Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving are both rumored to be considering joining the Knicks. At times throughout the season, it’s felt like almost a fait accompli. The Warriors could win the championship, and Durant might still feel compelled to spread his wings and fly to New York. The Celtics, similarly, could somehow pull it together, win the championship, and Irving could still feel compelled to bounce out of Boston like a rocket leaving earth.
It’s just where we are in this day and age with social media, crushing loneliness, and an inability to pause and appreciate success.
Championships are great, sure. They add to your legacy, they cement your standing among the all-time greats, and they ensure your viability as a business man, public figure, or whatever-the-hell-you-want-to-do for years in the future. But, they will never hold the same allure and promise as OH SHIT, I WONDER WHAT’S OVER THE NEXT HILL? I’M BORED. LET’S DO SOMETHING NEW.
My generation is driven by an unrelenting desire for new experiences, for change, for that deeply seductive quality of life where things are unknown and unexplored.
We’ve all felt it.
And we all know how success can be its own albatross around the neck at times. I mean, even now, you’d be lying if you said you were totally satiated by this current Warriors experience, right? I mean, sure, championships and international recognition and cachet have been exhilarating, but the thrill is over and now we need to manufacture drama in order to feel that special burn of being alive — the physical pain of living life as a Warriors fan — that we grew up knowing and secretly needing, though we always pretended otherwise.
Human beings don’t know how to handle happiness. Look no further than the biggest storyline this season: LeBron James’ abject failure in Los Angeles. People LOVE that story. It drives clicks. It drives traffic. It dominates peoples’ days — dominates their minds — in ways that a positive story never could. What would a national readership rather consume and bathe in? LeBron James passing Michael Jordan in scoring and immediately shutting it down (basically) near the tail end of a lost season? Or Stephen Curry being a general all-around great guy and dad while continuing to be one of the top five players in the world and creating a career three point shot chart that looks like a gateway opening to the next world or a scene from the movie Contact?
People gravitate towards misery and sadness while consuming their daily news. Sadness is a seduction that is deeply rooted in human history. It’s what drives us onwards, always.
Durant and Kyrie have both seemed miserable this season. It seems that they both want out. It seems like they both want to shed their current situations like last season’s garments and move on to come-what-may. And it seems, again from the outside merely looking in, like they might both end up going to New York to join the moribund Knicks.
Why would they do this?
New York feeds off of misery like a tarantula hawk wasp larvae eating its way out of a paralyzed host spider. It grows from within if it catches you.
The New York media is proudly geared towards tearing down their self-constructed heroes. They bathe in the tears of vanquished once-idols the same way pigs frolic in puddles of shit.
The New York media’s game plan is simple enough:
Step 1: Hero’s Welcome
Step 2: Everything is great, NYC is great, we are the greatest
Step 3: Everything is horrible, NYC hates you, you are the worst
Step 4: Nonstop condemnation from every conceivable angle
Step 5: Ignominious departure, endless ridicule
New York would LOOOOOOVE to land Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.
But you know what they would love even more? Trashing those dudes at the first sign of dysfunction.
Who knows what Durant actually wants? Who knows what Kyrie actually wants? But if neither of them are happy in their current setup, can you see them somehow flipping that imaginary switch and being satisfied and fulfilled in New York? Durant famously went after Ethan Sherwood Strauss for asking him too many questions about his free agency and about New York in particular. Do you think Durant is going to take kindly to a one MILLION percent increase in media being-all-up-in-his-business if he joins the Knicks?
Irving has been throwing his young teammates under the bus all season. He’s the focal point of a team that was supposed to contend for a championship but has instead been a tire fire burning through the night in a darkened Massachusetts alleyway. Does he really, really want to be on the back page of the NY Post every day?
Let’s say, best case: The Knicks land the #1 overall pick, get Zion Williamson, and then land both Durant and Irving. I mean, yes, that would be an amazing, exhilarating team. For a year or so. But what happens when James “Worst Owner in all of Professional Sports” Dolan digs his little fingers into the joists of the team building process? What happens when they get blown out in the Garden by, like, the Magic or something?
The Knicks haven’t had hope or joy in a long, long time, and they are still the highest valued franchise in the NBA, regularly selling out the most famous arena in the world on a nightly basis so their die-hard fans can watch ... Dennis Smith Jr. and Kevin Knox maaaybe blossom into halfway decent players?
What happens when Knicks fans are actually expecting greatness from you? What happens if you trip up?
New York City can be like a shot of illuminating fire to the central brain cortex. When you’re on top of the world there, you’re on top of the world everywhere. The city is expanding, ever-growing, and extending into the sky. Durant and Irving would immediately become tiny kings in a city already chock-full of power players. The allure of New York is undeniable, just as it is intoxicating.
But, just as quickly, they’ll turn on you. Can you imagine what the NY media would have made of this??
The only hope for Knicks fans — and the enduring hope for Durant and Irving if they do indeed team up — is that James Dolan sells the team to some crazy-rich multi-billionaire who is willing to drop upwards of $5B for the right to own one of the most important parts of New York. If this new owner can — like Joe Lacob taking over for the once-dreaded Cohan — transform the franchise from top to bottom? Whoa.
If Dolan sells, Durant and Irving might actually have a chance to succeed.
Side note: Knicks fans so desperately want Dolan to sell that they are literally yelling “SELL THE TEAM” in his face ... and promptly getting booted from the Garden, because, again, James Dolan is a petty, insecure, angry, no-talent rich kid who can’t handle himself, has run this once-proud organization into the ground, and deserves all the vitriol and hatred coming his way from his own fanbase.
But, if Dolan does ever man up and sell the team — and if under new ownership Durant and Irving resurrect the Knicks and bring them back from the land of shadows, if they reinvigorate the largest, most basketball-obsessed city in the country? — booooooy howdy watch out.
They’d be f’ing kings.
Success, like I said before, can be a weight that hangs over you. I’m almost curious to see what would happen if Durant leaves after this season. Sure, we want him to stay. We want the Warriors to win another five championships in a row. We want this team to go down — indisputably — as the greatest of all time. But I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t a part of me (a part that grows in power and volume every day) that yearns to see it all burn to the ground. That small part of my human soul that gravitates towards misery and sadness wants to watch Durant throw away a chance to help steer the Warriors towards immortality. That part of me wants him to go to NYC, just to see what crazy shenanigans ensue when he and Kyrie find out just how unforgiving, volatile, and bloodthirsty the city can be.
Whatever happens will happen. Either way, let’s all take a deep breath and OH SHIT, I WONDER WHAT’S OVER THE NEXT HILL? I’M BORED. LET’S DO SOMETHING NEW.