Robert and Jim Talk about Stuff
While we all wait for the doomsday clock to hit permanent midnight, Jim Cavan and Robert Silverman exchanged a series of e-missives on the state of the Knicks. Here, unedited, are the results. Enjoy…
I’ve been depressed for three days, unceasingly. It’s a serious toxic funk, like Swinburne or Rimbaud on his foulest, most opium-soaked night.
You know how bad it is?
I spent a decent part of my lunch break at work thinking/wishing/fantasizing that Jason Kidd had died in his DWI so that the Knicks would be forced to match Houston’s offer sheet for Lin.
That’s sick, right?
I’m at the point of wishing death upon a more or less (well, probably less) innocent man. I’ve been rooting for this team for thirty-plus years. I remember crying myself to sleep because they traded my favorite player, Bob McAdoo. I’ve hung on through Bernard’s knee imploding during a pointless game in Kansas City, the Charles Smith Game, John Starks’ game seven, the Charlie Ward incident, Ewing’s finger roll, and the surrealistic nightmare that is, was and will be Isiah Thomas and never thought seriously about packing up my emotional wares and getting the heck out of NBA dodge. But I might do it this time. I might buy as many hipster-y Brooklyn Nets tees as I can get my grubby hands on and never look back.
Talk me back from the ledge, Jim. Unless you want to join me. We can hold hands on the way down.
I would, but I’m too busy responding to Tweets containing racist stuff like this, as if this kind of shit somehow serves as a compelling case. Unreal.
Fortunately for both of us, we’re not alone. The ship be sinkin’, but it be takin’ a lot of us down with it, together. What’s utterly fascinating to me, however, is that, according to a CBS pole, 59% of Knick fans polled said the wouldn’t match Houston’s offer sheet. Which either says all you need to know about the complex makeup of Knick fandom, or CBS needs to stop polling in Brooklyn.
A few minutes ago, Twitter broke its water with word that the Kings were on the verge of signing Aaron Brooks. Which means one less point guard that Houston could sign IF we decided to match the offer sheet. I don’t know about you, but after all Darryl Morey’s chicanery – legitimate and business-savvy though it no doubt was – I’d love nothing more than to wait until the eleventh hours, match the offer sheet, and leave Houston scrambling in a last minute, smog-drenched frenzy to sign Jonny Flynn to a multi-year, fully guaranteed contract.
I mean, that’s sounds bat-guano crazy, but, considering how pathologically stupid, petty, arrogant, vindictive and quixotic Madison Square Kremlin officials have behaved the last ten years, leaking word that they’re not going to match only to turn around at the last minute solely to keester Daryl Morey would certainly fit into their Nixonian (Knicksonian?) modus operandi.
The fact that they gave fewer than two shits that hundreds of thousands of Knick fans were left to twist in the wind for a few days while they orchestrated some kind of baroque revenge opera also would be par for the course.
That said, I’ve already moved into acceptance that this is going to happen. Granted, when it does, it’s going to hurt even worse, but there’s really nothing short of my long-discussed plan to track/stalk Guitar Jimmy and attend an AA meeting with him in the hopes that, over a styrofoam cup or two of sludge-like, burnt coffee, that he’d blurt out a teary testimonial claiming he’s matching would convince me otherwise. The last thing I need is to get my hopes up. There’s almost no point in making it worse with false optimism.
And yet, you seem to think otherwise? Do tell, why do you think thusly? Do you not realize that the universe is a chaotic, god-free, pointless miasma of doom and corruption? What medication are you on? What guru has led you astray?
And we (plural, not the editorial we) really need to get off the Twitter. If you don’t, I’m telling Mrs. Jim during our weekly gab-fest.
I don’t know, but my wife keeps telling me that Mercury is in retrograde. Which, I mean, I don’t even know what retrograde means. But she keeps saying that, when that happens, the ability to communicate goes out the window. For, like, weeks. Which would seem to jive pretty well with the John Hughesian high school drama that we currently find ourselves mired in.
It’s not that I “think otherwise.” And I certainly don’t “believe otherwise.” But I’ve always been something of a stubborn optimist, despite roughly 9000% of the evidence being in favor of expecting — and preparing yourself to properly deal with — how the world really works. Someone mentioned this earlier, and I think it might hold some merit, that this might actually be the straw that break’s the cash camel’s back. After the Melo acquisition sent ticket prices through the Garden’s fanned roof, there were pretty audible murmurings to the effect that he was marching towards a bridge too far. If he lets Lin go, and if the Knicks get off to even a mediocre start, I could see the place legit not selling out. Unlikely? Sure. But I think Dolan knows that, and might really see rebellion in the stars — a rebellion he knows he can stave off by doing what we both know he should do.
By the way, the answer to your question is “bath salts.” Don’t worry, though. We get them from the farmer’s market.
I’ve made this comparison before and it seems the apt moment to do so again. Being a Knick fan is like being a battered wife. (GIANT QUALIFYING STATEMENT: I am in no way, shape or form equating those two things. Being the victim of spousal abuse is far, far, far, far, far worse than whatever suffering stoopid Dolan has and will inflict. I’m merely comparing behavior patterns. It’s like discussing a stiff breeze and a tornado and stating that both involve wind. The latter is far more destructive. if anyone reading this has actually been beaten by someone they were with, I’m sorry and I in no way am attempting to minimalize or trivialize what you went through. Clear? Good.) Fans like you and I, for whom the emotional hooks are plunged in so deeply that the thought of extracting them seems fair more painful and organ-shredding than leaving them in, are preternaturally boned. Most of the time, our relationship with/marriage to this team is just sadness and misery and trips to the hospital where you claim that the bruises that pepper your face are there because you tripped and ran into a doorknob, but for a few brief moments, like Linsanity, you remember why you fell in love with this entity in the first place. And you forgive and rationalize away all the other moments of casual, thoughtless brutality, cruelty, enmity, and possibly worst of all, just plain indifference to anything and everything about you.
You have to hit rock bottom to finally realize that your world has narrowed to two, equally impossible and unpleasant choices — get out or die. Maybe this is it for Knick fans. Like I said, it might be for me. I’ve thought for awhile now that I have to find a form of fandom that doesn’t cost so much of my soul/emotional energy. that there has to be a way to root for the team without it being the be-all and the end-all here. But here, upon this bank and shoal of time. Is that even possible? Can you jump the life to come and be a fan without being a fanatic?
But whilst you ponder that larger, existential question, I’d like to return to a point you made earlier. 59%? How is that possible? Why can’t the quote-unquote “average fan” see what a mind-numbingly colossal mistake letting Lin go would (and probably will) be?
Obviously there are degrees of fandom, just as there are degrees of anything else in the universe. But we’ve tricked ourselves — through so many emotional betrayals and dastardly deals — that the shades of gray all border on black. Which is why, if you’re a Knick fan, I cannot fault you for hightailing it to the Nets. But that’s mostly because I know a fanatic wouldn’t.
Which gets us to the greater question at hand here, namely: Why do we invest so much — emotionally, financially, physically and, depending on the industry, sexually — in rooting for sports teams? Setting aside for a second the reams upon reams of studies that have no doubt been done to prove that it amounts to a colossal waste of time and resources, I would pose a slightly different picture: It’s because sports provides us an arena in which we can exercise our preternatural lust for competition. And, because, strictly speaking, sports don’t really mean anything in the grand scheme of things (outside of whatever economic universe it fosters, and the political ramifications therein). It’s war without the weapons; fighting without burying the fallen. It’s a way to both escape from the more important and pressing problems of the world, as well as an arena through which our competitive juices can be filtered so that those real world problems don’t become more violent, more irrational, and more senseless.
….And — in the words of Frank Drebin — where the hell was I? Oh right, the Knicks. Who are these 59%? I think a lot of them are the very die-hard fans we speak of. The only difference being that they look at turning down Lin’s deal as a way of exorcising the demons of frivolity that haunt our past, instead of a legitimate roll of the dice on youth, talent, and potential.
Fair enough. Not to go all Psych 101, but I think the a lot of fans are so traumatized that they’ll grasp at any straw/believe any conspiratorial, flimsy, or even contradictory rationale because the idea that they’re getting rochambeau’d (yet again, for the umpteenth time) is worse. I get that. Once upon a time, a very wise theater-person friend of mine said to me (when I was at a point of crisis)…
FRIEND OF BOB: Bob, reality is what you put your faith in. And I don’t mean that in a cliched, touchy-feely, “If you believe, anything is possible,” kind of way. I mean literally. Look at the stock market. It’s a construct entirely built on faith. There’s no there, there. Heck, look at this city [He gestures at the pedestrians trotting by the Brooklyn dive bar where we were chatting. Yes, this convo took place at a bar. I spent a lot of time in bars, pre-sobriety. Bars are neat.]. This city only exists because 8 million of us believe in it as a construct. You want to bring it to a total stop, a crashing halt? Tomorrow morning, no one goes to work. Every one just dances in the street. Gone.
BOB: Tom, I think they tried that in ‘Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee.’ It was the ghost dance. They tried dancing without ceasing to raise an army of dead warriors from their graves…
JIM: [interjecting] Can I make a joke about the Knicks bench here?
BOB: No. And stay out of my memories, Jim! So they did. They danced for three days without stopping, royally confusing the United States Army until finally the soldiers just got fed up and shot them all.
FRIEND OF BOB: Listen smart-ass, you’re missing the point, as usual.
I think I’ve out-Drebined you, Jim. What in the name of all that is good was my point? Oh yeah. Reality is what you put your faith in. It doesn’t matter that every statistical analysis imaginable says Lin is superior to Felton. If fans want to believe — to believe that a championship is possible, that they’re not getting the beyond fuzzy and possibly covered with toxic run off from the local refinery end of the lollipop, they will. Now why some of the more esteemed members of the elite sporting media seem to think this is the case is beyond me. Friend of the blog Jamie O’Grady said everything I’d like to say on said subject. Please feel free to leave this hardwood salon momentarily and read the whole piece. It’s right here. Also, if you’re feeling click-link-y, Messrs. Cavan, O’Grady, Litvin and myself vented webcastically about this self-same subject here. After you watch it, tell us how cute we look(ed).
The fact is, tomorrow is likely to be just like any other New Year’s Eve for Knick fans. Except the ball drops at 11:59 instead of 12, and on our heads instead of, you know, not. Going back for a second to the grand conspiracy theory of a spite-addled Dolan waiting until quite literally the last second before matching, a lot of people seem to think that this scenario is far beyond Dolan’s strategic capacity.
And maybe they’re right. But if the Knicks are willing to wait until the last minute — which they appear to be doing anyway– purely as its own “fuck you,” it’s not too far a leap further to believe they might actually walk back the last few day’s of hand-wringing. After all, given everything that’s happened, from Morey’s trickery to Kidd’s clear help cry, this would be a PR move that would pay immediate dividends for almost everyone involved.
There’s no way that Dolan’s braintrust hasn’t at least considered every conceivable economic scenario. Whether he follows the most rational of these projections is, of course, an entirely different matter altogether. But, as I’ve said many times, I thought the fact that they were at least waiting until the last minute to make their decision indicated a recognition on the part of someone that there would be time for cooler heads to prevail. For the first time since Isiah, Dolan has a GM who a) he trusts, and b) is, judging by his moves thus far, fairly competent. Over the next few hours, Glen will have his boss’s ear. It’ll be up to him to make sure what goes in doesn’t just tunnel through to the ether on the other side.
Call me crazy, but I say that, by tonight, Linsanity — after an unjust exile in NBA limbo — will come home.
And on that note of hope (The Oxford English Dictionary defines hope as: noun. pl. hopes (h?p) 1. A feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen. 2. Of all of fate’s cutlery, the sharpest knife. Most commonly found in one’s back), I think we’ll end this bit o’ sporting crossfire.
Tonight will come, mes gars. No matter what. Tonight will come.
[UPDATE: 2:30pm] Of course, what took us 2.4k words to burble out, was summarized in 1:25 of animated brilliance.
Hey, did you know that in addition to banging the keys here and occasionally for the NY Times, Robert is a playwright, an actor and a wand'ring mendicant/gadfly? He also once wrestled a bear...and lost.