Over the weekend, news broke that the New York Knicks were dragging their feet in matching the Houston Rockets' $25 million contract offer to point guard Jeremy Lin. As the nervous laughter of Knicks fans ("Ha, this is hilarious ... can you imagine? No, but really, guys. Sign him") turned into acts of hair-pulling and fist-shaking and full-blown Twitter meltdowns, our fearless leader, Bill Simmons, posed the question: If the Knicks, following the apparent financial advice of Carmelo Anthony, turn their backs on the most exciting, well-liked player to rock blue and orange since [insert beloved Knicks player Sprewell, Starks, Ewing ... Renaldo Balkman], would New York fans be wise to turn their backs on the team and become fans of the other New York franchise, the Brooklyn Nets? Simmons certainly thought so. We asked several members of the Grantland family, some of whom count themselves as Knicks supporters, for a verdict.
So this challenge just hit my inbox from one Bill Simmons: “Yo, Koppelman," it began, " write a Carmelo rant for our sports blog today.” It was followed by an e-mail from Grantland editor Dan Fierman, also calling me out for "whine, whine, whining” on Twitter instead of really saying something.
OK, boys, if it’s a rant you want, it’s a rant you get. But I’m warning you, it ain’t gonna be pretty. It ain’t gonna be stat-filled or fair and balanced. Because after a lifetime of Knick fandom, I don’t have an ounce of fair or balanced left.
Let’s start with the disgraceful commercials the Knicks ran in welcoming Carmelo Anthony to the team. These ads, designed to stir the emotions of long-suffering Knickerbocker lifers like me, had the audacity to compare this selfish, ball-hogging, team-chemistry killer to Bernard King, probably the most beloved Knick of all time, after Willis Reed, and the one Knick since the '70s who performed in the clutch, played hurt, never complained, and gave us hope that we might actually win a championship. This is not unlike comparing Paulie to Luca Brasi in The Godfather. One sells out the Don for a few extra bucks. The other dies for him.