Becoming a fan of the New York Knicks


My dad didn’t watch a lot of NBA games when I was a kid.

In Pittsburgh, Sundays are for God and the Steelers. From February to July, the Penguins and Pirates volley for the heart of the city, until a pack of buses arrive to Latrobe, Pa., and Steelers training camp begins.

I was from a town with such a deep sports history, but I was always enamored with the one league that didn’t set up shop there: the NBA. I never had a hometown team to cheer for, so I bounced from bandwagon to bandwagon, rooting for Jordan’s Bulls, Iverson’s Sixers, Kobe’s Lakers, Melo’s Nuggets, and so on. By the time I left Pittsburgh for Syracuse University, I gave up the search and turned my attention to SU hoops.

New York Knicks game aired on Syracuse cable, but I never caught on to the hype. I was excited for Carmelo Anthony to move to NYC during my junior year, but that couldn’t keep my interest beyond a month. When Linsanity was taking over New York the following winter, I had a hard time catching the fever.

I graduated and moved to Connecticut toward the end of that season, 2011-12, and every winter, I ignored that two NBA clubs were only an hour or so from my front door. It was a grim sight for both franchises, however. They both went from hyped contenders to laughing stocks.

The Knicks were falling apart. Lin was gone and Anthony was struggling. In 2015, they reached a new low in the franchise’s 69-year history with an abysmal 17-65 record. Meanwhile in Brooklyn, the Nets had mortgaged their future for a pair of aging stars— both of whom were gone by the end of the 2014-15 season.

If there was a light at the end of the tunnel for New York basketball, it would be a subway car, bowling toward it.

But something weird happened that summer. The Knicks drafted Kristaps Porzingis, a lanky, 7-foot-3 Latvian, who at one time in his life, inexplicably sported cornrows. The draft selection made a kid cry. By the end of 2015, though, that same kid was rocking a Porzingis jersey at Madison Square Garden.

The rookie could play, and opponents like Kevin Durant and Dirk Nowitzki were throwing accolades at him like an arena vendor throws peanuts.

I was nearing four years of living in Connecticut and wanted to find something to make the region feel more like home. Then I sat down and Porzingis’ Knicks play.

Are Steph Curry, Golden State Warriors becoming the villains?

012516-10-NBA-Warriors-Stephen-Curry-OB-PI.jpgYou can’t blame the Golden State Warriors for their swagger. Something weird happens when the underdog becomes the alpha dog, though.

With only four losses, the reigning NBA Champions have been rolling through the competition and making a 73-9 season look feasible. After calmly embarrassing the two most realistic threats to their throne — the Cleveland Cavaliers and San Antonio Spurs — by 30 each, they’ve made it pretty clear that it’ll take an All-Star team (or the Milwaukee Bucks) to take them down.

And the team knows their that good. But star point guard Steph Curry rubbed some the wrong way when he boldly predicted a win over the Oklahoma City Thunder the day before the Super Bowl. Were his comments blown out of proportion? Most likely.

It certainly didn’t make the team more endearing to rival fans. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook shrugged off the remark, but it marked a turning point for the Warriors. They’ve gone from hunter to hunted, and a lot of people want to see them fall.

The Warriors have been punching opponents every night with ease, and it’s only going to continue until someone punches them back. When you see Curry drain a three while an opponent palms his face, though, it’s hard to imagine anyone can.