While they are still the New York Knicks and are more likely to hire a retread of a head coach like Mike Brown or Tom Thibodeau or Jason Kidd than a coach who is actually good, the maligned organization has given fans reasons for praise recently. Most agreed the hiring of Leon Rose to oversee basketball operations was wise, and earlier this week they brought on William Wesley, AKA World Wide Wes, to help him. Both are very well-known in NBA circles and are as good a pair to start with as any in the effort to transform the team's image.
Max Kellerman, over at ESPN , is a very vocal critic of the Knicks. Back before he was trading verbal jabs with Stephen A. Smith, though, Kellerman was a fan. As a part of today's First Take programming, the producers let Smith try and convince Kellerman that now is the time to return to the fold. Embrace the darkness, Max!
Unsurprisingly, Smith's words fell on deaf ears. Kellerman went on a pretty good rant about how a Rose-y scent will never cover up the stink of James Dolan. But watching this segment, it struck me that though Kellerman might no longer be a fan, he definitely still cares. Just a little bit.
Evidence: I point to his opening remarks after Smith's monologue. He admitted the Knicks made good hires in their front office with an air of despair only fans of the worst teams truly understand, a tone of utter resignation that what he's saying may be objectively true, but it will never make a difference. He followed that up with a vehemence that came out of nowhere when pointing out the Knicks have had the worst record in the NBA over the last 20 years. Tell me, is this the face of a man who truly no longer cares about his team while he yells TWO DECADES at the camera?
Yes, talk shows like this are performance art pieces in of themselves, but something about his cadence suggests he knows it's true in his heart. Just like many a fan who retired from the job of living and dying with their team because it was too painful, Kellerman can't get rid of that small part of himself that still cares. Even if that manifests itself into a verbal tearing down of the team, its values, and its owners on live television. Perhaps Smith is right that he should just embrace it again. But nobody would blame him if he didn't!