Reinventing Sports Culture. For the fans, by the fans.

The New York Knicks Have a Winning Record, but I’m Still Pissed

How about them Knickerbockers?!? We’re about half-way through the 72-game season, and your New York Knicks have a winning record at 18-17. In the NBA’s JV Conference, one game over .500 is good enough for a tie for 4th place. That’s right. Come May, we could very well see the New York Knicks host a playoff series. Suffice to say, mediocrity this late in the season has the city of New York BUMPIN’.

Hey, the world’s already fucked up as it is. We may as well lean into it and have the Knicks be decent.

So, why am I pissed? You may be asking yourself. Well, mostly because there’s a deadly virus still going around, the Senate hasn’t given me my $1400 check yet, and I just lost a five-way parlay with the Wizards losing to the Celtics. But as far as the Knicks go, I got a couple of issues:

Winning Record or Not, Watching The New York Knicks Sucks

Having your team win is supposed to be a fun experience. That’s the whole point of following sports: You watch it, and you have a good time doing so. Well, I’m not having fun.

This isn’t your Dad’s NBA. The days when an 86-80 game qualified as lighting up the scoreboard are over. It’s barely even my NBA. In 2011-2012, teams averaged 96.3 points on 91.3 possessions per game. This season, it’s 112 points on 99.5 possessions per game.[1] And it’s for the best. You have to be some type of loser to prefer hand checks over guys bombing 30-footers with ease and throwing down transition lobs that register on a seismograph. But if you are lame like that, go and check out the Knicks.

They’re 28th in points per game, they allow the fewest points per contest, and dead last in pace (average possessions per game). The grit-and-grind style isn’t a total surprise with Tom Thibodeau at head coach. Outside of the 2018-2019 Timberwolves, who fired him halfway through the season, Thibs’s teams have never finished higher than 23rd in pace. But at least some of his squads could score the ball. With this plucky little group of underdogs though, they shoot the second-fewest three-pointers per game even though they’re above average from deep, and they take the fourth-most two-pointers even though they have the third-worst shooting percentage from inside the arc. I’ll watch Zion cram the ball through people instead, thanks.

I Still Can’t Forget What Could Have Been

Stuff like this is why the New York Knicks have finished with a winning record once in the past 10 years.
This picture is going to haunt me for a long time. (Rich Pedroncelli/AP)

The New York Knicks, despite the winning record, still have some shortcomings. In addition to poor interior scoring, they’re also struggling to generate points off of assists and force turnovers. Do you know who’s not doing jack shit to help with any of those problems? This year’s eighth overall pick, Obi Toppin. Do you know who would have provided a big boost in all those departments? The 2020 12th overall pick, Tyrese Haliburton.

Playing the hindsight game with draft picks is usually unfair, but not in this case. I watched the draft. I wanted Haliburton. All my friends in our group chat wanted Haliburton. All of ESPN’s draft commentators said they ought to get Haliburton. But nope. Leon Rose said let’s load up on combo forwards and take Toppin so that bum-ass Elfrid Payton can keep starting at the point.

So, how are the two neophytes doing? Well, Obi sometimes does cool dunks, while Haliburton is doing everything else that’s indicative of being good at basketball. Oh, the Knicks need more scoring? Haliburton is putting up 13 a game with a .608 effective field-goal percentage, the 15th-best mark in the league. They could do with more ball-handling? Haliburton’s 5.4 assists per game are just a shade under Julius Randle’s team-leading 5.5 dimes per game. They’re not forcing enough turnovers? Haliburton’s 2.2% steal percentage is in the top 20 among all qualifiers.

Now we have to deal with Haliburton possibly winning Rookie of the Year, while the only notable thing Elfrid’s done this season is talk shit about the team on what has to be the worst burner account of all time.

Don’t Let the Winning Record Fool You, It’s Still the New York Knicks

This is the most important point of all. If you have been a Knicks fan over the past few years, you’ve seen this before. The New York Knicks will be around .500 after 30 or 40 games and give you a glimmer of hope, only for a collapse on the back-half of the season that leads to another lottery pick who won’t pan out. I went back and looked at some recent examples of this happening, and it’s almost eerie how often they’ve been in this situation in just the past several years. It’s truly rinse-and-repeat.

It started during the 2015-2016 season. After 40 games, the Knicks were 20-20. They went 12-30 the rest of the way.

The next season. Went 16-13 out of the gates. Went 15-38 the rest of the way.

2017-2018…18-18 start…11-35 finish.

The New York Knicks are right on schedule with this winning record. They’re going to head into the All-Star break as the darlings of the league, and then something’s going to happen to fuck it all up. My guess is Julius Randle is going to blow up his knee on a crossover during the All-Star game. That’s the fun part of Knicks fandom. They get creative with the dysfunction and bold with the fuck-ups.

No matter how they plan on collapsing this year, it’s only a matter of time before this stuff starts happening again:

Will I Ever Be Happy as a Knicks Fan?

Probably not. Not as long as that butt-hurt, kazoo-playing, fat-weasel-looking skid-mark James Dolan owns the team. But why would he ever sell? This team is still one of the league’s top revenue generators. It’s worth $5 billion. I’d gladly let everyone in the world despise me if it meant I could own something that valuable. What’s even worse is that Dolan’s gotten people to drink the Kool-Aid.

I went to a Knicks game in 2018 and watched them get annihilated by a post-Lebron, Kevin Love-less Cavs team. But I was ok with it—more losses meant a better chance at drafting Zion. Just turning lemons into lemonade. Well, when I started clapping at a missed free throw, a guy told me to “Have some pride.”

I was speechless. A stranger, displeased with my enjoyment in this team securing better odds in the draft lottery, with the possibility that such improved odds could lead to the organization getting a top selection in the draft, therefore allowing them to select a franchise player who could lead this team out of the dredges and make them respectable for the first time in two decades, told me to have dignity in being a fan of the New York Knicks. The fucking New York Knicks. What a delusional group of assholes we all are. We don’t deserve a winning team.

[1] The highest average for points per game came in the 1961-1962 season, with teams putting up 118.8 a night. And they did that without a three-point line and while shooting 42.6% from the field. It must have been absolute chaos.