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Don't bother looking for meaning in MSG fan chants

Knicks fans cheered for Brandon Jennings. In a preseason game. They do stuff like that.

NBA: Preseason-Washington Wizards at New York Knicks Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

ESPN’s Zach Lowe published his annual “30 crazy predictions” column Thursday, in which he takes a stab at making some bold prognostications. For the Knicks he chose “Brandon Jennings starts at least 30 games” — interesting, but not super bold, given Derrick Rose’s injury history.

Unfortunately, Lowe starts off by making the bold assumption about the level of hype surrounding the Knicks’ backup point guard (emphasis mine):

The Jennings hype train is careening a little out of control. New York fans chanted his name during a preseason game on Monday! A preseason game! He shot just 37 percent and barely got to the rim in his first season back from an Achilles tear. He is a glaring minus at the top of any defense.

Choo choo! Watch out for the Jennings hype train! The MSG crowd did indeed chant Jennings’ name on Monday, which must mean something, right?

Let’s go back to that game: Jennings fouled Casper Ware, confronted him, smiled and clapped loudly like a goof ball, and the fans chanted “BRAN-DON JEN-NINGS” while Ware shot free throws:

It was a delightful moment that had little if nothing to do with basketball. Does this mean the crowd expects Jennings to have an awesome season? No, it simply means he entertained them.

There is this weird tendency to analyze Knicks fans. The Knicks are always on TV, they are usually devoid of on-court excitement, and the crowd does weird shit. Here is a by-no-means-definitive list of names the Garden crowd has chanted over the past few seasons: Carmelo Anthony, Jimmer Fredette, Kristaps Porzingis, Chris Smith, Pablo Prigioni. Do you see a pattern? No, because there is no freakin’ pattern. The fans chant for players they love; they also chant for random scrubs to play at the end of blowouts. They chanted “M-V-P” at Quincy Acy one time after he hit a few threes.

In May I tweeted this while watching Warriors fans chanting “M-V-P” at Steph Curry, and it still represents my feelings on MSG crowd chants:

Knicks fans don’t get MVPs, don’t win a lot of game, but that isn’t going to stop them. If you play well, they will chant your name. If you hustle, they will chant your name. If you do something charmingly stupid, like pick a preseason fight with Casper Ware, they will chant your name. They just want to be entertained, dammit!