NYK or Die

Basketball is my favorite pastime–I love playing it, both in real life and virtually. I especially enjoy watching NBA games. It truly is an art: the alley-oop dunks, the jump shots, the finesse layups. My favorite team to watch, without a doubt, is the New York Knicks.

New York is often referred to as the mecca of basketball, with famous courts all over the city, like Rucker Park and West Fourth Street Courts. At the center of that mecca is the world-famous Madison Square Garden, home to the New York Knicks. Watching a game at the Garden live and in-person is an entirely different experience than watching a game at home. Chanting “Defense!” along with the whole crowd and feeling that energy, that camaraderie, is hard to describe if you’ve never experienced it. Now, I’ve never had floor seats. When I was a child, my mother and I sat in the rafters, so high up that my mother and I share a pair of binoculars to view the game.

I watch the games on MSG Network at home or with my grandmother, and one of the highlights is listening to Walt “Clyde” Frazier’s commentary. Walt brings a lot of flavor to the Knicks commentary–he’s constantly rhyming, laying down phrases like: “Dishing and Swishing” and “Spinning and Winning”. In addition to that, he wears some of the loudest most outrageous suits, something my grandmother and I constantly get a good laugh from. Walt “Clyde” Frazier is the only Hall of Fame basketball player I’ve ever met. When my mother spotted him in the pews at church, she took me over to meet him, and he was just as cool in real life as he seems on screen.

My journey as a Knicks fan has certainly been a tough one. Over the years I’ve witnessed countless losing seasons and the endless revolving door of coaches in an attempt to fix the problem: Lenny Wilkens, Larry Brown, Isiah Thomas, Mike D’Antoni, Mike Woodson, and Derek Fisher all have tried their hands at righting the ship that is the New York Knicks.

From my earliest days as a fan through the late 2000s it was all bad – so, very, very bad. Then, in the 2010 season things started to turn around for my New York Knicks. The solution came by way of Amar’e Stoudemire. For the first time in years I was excited to be a fan; my team finally had star power after years of lacking it. Games had always been exciting to watch, with fan favorites David Lee, Nate Robinson, and Jamal Crawford. But as the 2010-2011 season progressed, our star power increased following the trade for Carmelo Anthony. With Anthony and Stoudemire leading the team we made the playoffs for the first time in seven years.

While we were far from a championship, the Knicks had a winning culture. Bandwagon fans joined us Knick fans. Folks who once hated on the Knicks and spoke about how they sucked were now “Knicks fans.” While that irritated me, I was just happy to finally see the Knicks finish with a winning season.

Following a quick sweep in the 2011 playoffs by the Boston Celtics, the Knicks entered the era of “Linsanity” with the addition of Jeremy Lin in the 2011-2012 season. That season also saw the addition of one of my grandmother’s favorite players: J.R. Smith. J.R. could light it up from behind the three-point line. The Knicks went on to make the 2012 playoffs but were once again eliminated in the first round, this time by the Miami Heat. The next season, 2012-2013, saw the Knicks make the playoff once again, only this time they made it to the second round but were ousted by the Indiana Pacers.

The fall of 2013 saw the Knicks under the reign of Phil Jackson. It was an interesting time. Jackson won eleven championships as a head coach of the Bulls and the Lakers, so I was excited to see him become a part of the Knicks organization. Jackson made a regime change, dismissing Mike Woodson and bringing on Derek Fisher. Jackson was a big proponent of the Triangle Offense, which became the bane of my–and the Knicks’ existence.

The next few years were a nightmare as a fan. The 2014-2015 Knicks finished with their worst record in franchise history. The 2015 draft saw the Knicks select Kristaps Porzingis, who was showered with boos by the many Knicks fans in attendance, but boy were they wrong. But by this time Stoudemire was gone, leaving Anthony, Porzingis, and Derrick Rose to run the offense with Jeff Hornacek coaching. Even with all this talent and Joakim Noah on defense it wasn’t enough to get us to the playoffs.

In 2017, we saw the departure of Carmelo Anthony and Phil Jackson, with Jackson’s final act being the arrival of rookie Frank Ntilikina. Kristaps Porzingis is now a well-recognized player, well on his way to becoming a star, and Tim Hardaway Jr. is back and is the second-leading scorer on the team.

While we currently have a losing record, 23-32, I still believe in my Knicks and I always will.

-Khari

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