Nearly 1,000 days ago I became a refugee. In June 2005, I went into exile and left the Knicks Nation. The ill-conceived decisions of an incompetent regime drove me away. I could no longer endure the torment and the torture of rooting for the New York Knicks. So although I had over ten years of attachment, I said my farewells, packed up my memories, and walked away.
Whereas I considered myself a Knicks fan, I found myself wandering the NBA landscape in search of a place to call home. Unable to survive on my own, it wasn’t long before I found myself in one of the many displaced fan camps throughout the nation. Within this refugee camp were many other displaced fans who had likewise boycotted association with their favorite team. I met numerous Clippers fans who couldn’t stand Donald Sterling, Charlotte Hornets fans who couldn’t find it in their hearts to follow the Hornets to New Orleans nor root for their new Bobcats franchise, and 76er fans who had enough of their organization’s mismanagement. Recently, we have even had fans from the Timberwolves’ and Sonics’ Nations join our camp as a reaction towards the mismanagement of their respective franchises.
Although I still stayed in touch with other Knicks fans, both in New York and throughout the Knicks Nation diaspora, I grew to enjoy my new community. My fellow refugees taught me how to be a general NBA fan, to follow the league and watch the games, but not acknowledge the team of my home nation. Although there were times of despair where we would all miss our homeland, we were generally happy. We traded tales of former glory, bragged about our stars of yesteryear, and embraced the sheer joy of the game, all without the drama of attachment.
Despite the joy of living in a displaced fan camp, I secretly yearned to return to Knicks Nation. I dreamt of the day when I could watch Marbury, Randolph, Curry, and Balkman and cheer with my fellow Knicks fans. Alas, as long as the incompetent regime of Isiah Thomas maintained control, I would remain in the camp, left only with my hopes, dreams, and fleeting memories of days gone by.
Then, last week, a glimmer of hope. After the Knicks suffered one of the worst losses in franchise history, a 45-point shellacking by the Boston Celtics, I thought for sure I could begin planning my return. Gleefully, I packed my bags, rolled up my sleeping mat, and prepared for the long journey home. Unfortunately, it was not to be. Despite the protests of both the remnants of Knicks Nation and their supporting media channels, Isiah Thomas remained in power. Dejected, I returned to my spot in the camp, unrolled my sleeping mat and closed my eyes, dreaming of Walt Frazier, Bernard King, and Patrick Ewing.
I know there will be a day when I will return to the Knicks Nation. A time when I will have to say good-bye to the many friends I have made in the displaced fan refugee camp. Despite the sadness of farewell, however, the fall of the Thomas regime will be among the happiest events of my life. As I have planned for years, on that joyous day I will once again don my John Starks jersey, dust off my Knicks hat, find myself a seat at my local sports bar, and cheer loudly and boisterously for the Knickbockers of New York.