The silver lining of being a traitor to the Pacific Northwest and living in New York now is that I was at this game, in section 226, which not coincidentally was named the Foxwoods Lucky Section. Despite Foxwoods being a casino, the latin word for “ornate money fountain,” we didn’t win anything. They put us up on the big screen, we cheered, and nothing else happened. Maybe this is how gifts are given here in this ruthless city: “Hey, this casino has decided to honor you as the the lucky section and your gift is that you have not yet died and are also at a Knicks game which you paid too much money to attend.” Rudy Giuliani is probably behind this.
The Knicks’ perfectly thorough dysfunction at every level of the franchise makes them the most entertaining show to experience through the common methods of television and Twitter and blogs––they are a television show and they are perfect at being a television show. But the barrier of the television screen creates the sense that the Knicks don’t really exist, like we’re watching a stereotyped and streamlined version of something we’ve collectively imagined. But guys, let me tell you, the television show has got nothing on the Knicks as live theater. And truly, the darkness in the arena and respectful silence early in the game creates a very formal and theatrical atmosphere. When Samuel Dalembert simultaneously performs a behind-the-back crossover at midcourt yet also gets called for an 8-second violation, it truly feels like a performance, a dramatic expression of Knicks, filled with historical weight and emotion.
The theater also extends to the crowd experience. There really was a woman in an Amare Stoudemire jersey in front of me who turned around and asked, in that sort of New York accent, “Really?” when she discovered she was sitting in front of Blazer fans. Someone directly behind me was asleep through most of the first quarter. There was a guy a few rows behind us who shouted instructions at various Knicks players during every possession (ex: “Yo, Melo! Hit em with that jab step! Jab step, Melo! Now post him up!”). There were also the bizarre “celebrity row” segments during timeouts, which were depressingly weird. Spike Lee was not in attendance so the in-game reporter had to hype up Monica Seles and some low cast member from SNL. What I’m trying to say is, the Knicks are more Knicks than even I could imagine.
If we evaluate this performance of theater as a basketball game, it was not a particularly good one. The Blazers shooters never really got going. LaMarcus did his LaMarcus thing but never entered the higher plane of LaMarcus in which his robotic perfection becomes like watching a Buddhist monk silently paint flawless circles. On the other side, we got some Carmelo isos, some JR Smith buckets (a dude in front of me said he saw JR at the club last night and I couldn’t tell if he was joking. BLESS YOU, KNICKS!), some questionable Jason Smith-heavy possessions, but nothing too ground breaking. But we shouldn’t be evaluating the merit Death of a Salesman by the sales techniques on display or evaluating Jersey Boys by whatever they do in Jersey Boys (sing? do drugs? idk).
Lastly, shouts to the dude in Foxwoods Lucky Section 226 who loudly and derisively called Steve Blake “white boy!” when Blake hit an important shot late in the second half.