OP-ED: The Reason Why The Knicks Will Never, Ever Be Good
New York is fun. I lived there on and off from 2006 until 2013, the "on and off" part being because any prolonged period of time in the city gives me agita.
And by agita I mean a hangover.
And by a hangover I mean a REALLY bad hangover.
I'll be the first one to admit it -- daddy likes to party. (That's what I call myself when I'm disassociating, excuse me.) But I've never understood how anyone -- let alone really young, really rich, sculpted, handsome professional athletes -- manages to exist in New York without frequent brain-splitting headaches and a near constant taste of cigarettes in their mouth that lingers well after a thorough brushing. Maybe it's the top shelf booze they're drinking, who knows.
The point is, I don't think anyone who plays on the Knicks -- Manhattan's only team -- can endure the grueling/awesome lifestyle that is thrust upon them. Unlike the Giants and Yankees and Rangers, everyone in the city knows which guys are on the Knicks. All of them. They're celebrities who work and live in the middle of Manhattan. It wears them down (as it should). Even if a player manages to avoid the parties and the after parties and the after after parties, they still have to deal with their entourage and college/NBA buddies constantly begging them to come out when they're in town.
It can be exhausting to say "no" that much, too.
Staying out of bars and clubs when you're in your twenties in New York is an isolated existence. It's depressing. It saps your energy as much if not more than partying does. Which brings up another point...
Other teams come to New York and get absolutely juiced to beat the Knicks, run up the score, look awesome in front of Rihanna or whoever, and then celebrate with her afterwards until 8 a.m. For visiting teams, New York's nightlife is the carrot is at the end of the stick, awaiting them after a glorious victory. For the Knicks -- the carrot IS the stick, and it's not a carrot -- it's artisanal vodka made from lingonberries. They live inside a 24-hour party. They have far less motivation than the guys coming from places like Cleveland or Oklahoma City or San Antonio -- where the city shuts down before 2 a.m. The Thunder or Cavs probably live like they're still in high school compared to their New York counterparts. They eagerly circle the date on their team calendar that says "New York City" and buy new suits and sneakers and, if you're Kyrie Irving, an $800 studded designer backpack.
These dudes come in fresh as a daisy, ready to embarrass a Knicks team that always seems exhausted, then show off how cool they are afterwards.
NBA Star Kyrie Irving -- MY BAG GAME IS ILL ... Rocks $800 Man Purse http://t.co/dh3sDkrJDZ
— TMZ (@TMZ) December 5, 2014
The Knicks end up having more of an advantage on the road, where they're just another mediocre NBA team, than they do at home, where opponents treat them like the 1998 Chicago Bulls. At MSG, the Knicks have to bring it extra hard, every night. That's not easy, especially when you consider that they're probably exhausted from whatever kept them up until 5 a.m. the day before.
Another sad reality about this franchise, is that the city routinely chews up their draft picks and spits them onto the subway tracks. How the hell do you develop a franchise when all your younger, more immature players' heads are constantly spinning from all the sex/drugs/rock n' roll? You don't, unless you're somehow lucky enough to draft an immensely talented kid who lacks an ego. It's hard enough drafting someone who can transition to the NBA game. Finding a college basketball player who can handle the pressures of performing in front of celebrities on a nightly basis is damn near impossible.
That's why the Knicks will never really be great again. They'll be good, sure -- but today's New York City puts a ceiling on any success they hope to have. Millennial's have turned the place into a gigantic playground, which is fine for your career prospects if you sit at a desk all day, but really screws up your decision making ability when your running around trying to guard Kyrie Irving on three hours sleep.
FYI: Thursday night, Kyrie Irving scored 37 points on the Knicks' "defensive stopper" Iman Shumpert. Just saying.
New York makes visiting teams better and the home team worse, yet offers so many awesome distractions for players so that they never have to sit alone in a boring little condo in some quiet suburb and let their 4-15 record really sink in. They never feel pathetic. They never bottom out. They're never forced to get better. They just go back to their sweet day job at some trendy loft -- a music career or hat company or movie production business -- and everyone they meet applauds because, "OMG, look, a tall guy from the basket sports team!"
Photo via Getty
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