After watching the Knicks completely incinerate the Lakers I found myself channeling Co-Pilot John Craig and uttering an iconic line from a very famous Twilight Zone episode: “What in the name of everything holy is going on?”
For the non sci-fy weirdos out there who aren’t familiar with this infamous episode, bare with me as I desperately scramble for an excuse to link one of my favorite television series of all time to our beloved Knicks team. I hate to waste words breaking down that episode but something tells me that a lot of you probably have no idea what I’m talking about.
In the original episode, “The Odyssey of Flight 33” a passenger jet on a routine flight from London to New York suddenly breaks the sound barrier and is transported into a series of different time warps. Before you call it cheesy, you’ll have to remember that the Twilight Zone was written in a time where the mysteries of space exploration were in hyper-drive and the constant threat of nuclear extermination had many people question the point of existence, so give the writing a break. As the passengers on the flight looked out their windows and saw Dinosaurs and then a Depression-Era New York City, they experienced a range of emotions that went from fear, hysteria, bewilderment, and ultimately back to uncertainty. It’s a favorite episode of mine and one I found myself identifying with this week for some reason.
While watching the Knicks this season I can’t help but feel like the passengers of flight 33. Going into this season I didn’t expect much of anything other than to be disappointed again. Just standard operating procedure for Knicks fans actually. In fact, part of the reason I started this blog was to keep an archive of my rage, hence the name “Starks Raving Mad.” I even created a “Rants” sub-section which has been pretty barren compared to many other of my daily complaints about life in New York City. A part of me does feel like I was misguided in my plans to blog, but lets be honest, the Knicks are winning and that is all that matters.
It turns out that there would be nothing routine about this season. I did think the Knicks would be okay, but I don’t think there is anyone out there who thought the Knicks we be this good. Not only are the Knicks beating rival teams like the Heat and Nets, not only are they beating up crappy teams that always gave Knicks trouble, but its even gotten to the point where I am expecting convincing Knick victories in just about every game played. This is a far cry from how the season opened up for me. In the beginning of the season my only real feelings were that of fear. A fear of the Knicks being karmically punished for ending Linsanity and choosing to use the Isaiah-like game plan of signing over the hill big names from a past NBA lifetime.
Of course this fear has all but evaporated thanks in part to the miraculous effect Jason Kidd, Wallace, and Felton have had on the team. It took a few weeks to buy into the vets, but they all have been a huge reason why the Knicks are playing smarter and winning games that used to slip away during fourth quarters. What came next was hysteria. A hysteria that reminded me of what it felt like to skim through the sports section of the NY Post as a kid and see the Knicks in first place- something that meant everything to me at the time. I feel this now knowing how much it matters to be the division leader and having every other team aspire to be where the Knicks are. During these past two games however, much like those airline passengers I spoke of earlier, I found myself experiencing a new emotion: bewilderment. It’s almost disorientating to watch Carmelo Anthony take over a game with such ease & grace compared to how difficult it has always been for the Knicks to put balls through the hoop this past decade. I’m bewildered by how talented he is and so is every other coach in the league at this point. He’s a clear leader for MVP and with the Knicks continuing to be one the best teams in the league his case will continue to gain steam. It’s great to be in first place and notch Wins, but I’m too amazed by his play on the floor to fully soak in the gravity of each victory. Right now that “We got a W!” feeling is second to “How did he just make that play?”
For the passengers on flight 33, I wish I could tell you it ends well for them. One of the great mysteries of the Twilight Zone is how this episodes ends. In the episode we never find out what happens to flight 33. Instead the plane begins to run short on fuel and the Captain makes an calm announcement about trying to come up with another route to take after an already failed plot to bring the passengers to safety. As the camera pans through the cabin to uncertain looks among passengers there’s a hint of impending doom but of course nothing is certain. At the time of this writing Melo took a hard tumble and left the game for good without much word on his status leaving me feeling uncertain about how long the Knicks can keep playing at this pace. There should be no reason to worry, but I’m conditioned to expect the worst to always happen. This is the Kicks we are talking about after all. Either way, I’ll gladly take my seat as a spectator and be at the mercy of wherever this odyssey of a season takes us. There’s no question that the Knicks weren’t supposed to be where they are at this point but who cares? Let’s just buckle in and enjoy this odyssey together.