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How to watch the Lakers-Heat finals as a Knicks fan

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Some tips for how to feel at tipoff

Washington Wizards v New York Knicks
Two basketball players whisper to each other, using jerseys to shield their lips from onlookers.
Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

The Knicks didn’t make the finals this year. Dammit! Instead, it’s the Los Angeles Lakers vs. the Miami Heat, and the series kicks off tonight at 9 pm. Since we don’t know when the next season is going to start yet — perhaps January? — this is our last chance to enjoy some old-fashioned NBA basketball for quite some time.

But the Knicks aren’t playing, so how in the name of all that is holy are fans of that team supposed to enjoy watching the finals!? It’s a good question, especially if your bar for what is ‘good’ starts super low.

With that in mind, here’s some stuff to consider for fans who need everything to be related to the Knicks in some way, shape or form.

The Heat Are Our Hated Rivals

First and foremost, team president Pat Riley ditched the Knicks back in 1995 and informed the franchise via fax. Inexcusable. What a jerk. True Knicks fans will boo out loud at Pat Riley through their TV screen.

There’s more to latch onto than the ire that remains for Riley, though. Like the time Jeff Van Gundy latched onto Alonzo Mourning’s leg to try and stop Zo and Larry Johnson from killing each other. Or when P.J. Brown launched Charlie Ward into the crowd because he was upset about a strong box out.

Rather than be overtaken by rage, let’s quickly think about some more positive Heat-related memories. Like that Allan Houston game winner, or this dunk:

Jimmy Butler Is Soooo Not A Knick

Tom Thibodeau used to coach Butler back when both were with the Chicago Bulls. But when Butler was becoming available in the summer of 2019, the Knicks were so far away from even thinking about hiring Thibs that they never even considered whether it might be prudent to go after the All-Star in free agency.

Butler never became a free agent — instead, the Heat inked a four-team sign-and-trade deal to get him — but even if he had entered free agency, the Knicks just weren’t interested, despite having ample cap space, according to this article from Marc Berman of the New York Post.

“When Butler was a free agent in 2019, the Knicks’ past management wasn’t interested in Butler’s leadership and defense.”

Huh. To be fair, at the time, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving probably seemed more appetizing to the dynamic duo that was Steve Mills and Scott Perry.

Butler’s take-no-prisoners attitude would have been perfect for the Knicks of the late 1990s, so on the one hand it’s easy to want to root for him. But we follow the Knicks, which didn’t want him as recently as last year, so go hawk your $20 coffee elsewhere, Jimmy.

2020 NBA Rerstart - All-Access
Jimmy Butler looks into your soul as he drinks a cup of joe.
Photo by Jim Poorten/NBAE via Getty Images

How Do We Feel About Jason Kidd?

Today, Kidd is an assistant coach for the Lakers behind Frank Vogel. For most of his career, he was a crosstown rival of sorts with the New Jersey Nets. Kidd’s Nets even swept the Knicks out of the playoffs in 2003-04, and the Knicks wouldn’t make the postseason again until they got Amar’e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony six seasons later. Alas, there’s never been much juice in the Knicks-Nets ‘rivalry.’

Kidd ended up joining the Knicks in 2012-13, helping lead the team to the Eastern Conference Semifinals for the first time in over a decade. But he was also a big reason why the Knicks faltered once they got to the playoffs, having famously gone scoreless in each of the last 10 postseason games the Knicks played before they were eliminated by the Indiana Pacers.

Are we rooting for Kidd to get his second ring? Or do we want one of his coaching suggestions to be the reason the Lakers go down in flames? It’s honestly a tough call, especially considering the whole ‘Once a Knick, always a Knick’ thing.

J.R. Smith: OAKAAK

Once again, the marketing geniuses have us trapped like we’re James Harden against the Lakers in this year’s Western Conference Semifinals.

It’s really not up to whatever you actually feel inside of your head. By way of a marketing slogan, the Knicks have very clearly declared that ‘Once a Knick, Always a Knick.’

Thus, J.R. Smith, who is currently on the Lakers, will always be a Knick. Therefore, the Knicks are the Lakers. Go Knicks!