Bill Simmons’ new sports and culture rag, Grantland.com, is officially in “previews,” so you can read this long and enjoyable first taste from Katie Baker. It is about the New York Knicks, but so much more!
After the final home game of the season, a Knicks spokesman idly mentioned to Melo in the locker room that Steve Francis had been at the game. “Steve Francis,” Melo repeated with a smirk. “He still on the payroll?”
To be a fan is to be a part of this dysfunctional family. We’re basically stuck with each other. We project our insecurities, problems, and biases on the very same people who we claim to unconditionally love. We become nagging mothers, proud fathers, jealous sisters, awestruck brothers. Hugs are given and grudges are held. Habits are scrutinized and resemblances pinpointed. We meddle like aunties and rage like drunk cousins. Certain children are favored, and certain favors are traded.
We resent the family patriarch — in this case Jim Dolan — for his despotic ways, though we also rely on his cash. And there will be more where that came from next year: ticket prices at Madison Square Garden, which will undergo the first phase of a massive renovation this summer, will be up 49% on average. (The team announced this before even clinching a playoff berth. Tacky!)
The MSG renovation is symbolic of the transitional time for the franchise in general. The longest-tenured current Knick is Toney Douglas, who joined the team as a rookie last year; in his two seasons he has played alongside 33 different teammates.