There is a line from The Count of Monte Cristo (the film version...readin' is for pussies) where Edmond Dantès says to Mercédès, "Don't take away my hate...it's all I have left."
That sentiment always stayed with me -- for as a Knicks fan, what do I have if not my hate?
Though the ''Bockers will be home for the first time in the Carmelo Anthony/Amar'e Stoudemire era, this isn't exactly a new experience to us New York fans over the age of four. We have grown used to watching the NBA playoffs without a true rooting interest.
But we will watch nonetheless. And we will hate...oh yes, we will hate.
There are eight playoff teams in the Eastern Conference playoffs, which means we have eight teams east of the Mississippi worthy of our scorn. So join me on an odyssey of contempt:
No. 8: Atlanta Hawks
This has been bothering me for the better part of a month: Should we hate the Hawks?
Yes, they were the team that eliminated the Knicks from the playoffs...then again, the Knicks never had any business being in the playoffs in the first place...then again, they showed nothing but apathy for reaching the postseason...then again, they did clinch that berth by beating Indiana, Brooklyn and Miami in the span of little over a week...then again, all three of those teams sucked over the past few weeks (Brooklyn even lost to the Knicks...twice)...then again, they were by far the most consistent team, until a rash of injuries sent them into a late-season death spiral...then again, they were a bunch of jerks for giving Knicks fans a false sense of hope...then again, the Knicks were much bigger jerks for pretty much everything they did this weekend...then again, the Hawks averaged about 500 fans per game down the stretch, and it's annoying to watch such an uncaring fanbase make the playoffs...then again, isn't that whole "we care more, so we deserve better" sense of exceptionalism the very thing that makes everyone hate Knicks fans in the first place?
Screw it...I say hate the Hawks. They gave Mike Woodson his first coaching job. That's reason enough.
No. 7: Charlotte Bobcats
All I know is that Patrick Ewing finally winning an NBA title as an assistant coach for a Charlotte team owned by Michael Jordan would be a fitting reminder of just how depressing the Knicks have been over the past three decades.
But that ain't happening this season. So do your thing, Pat.
No. 6: Brooklyn Nets
Knicks vs. Nets is the most unnatural natural rivalry in the NBA at the moment. It should be a rivarly, based solely on geography. But it has never developed organically, the way of Knicks-Celtics, Knicks-Pacers, Knicks-Heat and Knicks-Bulls. They dominated the Knicks for the better part of a decade in the 2000s, making two Finals and sweeping the Knicks out of the playoffs in '04, but it was never the same kind of relationship.
Then the Nets moved to Brooklyn, started a massive PR blitz, which amounted to a constant barrage of "Is this a rivalry yet? Is this a rivalry yet? Is this a rivalry yet?" And it came off as a mere annoyance.
But they crossed a line when they traded for Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett. They spat in the face of God's law by cross-pollinating their own attempt at a rivalry with the long-running Knicks-Celtics feud, which is akin to trying to breed a turtle and a horse.
We get it, Brooklyn: You want us to hate you. Well, mission accomplished.
No. 5: Washington Wizards
P&T grandmaster Seth of the house Rosenthal has spent the better part of the past season defining FARTDOG as a defensive system dedicated to actively nurturing opposing guards. And there was no better example in 2013-14 than the curious case of Bradley Beal.
We witnessed the birth of a brand new Knicks killer this season in the form of Wizards shooting guard, who beat New York with not one, but two game-winners.
Looking back, however, it is clear that Beal was not a born Knicks killer. He was created -- with the Knicks' perimeter D playing the part of Dr. Frankenstein.
Just look at his first game-winner:
That defense was not only bad, it was the equivalent of teaching your child to ride a bike with training wheels: Hit the game-winner; we know you can do it! Here, we'll even drive you toward the rim. Remember to keep your eyes open and lay the ball up at the proper time!
Like any good caretaker, the Knicks upped the degree of difficulty on the second game-winner...but only a tad. This time, Beal had to hit a jump shot -- a wide-open jumper, but a jumper nonetheless.
I predict that Bradley Beal will hit a step-back three to beat the Knicks next season. It will be his FARTDOG bar mitzvah: The day he becomes a Knick-killing man.
No. 4: Chicago Bulls
Trivia question: Name the former Knicks draft pick who dished more total assists for Chicago than Raymond Felton did for New York during the 2013-14 season.
If you said "Joakim Noah", then congratulations...you are probably depressed right now. But what's the point of hating Noah when it makes far more sense to hate Felton for sucking, Isiah Thomas for trading that pick for Eddy Curry, and James Dolan for being James Dolan?
Sad to say, but this Bulls team -- with Mike Dunleavy, no less -- is just not all that hateable. They didn't even do their usual good job of stomping the Knicks throughout the season, finishing an embarrassing 2-2. Mind you, this was the same team that went 4-0 against the 54-win Knicks squad of a year ago. They just don't have the juice any more.
Of course, if they go out and sign Melo for some absurdly below-market figure and the Knicks get nothing for him, then all bets are off.
No. 3 Toronto Raptors
I suppose we should hate Raptors GM Masai Ujiri for beating Dolan on so many trades that he finally got gun-shy on the one deal that would have definitely turned around the season: The Lowry trade.
Remember: That trade was vetoed by Dolan on Dec. 13, per Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski; they still had 60 games remaining at that point. Without Lowry, they went 31-29 in those games. Would they have done better replacing Felton with one of the best point guards in the league this season? Absolutely.
But I also believe the Lowry trade was a turning point for Dolan. Before that one crucial moment, the man was never hesitant to make a trade. Trade Trevor Ariza for Steve Francis when we already have Stephon Marbury? Why the hell not! This was a virtual epiphany for a man who had shown no indication of ever stopping to consider the big picture.
The next thing you know, Dolan giving up power to Phil Jackson and telling everyone with a microphone that he knows nothing about basketball.
So...umm...thank you, Raptors.
No. 2: Miami Heat
Confession time, friends...
I don't hate the Heat that much any more.
They are the Kenny G of hateable NBA teams...always on somewhere, always annoying, but soft and fading into the background. For all the vitriol directed at LeBron James for flopping and bitching at calls and whatnot, can you name a big-time scorer these days who doesn't at least occasionally flop and bitch about calls? I mean, my God, have you watched James Harden lately?
It's not so much that I want the Heat to win that there are several teams on this list who I'd much rather see lose.
No. 1: Indiana Pacers
...like these guys, for example.
The Pacers became the champions of the douchebag facial expression in 2013-14. They always had David West's punk-ass snarl, but Lance Stephenson and even Paul George took it to a new level this season.
Stephenson alone would make this team worthy of scorn. We get it, pal: Lots of teams passed over you in the draft, despite your other-worldly talent. Probably because you're an immature jerk. So, by all means, act like an immature jerk all the time, just to show everybody what they've been missing.
Oh, and if you dislike flopping, dude was fined by the league for doing it on multiple occasions.
The Pacers snatched Chris Copeland away from the New York, only to stash him away on the bench for the entire season. Cope could have actually helped them down the stretch, as they forgot how to score altogether, but nooooooo. That is a jerk-off move.
And then there's Roy Hibbert: The guy plays like an MVP against New York and Miami, then disappears for the other 74 games of the season.
Did I already mention I hate their stupid faces?
Anyway, my hate index breakdown for these playoffs goes: Brooklyn, Indiana, Miami, Atlanta, Chicago, Toronto, Washington, Charlotte.
How about you, fellow P&T'ers?