Statistical Analysis. Humor. Knicks.

Friday, July 25, 2014

I Hate, Therefor I Am

And since birth I’ve been cursed with this curse to just curse
And just blurt this berserk and bizarre **** that works
And it sells and it helps in itself to relieve
All this tension dispensing these sentences
Getting this stress that’s been eating me recently off of this chest
And I rest again peacefully (peacefully)…

–Eminem

A philosopher once said “And I am, whatever you say I am”. Maybe Eminem isn’t the foremost authority on Existentialism, but he hit the nail on the head with that line. Despite our first person viewpoint on life, we are actually the product of how others view us. If someone calls you biased, then you exist as biased to them, even if you think you are fair and balanced. We are actual products of what others think us to be, not how we see ourselves. If the opposite were true, the earth wouldn’t rotate around the sun.

So in that vein, I’m a hater. I’m a hater, because I’ve been called a hater. So hence, I hate the New York Knicks. I’m the hate-iest Knick hater that ever drew air.

Now I could bust out my Knicks gear to prove my loyalty. I could claim that only an insane person would spend 9 years devoting his free time and energy to a team he despised. I could say that any negative thoughts on the Knicks were merely an act of love, a desire to point out their flaws so that they may be fixed and our ‘Bockers could ascend to cream of the crop. Yet there are some that will call me a hater for saying anything bad about the Knicks. I’m a hater to them because I won’t ignore the downside and only see the upside.

That’s fine, because my pessimism will allow me to survive.

In 1965, naval pilot James Stockdale’s plane was shot down and he ejected into enemy territory. The North Vietnamese captured him and held him prisoner for nearly 8 years. They tortured him physically and mentally. But Stockdale survived and said afterward “I never lost faith in the end of the story, I never doubted not only that I would get out, but also that I would prevail in the end and turn the experience into the defining event of my life, which, in retrospect, I would not trade.”

So on the outside, it would appear that in the most dire circumstances, optimism is the key to success. However when pressed further Stockdale noted that the prisoners that didn’t survive were “… the optimists. Oh, they were the ones who said, ‘We’re going to be out by Christmas.’ And Christmas would come, and Christmas would go. Then they’d say, ‘We’re going to be out by Easter.’ And Easter would come, and Easter would go. And then Thanksgiving, and then it would be Christmas again. And they died of a broken heart.”

Stockdale’s revelation was that during times of stress, one must be optimistic and pessimistic at the same time. It’s not enough to believe that everything will turn out OK in the end. That must be accompanied by facing the harshness of reality. Or as he said it “This is a very important lesson. You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end—which you can never afford to lose—with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.”

This need to be simultaneously both optimistic and pessimistic is known as the Stockdale paradox. Think about it for a second and it makes complete sense. If your New Years resolution is to get in shape, it’s not enough to convince yourself that you are a gym rat. You must do that, and then explore the dark-side of your mind. Why haven’t you exercised before? What’s stopping you from going to the gym? How are you going to keep going when you’re sore? When it’s cold outside? When you’re hung over? You must ponder the worst case scenarios to accomplish your task.

When I tell people that I’m a Knicks fan (and/or a Jets fan) they often ask the question — how is it possible that I root for such a doomed franchise all these years? How can I stand putting my hopes in a such a mismanaged and disheartening team. I’m usually at a loss for why, and respond that I’ve always been a fan on these teams or that it makes up for my being a Yankee fan. However now I know it’s my ability to be a fan and a hater, which allows me to survive being a Knick fan, year after year.

35 comments on “I Hate, Therefor I Am

  1. johnno

    There’s a small college that plays Division 2 basketball about 2 miles from my house. Yesterday, I took my kids and a few of their friends to a game. Parking was free. Tickets cost $6 total ($6 for me, kids under 12 free). We sat 10 feet from the court. Hot dogs were $2. Popcorn was $1.50. Water was $1. Both teams were well coached. Both teams played fundamentally sound ball. Both teams played hard from the opening tip to the final buzzer. Everyone on the court acted like they gave a crap. When the refs made a bad call, not one player whined or complained. It was a great game. My kids loved it. When it was over, I did not feel angry, frustrated or disgusted. It was just like watching a Knicks game — only the exact opposite in all ways.

  2. danvt

    Nice statement Mike. And nice response Johnno.

    I remember having my best game ever on the day that I decided I wouldn’t shoot. It was a new game for me and I was worried about fitting in. I just thought that if I run up and down the court and sweat then that’s a win. Well, I ended up making two three pointers and getting a game winning assist in my first two games. Then it was all down hill. I started deciding what I wanted to do the next time I touched it. I lost the rhythm of the game.

    For all the Knicks numerous faults that might be the worst one. I liked the Beno Udrih attempt at the end of regulation against MIL. He missed but it was in the flow of the game. Basketball players need to react to what the defense gives them. Shump seems to stop himself every time his instinct tells him to do something. JR seems to do the opposite. Melo is actually really trying but Andrea hasn’t been able to make teams pay from three (nor has anyone else). Pablo hasn’t been able to instill the ball movement that Kidd did. It’s just a boring one dimensional offense right now.

    And defense is on coach Woodson. I mean, Amar’e and Bargnani can’t guard any 4 in the NBA one on one. I’ve never seen as many offensive rebounds given up as when Chandler was out. It’s the same point. Coach, be logical, screw that just be reasonable, you have a dearth of size and strength at the center position. Even Kmart is too small. Put a defensive center in for 15 gosh darn minutes if you don’t have Chandler and 10 if you do.

  3. Douglas

    Great writing, Mike. I think the Stockdale Paradox is something I’ve been struggling to internalize my whole life without having a name for it. By nature, I have an irrationally optimistic streak that, as I get older, I’ve learned to temper in order to save myself from crushing disappointment.

    Both teams played hard from the opening tip to the final buzzer.

    Sheed?

  4. river

    Most everybody who has risen from humble or bad circumstances and ended up achieving great things were able to do that because they refused to define themselves how others defined them. The list of such people is vast. Many people who succumb to crappy circumstances often buy into others negative view of them. We are not what other people think of us because of course we all look at each other through our own potentially skewed prisims. And most people who try to define others really hardly know a thing about the person they think they can define. As for the Knicks, I understand the passion and the rage. If you love basketball and appreciate good play and have by locale or choice chosen the Knicks as your team watching them at times is tortorous. I know personally nothing gets me to curse more and feel the need to break something than watching horrible Knicks basketball. Between the play, the management, the terrible trades it can be hard to take. Let’s go Knicks!

  5. knickster

    We, realistic fans, “hate” our team the same way we “hate” a loved one (mother, brother, wife, whatever) when they make fools of themselves, when they do stupid things that only harm them, when they do things that result in other people laughing at them.

    It’s called love, not hatred. We care.

  6. nyk8806

    to take this analogy further, we are all POWs of the NVA and General Dolan subjects us to mind-numbing torture day in and day out, with no salvation in sight. We are teased with better treatment on occasion, but it always gets worse, way worse. Our only real hope is for regime change, but there are few countries in the world that have the resources to effect such change, and certainly not the stomach to get involved in this quagmire. Thus, our only real hope is that Dolan dies and whoever his successor is is less incompetent/cruel.

    We could theoretically escape at any time, but to use a quote that Dolan would approve of, we are all just prisoners here of our own device…

  7. Hubert

    Great post. Have y’all seen this Lowe article about the new proposal for the NBA draft? http://www.grantland.com/blog/the-triangle/post/_/id/86940/the-nbas-possible-solution-for-tanking-good-bye-to-the-lottery-hello-to-the-wheel

    Basically instead of a lottery, the draft order would be determined for the next 30 years. Every team would draft in each position at least 1 time. And they would know immediately what their position for the next 30 years would be.

    This would add a whole ‘nother layer to how bad we can fuck our team up. Everybody has at least one #1 pick coming. That would probably be a huge trade asset. We would probably give it away for the next Eddy Curry.

  8. Frank

    That Wheel thing will never fly – if for no other reason than that it feels pretty impossible to set into a motion a system that has to be in place for 30 years before everyone gets equal benefit. You can say what you want about “relative” values of each 6-year block, but the dropoff in value of draft picks is probably logarithmic, not linear ie. 1, 30, 14, 15, 7, 23 is probably worth way more than 5, 25, 9, 21, 13, 17 even though the sum of all the picks still adds up to 90 in both cases–> and so teams that opt to get the high picks early clearly would have an advantage if the system was changed after 6 years.

    In addition, the high value placed on draft picks is partially because the CBA artificially keeps a salary maximum on these players for the first 4-5 years of their careers. Future CBAs may change that completely, making draft picks either less (if rookie salary scale only lasts 3 years, for instance) or more (if changed to >4-5 years) valuable.

    I think I like Chad Ford’s idea, which is the worst record over the aggregated last 3 seasons gets the 1st pick (or most lottery balls) etc. Tough to tank for 3 straight years.

  9. Mike Kurylo Post author

    Most everybody who has risen from humble or bad circumstances and ended up achieving great things were able to do that because they refused to define themselves how others defined them. The list of such people is vast. Many people who succumb to crappy circumstances often buy into others negative view of them. We are not what other people think of us because of course we all look at each other through our own potentially skewed prisims.

    Sure, and there are tons of complete idiots who believe in themselves and never succeed. What separates the Steve Jobs and Bill Gates from the James Dolans and Isiah Thomas’? The ability to see their own flaws and fix them. If Dolan ran Microsoft, we’d still be on Windows 95.

    If we are only how we view ourselves, then Dolan is a genius and an excellent musician. I trust the group consensus more than the self portrait.

  10. Mike Kurylo Post author

    I think I like Chad Ford’s idea, which is the worst record over the aggregated last 3 seasons gets the 1st pick (or most lottery balls) etc. Tough to tank for 3 straight years.

    I still like my idea. Fix the draft order by the 41st game. So you might have a team tank the first half of the season, but for most teams that’s too early to throw in the towel (owners do care about attendance). And then games 42+ are only for pride.

  11. Mike Kurylo Post author

    My other draft idea was to have a draft tournament once the season is over. Take the non-draft teams and have an elimination tournament. Some ways to even this out:

    * All games are played on the worst seeds court
    * Worst seed can force other team to “sit” one player.
    * Double elimination
    * Each tournament game won gives an extra $X to each player on the winning team
    * Only worst 8 or 12 teams participate

  12. iserp

    I still like my idea. Fix the draft order by the 41st game. So you might have a team tank the first half of the season, but for most teams that’s too early to throw in the towel (owners do care about attendance). And then games 42+ are only for pride.

    I think this system would make it easier to tank. And there would be some teams willing to tank the first half and then try to reach the 8th seed (perhaps not for a 1st pick, but a 10th pick can be interesting , specially in a deep draft)

    I liked the idea that only the 6 (or 7) first seeds of each conference are guaranteed a playoff spot, and then the rest (or some part of the rest) play a tournament for the last spots. Then you still have an incentive to play for a “postseason” seed even if you are no in the top 8 of your conference.

  13. mokers

    I’ve always liked the European football way of doing things. Several different tiers of competition. Teams want to stay in the highest level of competition because that is where the money is.

  14. Keniman Shumpwalker

    Mike K…if Dolan ran Microsoft we’d all be viewing this site right now on our Wang Exec 2014′s.

  15. river

    What seperates Bill Gates and Steve Jobs from Dolan isn’t that “they could see their own flaws and fix them.” What seperates them from Dolan is those two were clearly geniuses with all their flaws. Jobs was apparently a complete mother…….r most of his life to the people he worked with. But he was brilliant. The point remains anybody who lets others define them is doing themselves a disservice. This is not the same as saying that self delusion is replacement for honest assesment.

  16. Mike Kurylo Post author

    I think this system would make it easier to tank. And there would be some teams willing to tank the first half and then try to reach the 8th seed (perhaps not for a 1st pick, but a 10th pick can be interesting , specially in a deep draft)

    Teams in the playoffs would be reseeded after the non-playoff teams. So it wouldn’t make sense to tank then try to make the playoffs.

    Teams that tank from day 1 (or 10 or 20) would suffer from really shitty home attendance, which I do believe hurts the wallet of owners. So in some way the only tankers are the ones that do it from day 1. But then still it would only be a half season. After game 42, it only hurts the value of the players if they lose.

  17. Hubert

    mokers December 23, 2013 at 2:52 pm

    I’ve always liked the European football way of doing things. Several different tiers of competition. Teams want to stay in the highest level of competition because that is where the money is.

    You’re telling me. I love their system and I’d install it today. The whole world would be better for it.

    But it will never happen because the teams who already exist are the ones who would potentially suffer.

    Knicks would actually do great in a system without draft picks and a salary cap.

  18. Frank

    Meanwhile what is all this talk at ESPN-NY about “lack of effort”? This isn’t lack of effort, and for Woody to be pushing that rationale is just more evidence of him throwing players under the bus when in fact he’s in large part responsible for this ridiculous season.

    The players are all playing hard (especially Melo — very sad to see him have such a great season but to literally have zero help- worse now with Pablo out). But they’re either playing scared (Shump), stupid (JR, Bargnani), injured (Tyson/MWP), or injured/sucky (Felton). And Woodson is not helping them at all with all these changing lineups, the “big” stupid lineup, the switching, the lack of creative play-calling/designing, all-iso in the 4th quarter, etc. To pin it on effort is to try and absolve himself of responsibility for this. Which is criminal.

    Hate to say it though, because I still love Shump — one of the reasons we suck so bad now is because Shump has really disappointed. I think the FO felt comfortable letting guys like Cope and Novak go because they figured Shump was going to take the next step – to be an 18-20 usage guy shooting 40% from 3, being a real secondary ball handler, and locking down the opponent’s best scorer. Now he’s a turnover machine for the wrong side, a foul machine, and just a horrendous shooter. And his shooting numbers don’t even tell how bad he’s been, because he’s passing up tons of high-value shots (open spot-up 3s) and blowing tons of high-value shots when he actually decides to attempt them (basically turning the ball over every time he gets the ball in transition). Just sad to see because it’s obvious all the joy in the game is gone for him.

  19. hoolahoop

    The only way the knicks would benefit from new draft rules:
    - every three years all players and coaches get randomly redistributed among all teams.
    - no trades allowed. Ever.
    - owners and management are not aloud to have any input in day to day operations.

  20. Hubert

    We would inevitably trade all our top 10 picks. If we had a #1 pick in 2035, we would totally trade it right now for Al Jefferson or something stupid like that.

  21. Brian Cronin

    It’s really slimy, but I gotta give Woody some credit. He calls out his players like a jerk, but he does so against a team that the Knicks already destroyed. So he knows that it’ll look like the team has responded to his efforts while really he could have said nothing and they’d still win. Clever, Woody!

  22. hoolahoop

    I think the season should be divided into two seasons (in all sports). This way, teams that get off to a bad start aren’t just playing for pride (boring meaningless games). Teams that make the playoffs (abbreviated version) get more revenue.
    So, applying this scenario to the NBA this season, at the all star break we’d get to see some good playoff matches. After two weeks of playoffs and a champion declared, teams like the knicks and nets get to start a new season, fresh with new hope. More trades would probably occur. Portland, SA, Indiana, Miami would have to reprove themselves. Every regular season game would have more value.

  23. tastycakes

    I like the idea of draft lottery order being determined by # of wins after being mathematically eliminated from the playoffs.

    It rewards a team for improving while bad. I can see an argument that some might tank aggressively early to get into that position, but that seems it would be incredibly obvious and egregious to do that. The problem with tanking now is that it’s subtle, and it’s mostly driven by the front office.

    Really it’s sort of a non-problem problem. I like the draft and the draft lottery. I wish the crappy team I stupidly rooted for had its draft picks, then this year would remain really dang interesting!

  24. Frank

    It’s really slimy, but I gotta give Woody some credit. He calls out his players like a jerk, but he does so against a team that the Knicks already destroyed. So he knows that it’ll look like the team has responded to his efforts while really he could have said nothing and they’d still win. Clever, Woody!

    Yeah, I was pleasantly surprised last year, but his response to this season has made him maybe my least favorite coach on the Knicks since, I don’t know, Larry Brown, who also threw his players under the bus all the time. The whole thing just seems so fake now — “I’m here to hold players accountable”. Blech.

  25. Z-man

    Re: Draft, why not just eliminate trading of draft picks? That would certainly help out teams with dumb owners/management. Make it so that draft picks can’t be traded until one calendar year after they are drafted.

  26. cgreene

    I agree that Woodson has become an unsympathetic player in the play. I would not have said that a month ago. What a swift downfall for him as well from likable and successful to the opposite. I must say it was a big red flag for me when he dumped his agents to get the Knicks job but I was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt there. That’s not the stance of principled person and, frankly, I am sure the players are well aware of that. He really became a lackey at that point and nothing more. As I mentioned in the Memphis thread, Woodson specifically mentioned to Chris Herring that he believed that last year’s team was a fluke. What a moron for at least not testing it further. I’d like to see the Knicks continue to lose and for him to get fired. PS: where’s Steve Mills? Nowhere to be heard from.

  27. JK47

    I actually hope the Nuggets win the lottery with our pick and get Parker or Wiggins, just to underscore how ridiculously stupid it is to trade picks with no protection all the time.

  28. Garson

    Is there a more selfish , brainless shot then jr smith long step back 2 pointer from a step before the 3 point line? How about with 23 seconds left with 2 defenders on him ? He’s got to be one of the last players teammates enjoy to play with on the court. I can’t stand what he stands for and how he plays the game. I miss the days where he only takes one shot in protest. Sorry for the jr smith rant … Enjoy the game

  29. lavor postell

    Well now that Hardaway Jr. has canned a couple of shots we should probably sit his ass back down on the bench and go back to our “big” lineup…

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