By Jonathan Macri
Why I want to be a part of Knicks Film School
The year was 1997. Early spring. The Knicks were putting the finishing touches on a season that saw them win at least 55 games for the fourth time in five years, a stretch of prosperity that my 13-year-old brain was convinced would never end. How could it? We had Patrick, and Patrick meant wins. Maybe not wins in June, but wins nonetheless.
The playoffs would end in the usual heartbreak, this time due to the imposition of a ridiculous rule that would later cost the Suns a championship. New York probably wasn’t beating the Bulls that year anyway, but it would have been nice to give it a shot. Losing to Miami of all teams only made it worse. They were like a cardboard cutout of a good NBA team. The Pacers employed Satan at shooting guard, but at least they had heart. Losing to Riley was like getting punched in the nuts and then watching the guy that did it drive away in his Ferrari as you lay writing in pain on the curbside.
Months before that P.J.-(expletive)-Brown-induced bench-clearing brawl, I got a letter informing me that I’d been accepted into Regis, an all boy’s Jesuit high school on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. Despite the fact that I was a horny little hobbit who would ask a wall socket on a date if it looked at me the right way, it was the most exciting moment of my young life. The reason is that I would get to commute to school every day, and that meant getting on the ferry and then the subway, fraying open a newspaper, and going straight to the sports section.
I never knew what was going on in the world and I didn’t care. The only thing on my mind in the morning was finding out what Lupica had to say about the game. No one had their finger on the pulse of the team like he did. I would read the article, then stare at the box score for a good ten minutes, then go back and read it again. It was heaven.
Over four years of high school, I must have engaged in the same routine hundreds of times, all the way through my graduation in 2001. I barely made it and probably would have been better served using my travel time to study, but I didn’t care. There wasn’t an 18-year old in the city who had his finger on the pulse of the Knicks like I did. I regret nothing.
2001 also happened to be the year that the Knicks would make the last of their 14 consecutive postseason appearances. Ewing was gone, and Van Gundy would soon follow. Allan Houston’s All-Star Game appearance would be the last by a Knicks player for eight years. Nearly a decade and a half would pass before New York won another playoff game. It was the end of an era. We just didn’t realize that the Knicks being good wasn’t all that was going out the window.
To say that we consume our sports a little differently now than we did two decades ago is like saying we use cell phones a little differently or watch TV a little differently. Little about the eras is recognizable. It’s now a rarity to walk into a packed subway car and see a single person holding a newspaper. The Daily News sports section – what’s left of it, anyway – is no longer the touchstone it was. Nor, for that matter, is any part of the print medium. The day my dad – born in the first half of last century – cancelled his membership to SI because he read everything on his tablet, I knew there was no going back.
Really though, the fact that our consumption occurs almost exclusively via the internet is masking the real difference. When everything that mattered was either in print, on the radio, or on ESPN, those who weren’t on one of the three were irrelevant. Now, with increased access to content has come a content tidal wave. Everyone has always had an opinion; the difference now is that everyone can broadcast it. There are countless blogs and nearly a dozen Knicks-centric podcasts. Every major NBA outlet has someone on the Knicks beat. Then there is Knicks Twitter, where opinions are like the Foot Clan on the old Ninja Turtles video game…just when you think you’ve seen them all, two dozen magically appear out of nowhere, ready to beat you into submission. It’s a lot to digest.
That’s why we’re bringing you this site: a true one-stop shop where you can come and get only the most important Knicks news, analysis, video and content. If it matters, it’ll be here. If it doesn’t, or is duplicitous, we’ll weed it out. Think of us like a juicer; we dispense with the pulp and give you only those glorious vitamins.
So gold star for us. Still, as wonderful as it is to have all these options, it also makes me a little sad. If 13-year-old me was growing up today, where would I have turned the morning after Kristaps went up for that dunk over Giannis? Or the day the organization hired the man who (hopefully) isn’t going to allow the rest of the league to rook us anymore? Or the night that Kevin Knox went full Splash Brothers on the Lakers at Summer League? Who is the definitive voice that has their finger on the pulse of these Knicks as they head into the future?
No one comes to mind. Is it that there’s no great sports journalists out there? I’d actually say the opposite, and a lot of them write, tweet or otherwise pontificate about the Knicks. That’s not the problem…the problem is that we live in a world where every take, hot or otherwise, immediately becomes fodder for the nameless, faceless throngs of internet users who wake up with a pitchfork in one hand and a torch in the other. It’s just easier to report the facts and let fans draw the conclusions they want. But sometimes, people want more.
This isn’t to say that opinionated content no longer exists. It does, and some of it is great. We’ll run it a lot of it on the site, including some exclusive stuff from some of the best people out there who may have something to say that doesn’t fit with their primary outlet for one reason or another, or in some cases, really talented people who don’t have an outlet. Everything we put up will have value, will be unfiltered, and will be able to withstand the court of public opinion. A lot of it will be from me.
Some of it will be anti-Knicks, because for as great as it’s been to watch them operate like an honest-to-goodness, competent NBA franchise over the last year, they will still fuck up, and I’ll be here to call it out. What I won’t do is engage in petty needling that is just meant to rile people up.
Why am I doing it? We need a quick detour for the answer.
For most of the last several years, I regretted ever going to law school. I never really loved practicing law, and started to loath it by the end, mostly because I was an ambulance chaser whose clients were largely full of shit, but also because I didn’t have what it took to be a great lawyer. I hated confrontation, which, in an adversarial profession, is kind of a problem. I realized I’d much rather be doing something that brought people together, not tore them apart.
What I did appreciate was how you have to think as a lawyer. Your job when you approach any new case is to sort through the BS and figure out what really matters. It’s the reason law school is three years– it takes about that long to rewire your brain.
So is this my longwinded way of saying that I plan on taking up the mantle that Lupica left behind – to be the voice of an entire fan base, team and city?
Of course not, because that job has already been taken…by you.
Yes, you, reading this right now…you represent the pulse of this team and you hold the passion that makes us keep coming back for more despite all the heartache. Most of all, you are why I’m doing this. I’m not trying to be the new voice of the Knicks, merely the microphone – someone who can amplify the thoughts, ideas and feelings that swirl around inside each and every one of us.
I feel up to that task not only because I’ve lived and died with this team for more than two and a half decades, but because I’m someone that will consider every angle, whether it’s easy or hard. If I’m doing it right, I’ll probably piss you off at some point, but at the end of the day, I’ll be fair. At least that’s the goal.
I’ll also pour every ounce of emotion that I’ve invested with this team into every word that I write. If I wasn’t doing that, I wouldn’t be true to myself. I don’t know how to be anything else. Hopefully, at the end of the day, it’ll all add up to content that Knicks fans deserve.
A new era of sports coverage has arrived, where your voices matter far more than mine ever could.
Let’s get this thing started.