Thursday, February 5, 2009

Hey Man, I'm In Town Next Weekend!

How much do the New York Knicks hate their home?

On an island packed with overpriced, undersized, slumlord-run pre-War walkups (that’s the “affordable” housing”), the Knick have one of the least enviable home lives. In spite of their considerable financial means, the past decade has reduced the Knicks to little more than anonymous foils, whipping boys for the NBA’s best, who seemingly live to perform at Madison Square Garden, as evidenced by this week’s visits from Kobe Bryant and LeBron James.

Monday night, hours after learning that a torn MCL will keep starting center Andrew Bynum out for 8-12 weeks, Kobe and the Los Angeles Lakers were at the Garden. Either due to Bynum’s absence, the “mojo” of MSG, or the fact that he’s the best player of the post-Jordan era, Kobe went off, torching the Knicks for an MSG-record 61 points (eclipsing Bernard King’s 60) in just 37 minutes, and, much to the chagrin of Reggie Miller, inspiring standing ovations and “MVP” chants from the home crowd. Kobe made nineteen of thirty-one shots and all twenty of his free throws, as the Lakers cruised to 126-117 win (it wasn’t really that close).

Thanks to the NBA schedule makers’ twisted sense of humor, LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers paid a visit to Manhattan two nights later, because, you know, being thrashed by Kobe
isn’t bad enough. Adding insult to the Knicks’ inevitably forthcoming injury was that LeBron arrived at the Garden motivated- this wasn’t just another game. In addition to playing in every superstar’s favorite arena, in what is admittedly his “favorite city”, against the team that has pinned its future on possibility of employing his services in two years, LBJ would have to summon forth an “appropriate response” to Kobe performance.

The source of LeBron’s motivation on Wednesday night is debatable- Kobe’s performance, the bright lights of New York, his own other-worldly greatness, perhaps the desire to win the game?- but suffice it say James did little to ease the Knicks’ pain (at least the crowd didn’t turn on them this time!), producing an epic performance of his own, scoring 52 points, grabbing 10 rebounds and dishing out 11 assists in the Cavs’ 107-102 win, and also making history, as the 52 points are the most scored as part of a triple-double since the 1976 NBA-ABA merger.

Thursday’s headlines on NBA websites and in NYC newspapers will undoubtedly tout the LeBron’s “answer” to Kobe, but what will be overlooked by all is that the members of the New York Knicks are not unlike tens of thousands of other young New Yorkers- their Manhattan residences more sought-after by out-of-town visitors than their company is. While the Knick are living in New York, Kobe and LeBron came to town for just a couple of days, having saved up for a blowout trip to New York, hitting up the Knicks up for a place to crash. David Lee and Nate Robinson weren’t planning on this! But in the space of 72 hours, their buddies rolled up, hit the town until 4am, slamming $18 drinks and sleeping on the couch until 2pm while the Knicks were at the office, and took off as quickly as they’d arrived, taking their epic stories of New York City back to their everyday lives.

The moral of the story? It may seem like a good idea at the time, but DO NOT buy the hype and let LeBron or Kobe crash at your house!

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