Lots of people are ditching cable these days. They’re often sick of the big bills, or paying for loads of channels they never watch. Or maybe they are just finding themselves spending more time with various streaming services.
I’m finally ready to cut the cord myself, and it is because of Phil Jackson.
Let me explain.
I just came back from covering the Cannes advertising festival. It’s a chaotic week filled with press events, dinners, parties, and then more parties. It’s stressful enough without spending an hour each night before you go to bed on Twitter searching “Knicks” again and again. But that’s what I was doing.
I found myself asking people I bumped into at the airport yesterday whether they were Knicks fans so I could find someone to talk to.
It felt hard being away at Cannes, while a series of terrifying Knicks trade rumors were blowing up. As if there was something I could do about it.
When I got home on Thursday night, sure, I was excited to see my wife and kids after being away for a week, but I was also deeply anxious about whether the Knicks were really going to trade their 21-year old phenom Kristaps Porzingis.
This is not healthy. For me or my family. Funny enough, my wife wasn’t so jazzed to watch the NBA Draft with me last night while I bit my nails and texted friends about how “if they trade him this is it for me.”
This is sad, and it needs to stop
Ultimately, despite intense swirls or rumors right up until the end, the Knicks didn’t trade Porzingis. But the fact that team president Phil Jackson actually thought about it, and that Knicks owner James Dolan was cool with this, was enough for me.
I needed to pay them back for the pain, somehow, and end the relationship.
How do you hurt a team? Particularly one that Forbes ranks as one of the most valuable in sports despite going 80-166 since Jackson became president three years ago?
I could say I’m not going to buy tickets anymore. But truthfully, I rarely buy Knicks tickets. And as a spoiled brat media reporter, I sometimes get to go to games for free. So that kind of vow isn’t hurting anybody.
But if I cut cable, MSG Network – which Dolan owns – loses my subscriber fee. The New York Post says that cable providers pay MSG $5 a month for each subscriber.
Take that Dolan and Phil.
It’s time anyhow. Every time my wife and I start another Netflix binge, I wonder why we keep cable. I tell myself the bundle is convenient, and I don’t have to think about it. My kids watch lots of on-demand Nickelodeon and Disney shows.
But one of the main reasons I hang on is that I want MSG Network and Yes Network so I can watch the Knicks and Yankees (the Giants are mostly on free TV). The Yankees have been good to me, but the Knicks have been abusive. So following this Porzingis insanity, what better time to ditch Verizon Fios and go for YouTube TV, or Sling TV, or DirecTV Now, or Crackle Gold Plus or whatever other skinny bundle offering launches in the next week. A clean break for a happier life.
40 years of heartbreak
For the non-NBA fan, there’s a lot to unpack here, but let me try and help.
I was born a long time ago. November of 1973 to be specific. That means I missed the last Knicks championship by roughly five months. I hear it was great. Phil Jackson, by the way, was a player on that team.
Let’s be fair. The Knicks don’t have a Cubs or Red Sox type losing streak going. But for NBA standards, being a Knick fan becomes ever more tragic every year.
When I was in high school and college, the Knicks had Patrick Ewing playing center and were briefly coached by Pat Riley. Then, they seriously owned New York City, but they were still consistently tortured by Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls. It was an endless stream of maddening heartbreak that battered my youth.
There was the time they gave up a 2-to-0 series lead on Jordan’s Bulls. I can still remember Charles Smith failing to dunk like 11 times in a row. Losing in the 1994 Finals to the Houston Rockets when the Knicks were up 3-2, with the beloved John Starks having a nightmarish game seven.
It gets worse
There was Indiana Pacer legend and Knick tormenter Reggie Miller scoring eight points in nine seconds in a 1995 playoff game that led to a broken chair in my college apartment. They ruined my graduation day by losing a conference final to the Pacers on a missed Ewing finger-roll. They lost a playoff series against the Miami Heat because of a huge brawl. The got smoked by the Spurs in the 1999 finals.
Those were the best days.
Then, at the turn of the millennium, media baron James Dolan took control of the Knicks. Since then, it has been 17 years of constant garbage and increasing irrelevance. You can sum it up with the fact that sportswriters have debated the question “Is this the worst Knicks team ever?” multiple times. There was also a serious sexual harassment suit that the team settled for $11.6 million, as well as the entire debacle that was Detroit Piston legend Isiah Thomas running the team into the ground as a coach and a general manager.
Then they spent two seasons trying to sign LeBron James and never getting close to signing LeBron James. Things seemingly bottomed out (everything with the Knicks is seemingly) when the Knicks won just 17 games out of 82 two years ago.
And then, fortune struck. The Knicks drafted Kristaps Porzingis, a lanky Latvian nobody had ever seen play.
He is 7 foot 3, but moves like a guard. He can fly into nasty dunks, and shoot three pointers. Best of all he is fearless and wants to be great and play in New York. He looks like a future All Star and maybe even one of the best players in the league if he develops right (he’s only 21).
And yesterday Phil Jackson wanted to trade him.
Why? Because he missed an exit interview. And he wouldn’t call Phil back.
Porzingis is mad at the Knicks for their directionless dysfunction (like when Dolan had Knicks great Charles Oakely kicked out of the Garden by bouncers earlier this year), and for the fact that Jackson wants to play the ancient triangle offense.
Porzingis seems to think he knows better about how the Knicks should be run.
Phil, he’s a millennial! (j/k millennials, you’re great).
Jackson was going to trade Porzingis for draft picks. Everyone in the NBA thought this was perfectly insane. Draft picks are maybes. Greg Oden was picked number one, and he was out of the NBA in a few years. Steph Curry was picked 7th, and has been an MVP. A few years ago, the Knicks had a guy named Derrick Williams on the team who’d been a former number two pick. Never heard of him? The guy keeps changing teams, and let’s just say it’s not because he’s going to the Hall of Fame.
Porzingis is really good, in reality. You never trade young talent like this. But Jackson almost did. And Dolan couldn’t care less. (When Jeff Bezos tweeted the other day asking for philanthropic ideas, I thought about tweeting back “please buy the Knicks.”)
Someone asked me, wasn’t Jackson a brilliant coach? He was. But before the Knicks job he’d never worked a day in the front office. That’s a big change! I’ve written about the ad industry for a long time. Doesn’t means somebody should hire me to run Pinterest.
Yet it’s one thing for a team to have an incompetent president. But Jackson seems to be doing this stuff because he actually hates the fans and wants to hurt us.
Yes, ultimately Porzingis didn’t get traded. But it sure sounds like he almost did (he’s got to be really excited to come back next season). And Jackson and Dolan couldn’t care less what people think.
Why put paying customers through all that?
We could all scream and say we’re not going to the Garden next year. But Knicks fans overall are total suckers. Go to any game, watch the Knicks lose by 20 and the place will be packed.
So I need to do something more drastic. I’m out completely. I’m cutting the cord and cutting the Knicks and MSG out of my life. Sure, my wife will miss watching Real Cowgirls of Idaho on Bravo. But we’ll find something to stream.
Right after I just watch a couple of the team’s summer league games next month to see if this French point guard they got can play. Well, and the Yankees this summer (Aaron Judge looks amazing!). And just a couple of the early season Knicks games in October.
Then I’m out.