Over their current four-game winning streak, the New York Knicks have been on a revenge tour. It began the final day of 2022 with a win at Houston, and if you don’t feel something extra when the Knicks beat the Rockets on their home floor, I have to assume you’re either too young or too emotionally stunted to have a hole in your heart from the 1994 Finals. Never forget: the Knicks were down just 63-60 heading into the fourth quarter of Game 7. 12 minutes later, Patrick Ewing was shoving confetti out of his face. So yeah. F$#@ Houston.
After the New Year’s Eve win, the next stop on the vengeance tour was a matinee massacre of the Phoenix Suns. To understand the significance of this W doesn’t require going way back in time. The Suns have been the NBA’s dickiest team for a while now. Even before Chris Paul’s arrival — and CP3 is to dicks what Sam Spade is: the king of dicks — Devin Booker had already revealed himself to be the biggest tool this side of Peter O’. Honestly, calling timeouts and fouling your opponent in a clear loss ‘cuz you wanna get to 70 points? Jesus.
Deandre Ayton seems performatively sullen, and lemme tell you as someone who writes about the sport for (some fraction of) a living, Ayton single-handedly causes sportswriters agita by being the one NBA player who doesn’t capitalize two letters in his first name, which is why we can’t just blanket remember everyone under one rule. Every time DeMar DeRozan or DeAndre Jordan or De’Anthony Melton do something of note, I have to stop and double-check how to spell their names, all because Ayton is too cool for double-caps.
Then the Knicks defeated San Antonio at MSG, avenging their grotesque capitulation the week before in San Antonio. Friday night saw them go into Toronto and pay the Raptors back for their win in New York a few weeks ago, when Pascal Siakam put up the goofiest 50-spot I have ever seen. In Kill Bill Uma Thurman’s character had a sheet labeled “Death List Five.” The last name on the list was David Carradine’s Bill, who was also the hardest one to kill. The Knicks face a similar task Monday when they host the Milwaukee Bucks.
At first glance, the Bucks seem pretty inoffensive. I mean, the Suns, Nets and Celtics all hate them, which is normally grounds for a medal. But the Bucks have been putting some negative energy into the universe. First, don’t forget that Giannis Antetokounmpo recently accosted a ladder.
The background: after struggling with his free throws in a loss to Philadelphia, Antetokounmpo came back out onto the floor after the game to get some practice in at the line. Unfortunately for this millionaire athlete, there were and are other people on Earth who have jobs to do, too, including some blue collar dudes who I assume were making sure the rim was at the proper height and angle . . . and if you think that’s no big deal, ask a Denver Nuggets fan. It is. What made this all the grosser is Antetokounmpo has for years carefully — too carefully, I say — crafted an image as this simple creature who just cares about basketball and winning and being liked. There’s never a misstep. He’s the starstruck immigrant, the American Dream with added hops and wingspan for days, too pure to care about shoe contracts and ego and anything beyond wins.
Antetokounmpo’s brother, one-time Knick Thanasis, is also building up quite the body count as far as cheap fouls and antagonized opponents. Blake Griffin, Montrezl Harrell and Marcus Smart have all had run-ins, though Smart at least came out of it praising Thanasis for sticking up for Giannis. Dylan Windler wasn’t left conscious enough to extend the same grace.
Gabe Vincent is also not a fan.
If they paid me overtime, I’d do a deep-dive into Grayson Allen’s history; suffice it to say we need a whole other internet to house that man’s criminal record. The Bucks are so scummy their orbit attracts all kinds of wretched hives of scum and villainy. Aaron Rodgers is a courtside regular. ‘Nuff said.
You see why even beyond beating the Knicks in their last five meetings, the Bucks need to get knocked off their perch. The Knicks, morally, deserve to win Monday’s matchup. Whether that happens is another story entirely, but there are plenty of reasons to jeer the Deer. Come on, vengeance. Do your thing.