Why are you booing me? I'm right.
Ah, the New York Knicks. The second most valuable basketball franchise in America. Playing at 'The Mecca of Basketball'… 'The Garden'… the very heart of Manhattan's concrete jungle. Only one slight problem surrounds them: they were bad when my dad took me to my very first NBA game at the age of 7, and they're still bad to this very day. I'm 21 years old now and throughout my whole conscious existence the 'Knicks' have only visited the playoffs 3 times. To put that into context, only California's Sacramento Kings (arguably the worst run team in recent NBA history) have had been a less successful basketball team in this time period.
I could go on about the sad history of the Knicks for a while, especially about the cursed presidency of their very own Voldemort-esque Phil Jackson, but I'll just turn to the present to save time and alleviate my rising blood pressure. Right now the Knicks are sitting at a record of 11-30, meaning they have lost 30 games this season, and have won just barely over ten games of basketball. This is bad. Very bad. It puts them second last in the NBA's Eastern Conference and 7 wins away from 8th, the lowest seed in the playoff spots (7 wins doesn’t sound like a lot, but in the basketball world it’s a veritable shit-ton). For those not familiar with the NBA's playoff structure, here's an excellent summary that explains it in a much better way than I ever could.
Right, so now that you know how the playoffs work and you understand that the Knicks are not just bad this year but have been historically bad, here are 5 whole reasons why I'm totally confident that they will be in the playoffs. Because that's how being a fan works.
1. David Fizdale was fired.
I hate being the spoilt fan that calls for any under-performing coach to get fired, but I'm extremely happy he was. After leading the Knicks to their joint-worst ever season with a record of 17-65, David Fizdale received a significantly improved team. Armed with the 3rd pick of the 2019 draft: the Knick's selected the 'Maple Mamba' RJ Barrett and gathered a host of kinda-good-but-not-really-that-good journeymen. The truth is that they were never supposed to be a good team, but winning four games out of 22 to begin the season is *atrocious*. Fizdale’s sassy "take that for data" catchphrase and quirky hipster glasses made him seem like a cool guy, but unfortunately quirky hipster glasses do not produce wins. His inability to figure out a solid starting lineup and make sound substitutions in game ultimately cost him his job and many Knicks’ fans sanity. Thankfully, Mike Miller has stepped up and done an excellent job all things considered.
Whilst the Knicks still on the whole suck, they suck just a little bit less. If Miller can keep building on what he’s started, the Knicks could, just maybe, sneak into that 8th seed.
2. The Knicks are finally figuring out their best line-ups.
It's kind of related to Fizdale’s incompetence, but credit should go to Mike Miller for figuring out not only a strong starting 5 (relative to the rosters mediocrity,) but also a competent bench rotation. Miller has cemented Elfrid Payton’s place as the starting point guard (PG) with rookie phenom RJ Barrett at shooting guard (SG), Marcus Morris Sr. proving to be a legitimate scorer at the small forward (SF) position alongside Julius Randle, the (recently) much-improved ‘star’ power forward (PF) of the team, and Taj Gibson, the 34 year old most-average-centre-ever (C) [ed. - he was pretty good for the Oklahoma City Thunder]. A shining spot in the bleak Knicks roster is Dikembe Mutombo-lite blocking machine Mitchell Robinson, who continues to put up impressive numbers off the bench as he figures out how to foul out of every game in 15 minutes. A collection of average, yet reliable bench players like Bobby Portis, Reggie Bullock and Frank Ntilikina (whose inclusion in the roster is as hot a debate as whether New Yorker's put mustard or ketchup on their hotdog) can potentially sneak this once hopeless franchise into the pits of the playoffs. Mainly because the rest of the Eastern Conference sucks too.
3. They can turn it up when they feel like it.
The Knicks can be faulted for many things, but this year has been all about ‘hustle’. Rumours of some unknown players demanding trades have rocked the camp, but if they really do want to go, they will. A lot of the players seem to want to work hard and improve. Julius Randle was signed in the off-season as the star man for the Knicks. Whilst this acquisition was as exciting as a chemistry pop quiz, credit must be given to Randle for stepping up lately. His season started off rough, shooting like a Stormtrooper in a snow storm and turning the ball over so often that the head office must've thought he was colour blind. Since, he has put up some really solid numbers (averaging over 20 points per game since Miller’s appointment and second in the assists column with 3.3 per game) as he grows accustomed to becoming the lone star of the team (Marcus Morris Sr. would probably want to have a word with me on that take, but it’s true Marcus… you’re not thaaaat good).
The Knicks also hilariously won 2 of their only 4 games under Fizdale this season vs the Dallas Mavericks to whom they made probably the worst trade of the last few years in trading away generational talent Kristaps Porzingis (the previous worst trade was also made by the Knicks when they acquired Andrea Bargnani. Never heard of him? That’s right…). Knicks vs Mavericks became a petty revenge game as the impassioned Knicks fought tooth and nail to beat not just the Mavericks, but their ex-New York superstar too in Porzingis. If only they played like that every night. Well, then they would make it into the playoffs.
4. I'm unwaveringly biased.
I was born in New York and whilst I moved away at a young age, I guess I’ll always be a ‘New Yorker’. This means I have to obnoxiously loyal, stupidly hopeful and a complete asshole to anyone that says the Knicks are trash. Because only I get to say that. And maybe Stephen A. Smith…
5. We need it for more Stephen A. Smith memes.
Ever seen this face on the internet?
This man is undeniably the greatest character of all sports television. He has singlehandedly kept ESPN sports alive and, according to Bleacher Report, is in line for a historic $10,000,000 contract a year, which would make him the highest paid sports TV personality in the world. He’s literally a walking, breathing meme and guess how that came to be… The New York Knicks. Yes, Stephen A. Smith is a New York Knicks fan. Let’s just say that if the Knicks made the playoffs, Stephen A. would make trolling-the-Cowboys level meme-age and honestly, the world would be a better place for it.
Alex Kutscher is a 21 year old English Literature "student" at King's College London. He plays basketball and watches Chelsea on the weekend. He loves sports, television and live music. As you can probably tell, he's still tragically a New York Knicks fan.
Thanks for reading! Slow Motion Panic Masters is a music, arts and culture blog created and edited by Ben Wheadon, a literature student and musician based in London, England. Subscribe to our mailing list below to be alerted every time a post is published on the site.