Okay, stop laughing. Seriously. I've actually wondered about this.
Here's the thing: Did you see the Boston Red Sox fans when the Sox won the World Series? Did you see that kind of uninhibited joy? And did you hear what many of them said? They claimed that it was all worth it for that moment; all the suffering and agonizing for, in many cases, a lifetime were suddenly worth it. Assuming these people are not lieing, imagine you could pick a team that looks like they are beginning a long stretch of misery and then root for them until they right the ship. You'd get o have that moment. Doesn't this plan seem to make sense?
The Knicks are a team that looks to be starting such a stretch. Their players are old and highly overpaid, but the city refuses to enter a period of rebuilding so they keep paying out the nose for a team that is perpetually advertised as being better next year. Of course, it isn't. It just gets worse. Also, they went out and got a coach, Larry Brown, with a reputation for two things. He turns teams around, and he leaves dramatically and creates bitterness. NY made a bet that he'd do the former, and got only the latter. Then, to add insult to injury, they promote a guy who is developing a reputation for incompetence that's quickly dwarfing how impressive he was as a player. I was an Isaiah Thomas fan once upon a time. My folks raved about seeing him play for Indiana gainst the Fighting Illini, and I loved watching him play with the Pistons. Since then I've enjoyed him for the exact opposite reasons. As a player he was smart and effective. In management he's been stupid and worse than worthless. The worst guy in your fanatasy league could run a team more effectively. I've enjoyed reading all the one-liners about his bone-head moves, and I've made a handful myself. Now he's the coach. How could this possibly end well?
So here's my prediction: the Knicks won't get better. They may win a few more than last season, but not enough to satisfy New Yorkers. So they'll fire Thomas and keep the expensive, over-rated players. They'll bank on a coach turning the team around. That poor sap will fail, and they'll do it again. Maybe the team will eventually go through an active rebuilding preiod, but it will probably come about slowly, through attrition, and bad trades will make that process even longer. A rookie who could have real potential won't develop in a New York minute and they'll trade him for another old, overpaid guy. You'd think this would go one forever, but it won't. New York will overcome its imatience with it's greatest asset: Money. They'll finally get sick of losing teams a buy themselves a good one. Let's call it the Steinbrenner Solution. And it will work, and long suffering fans will get their championship. They'll say it was worth it all along. Shouldn't I consider taking part in that?
I'm half-tempted. Stephon Marbury helps, not because I think he's a great player, but because I appreciate his latest off-court move. Providing low cost sneakers is actually a big deal. I know the whole shoe-worshiping culture is silly, but kids really do kill each other for shoes. On a less dramatic scale many poor kids face mockery becase they can't drop two-hundred bucks on shoes they'll outgrow in a year. Cheaps kicks with street cred really are socially important, and I appreciate the fact that Marbury gets that.
But it not enough. Maybe I've already made too many cracks about Thomas' player moves to start rooting for him now. Maybe the sexual harassment suit against him has soured me further; a bumbling idiot can be lovable, but a fool who's a lech just isn't. Maybe it's the fact that too many of the over-paid, over-rated old guys still have egos that dwarf the number of wins they can actually pull off.
No, when it comes down to it, I'm just too much of a fair-whether fan to root for a team like New York. I'd root for 'em for a while, and then, the season before they get it together, I'd jump ship.
Instead, I'll stick with the only team that had a worse record than the Knicks last year. That'd be our local boys, the Portland Trailblazers. They offer the same alluring promise of a long spell without a championship, but they're even better. Why? Because, lacking the means to a Steinbrenner Solution, it's entirely possible that they will never win a championship for the rest of my life.
If they do, you can guess what I'll say. "It's all been worth it."