Let’s assume for a second that you are actually from New York, or from somewhere reasonably close to New York that did not have its own viable NBA franchise for which you could root. Connecticut, perhaps, or even New Jersey! It’s likely that at some point in your life, during the 90s, probably, the New York Knickerbockers became, as the iconic PA announcement goes, your New York Knickerbockers.
You remember all those deep playoff runs: the endless battles with Michael Jordan’s Bulls or Reggie Miller’s Pacers. Larry Johnson’s 4-point play. John Starks’ crazy, left-handed dunk over Jordan and Horace Grant. And you also remember Charles Smith. Fucking Charles Smith. It was insanely fun, the whole thing, but it was ultimately heartbreaking. There are regrets. There’s unfinished business. The faintest hint of promise that some day they’ll get it right.
And that hint of promise, along with the very distinct possibility that your whole life will go by without them ever getting it right, is important. It’s one of the ways sports can mirror real life: you get up each day with the hope that it will be better than the one before it, that despite all the things you kind of fuck up and maybe don’t do to the absolute best of your abilities, you’ll figure out some far-flung way to get it all figured out, even if deep down you only barely believe it to be true. Maybe it’s no way to live, but that’s never stopped you before.
It would be easier, of course, to simply reinvent yourself as something else entirely—to walk away and start fresh, refusing to recognize the ghosts that once haunted you, to the point where they will cease to exist. Just like that, freedom would be yours.