With the Carmelo Anthony trade complete, the Knicks bright future has suddenly become the present. New York’s traveled forward in time, and to some fans (myself included) that’s inducing a severe case of nostalgic regret – like the Cavs fan that didn’t cheer LeBron as loud as he could have last June.You see, this morning’s sports reports will be full of debate as to why this trade makes sense, or doesn’t, for all parties. You’ll hear the same well-reasoned arguments in favour of the trade (this is a superstar league and you must acquire them at the expense of role players whenever possible) and against it (CBA uncertainty means the Knicks will regret trading young, cheap talent). The especially astute might consider how this trade positions the Knicks to face their apparent role models in South Beach (not very), and how well this prepares them to acquire another star in 2012 (potentially, very).
All those logical, supposedly impartial articles, sound bites, and TV clips, are well and good. But fans of teams are inherently irrational – what, you were going to argue that it’s rational to spend thousands displaying loyalty for a team that will raise ticket prices beyond your budget the second it gets the opportunity? – and for Knicks faithful today is the day hope stopped springing eternal.
Today is the day potential energy became kinetic, the day a million possibilities narrowed down and became one. It’s the day fans strapped their fortunes on the backs of Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire.
One of the most exciting aspects of the Knicks’ resurgence, any fan will tell you, is the way it was done. Knicks fans were consistently tricked into thinking anything could happen. When Donnie Walsh took over in 2008, he began deconstructing the roster. He sent away massive contracts and demanded short-term ones in exchange, all in an effort to leave the team a blank slate heading into the heralded 2010 offseason. Fans had no idea who would eventually fill that slate, but the endless possibilities where exhilarating. Would it be Chris Bosh and LeBron James? Dwyane Wade and Amar’e Stoudemire? Joe Johnson and Carlos Boozer? (Ok, not every possibility was exhilarating, but still…)
When the Knicks only signed Stoudemire, the framework of a monumental team was in place. But there was still a lot left to the imagination. Sure, New Yorkers knew the team would win more games, but it would do so with a roster that was built to be dismantled at a moment’s notice. Raymond Felton and Danilo Gallinari were on board for just two years, Chandler for one year, and other supporting players like Timofey Mozgov, Ronny Turiaf, Toney Douglass, Bill Walker, and Shawne Williams, were only temporary Knicks. It was like a roster of interns. Their forgettable footprints would one day be replaced by the flashy footwear only superstars could wear.
This season, while the team floundered, then flourished, and finally found even footing again, Knicks fans could still dream. Their crystal balls kept promising better days ahead. Would the Knicks add Carmelo Anthony to this group? What about Deron Williams, Chris Paul, and Dwight Howard. Knicks fans went ESPN Trade Machine-crazy! The roster flexibility and youth surrounding one franchise player, signified hope. It meant that at some point the Knicks’ still largely blank canvas, could one day be filled in with the beauty of a van Gogh painting.The Anthony trade finally filled in that canvas. The better days are here. But the cards that once held limitless possibilities were overturned to reveal two kings, Amar’e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony. Not too shabby – but no aces.
So while this trade most likely makes the team better today, and for all intents and purposes, probably had to be completed, it’s hard to celebrate when a final selection is made from a deck of endless possibilities. Sure, the result was good, but Knicks fans’ wild visions were better. Because, unlike the mysterious alternatives they could dream up for the last two-and-a-half years, one thing is finally certain: no matter who the Knicks find to support ‘Melo and STAT, New York probably won’t ever be stacked enough to overcome the three-headed monster in Miami.
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