Here's my friend Jason "@netw3rk" Concepcion, at Grantland, describing the soul-crushing process of rooting for this year's version of the New York Knicks, who are very awful and who now sit at 21-40, 6 1/2 games out of a playoff berth with 21 games to go:
The 2013-14 Knicks are the worst Knicks team I have ever experienced because of the totality with which the franchise, at every level of engagement, has destroyed even the illusion of hope.
And yet here is Elie Wiesel, the legendary Nobel Peace Prize-winning professor, activist and author, from his 1986 Nobel lecture:
There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest.
Ergo, here is Marc Berman of the New York Post:
A rally to protest Knicks owner James Dolan’s handling of the sinking franchise is on tap for March 19 in front of [Madison Square] Garden before the team hosts the [Indiana] Pacers.
There isn't an awful lot that Knicks fans can do to meaningfully change the fortunes of this year's team, whose consistently staggering, reliably relentless, fundamentally baffling, holiday-ruining, bewilderment-inducing season-long commitment to excrement has turned the 54-win, Atlantic Division-winning 2012-13 campaign into a distant, almost cruel memory over the past four-plus months. What they can do is commiserate, kvetch and make a public stink about the rotten state of affairs at MSG under the leadership of James Dolan, whose season-opening championship expectations for this outfit seemed preposterous at the time and like rank lunacy at this juncture. The public embarrassment of fans gathering to won't compel Dolan to change course on anything, obviously, but it might bum him out a little and maybe make his day a bit worse. This, friends, is what Knicks fans have to hold onto right now.
The Knick Fan 4 Life, or KF4L, Rally, slated to take place on the steps in front of MSG at 6 p.m. ET on the 19th, stems from three specific areas of "fan discontent," according to the folks behind the burgeoning "movement."
1) Dolan’s failure to allow knowledgeable basketball people the autonomy/power to make basketball-related decisions (Pat Riley, Jeff Van Gundy, Donnie Walsh). His insistence on overriding the opinions of his basketball people by bidding against himself in negotiations and overpaying in trades. The rehiring of Steve Mills who has never been in the GM role before and presided over one of the most embarrassing eras in Knick history.
2) The MSG Media Policy. Steve Mills has yet to speak to the media or fans about the state of the team since he came back. The fans deserve explanations and the media deserve to do their job in order to keep fans informed. The media policy creates an atmosphere in which competent GMs and coaches do not want to work.
3) The infiltration of [Creative Artists Agency]. Fans are uneasy of the abnormal influence CAA wields in the Knick organization. From a coach switching agents in order to sign a deal, to the team dealing a first-round pick for an oft-injured forward repped by that same agency, to seemingly shady back room deals that allow Chris Smith to get signed to a fully guaranteed NBA contract.
We understand Dolan will not sell. We understand change may not come of this. We just want our voices heard. We want to remind Dolan and the NBA that our voices matter. We buy the tickets, the jerseys, the NBA League Pass subscriptions. We are frustrated. We are tired. We deserve better.
I can get on board with all of those things, except for the ones that probably matter most. Boycotts have been suggested before and protests have been waged before, and while the players, coaches and personnel people change, the culture and the losing don't seem to follow. As folks like Complex's Russ Bengtson and Steve Popper of the Bergen Record have suggested, the only truly effective way for disgruntled Knicks fans to display their dismay with Dolan is to hit him where it hurts, in the wallet, by refusing to patronize his cable company, pay for tickets to games at the Garden, purchase Knicks merchandise and generally spend any money on the product he's producing until he changes the way he produces it. There is an argument, of course, that even that wouldn't make much difference unless it came on an epic scale, thanks to all the corporate-seat purchases, luxury box rentals, lucrative sponsorships and partnerships, and assorted other non-actual-fan-related income that make the Knicks the most valuable franchise in the NBA, according to Forbes, despite being the brand of on-court embarrassment that is wasting perhaps the best year of the signature star Dolan instructed Walsh to move heaven and earth to procure, and reportedly pushing both said star and an at-the-end-of-his-rope Tyson Chandler to perhaps eye greener pastures.
"Rarely does a team create so much incentive for its own stars to consider leaving," wrote The Point Forward's Rob Mahoney.
And rarely does a team create so much incentive, over so long a period of time, for its fans to do the same. Until Knicks fans do say so long, solutions remain unlikely. In the meantime, they'll get together and deliver the same sort of booing outside the Garden that the Knicks have been receiving inside it all season long.
- - - - - - -