As much as there's no point, I'm going to talk about it anyway. Since the trade, the losses just make me feel way shittier than they usually do.
I know y'all are going to argue with me - go ahead.
I grew up about 5 blocks from Madison Square Garden. I've always been a Knick fan. I haven't lived in New York for almost 20 years, but that hasn't stopped me from remaining a Knick fan. I followed them religiously through the Ewing era. And even after Ewing was traded to Seattle, through all those dark years, my fanship never waned. I became obsessed with who they were going to draft - who they were going to trade for - what they were going to do to try to get something good going again.
Always, each move seemed to flop. All of Isiah's quick fix schemes to get out from under the awful hole that Layden put us in with that Ewing trade failed - all of his coaching hires were awful. But finally, we got Donnie, and finally began the process of getting the team back into financial health and getting a roster that could compete and win again.
All through this hell, I was sustained by the belief that the way to win was to get a bunch of good young players together that cared about defense, and to let them grow and develop. One of the things I loved about Gallo and Chandler and Toney was the committment they showed to defense. It wasn't that they were necessarily always the best defenders on the floor - it's that they seemed to actually believe in it. Adding Felton and Turiaf this year and subtracting Lee just added to this defensive culture.
I was amazed at how Amar'e, a guy who has always been more committed to his offense, seemed to be swept into this culture. Yes, his offense is amazing, but to me, the biggest improvement over Lee he showed was defensive. All in all, I saw that the Knicks had young players that played defense and had scoring ability, a young veteran big man who seemed to be at the top of his game, and most of all an overall defensive culture. They seemed to lack in experience and rebounding, but I thought if they could solve those very solvable problems and work together for a few years, they had a chance. I felt something special happening.
When the Carmelo talk started up, I was concerned because I thought that replacing guys that really bought into the defensive culture with a guy like Carmelo meant that your two undisputed star leaders are both offensive minded guys that can play defense when motivated but have an 'outscore you' mindset. I felt this might upset the defensive culture that I feel is so important to building a championship team.
I eventually got on board the Melo train because I felt that, as much as I would like to see the Knicks win a championship with Gallo and Chandler, I had to admit that there are times when a guy with Carmelo's offensive swagger makes the difference. I was borderline OK with giving up Chandler / Gallo / Curry for him. But to me, including Felton really gutted the teams defensive leadership. They still have Toney and they still have Turiaf and other guys that can play D, and I've always thought Billups is underrated and great - and he won a championship with the Pistons, but that was when he was in his twenties and he had Ben Wallace behind him. With Melo, he hasn't had the same type of success.....
Bottom line - unlike the Celtics and Lakers, I don't believe that the defensive intensity pervades the team leadership in quite the same way, and I thought it kind of did before. I'm concerned about our ability to win playoff series' with this team.
But what really bums me out is that I feel kind of disconnected to this team right now. They went for the big superstar method of building a team, and I don't really connect with that very well. I was really connecting with the team they were. I find myself checking Nuggets box scores and photos. Yeah, I did that.
Yesterday I ran the ESPN playoff simulator about 300 times. The Knicks got to the finals 8 times and won 5 championships. The Nuggets got to the finals once and lost. That should make me feel better, but I think it's probably because the thing was programmed by ESPN guys that believe in the superstar method of winning a championship. I don't really believe in that and a large part of me would like to see it debunked. Not that I would ever root for another team over the Knicks - and don't get me wrong, Carmelo is a way more appealing character than LeBron or Bosh... but part of me would like to see the Nuggets go all the way. I'm sure they probably won't but there would be a certain justice to it.
Well, we'll never know what could have been. As a fan, I really have no control over this kind of stuff. But as a society, I do think we elevate flash over substance in ever increasing proportions, and it fucks shit up. When I was a kid, my neighborhood was full of grafitti and old dirty stores. But regular people could afford to live there and buy the occasional ticket to a Knick game. Just something else I can't control, I guess.
Yeah, it's probably just Japan and my job bumming me out more than anything else today. But the Knicks aren't helping right now, especially when they get beat by young, hustling teams devoid of superstars.