Like a lot of people, I’ve become an NBA addict this spring. It started with Jeremy Lin, but it didn’t stop there. I’ve become a fan of the sport, and specifically the Knicks. This isn’t new. I went to Knicks games with my grandfather in the sixties and seventies. I was there for the great team that won it all. But you aren’t a fan because your guys win. You’re a fan because of love. Because you see things from the same perspective of other people who love the same team. It’s visible evolution. We have a need that’s unmet by the world we live in, to be part of a warring tribe. We live and die together. So we invent something to satisfy that natural urge.
At times this season I felt the Knicks should clean house and just go with the rookies. It’s still a great fantasy, but after all the ups and downs of the season, I now really feel intense admiration for Carmelo Anthony. He’s not quite the Last Man Standing in the Knicks battle, but it’s pretty close.
In the last few games of the season you could see Knicks coach Woodson tutoring Iman Shumpert, a wonderful young rookie, trying to toughen him up for the playoffs. It was going to be something watching this young guy with all that great energy get schooled by the Great Miami Heat, but he was stopped in battle before the first game was finished. And of course Jeremy Lin is injured. And in the first game whenever Carmelo Anthony was about to take a shot, two intense Heat players would block him out. That was when you knew that the Knicks would pay the price for having no real Plan B. The Heat were saying, you guys can score any other way, but you can’t use Melo.
Somehow, for at least three more games, two of them at the Garden, the Knicks are going to have to find a way around that block. It’s going to be a tough remainder of the series. I don’t want to say exactly how bad it looks. But I do want to say that Melo has my admiration. He got the booby prize and he’s taking it like a man.