The Finals Next Time (Between the Knicks and Me)
by Chris Burton
Little fella you’ve been in this world for nearly five months now and of all that I teach you, I hope you will always remember that #ballislife.
You will be blessed to grow up in New York City, a town that has as many courts as Brooklyn has churches. I will do my best to teach you the fundamentals of the game and I pray that you love the game as much as I do. But there is one thing that I will find difficult to pass on to you. I cannot teach you this, I can only give you exposure. And exposure to this thing I speak of, this thing I hold so near and dear to my heart, may cause repulsion more than reverence. Your mother has already threatened me with divorce if you grow to embrace them as I do. Others have asked me why I would want you to suffer like I have. But I’ve paid them no mind. Trust me son, being a Knicks fan builds character.
I, your father, am too young to fully appreciate the glory days of the Knicks’ championship years. I will show you one day the great moment when Willis Reed came through the tunnel. You will know that Walt Frazier was once Clyde and played the game with style as great as his suits.
My glory days were in the 90s when the Knicks often lost to an evil man named Michael Jordan. (An evil man who sells fly shoes, more on this later.) They also had a heated rivalry with an annoying man named Reggie Miller. This man, as you will discover when we watch the blessed game on TNT, is just as annoying broadcasting the game as he was playing it. When the day comes and you ask me, “Father, why is that skinny man so obnoxious?” I will shed a joyful tear.
There will come a time when you will ask me why my hate for the Heat is so deep. (#FIHM) I will tell you that my hate for them is twofold. In my glory days we had a great coach named Pat Riley. He took the Knicks to the Finals in ’94 and when the owners wouldn’t give him more power (power that he truly deserved), he went to Miami. In Miami, Riley turned a floundering expansion team into a conference powerhouse. The Heat would challenge the Bulls, Pacers and my Knicks and adopted that mean style that the Bad Boys Detroit Pistons fathered. My Knicks brushed them pretty regularly (Allan Houston’s shot to eliminate them from the playoffs in ’99 is my favorite NBA moment) but the hatred was solidified during the ’96-97 playoffs when PJ Brown hip tossed Charlie Ward.
The Knicks went from winning the series 3-1 to losing in a game 7. They suspended 9 Knicks in the series! 9! Now as you hear this I’m sure you are thinking, “that must have been a big fight.” And yes there was a pretty sincere brawl (My Knicks were always ready to throw hands.) but many of the players who were suspended as a result of merely stepping onto the court. Including, my favorite Knick of all time, Patrick Ewing. Ewing is the most deserving of all legends who never won a ring and #FIHM because he should have won one that year.
You may be thinking, “Wow Father, that does not seem like enough reason to hate the Miami Heat forever (not to be confused with hatred for the city of Miami. After all it is gorgeous and not Boston.)” and perhaps you are right.
I must admit my hate for them began to subside after Allan Houston hit that glorious runner against them and as my Knicks faded from conference relevance. But that hatred roars again because of the summer of 2010. A mere five years before your existence, I know son, but it is the summer of my discontent.
That summer I anticipated LeBron James joining my Knicks and bringing the first championship we have experienced since 1973. But that did not happen. LeBron would go to Miami and win 2 championships then return home to Cleveland. You will learn that LeBron is a good enough player to take a team to the Finals by himself and most definitely could have won us a championship. So I admit, I am bitter. I had no reason to believe LeBron was coming to my Knicks but I was hurt when he did not. I have forgiven him but my hate for the Heat rages on.
So what will we do? I am certain you will love this game and can see an attraction budding as you watch the screen intently as I play 2K. I will not pressure you, simply expose you to Knicks games and hopefully take you to the Garden, the world’s most famous arena. Your mother wants you to be a Warriors fan and I cannot blame you if you do. Children are often frontrunners and they will be good for a long time. Just please, promise me you will never cheer for the Bulls, Celtics, Heat, or Pacers. You’re a Brooklyn kid though. So if you end up cheering for the Nets I will not judge you, I will only laugh.