I watched this game with a friend who doesn’t follow the NBA and was heretofore lucky enough to be completely unaware of anything related to the New York Knicks basketball franchise. I filled him in on the most germane details of what was about to happen before tip-off:
-The Knicks will lose this game by 15 points. No more, no less.
-Someone will get injured or ejected; probably our best player.
-LeBron James is the best player on the planet.
-Anytime it looks like it might actually be a game, it is because the Cavaliers are momentarily intoxicated by euphoric and contented thoughts regarding their pleasant, winning lives. They would soon thereafter be about the business of extracting any sense of self-worth from us.
-Former Knicks will embarrass us in all sorts of ways which will exceed expectations.
Wouldn’t it be better if the fake news media (like the TNT broadcast team) had done their research and just laid it all out like that instead of perpetuating this false narrative of how “this Knicks team is going to try and make a run at the eight seed with what they have”?
Courtney Lee did look like he was trying to make a run at the playoffs all by himself. He was pretty amazing, scoring 25 points on 10-15 shooting, along with 6 rebounds and 5 assists. He even showed big heart going hard on his biggest failure of the night—which was spectacularly beautiful to behold:
LeBron James takes Courtney Lee's life pic.twitter.com/zoNxDY3NA9— StreetHistory (@streethistory) February 24, 2017
At least Reggie Miller and Kevin Harlan admitted that LeBron (18 points, 13 boards, 15 assists, 3 blocks) was the best player on the planet. But otherwise, Harlan acted all surprised that Kristaps Porzingis had hurt his ankle, as if he hadn’t noticed the tallest human in the building had been limping and gamely laboring up and down the court for several minutes (Porzingis was reported to be in a walking boot after leaving the game at half). Charles Barkley did not appear to be surprised though.
Charles Barkley cursed on live TV during Knicks highlight "Spike Lee doesn't want to see this shit" pic.twitter.com/M2QfeNwAMa— gifdsports (@gifdsports) February 24, 2017
But the announcers on site continued their charade. Against all common decency, Miller tried to apply logic as to why Derrick Williams and his ten-day contract shouldn’t be able to hit three-pointers against the Knicks since he only hits at a 23% rate this year. Williams—or ‘HB’, as you may know him—hit two out of three from distance in the first half along with a contested 20-footer (as is his wont) before settling for a showtime dunk in the second half. And somehow both announcers seemed at a loss when cameras honed in on this:
In due course in this game, the Knicks totally laid out their whole deal so that my once innocent friend could understand them fully through a cavalcade of basic miscues of basketball, life, and spirit—which I would be pissed off at if they were committed by the middle school kids I coach. A smattering of such offenses: alienating someone beloved due to wrongheaded pettiness (multiple culprits in management, ongoing); passing to the wrong side of a man posting up with a 6 inch height advantage, thus leading to an easy steal (Melo); easing up on open layups so that a defender can come out of nowhere for the rejection (Rose); hard-headed inefficiency (Melo and Rose); a kaleidoscope of missed point-blank shots (various players); high five fails at the free throw line (various); errant passes to undefended teammates (multiple); a shocking dickfingered inability to catch and control a basketball, which is the first step in being able to do the job you’re paid for.
Verily, it would have been more effective and less painful for all involved if every Knick had cut off their hands and sewn on a pair of floppy gonads at the end of their arms instead. As the saying goes, if you can catch a basketball or high-five with gonad-hands, you can catch a basketball or high-five with regular hands.
Of course with all this vulgar play, no team could possibly compete with the reigning world champions, so why bother to pretend at playing defense? Why not just hand over your wife or girlfriend to Tristan Thompson (10 points, 14 boards, 4 blocks)? Yet somehow, the Knicks went into the fourth quarter down just eight points, and the dumbest part of you may have said to yourself (as mine did): “If Melo had just gotten off his first-quarter buzzer-beater attempt a hair earlier, they’d only be down five.” The smarter part of me proceeded to place wagers with my friend on how long it would take for the Knicks to fall behind by the magic number of 15 points.
Seventy-two seconds into the fourth, the deficit had gone from 8 to 14. Less than 2 minutes in, they were down 16. Then they were down 20 in just three-and-a-half minutes. Guessing these free-falls is truly like guessing how many licks it takes to get to the center of a Tootsie Roll pop, but what’s at the center looks like a Tootsie Roll but sure don’t taste like one.
Still, it wasn’t until there were only two minutes left in the fourth when the most significant thing in the game (and maybe in the history of mankind) happened. Ron Baker entered the game, and P+Ter felinequickness posted the following on the gamethread: “Ron’s hair is amazing.” It dawned on me that this was the rare paradoxical truism that holds wisdom for all: no matter where you may stand on the issue of the pelt on Ron’s head—love it or hate it—you already agree with felinequickness. It. IS. Amazing. Astonishing. Surprising. Bewildering. Staggering. It transcends and encompasses definition, so that all is true and all is permissible.
As the final seconds ticked away, I tried to explain to my friend how this statement could birth religions or revolutions. It could provide common ground for us all to stand on.
But he didn’t see it. He was still held hostage by the husk of a game that took two hours of his life away. He looked at me—with a veil of disgust, perhaps with a mix of fright and shame. “I have to take a shower,” he said, and went on with his life, quickly putting the previous couple hours out of mind forever.
Still, keep your head up Knicks fans: we have Ron Baker’s hair, and Willy Hernangomez looked pretty good on handling pick and rolls on defense last night.