Allow me to preface this fanpost with an apology for how long it is and a thanks-in-advance for anyone who finds time to read it. While it is rather verbose, it is filled with tales on exploration, love, fandom, friendship, family, insanity, stupidity, luck and perhaps a little too much fun. Feel free to skip parts 1,2 and 5 if you just want to read about the 2 super crazy stories.
My story begins in New Jersey, where I was born, and where the roots of my diehard Knicks fandom were furnished. That said, I won't bore you with the details pertaining to the early years, as quite frankly, nothing out-of-the-ordinary happened (from an NYK perspective). I will, however, tell you that I moved to LA in 2006 to go to USC for college (to study cinema & finance). This is the reason I moved out to CA, and I stayed post-graduation in 2010 when I locked down a job in Santa Monica.
Nothing about my story got crazy, until my high-school buddy from NJ by the name of "Chris", moved to Los Angeles to pursue the life of a film editor. He, like me, is a diehard Knicks fan. We once had an entire dinner 2+ hour conversation at Bucca Di Bepo talking exclusively about Pablo Prigioni after the signing (while drinking Peroni's). We'd often get together for Knicks games and could often be seen drunkenly roaming the streets of LA throwing up pretend "in-air jumpshots" while yelling Knicks' player names. Sadly, we still do this from time-to-time.
Part 1: Being a Knicks Fan in LA
Being a Knick fan in LA is actually pretty awesome. While we're only able to catch a handful of games in MSG during the season, sometimes it is cool to be different. Having a bunch of Lakers / Clippers fans to argue with is always great, and being the only person on the street wearing Orange+Blue makes you feel like you're spreading awareness. Plus, whenever you do happen to find someone else wearing Knicks-gear in LA, you have an insta-bond with them. Also, you're not bogged down with the cynicism that surrounds so many NY-based fans.
Chris and I had plenty of Knicks-adventures prior to the crazy stories I'll share below, including:
- Knicks vs. Celtics Playoff Game 4 (The Anthony Carter Game): Trailing at halftime, Chris and I ran frantically around the Santa Monica promenade looking for anything NYK related to purchase, in order to swing the tide (with a rally). After running to Nike, FootLocker and Lids, we finally found two XXL Amare Jerseys for sale at Adidas. We bought them, happily watched as the Knicks rallied in the 3rd/4th quarters, and despite watching the Knicks lose, we knew the "Knicks were Back" and that we'd do our part as fans to help the core in their pursuit of a championship. This started by ensuring that my STAT jersey was always hanging in my window to be seen by the LA crowd below.
- Knicks vs. Lakers (The Bungalow Night): One particularly magical night was after the Knicks beat the Lakers (linsanity). After the game, Chris and I went to one of the hottest bars in LA (the Bungalow - Santa Monica), decked out in Knicks-gear. We literally walked around the bar saying "Knicks" to random people. We were expecting hostility, but somehow a majority of the bar ended up supporting our cause. A bunch of people claimed to be Knicks fans, plenty of Lakers fans congratulated us on the win and it was just entirely triumphant. Somewhat difficult to put into words, but you could imagine.
- Knicks vs. Heat - Game 1 of the Season (the Hurricane Game): Chris and I flew into New York for game 1 of the season against the Heat (despite the hurricane). After the game (which we won), we waited outside and happened to see Copeland. We decided to start a "Copeland" chant (which I figured was cool because he was a rookie who no one really knew), and he ended up coming over to take a picture with us. We tried to give him a pep talk, letting him know that he'd be a fan-favorite here in the city. This was the first time we'd meet a Knick player in person.
- Knicks vs. Timberwolves @ MSG (The Free Ticket): Good things seem to happen to us when we're together talking about the Knicks. One time, we flew back to MSG to catch a T-Wolves game (I think it was around the X-Mas break last season). We planned on scalping tickets at the garden, and were somewhat disappointed at the prices being asked. Somehow, we ran into someone who literally just GAVE us two free tickets, for no reason. How does that happen? Weird - and we won the game (Iso-Melo worked down the stretch).
- Knicks vs. Celtics - Playoffs, Round 1 @ MSG (Game 1): Another great memory was when Chris and I were eating dinner at an italian restaurant in Santa Monica, the night before the 1st Celtics playoff game last season. During dinner, we lamented over Clyde's Wine & Dine, and how we wished we could be eating there instead. At that moment, we figured, fuck it, why not eat at Clyde's? We literally packed our bags, took the redeye to New York, met our families at Clyde's for lunch (where we met Clyde and got his autograph on our hats), and then hit MSG for the 1st playoff game against the Celtics last season (which we won).
- Knicks vs Raptors This Season @ MSG (The Bridge): The other random story I want to share with you (which doesn't really pertain to being a Knicks fan in LA, but I don't know where else I'll put this, so here it goes), is from this season's Raptors game at MSG. I wanted to check out the "bridge" and was in NYC with my GF (more on her later). I decided to buy 2-tickets in the bridge on stubhub. Several days later, I found out that Chris and my other friend, Nick, also wanted to go to the game. I was sad that we wouldn't be sitting together, but figured "oh well, we'll meet up at half-time". Chris and Nick decided to "scalp" tickets the night of the game. Next thing I know, I'm sitting in my bridge seats with the GF, and I feel a tap on my shoulder. Chris and Nick happened to randomly scalp the tickets DIRECTLY behind me. Of the 18,200 seats at MSG, they just happened to randomly get the tickets behind ours (they did not know what section we were in when buying their seats). Amazing (Chris is the dude in the Yankees hat in the below and Nick is the dude to his right)!!
Part 2: Love & Basketball
The third member of our LA Knicks core (who will also be key to the two crazy knicks stories that follow) is my girlfriend, Buffy. As you might expect, our relationship spawned due to a random series of events related to the Knicks.
Chris and I were excited last year when we saw that the Knicks vs. Clippers game in LA happened to be on a weekend (making it easy for us to attend). As such, we decided to splurge and buy "courtside tickets" at staples center. However, when I later realized that there were actually "3-rows" of courtside, I was a little disappointed to discover that I was actually in the third row. I was concerned that I would not be able to influence the game from there, so I decided to get a large "Knicks Banner" created to ensure that I'd be noticed. As such, I posted on www.taskrabbit.com for an artist to create an awesome banner predicated on the word "Knickstape". The girl who happened to submit a reasonable bid, would later go on to be my girlfriend.
Unfortunately, the banner was too big to bring into the staples center, but after the game, Chris and I stood by the players' bus and held the sign up. We then tweeted it to Tina Cervasio who later replied saying:
Even though we were blown out by the Clippers, after the Knicks saw my #knickstape banner, they went on to win 13-straight (the next game was the Kurt Thomas - Utah game). I like to believe that my banner helped inspire them to do so.
Interestingly, this tweet also started a conversation with Tina that continued to blossom over the following year. I saw Tina at 4 more games after that (Clippers courtside the following year in LA, Kings courtside in NY, Lakers courtside in LA, Warriors courtside in SF) and she remembered me each time.
My relationship with Buffy came with only 1 rule: she had to become a Knicks fan! She's done a great job at that so far. She always lets me watch the games (and she'll cheer with me).
She came to NYC to see them at MSG. We decorated our Christmas tree in "knicks" stuff and referred to x-mas 2013 as "Knicksmas" (also a big shoutout to my sister for making the orange & blue NYK paper chain to wrap around it):
She lets me keep this Knicks shrine in the bedroom (credit to the rents & sis for filling most of it up):
She bought me a signed Amare basketball for my Birthday!!
She cheered hard for the Knicks during their recent loss to the Lakers (right up till the end of the game)...
...And she came along for both of the following crazy stories...
Part 3: The First Crazy Story
Like the previous year, Chris and I found a way to get courtside tickets to the Clippers game this season (a big thanks to my sis for buying mine for my bday). One of the advantages to living in LA is that there are only 2 LA games per year and so it is easier to front more $ for them (as opposed to being in NY and wanting to go to all of the 42 home games). Plus courtside is way less expensive ($400 - $750)... Anyways, the night before the game, we (and Buffy) decided to do a Beverly Hills bar/restaurant crawl. We never could have expected what was to come next...
- First stop was the Beverly Wilshire hotel (we wanted to park there as it is pretty central to the rest of the big BH bars and restaurants). We grabbed a drink at the hotel bar. While planning out our next location, I happened to spot someone across the restaurant wearing a pinstripe suit. I instantly thought "Clyde"! After standing up to get a better look, I was able to verify that it was, in fact, THE Clyde Frazier. After some deliberation and a shot, Chris and I decided to walk over to him and say hello. He was super nice and we talked for a couple minutes about the Knicks and about Clyde's Wine & Dine (where we had previously met him). He told us to come say hello during the game! We then returned to our seats and asked our waiter to send two glasses of champagne to his table. It's not every day that you can treat (perhaps) the greatest Knick of all time to a drink! We then happily left to go to our next location.
- Next stop was Mastro's (one of my favorite steak restaurants in LA). We grabbed a drink on the third floor, and just as we were preparing to leave, Buffy spotted Coach Woodson! Filled with confidence after our meeting with Clyde, we walked up to Woody and introduced ourselves. We let him know that as fans, we still had his back, despite the rocky season thus far. We reminded him of the Clippers game from last year, and how we then went on to win 13 straight. We told him to keep the faith, to give THJR/Toure some burn and to start Amare. Woodson thanked us for our support and ensured that STAT would play tomorrow. As we were then waiting at the elevator, Woody came up behind us. I asked where the rest of the guys were, and he said "hopefully sleeping"... I then said, "not JR though, not if Rihanna is in town!"... Woody's whole crew laughed, and Woody then turned to Buffy and said "watch out for that one" (which I thought was kinda cool).
- We were super thrilled with how the night was going. We then decided to hit up another spot to get dinner. Interestingly, they sold cigars there, and so we randomly (and fortuitously) decided to buy a couple for later in the night. We hit up a few more places, got some more drinks, and then returned to the Beverly Wilshire to smoke our cigars.
- As we were preparing to smoke our cigars by the steps of the hotel, we turned around to see none other than, Carmelo Anthony, standing on the steps. The three of us looked at each other in shock, and then walked up to talk to Melo. I can't remember what was said (it all happened so fast). He had a bag of cigars himself, which I thought was ironic. He was super nice/cool, and let us take a picture with him. He then disappeared into the night. It was magical.
- We then giddily decided to smoke our cigars to celebrate the incredible night. Next thing I know, I hear Chris say "Toure Murry and Tim Hardaway Jr.". Being used to hearing Chris just randomly shout out player names, I turned around and said "yah, they're dope". Then, I saw both of them sitting/standing on the stairs looking at us. I freaked out! We were able to talk to them for ~5 minutes about random stuff... I was asking that they both never leave the Knicks, that they fulfill their destiny, etc. etc. They were super cool, they let us get pictures (selfies) with them, and they signed my Knicks hat.
- As we were talking to them, Raymond Felton and Kenyon Martin came out of the hotel. Buffy was able to get Ray to sign my hat, although Kenyon kinda just walked by us and ignored us (as you would expect). They all got into a car and drove away as Chris and I broke out into the "we're not worthy" bowing thing...
- We later went to Supper Club (where the Game happened to be performing for his Birthday). I was told by the bouncer that JR Smith was in there, although I never saw him... I like to believe that it was true though, and that I went clubbing with JR that night.
- The next day at the game, we caught "points" and "head-nods" from THJR, Toure, Melo and Raymond. We also were able to walk up to Clyde and get him to sign a poster we had made.
- Sadly, in my picture with Melo, I was standing a step below him and so I came across looking very small.. I also think the weird look on my face is due to the shock of the situation.
Part 4: The Second Crazy Story (How I Helped Save the Season):
As some of you know from my post on the Warriors post-game thread, I had another very crazy experience with the Knicks (which is what prompted this way-too-long fan post). Below is a more detailed account:
- I decided to come up to the Warriors game because Chris was unable to attend the Lakers courtside game from the week prior (I ended up going with Buffy to that instead). We needed to attend a crucial game together. Even though the Lakers game was a blowout, we still firmly believed that the Knicks could make the playoffs, they just needed our help. We wanted to make sure that we were doing our part as fans. As such, we secured courtside tickets (for Chris and I), and then Buffy and I flew up to San Francisco on Saturday (the day before the game).
- Upon landing in the SFO airport, me and Buffy made our way to baggage claim area. However, while walking, I saw a guy wearing a Knicks sweatshirt. True-to-form, I made my way to him to say "Go Knicks, NYK All Day Baby!", but as I was doing so, I noticed a familiar face to his left. Tina Cervasio!! I chatted with her for a couple minutes, and I instantly knew that this was going to be a great trip!
- Buffy and I checked in at our hotel and then decided to go to another nearby hotel where a friend of mine from LA was staying. While we were waiting for her in the hotel lobby, we saw Coach Woody! This time, however, Buffy did not let me go say hi.
- Next thing we knew, we saw JR walk into the hotel wearing a golf hat and a knicks club. We said hi, he said hi back, it was awkward, but awesome.
- Our friend came down, and we got drinks / apps at the hotel bar. While chilling there, I saw Herb Williams just kinda hanging out by himself. Luckily, Buffy had a sharpie in her bag, and so I was able to get him to sign my Knicks phone case (unfortunately, the signature would later rub off). I shook Herb's hand, and wished him luck for the game. He's the man.
- I then saw Pablo Prigioni making his way for the door. I couldn't resist stepping outside to talk to him. He was CRAZY NICE - JUST LIKE YOU WOULD IMAGINE. He was asking the door guy for directions (in Spanish). I instantly regretted not paying more attention during Spanish Class, as I would have loved to try to help him. That said, after the conversation, I was able to shake his hand and get his autograph on my phone. He then got in the back of a Bentley and drove off. ... Even Buffy seemed shocked to see him as seen in the below:
- Buffy, myself and our friend then left for dinner. We got some drinks at other places along the way, but nothing interesting happened.
- We then returned to the hotel to drop our friend off and to get some final drinks. During that time, we saw Kenyon Martin (who shared an awkward waving moment with Buffy and was wearing a god damn Cowboys hat), Raymond Felton, and finally, Shump & Tyler!! Tyler was busy on the phone, but I was able to get Shump to sign my case (which I thought was particularly dope, given the "hold my phone" celebration). This is when I noticed that Herb's signature had worn off, sadly... I wasn't wearing any other Knicks gear at the time, so my phone was the only option.
- Buffy and I went to some club later that night, but nothing interesting happened other than that.... THAT SAID, Chris obviously flipped out when I told him what was going on. He decided to wake up at 4am on Sunday and drive up to SF (while bumping the 6-hours worth of Knicks "Home & Away" playlists that we had made over the past 3 years where each player gets their own song).
- The next day, we met up with Chris at the hotel from the previous night for Brunch. It was delicious.
- After brunch, we went down to the lobby for bloody mary's and to start pregaming for the Warriors game.
- While in the lobby, we saw Daryl Walker (who I mistakenly called Roger Hinds by accident, which was embarrassing).
- I forget the exact order of what else happened here, but....
- We saw, and bumped fists, with Toure Murry (I get the sense that he sorta/kinda remembered us)
- We saw Herb Williams again (I just said good luck)
- We saw Pablo walk through the lobby to the players' bus
- We saw that Reggie-Evans looking dude that is always in a suit by the Knicks bench
- We saw Raymond Felton, KMart & Bargnani (not much interaction with them though other than good luck)
- We saw Coach Todd... As he walked by we yelled "COACH TODD!!"... He then walked to our table and was super nice... That said, it seemed as if he thought we worked for the team as he said something along the lines of "I haven't seen you guys in a while, where have you been"... I tried to then give him coaching advice (move without the ball, don't exclusively resort to iso-melo, don't switch all the time on D, get more looks for STAT, attack David Lee and get Bogut in foul-trouble). He laughed and said he'd tell Coach Woody, but I said, "tell yourself, you're Coach Todd!". I think he liked us (but he must have thought I was an idiot as it turns out both Lee and Bogut were inactive).
- We saw THJR and Shump, but they went out a side door.
- We saw STAT and Cole checking out... As Amar'e is my favorite Knick, I couldn't resist the opportunity to run up and give him the epic pep-talk that I always dreamed of giving him. I said something along the lines of "STAT! You're the man! You're my favorite Knick, and you're the x-factor for this season. You brought the Knicks back. We need you tonight. Be aggressive, attack the paint and boards. Do what you do, you're Mr. Knickerbocker. Thank you STAT!!" During that time, as we were walking through the lobby toward the bus, he was saying "Spit it Out" (because I was stuttering at first), "Lay it on Me", "Yahh"... It was fucking epic. I think I also gave him the "attack David Lee / get Bogut in foul trouble" advice... but, oh well... Apparently Cole was laughing the whole time as I was saying this (he was walking in front of us).
- We saw Tyson, but I was confronted by hotel staff who told me I wasn't allowed to approach them... which was lame. We were still able to get some positive vibes in though...
- We saw Woody and wished him luck, he gave us a genuine thank you.
- We saw Tyler, who stopped walking, turned to us, and shook our hands (which was super classy).
- We saw Shannon Brown and tried cheering for him, but he kinda ignored us (which is fine because he helped win the game).
- We did not see JR or Melo (as we left before they came through). We also racked up way too many drink bills during the process...
- We got changed into our Knicks gear, and made our way to the game. While at the game, I saw Clyde (who remembered me from our previous encounters), and I was able to get a selfie with him!!
- After the player announcements, I was walking back from getting a drink, and I had an option to go left through a crowded hallway or right through an empty tunnel... For some reason, I went right through the empty tunnel, and as I was walking, Melo ran through doing some kind of internal pump-up prior to tip off. It was just him and me in the tunnel. I didn't want to bug him, but I did say "Good luck Melo". He turned around, looked at me, and said "Thanks", which was super dope.
- During the game, Chris and I were SUPER LOUD... The Knicks instantly saw where we were sitting and kept looking at us throughout the game. Most noticeably was STAT. Every time he'd be in a position to do something defensively, we'd be cheering super loud for him. We applauded at any positive opportunity, particularly rebounds & hustle plays (which I think really fueled his efforts). I was told by event staff to calm down (I think because I was giving the refs a hard time and booing the Warriors during their free throws), so I had to dial it down a bit on the negativity, but I kept the positive reinforcement going. In the second half on offense, we cheered super loud whenever STAT got the ball, and I would yell play calls out ("set a pic", "move without the ball", "be aggressive", "use your quickness against O'Neal", etc.'). I feel like a lot of the time, they actually listened. At least 50% of the times that STAT missed a shot, I noticed him look at us, and we just cheered him on "GOOD LOOK STAT, Good creativity, get back on D"!! At one point, he had a huge dunk, and he pointed to us just before running back (but after his beast-mode yelling celebration). It was nuts.
- After the game ended, most of the players acknowledged us as they were running through the tunnel. We yelled out to Coach Todd, who remembered us and started laughing. We were told by event staff to move, but then Tina walked by with her pass and said "I know them", which was boss because it shut him up. We then chatted with Tina and wished her a safe trip to Utah.
- When leaving the game, we met Tyler's brother, who was a super nice dude (I recognized him from the Lakers game as well). Tyler is the man and has really good intentions. I'm definitely an even bigger fan after meeting his brother.
- For anyone who is interested, I made a music video detailing the day which is pretty fun:
"Let It Roll (Joe Maz Remix)" Fan Video (via Jason Bhargava)
- That's pretty much the end of the crazy story... I hope you enjoyed. I just want to touch on one more thing in a final section that I think is also particularly cool about my personal Knicks fandom
Part 5: Family Knickdom and Parting Words
No one in my immediate family is particularly into sports. My Dad likes football, but never really used to like basketball. My mom and sis were always fairly clueless about sports in general. However, over the past three seasons, they've really begun to take an interest in the Knicks!! My mom (and my little cousin from England) were both with me at the garden for that RIDICULOUS game against the Bulls where Melo hit those 2 clutch 3s. My sister was with me at the most recent MSG Kings game (courtside for her 2nd or 3rd Knicks game ever, despite living in the city). Even my dad has started watching the games (even during this terrible losing season). Now I'll get texts and videos of them watching games, yelling at the TV, etc. They're all over recent Knicks news (like the PJax signing) and they give the best Knicks-related bday/xmas presents ever now. I've even converted my little cousin in England into a massive Knicks fan. Out there, everyone is super into soccer, but I think he'll do a good job at spreading NYK awareness and getting some british kids to join the ride!
In the aforementioned trip to Clyde's Wine & Dine, my Dad, Mom and sister were both able to get Clyde to sign some of my Knicks gear. If we make an X-Mas card for this next year, I think this picture might be the winner:
We were even able to get my Grandma in England to throw up a 3-to-the-dome earlier this season:
To make fun of me and my Melo picture, we've even started our own form of "planking", which is somewhat illustrated in the below:
In closing, I guess the point of this section, and the two aforementioned stories, is that even in this incredibly disappointing season, and even if we do not end up making the playoffs, this season has been an absolute blast for me. Between Seth's write-ups, BlueCheese's stats, all of your daily comments, my adventures with Chris & Buffy, and the new family passion, I've had a hell of a season and I can't wait for what is to come. Sorry again for the ridiculous length of this, thanks to anyone that read any of it. Feel free to follow me on instagram for more crazy Knicks Adventures (@JacesAces)... Hit me up if you're ever in LA....and, well... NYK All Day.
- Knicks LA