Back in July, when I joined the team here, I wrote a strange introduction about how exactly to write about the Knicks when you aren’t a Knicks fan. It’s a rather odd place to be in, simply because the Knicks’ blogosphere is so vastly different from that of every other team. To put it simply, there are just so many bloggers that are so passionate, and knowledgeable about the Knicks, it feels vaguely wrong to be voicing opinions that aren’t rooted in that same passion.
Put it this way: let’s say your friend has a kid. You know the kid pretty well (after all, it’s your friend’s kid), but not so well that you feel like you’re the same person, like you know all of their ins and outs (because, after all, it’s not YOUR kid). But because of what you do (let’s say you’re an after-school teacher, like me), you know a good amount about kids. And you like kids. The great kids, you love (because they’re great kids – they’re smart and surprisingly funny and charming and all that fun stuff). Even the crappy kids you find enjoyable, because you’re able to find the good in everything, even if it’s ironic and occasionally mean-spirited.
Now, your friend’s kid is a crappy kid. He is undisciplined, he has trouble with transitions, he often acts out, he often rebels against authority, and otherwise causes undue stress to your friend. And you can see that it causes undue stress to your friend – you can see it on their face, you can hear it in their voice when you talk on the phone, you can even see/hear it in the words that they type in text messages and e-mails about their kid.
And the kid has been this kind of problem child for so long that it’s really starting to beat some of the life out of your friend. It’s past the point where you can make jokes about it – all that will do is remind them of the problems and depress them. You can’t put on a happy face and pretend like there isn’t any problem – they’ll see right through that. And of course, you can’t just straight up say that your friend’s kid sucks. That’s just the worst thing you could say. You’re just afraid to say anything, out of fear that you might say the wrong thing. So you just sit there and smile and nod uncomfortably as the kid sucks the life out of your friend until there’s nothing left.
That’s what it’s like being a Knicks blogger and not a Knicks fan.
This Knicks season is only 24 games old but it already feels like its taken years off the lives of my friends, both here at KnickerBlogger and elsewhere on the information superhighway. Every game it seems like the Knicks lose in spectacular fashion, I sift through a half-dozen game recaps that are beautifully written and hauntingly depressing, each of them asserting that this is the lowest the Knicks can go. It can’t possibly get any worse than this.
And then it does.
In a normal situation, the Knicks being this inept would be top-shelf schadenfreude for me, the same way I take small sadistic pleasures when teams like the Nets, Lakers, Bulls, and other high-profile teams that I’m either indifferent towards or actively root against, lose.
But this is different. Now I have to watch this Knicks season in the eyes of people who I genuinely consider friends, who I mostly interact with through Twitter, but have actually met out in the real world with faces and voices. Their pain becomes my pain, which is weird because I don’t even LIKE the Knicks. For most of my life, my general feelings towards the Knicks can be summarized as “¯\_(?)_/¯.”
So now I’m caught in this awkward middle ground, where on one hand I kind of want the Knicks to keep losing, because it will provide fodder to write about – it’s just the more interesting story. But the more they lose, the more Jim, and Bob, and Kevin, and Mike fall into this spiral where I’m afraid they’ll end up on a ledge on New Year’s Eve after doing a ton of blow like Jenny Gump. And I don’t want that. Nobody wants that.
And in the meantime, I’m afraid to say anything. Watching YOUR team fall apart at the seams is a uniquely personal experience. One that I’ve never dealt with, because I don’t have a “team.” Part of me wants to back off to let Jim and Bob and Mike and Kevin and everyone else write their way through the pain for the sake of catharsis; I don’t want anything I do to get in the way of that.
So more than anything, this is just trying to be a big hug, but with words. I don’t know your pain. I could never know your pain, or even begin to understand it. But I can see it. I can feel it in my bones. And I’m sorry. I really am. This isn’t fun for me in the slightest.
I’m not here to say that everything is going to work out. In all likelihood, things will get worse before they get better. But the next time something (anything) good happens, know that the first round is on me. You guys deserve it. You deserve better.