by Susan Price
It’s 10:34 and I just walked home from the Garden. The Knicks hosted the Cavs, and all the talk was about LeBron coming here in 2010. From the media in the press room, from the lady selling me my French fries, from the Whoo Hoo guy two rows behind me. (More about him later.)
As a Knicks fan for some years now, I’ve been in the Garden for my share of amazing things. Allow me a quick moment to reminisce…Starks dunking on Mike. Reggie’s 8 points in 11 seconds. LJ’s four-point play. Van Gundy holding onto Zo’s leg for dear life. Patrick standing on the scorer’s table. And Patrick standing center court as his number was retired. Those were and are great memories for me and Knicks fans everywhere. Which brings me to this letter, manifesto, whatever you want to call it.
Knicks fans…I am one of you. I sympathize with you. I feel your pain, too. But people, please, you need to chill. Stop celebrating like LeBron (or even DWade or Bosh) coming to the Knicks is a lock. Nothing is happening for two years. At least. TWO YEARS! Do you know what can happen in two years? Two years ago, Miami won the NBA Championship. See how things change?
Yes, I’ve been disappointed as a Knicks fan these last years. Yes, they haven’t done their best. Yes, front office debacles have put the spotlight on the higher ups rather than the team and made the franchise a complete embarrassment. But you know what? I don’t think it helps the guys who are on the team right now, playing in front of you right now, trying to win right now, to hear chants of “We Love LeBron” and “2010.” Walking to my seat, I saw a guy wearing a t-shirt he made himself that said “2010: Change we can believe in.” Clever, yes. But oh so wrong.
Player introductions….and the crowd goes wild…for LeBron. When he does his little powder thing (which he stole, yes, STOLE from KG, thank you very much), he takes extra long to pour the stuff into his hands. Then a big pause for dramatic effect. Then up in the air. Cue crowd to go wild again. These are not Knicks fans. These are not New York fans. The fans I grew up cheering with, booing Reggie Miller with, standing during timeouts and for entire 4th quarters with, they would not have cheered for someone on the other team. MJ got some cheers, sure, but he got a hell of a lot more boos.
And then, it happened. Finally. Some time during the second quarter. A real fan. “I hate you LeBron!” It comes up from behind me, the blue seats for those Garden fans in the know. At first, Khalid and I just laughed a little. But when he continued…“I hate you LeBron”….my heart grew all warm and fuzzy. And when the Knicks scored, he let out a “Whoo Hoo!” He cheered. For his team. Shocking, right? Every so often, someone would start changing “2010” or “We love LeBron” but thankfully it didn’t take to the whole arena. Trust me, the sound of entire The Garden chanting is awesome. It’s an amazing thing. It’s just been a long time since I heard it. And if I heard it with “We love LeBron,” I would have left that instant. Whoo Hoo Guy made me think, even for just a few minutes, that the attitude, the intensity, the passion was back in The Garden. Thanks, Whoo Hoo Guy.
That’s what this place needs. It needs its toughness back. It needs its fire back. Sorry, Knicks fans, but you need your balls back. Don’t cheer for the other team. Don’t chant against your team. You look dumb and sound even dumber. To the dude who screamed out “LeBron’s our MVP!” Really? Really? You are a moron. The crowd went nuts for LeBron the whole night. And for those of you who think I’m a LeBron hater, it’s just not true. Quite the opposite. He’s an amazing athlete, amazing leader, might turn out to be the best ever, blah blah blah. To be able to watch someone of that level, with his knowledge and skill is a treat to be remembered forever. As a Knicks fan, would I love him on my team? Sure. But it’s, um, 2008. Fans, let me see a fight in the stands. Steal someone’s beer. Chant something about someone’s mother. Do something. Show everyone that we are still the greatest fans in the world.
And to the guys on the team…fellas, this goes out to you too. I’m by no means saying I know how to play in the NBA. But I do know a few things about basketball. LeBron gets a pass outside. You don’t let him dribble in, putting a half-ass body in his path. Knock the man down. Hard. He’s big. He’s strong. Trust me. He can take it. You don’t let him pull up for a 20-footer. Get your hand in his face. Yes, he’s an amazing player. Yes, he’ll probably hit the shot anyway. But do something, anything.
I first started watching the Knicks in the late ’80s and early ’90s. Mark Jackson. Hubert Davis. Marcus Camby. Patrick Ewing. Herb Williams. Charles Oakley. Derek Harper. Rolando Blackman. Latrell Sprewell. Rick Brunson. Chris Childs. Chris Dudley! John Starks. Allan Houston. Larry Johnson. Anthony Mason. Xavier McDaniel. Johnny Newman. Doc Rivers. Kurt Thomas. Gerald Wilkins. Those were my Knicks. Those are my Knicks. And I want to add some names to the list. Knicks fans, I know you feel me on this. So please, for the love of Red Holzman, start acting like Knicks fans.
Oh, and Darnell Jackson, Khalid says you owe him money.