Before I moved to NYC 10 years, I took an oath on the back porch of my parent's home at the age of 22. My father took a Rambo like machete to my arm and sliced a 1/2 inch cut into it. As the blood started to pour out like a faucet and hit the dirt, my father then beheaded a rattle snake. He then mixed the rattle snake's blood with my blood in the dirt.
A Blood Oath.
The oath was simple: With my parent's Ford Bronco packed with three suitcases, a TV, and a radio system, I swore that I was never going to cheer for the Rangers, Islanders, Devils, Jets, and Giants.
Alright, the oath never happened but there was no way in hell I was going to succumb to the demons in this Babylon city of money and power.
I didn't care if the Bills or Sabres were 0 for the decade or even if they moved, I was not going to give in. I would feel guilty. Guilty like a widower who didn't want to remarry because he loved his wife so much.
However, I could still flirt with others.
There are the Yanks, Mets, and Knicks. I don't like the Mets because they are just crappy, and I happen to find their fans to be whiny little *******. The Yanks are cool, mainly because they win all the time and have cool New Era caps, but they are just too good and too bandwagonish. Plus, every transplant seems to try and root for them because they want to be in the cool group or they have a crush on Jeter's ass.
That leaves the Knicks.
Here's the thing. I want to like the Knicks. I've been in NYC for so many years, I should take to some sort of team here. It gives me something to talk to fellow New Yorkers about, those who don't give a crap about Buffalo sports. It also lets me kind of fit in without standing out like a dude sporting zubaz and a whammy weenie.
I use to kind of like the Knicks as a kid. I wasn't a die-hard fan, but I enjoyed how Patrick Ewing, Charles Oakley, Anthony Mason, and Johns Starks were a$$holes and just bad asses. I even liked Latrell Sprewell because he was a bad ass as well.
Yes, I guess I'm an Alpha male when it comes to liking my basketball players. By the time I got here in 2002, everything had hit the fan with the Knicks. Isiah Thomas took over the franchise, and he ran it like he was a mix of Tom Donahoe and Tom Golisano. It stunk for years. Ville Leino type deals became the norm for the Knicks and they were in salary cap hell.
Finally, the Knicks "Kind of" got rid of Isiah and brought in Donnie Walsh. They then brought in Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire, but they just haven't clicked. Not just in wins/losses, but with me. I can't stand Carmelo Anthony. I hated the way he left Denver. I just don't understand why players want to leave when they have a good situation in a different city. I think he's a LeBron James wannabe who wants attention. That is why he went to the largest city in North America. He shoots too much and he doesn't play defense. He's just not the most likable player.
As for the impact of basketball in NYC, you have to live here to get it. It is on par with what hockey means to Toronto, except New Yorkers have other options. I think if all four major sports were doing equally well, the Knicks would be 2nd to the Yanks as the talk of the town. Basketball resonates in NYC. You hear about the basketball courts by Washington Square or in BK. NYC is a place of tradition when it comes to basketball. Think Hoop Dreams. Think players shooting at a rusty hoop with no net and by some miracle, they work their way to being basketball phenoms.
Frankly, I think The Garden is the best venue to play at in all of sports. It's the one place that when Kobe or James come to town, they want to put on a show because of the tradition of the arena and having all the eyes of the world on them. Yes, that's the egocentric mentality of NYC which believes itself to be the center of the universe. But guess what? It is.
There's just an electricity when the Basketball Gods are smiling on NYC.
I'm chalking up that as the biggest reason to like Jeremy Lin.
Maybe I've been watching ESPN too much, but Lin has resurrected the Knicks. They have been looking for someone like this for years now. Just something to believe. In fact, Knicks fans are kind of like us. Frustrated by years of losses, they are making this guy into what we made Fred Jackson into at the start of the Bills 5-2 season. Ha! New Yorkers are like us now! Nah-nah-nah-nah.
You can talk all you want about how he's Tim Tebow, which I don't see besides the whole Christian thing. Hell, I'm still not sure Tebow can play QB, but I do know that Jeremy Lin can play point. I love the point guard position. It may be my favorite position in any sport because it can be so pretty. It represents making your teammates better. It represents being the general on the floor. I think the making guys better is what hits me most. It's like being the ultimate boss really. It also just looks magnificent on a fast break when a 5'11-6'2 guy throws a bounce pass to a big man for a dunk.
But besides the beauty of Lin's play, it is his ultimate underdog story that works. In NYC, people love a good story. Feel-good stories seem to be harder to find these days. Maybe it's our rowdiness as people or the discord from the media. Tim Tebow could be a great story, but you have nut jobs on both sides that ruin it for me. However, when something like this happens, and it is almost impossible for critics to destroy the story (until Melo comes back), you can't help but feel like you are a part of something special. Yes, Buffalo, take off your basketball hater glasses and realize that stories like this don't happen.
So, yes, I'm going to hop on the bandwagon for Knicks basketball. No, I won't be buying shirts or pretending to be a fake Yankees fan transplant. I'll golf clap and tweet some updates. I'll be a fan. Yes, just a fan. But more importantly, I'm doing it for NYC. I want to get behind something that feels meaningful. As I've alluded to multiple times, I still don't feel like a New Yorker. I feel like I'm someone on a deserted island or someone who just woke up from a 20-year coma and has no memory of what happened before he slipped and busted his head on a toilet seat while finding the means to travel in time (Back to the Future humor).
I'm doing it because whenever you can make the Big Apple as sweet as a candy apple and not such a rotten apple, it is a winning day for this transplant. Bandwagon? Sure. But they are fun and I think after 10 years, I may have to join the party. This could be just the tip of the iceberg. Hey, the Sabres are awful and I need to find something to look forward to for the next few months.
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