I was about eight years old, strolling through midtown holding my fathers hand when we both turned towards the sound of screams. A man plummeted past the side of a building, landing with a thud behind the row of parked cars along the curb. My dad was shaken up. Me? I wanted to get a look at what was left of the guy.
Minutes later we stood in front of the Penn Hotel, just across the street from The Garden. Beside us, waiting for the light to change, was Clyde Frazier, complete with flowing trench-coat and hat. I was in awe. Superhero music played in my head. My Dad smiled, said a coupla words to him, and Clyde reached down and shook my hand with a grin.
Birth of a Knick fan for life. Recently I wonder if maybe it had less to do with meeting Clyde than with the incident that occurred earlier that day. Maybe it was more my own inner fascination with the grotesque. Deep down there is something about a train wreck that captures the curiosity — a need to see how bad it really looks. Maybe thats why the Garden still has so many sell-outs.
Knick fans like myself are hoping for Christmas in July. Ignoring the pundits who speculate one way or the other, I am content to wait. I want LeBron. I want to keep David Lee. But like a magic trick, I think the real action is where the audience is not looking. My eyes are on a deal for Ricky Rubio. D’Antoni needs a player to push the pedal to the metal. Donnie Walsh knows that on Broadway you need characters — with character. Clyde, Bradley, DeBusschere, Reed. It is about winning, yes, but the true goal is to forge a team identity. An aura. A feeling that fans want to be a part of.
Imagine the mop-headed Rubio in a Knick jersey throwing alley-oops to LeBron, or no-look passes to Gallo from three. Lebron encouraging his teammates to believe in each other. Wilson Chandler emerging as the star they keep pleading with him to be.
Suddenly the Mecca of Basketball really is again.
An uptempo team offense is not a cover for poor defense. But a few blowout victories, buoyed by a quick start in exhibition on an international stage, and suddenly D’Antoni is the Coach he really thinks he is, and everyone else is wrong, that is at least until the playoffs.
Hoping for the best here. Hoping for the third seed next year.
Not that it matters. Either way they know we’ll be watching.Even if they acquire no players of significance, and let David Lee walk. We’ll watch. We can’t help it.
We’ll be that eight year old, struggling to get a clear look at the damage.