Here is my relationship with Wednesday night's loss to the 76ers: I turned the game on, fully expecting the Knicks to lose. I was already annoyed, having sifted through Mike Woodson's usual unchecked wrongness in pre-game media availability. I watched the Knicks fall behind by double digits and felt no different. I watched them come back to take a lead and felt irritated. I watched them collapse and felt angry, which is unusual. I wrote a post-game thing and tried to put the Knicks out of my mind. I woke up this morning and watched all 42 of the Sixers' field goals over and over again. I know each of those 42 field goals intimately now, as if they are my 42 children, all of whom I hate. I took screenshots of all the field goals, hoping to make a post highlighting themes in the Knicks' breakdown parade. Ultimately, I found the variety of breakdowns too diffuse for my bloggerly taxonomic sensibilities, and now I have a desktop full of tiny useless images filed into folders like "Felton pointing/flailing" and "Shump nowhere near shooter". I wrote half of one version of this post. I took the dog for a walk. I returned to my computer and deleted all of it (the post, not the dog). I wrote another version of this post. I accidentally hit the "back" button in Chrome before the CMS auto-saved and lost pretty much all of the post. And now here I am, with the game behind me.
I hate the Knicks. I said this last night, I know. I am a Knicks fan, but I hate the Knicks. This is unfamiliar. Loathing ownership isn't new. Distrusting management isn't new. Despising the coach isn't new, though it is a vast change from how I felt about him this time last year. What's new and unfamiliar is hating the on-court product with my entire person. I love a lot of these players individually, but I hate watching them try to play as a team. So much of their time on the floor is spent hurting one another, to the point that I want my favorite players to sit because I'd rather not watch them fail and get failed. I don't really care if they win. Somewhere in the middle of that win streak, the care returned, but it's gone again. The NBA's lottery system allows for fans to root against their own team, but we don't even have that this year. I wish we did, because then this'd be fun.
For me, loving "the Knicks"-- the orange-and-blue concept that existed long before I did-- has always meant finding some part of the concept's physical manifestation to absorb my love. For what feels like the first time, the Knicks absorb none of my love. They reflect it all right back in my face. On a global level, rooting for the Knicks is pretty bleak right now. It's hard to feel hopeful for their long-term prospects. But even on a nightly, game-by-game basis, things feel warped. Why do I watch the games? It's not for entertainment. It's not out of hope for success. I watch them because I am a Knicks fan. But why am I a Knicks fan? Because I am. That's it. On January 23, 2014, my being a Knicks fan has none of the trappings of fanhood except one: I know I am a Knicks fan. I'm sure I'll find something to latch onto soon enough, but at this moment, I am a Knicks fan, the Knicks are in the middle of their season, and those two truths do not correlate.
This has come up in game threads, but I want to ask directly: What is watching games like for you now? Do you even still watch whole games? How do you feel when the Knicks falter? How do you feel when they rally? Do you care if they win? What is being a Knicks fan to you on January 23, 2014?