
But Tyson was terrible, allowing Jonas “Yes, I looked that good in the Summer League, remember? Here’s a flashback for you.” Valanciunis to bully him silly in the paint (NOTE: Jonas rilly looks like a super-sized Chris Evans, of Cap’n ‘Murrica fame. Let’s continue), STAT now seemingly can barely hit the iron on a charity stripe toss, K-Mart’s attempts at a low post move look so ancient and creaky that it’s as if you need a hand crank to operate them, and the entire team wilted, sagged and just lay there, not unlike a post-coital male reproductive organ right around the time the fourth quarter began.
They started switching again, though Mike, Son of Wood claims that’s not what he wants (NOTE: if a tall, bald, goateed man tries to sell/lease you shares in a long structure built to span physical obstacles such as a body of water, valley, or road, for the purpose of providing passage over said obstacles, please do not begin drawing up paperwork, move on to other, shrewder investment opportunities and make a quick call to the Better Business Bureau. Seriously, I don’t believe a single thing Woody says. Not at this particular moment in time at least.) leaving John Salmons and other with enough time to both examine various prospective hedge funds and re-engage in the lustful, bawdy bedroom activity mentioned above, or positing any number of large Dinosaurs against the Knicks’ guards down low. The dastardly Canadians wouldn’t even play Steve Novak, and watching him drain a couple of treys in the Knicks’ collective grill would’ve been effing awesome.
And if you were watching, you knew it was going to happen. They were up nine and STAT/JR proceeded to brick four straight tosses, leading your humble correspondent to tweet this:
Why? Because no one in his/her right mind thought New York would win. Make a checklist of the execrable ways an NBA team can lose a game and you’ll quickly find that the Knickerbockers have done ‘em all.
And I’m bored of it. Bored to tears. Bored senseless. Bored stupid. Bored into a stupor. I’m so bored, I’m jonesing to see what a 36+ outing by Chris Smith would look like. Oh yeah, they’d still lose. But at least it’d be different or NOT BORING. Hell, even the indefatigable Al Trautwig sounds bored. At one point, heading into commercial, he mumbled, ““The Knick players are gonna try to explain this one, but I don’t think there’s any way to explain this…Happy New Year,” with all the disgust and unbridled sense of the inevitably of it all he could muster.
It’s gotten to the point that nothing surprises me anymore (and that’s really boring). Dolan gave the team a pep talk during Thursday’s practice? Outstanding. Just great. I hope spent the prior two days doing nothing but watching Pacino’s spiel from Any Given Sunday on a permanent loop to psych himself up beforehand, schlepped a boom box (like, a really monstrous 80’s ghetto blaster that requires 12 D batteries) with him, and just played Eagles bootleg cassettes as the score for his inspirational, rally-the-troops monologue.
Of course he did. And of course it needs to be leaked to the press, just so someone can ask various Knicks about said born-on-third-base-and-thinks-he-hit-a-triple-owner’s speech, because it’s not enough to suffer shitty basketball, we need to become absolutely embroiled in off-court ‘drama’ as well. BORING.
Okay, one thing was different. Tyson Chandler probably said the most truthful thing uttered by any ‘Bocker this season
Unless this is the paragon of Knick honesty. It’s your call, really.
To be fair, we also got to hear an extended Salmons-pun from Clyde, “He’s been swimming upstream all evening,” and a moment where Breen realized the absolute lunacy of comparing a Bargs block to Bill Russell. Neither of those things was boring. Prior to tipoff, there was also the prospect of a K-Mart/Bargs/Tyson starting frontcour, if Shump was too boo-boo’d to play. Yes, do that. Because big is always better. That would’ve been hilariously awful, but big is always better. Give Woodson a Rohrshach test and every answer would be “Big.” I mean Canada is big, man, but Bargs at SF? That would have been his symphonic size masterpiece. I’d have called it “GRANDISSIMO FORTE IN F MINOR.” Again though, not boring.
But in the two hours that I’ve been dumbly staring at a glowing, computer screen, it’s blank white face like an endlessly-toothed starving maw begging to be fed, I can’t help but think of a chunk from Louis Malle’s 1981 movie, My Dinner with Andre. If you haven’t had the pleasure, two guys meet for dinner and talk about things. Sometimes a waiter brings them food. Still, great movie.
There is one scene that seems incredibly Knicks right now. Here it is. I’ve highlighted the portions that seem most relevant, but do yourselves a favor and watch the whole thing. Hell, go watch the entire movie. We’ll wait
WALLY: [Quieter:] Well, why…why do you think that is? I mean, why is that? I mean, is it just because people are lazy today? Or they’re bored? I mean, are we just like bored, spoiled children who’ve just been lying in the bathtub all day just playing with their plastic duck and now they’re just thinking: “Well! what can I do?” [Cough in the background.]
ANDRE: Okay! Yes! We’re bored! We’re all bored now! But has it ever occurred to you, Wally, that the process that creates this boredom that we see in the world now may very well be a self-perpetuating, unconscious form of brain-washing, created by a world totalitarian government based on money? And that all of this is much more dangerous than one thinks? And it’s not just a question of individual survival, Wally, but that somebody who’s bored is asleep, and somebody who’s asleep will not say “no”? See, I keep meeting these people, I mean, uh, just a few days ago I met this man whom I greatly admire, he’s a Swedish physicist, Gustav Björnstrand? And he told me that he no longer watches television, he doesn’t read newspapers and he doesn’t read magazines. He’s completely cut them out of his life, because he really does feel that we’re living in some kind of Orwellian nightmare now, and that everything that you hear now contributes to turning you into a robot!
And when I was at Findhorn, I met this extraordinary English tree expert, who had devoted his life to saving trees. He just got back from Washington, lobbying to save the redwoods? He’s eighty-four years old and he always travels with a backpack ’cause he never knows where he’s gonna be tomorrow! And when I met him at Findhorn he said to me: “Where are you from?” And I said: “New York.” He said: “Ah, New York! Yes, that’s a very interesting place. Do you know a lot of New Yorkers who keep talking about the fact that they want to leave but never do?” And I said: “Oh, yes!” And he said: “Why do you think they don’t leave?” I gave him different banal theories. He said: “Oh, I don’t think it’s that way at all.” He said: “I think that New York is the new model for the new concentration camp, where the camp has been built by the inmates themselves, and the inmates are the guards, and they have this pride in this thing they’ve built, they’ve built their own prison. And so they exist in a state of schizophrenia, where they are both guards and prisoners. And as a result they no longer have, having been lobotomized, the capacity to leave the prison they’ve made, or to even see it as a prison. And then he went into his pocket and he took out a seed for a tree, and he said: “This is a pine tree.” He put it in my hand and he said: “Escape, before it’s too late.”
You see, actually, for two or three years now Chiquita and I have had this very unpleasant feeling that we really should get out. No, we really should feel like Jews in Germany in the late thirties? Get out of here! Of course, the problem is where to go, ’cause it seems quite obvious that the whole world is going in the same direction. You see, I think it’s quite possible that the nineteen-sixties represented the last burst of the human being before he was extinguished. And that this is the beginning of the rest of the future now, and that from now on there’ll simply be all these robots walking around, feeling nothing, thinking nothing. And there’ll be nobody left almost to remind them that there once was a species called a human being, with feelings and thoughts. And that history and memory are right now being erased, and soon nobody will really remember that life existed on the planet!
Yeah, that sounds nice, Andre. Unfortunately, we’re trapped here, with this team, in this time. And we could walk away, but first we’d have to realize that it is a prison we’re in, and decide that we do, in fact want to leave. And fandom is a kind of prison, because the only thing keeping you or I or the millions of other Bocker-backers locked up is our faith, and the belief that time wasted watching a bunch of pituitary cases run around in their underwear is a good and noble thing.
You know the saying, “Reality is what you put your faith in?” It’s true. Not in a shlock-y, self help-y, The Secret-y kind of way. For reals. We really do create our own reality. Take the stock market. There’s no actual value there. It’s just a collective monetization of our perceptions. Not even our perceptions, really, but rather our faith-based prognostications. Once you stop believing in it (or money) it’d vanish. Tomorrow.
The Knicks are the same way. They’re an engine powered by our collective hope. Want get Dolan to sell? Well, it’d take a massive effort, but how about next game, every fan storms the court and starts dancing. Non-stop. Think a few rent-a-cops could get them back in their seats? No way. We will dance until he sells the team, without ceasing. Granted, I stole this idea from Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee. There’s a moment where the Native Americans, in order to raise a colossal army of their fallen warriors, begin something called “The Ghost Dance.” They were going to boogie until the dead came back to life. Spoiler alert: they freaked out the US Army, who proceeded to shoot them all.
Anyway, my point still stands. This thing, this crappy team, in the end is on us. That said, I can’t see a massive uprising actually happening. There are way too many die-hards (including me), God love ‘em. But the death of hope is certainly the first step towards unlocking the door of this gulag.
Toronto again tomorrow. Oh, possibly no JR…
…and definitely no Melo. If you’re in New York City, there’ll be a bunch of us lighted fools watching the game together. Please come.
We may even dance.