As a Knicks fan of over 30 years, I've gotten used to not winning. Yet strangely, as the years of not reaching the pinnacle have piled up, my fandom has grown. Maybe it's the phenomenon of delayed gratification... with the enticing prospect of "finally breaking through" carrying me forward. Or maybe it's just straight higher tolerance of addiction.
But regardless of the explanation for my fortitude as a Knicks fan, the one and only thing that has ever tempted me to "take a break" from this team I irrationally love to root for... is when the guys in uniform don't play inspired, and don't play as a team.
I'm not a advanced stat fan. I don't enjoy breaking down the numbers. I love the sport because success and failure depend solely and completely (with few exceptions) on the ability of a group of guys to collectively figure shit out.
I love the sport because ROLE PLAYERS are often as important, if not more, than stars.
I'm the kind of fan that wants to have fun watching games and rooting for players. Yes, I prefer the end result of winning, but it is not the priority.
I can still love watching games even when losing... if we have young guys who show their appreciation for the opportunity they have what they've accomplished every time they set foot on the floor... and play with an unhindered passion for competition.
I can still love watching games even when losing... if we have journeymen who build on-court chemistry that rises above their pedigree or draft status to play a brand of collective basketball that leads to on-court displays of enthusiasm.
I can't love watching losing games when the narrative of games devolve into individual displays of selfishness, empty statistics, slump-busting efforts or attempts at being "THE" hero.
This years compilation of Knicks (Tim and Toure aside) is so devoid of entertainment value, team chemistry or inspiring story lines that I'm getting more and more tempted to "take a break"... and given my addiction to orange and blue, this is very hard to do (and probably won't happen).
I'm the kind of fan who would rather lose and feel like the team and the players are growing into something and playing together, then to watch individual players put up "impressive statistics".
Which is also why I'm often clamoring for, and imagining trade scenarios... because the mere thought of change is medicinal to this toxic collection of bad contracts and selfish players.
I don't care that Melo continues to score points and grab rebounds and be better at passing out of double teams...
I don't care that JR is going to shoot, shoot more, and keep shooting until he digs his way out of his personal injuries or slumps...
I don't care that Felton is convinced that to be a "team guy", you have to return to the court LONG before you're healthy enough to actually be a good player.
Sadly, I don't even care anymore that Shumpert's now an individual headcase because the coach is just an idiot, or that Amare is determined to not be an embarrassment before his time.
These are all individual story lines... they are not team narratives... and the brand of basketball these individuals are playing is not a journey that I find at all enjoyable.
The most fun I've had this year is listening to interviews of Metta and KMart... the old guys with stuttering problems they've overcome and psychiatrists.