Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Weddings and the New York Knicks simply do not mix

There are few things in life that are quite as fun as a wedding. Trust me on that one and take my word for it now since I may feel differently in December when I'll be attending my sixth wedding of 2013. The whole sequence started this past weekend when I flew to Charlotte and then drove 2.5 hours left to beautiful Banner Elk, North Carolina for the nuptials of my good friends Isabel and Joe. You might remember that couple from past adventures such as "Dave ventures to the deep south for the first time and watches the Mets actually win a game in Turner Field" and "Let's watch the Giants forget how to play football in Cincinnati."

Isabel and Joe have been enthusiastic supporters of my sports journeys even though they don't particularly care about it themselves. They've given me a free place to stay more than once and even traveled to meet me with free Skyline Chili in hand. You can't ask for much better than that, and so it was the least I could do to trek to a tiny mountain town near the Tennessee border where everyone is convinced Obama is trying to steal their guns, and stay in a hotel with limited wireless, a bar that closes at 10 pm and literally no cell phone service. But, and I mean this in all seriousness, it was my pleasure to go. All of those technological insufficiencies lent a certain charm and relaxation to where we were staying, and I couldn't have been happier to make the journey. Like I said. Weddings are fun.

You know what's not fun, though? Being a Knicks fan.

Worse still is when the Knicks happen to be choking away their season in the midst of a wedding you've been super excited to attend for months. And wouldn't you know it? The Knicks just happened to be playing the Pacers in Game 6 while facing elimination Saturday night. And guess where I was. You know it. The wedding.

Now, this isn't necessarily a bad thing. I had already begun to slowly accept the end when the Knicks went down in the series 3-1 earlier in the week, and frankly, being at a wedding was good since it forced me to keep on a happy face and enjoy the festivities rather than wallow in my own depression when the 'Bockers' season inevitably came to an end.

I could go into detail about the Knicks' lack of defensive toughness that so impressed me early in the season. I could detail my frustration with Carmelo Anthony, whose game is entirely based around long two-pointers in isolation, which is about as low-percentage-shot based as an offensive game plan could be. I could write about my confusion from hearing Isabel's family cheer voraciously every time Indiana scored despite them being from the Philippines rather than Indiana.

But so much of what I write these days and my own personal rooting philosophy is based around the delicate concept of sports/life balance. Bleeding for your team is a fun, almost necessary personality trait if you're going to be taken seriously as a sports fan, but it's also crucial to understand just how far into your life that fandom should seep. In the past several years I have learned that being a good sports fan is as much about managing your perspective as it is following the team daily and living and dying with its exploits.

The Knicks won't win the NBA Championship every year. Hell, they haven't even won it once in four decades. If I can't expect a title every season, I can't take it too emotionally when I don't get one. Considering the Knicks actually won a playoff series this spring for the first time in 13 years and won a division title for the first time since I was eight years old, it isn't so bad to be pleased with the progressive baby steps. And considering what rooting for this team was like over those 13 years, I can't help but be happy things are moving in the right direction.

Besides, it was a wedding damnit. I'm going to go out there and have a good time, J.R. Smith's shooting percentage be damned.

I will admit that as I watched the final quarter of the game in a bar to the side of the reception, I may have been a bit more vocal or outward about my frustrations than was appropriate. And considering there was a hearty helping of "Go Pacers!" from other guests, who thought they were busting my chops without realization I wasn't amused, it seems people noticed. But one needs to brush that aside when you're at a happy occasion, even if the hosts know you might be feeling just a little bit of inner turmoil.

That was certainly the case Saturday night when moments after the game ended I was standing on a balcony overlooking the Blue Ridge Mountains as the groom toasted with his friends a foot away from me.

"Dave," Joe said as he turned to me and raised his glass. "Sorry about the Knicks."

"It's ok," I told him. "I've been watching the Knicks lose all my life."

You won't see your friends get married for all your life. You better enjoy it while you can.


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