Forget points per game. Forget field goal percentage. Forget WAR and Drtg and eFG%. Distilled to its simplest form, basketball is made up of three things: the expected, the better than expected, and the worse than expected. Players, teams, seasons, eras, legacies—all are made up of these three things.
In good times, the better than expecteds are in ascension; in bad times, the lesser thans. Knick fans do not experience time in this simplistic, moralistic fashion. Whether good or bad, the Knicks are interesting 24/7/365. So with training camp finally within reach, let’s not speculate on whether Iman Shumpert will have more dunks than games lost to injury this year, or if Cleanthony Early’s corner-three accuracy makes him more than just an adorable face. Instead, with a nod in Uata’s direction, I ask:
What if the Knicks faced a zombie apocalypse?
As the world’s first digital athlete, Carmelo converted his carbon self to a binary essence and uploaded it, along with his bank accounts, to the Caymans, one of the few places on Earth free from the undead. There, he subsisted on a thin stew made of fish, vegetables, prawns, coconut milk, and four kinds of rice, as well as his lifetime supply of CL5.
Though not the most affluent survivor, Anthony did far better than most. Still, a vocal portion of the surviving humanity proclaimed his stew overrated.
Amar’e Stoudemire saved millions of lives as Israel’s 10th Man. While the rest of the world was skeptical when reports of zombie attacks began circulating, Stoudemire immediately flew to Israel and, as part-owner of the Hapoel Jerusalem basketball team, signed himself to a $100 million contract (fully insured), amnestied himself, and spent the $100 million he saved on a $100 million wall all along the Israeli borders. Carlos Boozer attempted to do the same for the city of Los Angeles, but his wall ended up being more hype than anything.
Cleanthony Early was one of the first Knicks to be eaten. To zombies, Cleanthony Early tastes like green grapes and Kaboom cereal.
Jose Calderon was last seen alive, though his current whereabouts are unknown. Last anyone knew, he was laying in a hammock, gently strumming a guitar, singing about "brighter days, when Marc arrives." He plays this song every day. He knows he will never see Marc again. Still he plays.
Cole Aldrich is immune to zombies. Cole Aldrich’s flesh contains a thin layer of microincisors—tiny teeth-like protrusions. A zombie biting Cole Aldrich has as much chance of success as it would posting up Cole Aldrich. The only other NBA player known to have evolved a natural defense against zombies was Stephon Marbury, who coats himself in Vaseline so he’s too slippery to grab hold of. Honestly, if you are worried about zombies, you should probably buy Vaseline.
No one knows where Derek Fisher is.
No one knows where Samuel Dalembert is.
No one cares where Andrea Bargnani is.
Shane Larkin, Tim Hardaway Jr., and Iman Shumpert formed a vigilante trio and spend their days killing zombies. Larkin is quick with a blade, clean, elegant. Hardaway’s a sniper but is starting to think he could do more. Shump continued with his recent performance artistry and hunts zombies while dressed as a clown.
Larkin and Hardaway woke one night to the sound of Shump’s screams. They feared the worst. Turned out it was just that recurring nightmare he gets where he’s a garbage bag and he’s all excited 'cuz it’s garbage day and garbage day's like Christmas and Halloween and your birthday all rolled into one to garbage but when the truck stops the guy collecting bags is Mike Woodson, and instead of throwing Shump in the truck with the other bag he kicks him to the curb.
Thanasis Antetokounmpo had a chance to fly to Europe before civilization collapsed, but surprised friends and family by choosing to spend the apocalypse in Westchester, claiming-- perhaps not unfairly-- that Westchester is one of the last places on Earth an apocalypse would register.
JR Smith had more fun during the day than you or I can conceive is possible. To describe a tenth of the fun he had would mean leaving the internet altogether. Like, we'd have to go a couple layers beneath the darknet. We think of fun as a quantity, or a quality. JR experiences fun as a multidimensional sequence of energies. With or without zombies.
Pablo Prigioni’s death was, for many, the hardest, and perhaps the most surprising. He had plenty of guns and plenty of ammo. He had time. Had space. The man was as sure a shot as any. But he was hesitant to shoot. It was weird to see. It wasn’t fear. He was always calm. Always sure of himself. With all the craziness and the awfulness of life, he handled it in a way that made those around him feel affirmed, alive. He wrote a poem a day. That was how he kept time after everything went to hell. He was always smiling. Said the horror just made the beauty all the more brilliant by contrast. Even at the end, overrun, he offered his last poem as they tore into him, whispered it, eyes shining: Hasta en el roto del fondillo del Diablo hay poesia. There is poetry even in the Devil’s butthole.
Fake BlueCheese999 Last Week in Jared Jeffries Fact of the Apocalypse
Last week, Jared Jeffries survived 20 zombie attacks, 10 run-ins with marauding biker gangs, and 5 days without food. The last Knick to post at least 20/10/5 in those categories during a non-celestially based apocalypse was Latrell Sprewell in June of 2000.