Thursday, July 19, 2012

On being a fan

I have lived in Brooklyn the vast majority of my life. Apart from the time I spent in college, grad school, and my first job, I have called Kings County my home. An undercurrent of life in Brooklyn was, for the longest time, the absence of a professional sports franchise. The Dodgers leaving, nearly 60 years ago, left a hole in the soul of Brooklyn. Its a sense of abandonment, as if Brooklyn was not good enough. Sometimes it seems like that's part of every Brooklynite- yeah we're not good enough, what's it to you?
Of course, that will change this fall when the Brooklyn (nee New Jersey) Nets come to Barclay's Arena, a little more than a mile away from where I currently live. Professional sports (sorry Cyclones, you don't count) will be back...and in my proverbial backyard.

It got me thinking...can I give up on the Knicks? The team I've backed for years; a team that has baffled me with their business decisions recently.

Basketball is far from my favorite sport. I am first and foremost a die hard New York Mets fan. I have been for most of my adult (and therefore independent) life. I remember the moment I would throw myself, 100%, behind the blue and orange: Robin Ventura's Grand Slam Single. I was still a teenager and I had always rooted for the Mets, but that was the moment I became a fan. 
After baseball comes hockey (Rangers) and football (Jets) with basketball lagging a distant fourth. I cannot explain it, as I absolutely love watching the college game. Professional basketball just does not enthrall me the way it did in my youth where the NBA on NBC was a constant background in May and June. Maybe it was the lockout at the turn of the century, or maybe it was when Ewing went away. I just stopped caring about the Knicks, until the season they acquired Carmelo Anthony. 

My sister was dating a guy (second time around) and he was a huge Knicks fan. Seeing as how he was basically living with my sister (in my parents house), I decided that I might as well get to know him. I watched a lot of basketball with my sister and her boyfriend, and started to enjoy the game again. The Knicks were full of exciting, young talent. Amar'e Stoudemire was playing extremely well, and the team was clicking.

Then James Dolan pulled the trigger and shipped a ton of talent for Carmelo Anthony.  I wanted to like this trade, but I could not. 

Dolan is a villain. I cannot describe the primal feelings of anger that well up whenever someone mentions his name, or Isiah Thomas. Isiah Thomas. I had to mention him twice, because, I mean, Dolan keeps giving him more shots, so I guess we should too?

When you're a fan, you want your team to be good. You have faith in the ownership and management to do what's right for the franchise (even if it means rebuilding). In the post-MinayaMadoff era, I believe the Mets are going in the right direction. The Knicks...not so much.

And then, walking distance from home, a franchise is moving in. One that has an owner willing to pay players to be part of a team, not to please individual fulfillment. They're in my backyard! They're from my hometown! No, they're not the Dodgers...but the Nets are something that could be a part of Brooklyn. Could be a part of my life.

I saw friends who were jumping ship. I considered it, and put it out on twitter. I got no support, only lambasting. 

I wanted to switch. I wanted to take the easy way out and latch on to a tea in the right direction.

I couldn't pull the trigger. 

I have a friend, who until recently was a Mets fan. After Johan Santana threw his no-hitter,  the greatest moment in Mets history in the past ten years, he gave up on the Mets. Management had decided to sell tickets to the game after the fact, including tickets that had already been purchased. To him, this was inexcusable. I couldn't fathom doing that. I can be angry at a team, upset at a direction.

I couldn't turn myself into Brooklyn in 1958, looking for a history that is no longer there.

Lets go Knicks. 

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