When is it okay to abandon your team?
I ask, of course, because of the Knicks.
I’m not really asking for myself, because I’m not a real Knicks fan. Baseball is my sport. In basketball, I’ve always been rather free with my affections. As a kid I watched the Bulls, because they were on TV a lot and because Michael Jordan. Then in the Patrick Ewing era I liked the Knicks, because I loved everything having to do with New York City. After the Yankees started winning so much I started to feel guilty about it and in the winter of 1999 adopted the Nets, who had always previously sucked, but they disappointed me by (briefly) not sucking during the Jason Kidd years. I moved to Brooklyn after college and went back to the Knicks. So I’m no model fan anyway, and I almost never go to games at Madison Square Garden, because I can’t afford it. But I still think in general terms it’s an interesting question.
Probably most of us would agree that you never bail on a team just because they’re lousy. I mean, you can, of course, but it’s unseemly. You stick it out — that’s a central tenant of what it means to be a fan. But players can be replaced or traded, and general managers can be fired. What about when the team’s ownership is inept, malignant, self-destructive, obnoxious and too flush with inherited billions to ever, ever be forced to sell? This weekend came the news, or at least the very strong rumors, that James Dolan is taking over and (probably – safe bet) bungling the Carmelo Anthony negotiations. And that Isiah Thomas is “consulting” or “advising” (when asked, he refused to say) and calling the shots and not ruling out a return to a prominent role with the Knicks.
I’m not a lifelong die-hard Knicks rooter like so many New Yorkers, and right now I’m glad. Because if Isiah Thomas returns to any kind of meaningful role with the team, I’m done with this team. How many times does he have to demonstrate that, although he was a great player, he is an abysmal coach and GM? (To say nothing of his unfortunate tendencies towards sexual harassment). How can James Dolan possibly be both that oblivious and that contemptuous of Knicks fans? And since he clearly is, why would we ever expect him to change at this point?
The Nets are moving fifteen minutes from my apartment in a year and a half. They have returned to their usual suckiness, and I hate the way they bullied and bribed that new stadium through. And yet. You can say what you want about Jay-Z – but, damn it, he would never in a million years put up with this Isiah Thomas crap.
Anyway, I’m curious to hear your thoughts. When is it okay to ditch your team? If you’re a Knicks fan, do you have a breaking point – and if so, have you reached it yet? If not, what would it take?