Statistical Analysis. Humor. Knicks.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Kings 106, Knicks: I Don’t Care

Sacramento Kings 106 Final
Recap | Box Score
101 New York Knicks

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Did you ever read the Julian Jaynes tome, The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind? It’s been more or less discredited as a theory, but in sum, the author suggests that consciousness (as we know it) is a human capacity that only developed in the last 3,000 years.

According to Jaynes, prior to this evolution, people didn’t make conscious choices when faced with a difficult or confusing or surprising situation. Instead, they’d obey the dictums of a voice or “god” telling them what to do. There’d be no questioning of these “orders” or even the realization that one was receiving commands as opposed to thinking and making a choice. Basically, we were all more or less schizophrenics.

But at around 1000 AD, there were mass migrations and some serious environmental catastrophes and it was only through the evolution of a self-aware mind—a mind that knows and is aware that it’s making a choice, not receiving the world from a super- or supra-natural force—that people were able to survive.

I mention this, because I’m really longing for a direct connection to the gods right now, or at least some force larger than myself that could just tell me what the hell I’m supposed to do here and now, with this team, the New York Knickerbockers.

***

As you’re well aware, in the last game before the All-Star break, the Sacramento Kings defeated the New York Knicks by a score of 106-101. This drearily bleak loss was barely indistinguishable from the slew of other bland, wearying defeats. The difference is, after this one, I didn’t feel anything.

I didn’t care when a double-digit lead vanished faster than Jimmer Fredette’s release, in the midst of a FARTDOG-fueled BYU nostalgia trip leading to a career-high 24 points. And yes, he joins Marco Belinelli, Lance Stephenson, Evan Turner and Brandon Knight as guards that have set a new mark in points this season.

I didn’t care when Isaiah “No relation” Thomas said that the Knicks were giving the aforementioned WAC Player of the Year vast swaths of real estate, even after he had nailed his first five shots, scoring 13 in a 4 minute span to start the second quarter.

I didn’t care when Woodson used Shumpert’s gimpy hip as an excuse (as if he needed one) to go bigball for the bulk of the 2nd Half.

I didn’t care when Woodson unveiled what must be his Christo-like, wrapping-all-of-Central-Park-in-orange-fabric-because-art masterpiece by actually going with Melo at shooting guard for a brief stretch in OT.

Art is big, man.

Art is big, man.

Pause for one sec. Everyone’s been giggling about the whole “X is big” thing for months now, with jokey tweets about a STAT-Melo-Bargs-Chandler-Martin five-man unit. That’s funny, but what Woodson did last night rendered all of our clever yuks moot. You couldn’t pen Onion-esque article describing a thing he could say or move he might make that isn’t an actual, possible thing.  Congrats, Son of Wood. You’ve beaten satire into a helpless puddle of sickly, brownish-green goo.

I didn’t care when Melo shot 0-fer-his-last-8 to end the game, yet given two chances to win on the final possession, they went ISO both times. He’s now 1-19 in such situation, and I’m starting to think that old gypsy woman that’s been counseling JB Smoove might not actually have a connection to the mystical/occult world.

I didn’t care that, even after rolling his ankle in the 3rd, for reasons’ beyond the understanding and/or purview of mere mortals, Raymond Felton played the bulk of the 4th Quarter and all of OT, regardless of the fact that he couldn’t locate the bottom of the with a nautical compass of exacting precision.

I didn’t care that on the final two possessions of the 4th, Sacramento got the shot they wanted by getting the ‘Bockers to switch, leaving Amar’e to try to, you know, stop them.

I didn’t care that they lost to a team that had lost 10 of the previous 12 games, including all 7 on the road, and was playing in the second night of a back-to-back, having been trounced by the equally sad, foundering, squabbling Cleveland Cavaliers.

I didn’t care that Woodson seemed pissed as hell in the post-game presser (again), bored and condescendingly weary at the thought of having to answer the same, pointed questions, even if he’s never actually answered any of them in a way that suggests anything other than a man with the IQ of a slightly bruised, overripe cucumber or a pathological liar.

And hell, if Raymond Felton doesn’t care, why should I?

Stephen A. says he’s done with them too, so I’m not/we’re not alone in wanting to scurry away from this sinking ship as quickly as possible.

That’s a new thing for me—emerging from two and a half hours of shitty basketball without a disfiguring scar being left somewhere on my soul. Part of me wants to see this as a kind of personal growth. If you’ve read my scribblings before, you know that I have repeatedly declared my intention to hold the entire endeavor of fandom at arm’s length.

Of course, I’ve failed. Time and time again.

In end, it is absolutely bat-guano crazy, this thing of investing emotional currency and personal self-worth in the results of any individual game or season or player or team.

And trying to enjoy this team (or any iteration of the Knickerbockers) with a measure of objectivity and/or distance has been an exercise in pure folly.

I guess what Oscar Wilde said is true: When the gods wish to punish us, they answer our prayers. Because right now, even though I’m kind of thrilled that I’m not applying an ice pack to my head, what with the excessive pounding of said cranium into my desk that normally would occur after watching a poop fajita of a game like this one, I feel kind of lost, like Julian Jaynes ‘evolved’ humans. I can’t remember the last time I watched this team and the result literally had no impact on my state of being.

It’s like having a long-time, really persistent tormentor of mine vanish into thin air. While I’m sad to see the vicious bastard gone, I’m not sure what I’m going to do without him. I don’t know why I’d watch these games if I didn’t care deeply about the result.

I write these recaps partly out of a need to dump out all the serious #feels that I (and you all out there in KnickerbloggerLand) have about this team and this game that we love. Because when you say something—whether it’s out loud or on paper or converted into bytes or whatever—it takes away its power. We’re the opposite of Christian Scientists. Freudians, if you will: to name a thing—Toney Douglas or Bargs or Jerome James or any of the hundreds of sad, overpaid, failed Knicks that we’ve allowed to nestle in the bosom of our hearts— is to neutralize that thing.

So yes, that’s partly selfish. I’m trying to ease/come to terms with/better understand this bête noire. I really hope that you’ve enjoyed reading them and that, in times of unpleasantness, the things I (or Jim Cavan, or Kevin McElroy or Mike Kurylo or all the wise, funny, insightful things you have all written in the comments) have helped in some way, shape or form.

I struggle with this a lot. I worry that by delving into the experience of fandom and (at times) leaving out the finer points of what occurs on the court (as in this so-called “recap”) that I’m engaging in some kind of solipsistic, navel-gaze-y/snake-eating-its-own-tail MC Escher painting that’s pointless and dull. Of course, the old dictum of “write what you know” exists for a reason and what I know is fandom. I know its dark corridors and secret passages and I can recite the names of all the gods and demons that have market my time in service of this religion.

And make no mistake about it, fandom is a kind of religion—or at least it often walks and talks in a manner that makes it feel like a religion. It’s one that’s built on faith, even if the object of our worship is so clearly fallible, so preternaturally flawed that it calls into question the entire validity of the exercise of faith, of giving yourself over to an entity outside of your control.

In the end, no matter what entity or thing or force you choose to give yourself over to, this thing that’s clearly bigger than you and totally beyond your control has you in a pretty vulnerable state. The vulnerability is kind of the point, but it’s frightening. I don’t know whether this thing—fandom—is the kind of thing I want to be standing naked, shivering and powerless before. Not anymore.

Yes, I get the irony/contradiction of being tired of enslaving myself to a failed god/lover like the Knicks, and asking for a higher power to give me a better answer.

***

So I guess I’m saying I’m not sure what I’m going to do next. I’m sure once this gang-that-couldn’t-shoot-straight toddles into Memphis tonight, everything will be right as rain, and I’ll be screaming for Woodson’s shiny, bald pate on a platter or about some other crime and/or misdemeanor against basketball/humanity. images (1)

And if you said, “I really don’t care whether you care or not, Bob,” that’d be okay. I get that. I didn’t write this out of some purely egotistical drive because I think the universe is dying to get my #HotSportsTake on this, but out of the hope that some of you out there are in the same place; that this year’s Knick model is so profoundly bleak, so fundamentally flawed and wrong, that you’re ready to walk away.

Since I don’t really have an answer (and short of an oracle, we human beings/Knicks fans are going to have to figure this out on our own), I’m going to end this with a question. Have you guys stopped caring or at least are you caring less? And if so, are you still watching the games? And is it easier or harder or what?

15 comments on “Kings 106, Knicks: I Don’t Care

  1. tastycakes

    I’ve bailed on shitty Knicks teams earlier in seasons past. Not sure what’s kept me around so long. They are a miserable, spiritless bunch of losers with basically no upside.

    What’s left to watch? Their odds of sneaking into the playoffs are grim and, even if they did, they’d be obliterated early. I love basketball, and there’s a ton of good ball being played elsewhere that I could be watching instead.

    I hope they make some ‘reshuffling the deck chairs’ trades because it’s fun to see how such things work out but part of me just wants them to go away.

  2. d-mar

    Thanks, Robert, I share a lot of your feelings.

    There are basically 3 reasons why I continue to support this unwatchable group:

    1) Purely financial. As a season ticket holder, I’ve been getting hammered on Stubhub this year (and I know that’s good news for most of you) So after 29 years (and they were mostly good, even during the Isaiah years I was at least able to get face value) this will likely be my last, as I can’t take the financial hit any more. (not expecting any sympathy, BTW)

    2) My son, who’s now in college, has been a staunch supporter since he was a toddler and he and I have gone to countless games together. It’s my dream for he and I to be at MSG for game 7 of the Finals and rejoice as the Knicks win their first title in umpteen years. Unfortunately, I may be dead by then.

    3) It’s a bit of a cliche, but Knicks’ fans are some of the most passionate and knowledgeable out there. I enjoy being part of that community, and when I go to games, I love looking around and realizing that there are thousands just like me who can’t give up on this sorry franchise.

    (And thank God for Knickerblogger, where we can all vent and share our frustrations!)

  3. swiftandabundant

    Now I’m wondering if that “yawn” by Felton was fake It kind of looks like a fake yawn. Like he knows the cameras are on him and he wants out of NYC and/or wants to show the world that Woodson is so shitty as a coach that his time outs are yawn inducing. THoughts?

  4. tastycakes

    Sometimes I yawn when I’m out with friends or maybe even during a long bikeride or something, and it doesn’t necessarily mean that I’m bored, it’s more about being 7 or 8 steps below “pro athlete”

    Maybe Felton is only good every other year and 2014-15 is gonna be AWESOME

  5. max fisher-cohen

    Borges has a cool line that related to what you wrote about consciousness. It’s something like, “back in the day, people could not distinguish between thunder and the thunder god. The two were one in their minds.”

    I like a lot of what you say here, especially about the faith involved in fandom and the vulnerability that comes along with it. In a sense, sports are purer than religion in that religions tend to become mucked up with politics.

    I think my faith in the Knicks died some time after the Melo trade, when I came to the conclusion that not only would this core never win a title but that the Knicks and most fans were chill with that and were going to ride out the next four or whatever years as an old, very average team. See, back in the day with the coach and roster carousel of the 2000s there was so much chaos that any day the team could switch directions. There was always the chance, narrow as it may have been, that when the dust finally did settle, there would be a plan.

    But I think too my change to being a lot less invested in the Knicks wins and losses came as a result of starting to write a bit for this blog and having to make a logical case for any point I made. It took away a lot of the ambiguity. I remember typing out KB comments about how Eddy Curry’s career could be resurrected by d’antoni. I don’t think I’ll ever get back that level of naivete.

    The thing that keeps me coming back is that I still have hope the Knicks will change. I’m definitely still a fan of the team itself, just not the front office or most of the roster. My religiosity I guess has found a different path down which to flow.

    Did you read the Zach Lowe article about when his fandom died?

  6. KnickfaninNJ

    The NBA trade machine is very addictive. I found a trade I like for the Knicks and it might work for the other teams too. Here goes

    NY sends Bargnani and Shumpert to Houston
    Houston send Asik and Brewer to the Hawks
    The Hawks send Teague and a draft pick or two to the Knicks

    Houston gets a big who won’t conflict with Howard inside the paint.
    Atlanta gets a big guy
    NY gets PG (but we still have Felton) So maybe more names could be added so NY can send out Felton or Udrih too. /For example the Knicks could also send Felton to Atlanta and get Brand in return

  7. Brian Cronin

    Besides Ujiri and maybe Presti, Morey is the last NBA GM to ever consider bringing in Bargs.

    And that’s besides Bargs possibly missing the rest of the season.

  8. Adam L

    Hit the nail on the head here! I am a hopelessly addicted Knicks fan. Ever since DVR was invented I have literally watched every minute of every game, unless I am out of the country for extended periods of time. I understand it is truly bizarre, but it has structured my life for close to a decade (and before that I would very rarely miss a game anyway).

    Knicks teams have brought up all sorts of raging emotions in me in the past, but I agree that this year is different. The chasm between expectations and product, the pure futility of all their ‘efforts’, is disheartening way more than it is maddening.

    I find myself wishing I could stop watching the games, because I too have almost entirely stopped caring. I can’t say fully, because the Knicks still have the ability to depress, but not nearly as much as in the past. So why the hell am I still watching the games? I really think addiction is the most apt metaphor and the only answer I can muster. I have structured my life around watching Knicks games, going through the emotions with them, that it’s hard to break away from it all.

    I’ve grown up, have a kid now, and have plenty of other things I should easily be spending my time on. And yet 82 nights a year, after putting the baby down to bed, I settle in and turn on the DVR. Maybe there’s something about Sisyphus in here as well.

    Anyone else?

  9. thenamestsam

    I’ve definitely felt more disconnect with this team than with many other incarnations – even those that were hopelessly incompetent. I still watch the games and I still think about the team a lot, post on here, etc. but I found myself laughing at Woodson’s incompetence at the end of the Kings game instead of screaming. Which I guess means the Knicks have broken me. I still watch the games so I think it would be dishonest to say I don’t care – anything that I find the time to spend 4-6 hours a week watching on TV plus more thinking and positing about is by definition something I care about, but I think it’s as much hate-watching as fandom at this point. I ‘m so dispirited by this team that I just want to watch the whole thing burn to the ground.

  10. Nick C.

    I find myself half watching the games beyond the first quarter. The thing is unlike in the Isaiah days I don’t hate them, but I could care less. Same with the trade talk, FA talk. To think halfway through that Boston series I was as high on them as I had been since Ewing and Oakley were around by the time the talk turned to “verticality” the balloon was leaking fast. Oh well I still have the Mets and Jets (and, ssshh, Syracuse)

  11. KnickfaninNJ

    Besides Ujiri and maybe Presti, Morey is the last NBA GM to ever consider bringing in Bargs.

    Yeah, that’s a good point. The market for Bargnani can’t be strong at the moment. But he doesn’t really make much more than Asik and he’s a much better scorer and it’s not like Houston is losing an active player for an injured one. Asik doesn’t play at all.

  12. danvt

    Bob,
    Thanks for the article. The SAC game was that kind of game. The kind of litmus test your wife will never understand as well as your friend John Goldberg from High School, who you don’t live with. That shit just doesn’t happen. How could that shit have happened? Where have you gone Dave BeBusschere-o? I thought about canceling my league pass next season.

    Why invest in this? Why not give up this faux passion play? There’s no good reason. But I will say this, my friend. You have taught me how to write by doing this. It’s kind of embarrassing to say but I’m in grad school and in my writing forums, when I’m posting, I’m really thinking about your style. So, the pieces Man! They’re fabulous, and they do something else. They make us feel better for feeling like shit about this too. So, don’t give up on the shitty team, Bob.

    Also,

    The Knicks have always been mediocre. We’ve always been Joe C. Merriweather and Hawthorne Wingo. We’re fans anyway. I swear, I was here for the whole Celtic run with KG and them and no one gave a damn. It’s football and baseball up here. I bet there’s more NYK fans in MIA than there are Heat fans. So, keep talking to us, Bob. Just laugh or cry or whatever. They’ll get their shit together one day. In the meantime keep reporting on the carnival.

  13. swiftandabundant

    At some point in January, after our little mini resurrection in Texas, I stopped caring about the team this year. I check the scores on my phone. Even if its close I don’t turn on the tv to watch the end because I did that few times earlier this year only to get super pissed (the Wizards game).

    It sucks. Yes, even during the Dantoni years I cared a lot more than I do now. I think its because last year was so awesome yet ended poorly and I truly thought losing Kidd, Thomas, Copeland and Novak wasn’t a big deal but it was. Also, Felton and JR have sucked the fun out of the team. None of the young players get enough burn even though they play better when they do. I hate Woodson so much now. People hated Dantoni but at least he didn’t play favorites with veterans. If you played his way and played hard, he gave you minutes. And at least during his first two years, there were young players to root for with David Lee, Chandler, Gallo and there was the hope that it was about to get so much better.

    I think Melo is great. And I think Amare probably breaks down regardless of how Melo got here. But part of me won’t forgive Melo for forcing a trade here instead of waiting for free agency. We would have had so many more assets to deal with and build a team around him and Amare. If he does resign and really takes less, then I will forgive him. I thought I did last season but this year it just makes me so mad that we couldn’t have waited for him to come here as a free agent.

  14. Robert Silverman Post author

    Did you read the Zach Lowe article about when his fandom died?

    I did. I get that too–if you’re cranking out material like Lowe, it’s almost impossible to have a rooting interest. It really does get in the way of objectively breaking down what’s occurring on the court.

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