|Cole Aldrich, C 40 MIN | 5-8 FG | 3-4 FT | 16 REB | 1 AST | 2 STL | 5 BLK | 1 TO | 13 PTS | +12ONE ALDRING TO RULE THEM ALL|
So we’re done. But before this awful, no-good, bleak season wanders depressingly into that good night, we had to get one last bit of pre-game free-form extemporaneous prose poetry from the soon-to-be ex-coach, Mike, Son of Wood.
In case you had better things to do, like running a rusty cheese grater over your inner thighs (or anything, really) and missed ‘em, here they are.
More Woodson: “If they bring me back, I’m going to make damn sure this kind of season doesn’t happen again.”
— Alan Hahn (@alanhahn) April 16, 2014
Woodson on his future: “Is it fair to let me go? I don’t think so.”
— Al Iannazzone (@Al_Iannazzone) April 16, 2014
Mike Woodson: “Am I the guy for the job? I’m the only guy for the job.” #Knicks
— Alan Hahn (@alanhahn) April 16, 2014
What do you say to that? You could have ripped off all your clothes and began simultaneously chugging grain alcohol and Mr. Pibb, and ran screaming, “WOOOOOOOODSON” as you hurtled into the oncoming traffic on the BQE (assuming you’re a city-dweller like me), or just collapsed in a giddy, delirious heap of uncontrollable laughter; either response would make complete and total sense.
I always wonder how I might respond if I was a real, live, mild-mannered reporter for a major metropolitan newspaper and was presented with said pearls of wisdom. Is there a follow up question that I could reasonably ask, aside from something along the lines of, “What medications are you currently taking to deal with your crippling case of Tertiary Syphilis? Are you continuing to defend Bargs because you actually think he’s a horse you saw flogged in the piazza?”
The thing is, there really is no question that could prompt a reasonable answer, especially if, you know, you want to keep said job on the beat.
But after months of terrible Bargs references, or the way he’d sling logic-free word salad, (I mean, you could practically make one of those refrigerator poetry magnet games from his pet phrases: At the end of the day, Piece of the puzzle, part of what we do here, throw him to the curb, throw him under the bus, I’m not going to point fingers, I’m the coach, referring to himself in the 3rd person [my personal fave], we’ve just got to make shots, didn’t come prepared, didn’t get it done, it’s on me, not going to sit here/stand there/stand here, and on and on.), this felt different.
It felt like a rare moment of honesty from a guy that knows he’s losing his job, possibly as soon as tomorrow. We’ve hammered Woodson pretty hard this year, and rightly so. There’s no question that he deserves to be fired (he deserved to be fired months ago), but the team kept him around because…well…they’re the Knicks and there wasn’t a ready made replacement on hand, and it turns out that Phil was galloping into town on a sage-scented palomino with large leather-bound books in his saddlebags and vials of sacred fluids containing Kobe Bryant’s tears, so there was no way they could’ve or would’ve reached out to a Hollins or even a Carlesimo to serve as a seat-warmer anyway.
So Woody did what he was told, and tried gamely to defend decisions that may or may not have been entirely his. In the end, all of this awful losing, made him a reasonable stand-in for Willy Loman; a slump-shouldered guy, wandering the fluorescent halls of MSG, getting sideways glances from equally paranoid, job-fretting executives, everyone covering their own ass, knowing that this season was a lost cause—a futile endeavor at best—and then having to go out in front of a horde of reporters and trying to say something reasonable, when the truth isn’t ever an option and day after day after day getting publicly mocked every time he does open his piehole (and again, justifiably so). He may have been liked by the players, but he certainly wasn’t well-liked.
So this evening’s quote felt like that guy finally punching back, that he does think he is the guy for the job and wants to return, in spite of all the B-grade TV soap opera shenanigans that have (and probably will continue to) swirled around this misbegotten franchise. And despite an owner that let him twist in the wind while he was toiling around on ATV’s with the next savior (and Glenn Frey, which yeah. So weird. So Knicks). So you can laugh at the folly of the idea that he’s the only guy that can coach this team (he isn’t), or get pissed and either reaction makes complete and total sense.
But I think if you can relate to all the times you’ve hated your job and your boss, but didn’t want to or couldn’t quit because you needed the money, wouldn’t it be great to be given a public forum just to say, “Fuck you. I’m the man.”
That’s kinda cool, right? So before Woody packs up his goatee and finally is standing there, kicked to the kurb, I guess I’m gonna be Linda Loman, and say…
DEATH OF A SEASON, ACT II
“I don’t say he’s a great man. Mike Woodson may have made a lot of money. His name was always in the paper. He’s not the finest character that ever lived. But he’s a human being, and a terrible thing is happening to him. So attention must be paid. He’s not to be allowed to fall into his grave like an old dog. Attention, attention must finally be paid to such a person. You called him crazy, no, a lot of people think he’s lost his balance. But you don’t have to be very smart to know what his trouble is. The man is exhausted. A small man can be just as exhausted as a great man. He works for a company for two years, opens up unheard-of territories to their trademark, and now in his old age they take his salary away. Are they any worse than Knicks fans? When he brought them wins, they were glad to see him. But now his old veterans on the bench, the a that loved him so, like Kidd and Thomas, they’re all retired, or running a team in Brooklyn. He used to be able to make six, seven good play calls a day. Now he takes his whiteboard out of the car and puts them back and takes them out again and he’s exhausted. Instead of walking he talks now. He travels to arenas all over the country, and when he gets there no one knows him anymore, no one welcomes him. And what goes through a man’s mind, coming back to MSG without having earned a single victory? Why shouldn’t he talk to himself? Why? When he has to go to Jim Dolan and borrow fifty dollars a week and pretend to me that it’s his pay? How long can that go on? How long? You see what I’m sitting here and waiting for? And you tell me he has no character? The man who never worked a day but for your benefit? When does he get the medal for that?”
Take us home, Kevin McElroy…
First off, you’re all the best. Don’t forget that. Not when we complain about the coach or the owner or the contracts or the defense or the effort or the awareness. That all was and is and some still will be. But that’s that and you’re you and you’re all the best.
This can suck sometimes and usually has and even when it hasn’t you’ve still given it more than you’ve gotten back from it. Which is the way it is and the reason the word fan derives from fanatic in the first place. We set ourselves up for it and we usually get let down. But we come together to this little corner of the Internet and we get let down together. We joke and we think and we argue and we share a small piece of our lives and that isn’t in the service of the winning or losing or in response to the winning or losing, it’s its own thing with its own value separate and severable from anything that happens on the court or in the front office or even in the stands or on our televisions. It’s yours, ours, and it has whatever value we assign it.
And, again, what we share is a piece of our lives. And hopefully we leave a lot of that piece — the negative, disappointed part — behind and don’t let it infect whatever else we each have going on. But what I really hope is that we don’t leave all of it here. This is a place to write and read and think and give and take critiques and generally become better writers, smarter consumers of information, better-informed fans, and wiser people who remember to never stop questioning themselves and their own opinions because they can always be sharpened, refined, made more relevant and concise and entertaining. We can all be better, always, just like our Knicks and just like each other.
Thanks for what you’ve given one another and thanks for what you’ve given me: I value it, I need it, and I know that even if the Knicks largely wasted this season, we didn’t. See you tomorrow, and next season, and always.