In the summer of 2000,
I am a huge baseball fan and was weaned on the exploits of players I never saw but got to know through a well-thumbed almanac. Now since the Yankees dominated baseball, they were mostly what I read of and their mystique tugged at my heart. And so my allegiances are to the pinstriped dynasty of Ruth, DiMaggio, Mantle, Jackson, and Jeter. But in a city with perhaps the most famous basketball playgrounds on the face of the earth I too am a basketball fan of the first order.
And I at first was a fan of a team not cut from the same championship cloth that the Yankees periodically, in fact up to that point they only won one NBA title and that was in 1967. But the
They were equal parts Barnum and Bailey and a quarter each of Evel Knievel and the Harlem Globetrotters. They were Doc, Doug, World, and Chocolate Thunder, and they enthralled me no end with magic and razzle dazzle in the Spectrum. They were my team until a skinny player who wore Tar Heel blue underneath his
And that brings me back to
“You’re a traitor.”
Now that snapped me out of my reverie. It was one of the clerks. Military crew cut with an earring in tow, he leered at me and spewed venom towards the most identifiable Knick killer outside Reggie Miller, “I hate that guy. You’re lucky we serve your kind here.”
The red and black jersey set me back by 60 bucks (it was still the off season so it was relatively cheap), but I had bought the basketball equivalent of the Shroud of Turin. I have since purchased replicas of his
If people can wear baseball caps of the hated Boston Red Sox (just be extra careful about calling attention to yourself when you're at Yankee Stadium) then surely you can wear anything.
I was never a Knicks fan but when they did make it to the NBA Finals, I’d root for them as I’ve always been an Eastern Conference guy. I did like John Starks and Latrell Sprewell, but that was with a lot of reservations. Honest. And so I wore that red Bulls jersey with a #23 Jordan in the back and posed by the mural of Starks dunking on MJ and Ho Grant in the lobby of the Garden. One man swathed in Knicks blue passed by a yelled, "Hey, your man was posterized there."
"Ah, I think my team won the series... and the NBA championship."
Talk about a snappy retort. The guy flipped me the bird as I laughed and walked away.
Next: rebounding for Manu Ginobili and my US Marine guards at Rucker Park