By Jason Keidel
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For a few moments, let’s pretend that your love for the Knicks doesn’t obscure your objectivity. And I will curb my contempt for Carmelo Anthony and Jim Dolan.
No matter what we think of their past and present, we must remold the prism through which Knicks fans view their future. Listening to WFAN over the last six months, you can’t help but hear that callers and even radio hosts are oddly simpatico: If the Knicks beat the Boston Celtics, then the season is a success.
And that is unacceptable. Indeed, this is high among the many reasons why the Knicks have been so bad for so long. Low expectations are how you go 13 years without bagging one playoff series, while winning just one playoff game over the last decade. Low expectations got you Isiah Thomas — who still may have at least one of Dolan’s tone-deaf ears.
We from the five boroughs and beyond understand that losing is a part of life, so certainly sports should be no different. But one reason that the Yankees and the Giants spend so much time among the aristocracy is because the fans demand it. And those expectations bleed into the front office of your favorite team.
With Mets, Jets and, yes, Knicks fans, there’s a sense of eternal resignation, and if their teams just contend once in a while, well, that’s all we can ask for. No, you neither draft nor coach the players, but you pour your soul and savings into teams that don’t show equal loyalty. You paid for the PSL and the $2,000 courtside seat. And in return you were treated like refuse.
And that’s why that’s exactly what you get. After all the carnage of Thomas, the historic hybrid of GM/coach/cooler, his .341 winning percentage, wretched contracts and a sexual harassment lawsuit, there was a numbing number of Thomas apologists.
Now that the Knicks are actually good, it’s not time to relax, but rather to put more pressure on your team — to wipe the lens through which you gaze upon your beloved basketball team. Lord knows you’ve paid enough, in time and money, for all those forlorn years watching other teams dominate and celebrate on the once-holy hardwood that used to be so ornery to the enemy.
MSG Network has a lovely program showing the lost tape from Game 5 of the 1973 NBA Finals, where the Knicks beat the Lakers in Los Angeles to win their second (and last) world championship. As if to remind us how long it’s been, they actually interview the technician who had to transfer the archaic footage into something legible. Four decades may as well be four centuries, especially in New York City.
There’s no doubt that the Knicks are exponentially better now than they were five years ago. After a 54-win season and the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs, there is reason to rejoice. But this isn’t enough.
And it starts with you. In fact, it may end with you.
Is anything less than a championship a failure for this team? Sound off with your thoughts in the comments section below…