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A Letter to NY Knick Fans From A Utah…

Dear Knick fans (and Jazz fans who may read this on Twitter because it said Utah Jazz),

I head to DC tomorrow to begin part one of the three state/territory Utah Jazz tour on the East Coast (my one time to shine for all the Jazz fans who long for first person tweets during the East Coast trips).  First stop is in DC to see the Jazz play the Wizards, then Wednesday to New Jersey to see them play the Nets and then Saturday to Philadelphia to watch them play the 76ers. Given the atrocious record of these east coast teams it is no wonder that the Jazz are around 8-0 in the last 8 games I have attended (thanks also to the 140-139 OT win over Oklahoma City last year in Utah).  Obviously, not going to Boston will help my chances of extending that streak, not to mention the fact that the Jazz do not play the Knicks until March, which should be a very competitive game.  That brings me to the main point of this post. 

Knick fans could learn a few things from Utah fans.  Both teams had similar recent histories: over a decade of success anchored by a 1980s superstar draft pick (Ewing for the Knicks, Stockton and Malone for the Jazz), two trips to the Finals, zero titles and numerous Jordan nightmares (though Bryon Russel’s is second only to Craig Ehlo, if that).  The difference is that the Jazz only had one awful season in the last 20.  The 2004-05 season was the only sub .500 season of Jerry Sloan’s tenure as coach of the Jazz (his 2003-04 42-40 season might actually count as a miracle if he is ever up for Sainthood – that team started four white guys, a Puerto Rican and had a Collins twin playing significant minutes off the bench and won 42 games.  That would have been impressive in 1958, let alone 2004).  Knick fans, on the other hand, had to endure one of the most bizarre decades of any team in sports history.

Awful signings (the Allan Houston mega deal started this because unlike other sports markets, New York fans cannot tolerate an intentional re-building period, so instead they overpaid for Houston to try and maintain their status as a mid-low level playoff team.  Instead that backfired and they sucked AND overpaid), terrible draft work and the tag team of Scott Layden (a former and current Jazz employee – once again showing what a genius Jerry Sloan may be) and Isaiah Thomas, not to mention the second worst owner in the NBA behind Donald Sterling of the LA Clippers, and you had a recipe for awfulness.

The Jazz during the decade quickly rebuilt the only way they could – with a lucky lottery pick (DeronWilliams), a backstabbing Duke Blue Devil (Carlos Boozer), another find from Louisiana Tech (Paul Millsap – I have owned a Millsap jersey for over two years, way before it became cool, which I dont think it has yet) and of course, white guys (Mehmet Okur, Andre Kirilenko, Gordon Hayward).  Just two years after they lost 56 games they were in the Western Conference Finals.  But that is as far as they have gone.

This year, the Knicks added some pieces and had some players mature and develop.  Amar’e Stoudemire has been a top 5 player in the league, even if he is a worse rebounder than the Knick’s rookie shooting guard Landry Fields (both a knock andcompliment in one statement).  Raymond Felton has proven that being a slightly above average point guard and being chubby-looking can still be explosive in a Mike D’Antoni system.  And Wilson Chandler and Danilo Gallinari (but especially Chandler) look like they could be ultra-championship level role players (or in the case of Chandler a possible 2 option behind Stoudemire).  In other words, the Knicks have made incredible strides in only one season.  So what is the Knick fan response?  Is it one of cautious optimism in trying to nurture and further develop the identity and cohesiveness of this team?  No  it is get Carmelo Anthony as soon as possible.  In other words, Knick fans cannot help but be New York sports fans – get rich quick – win now, I’ll-sleep-when-I’m-dead mentality. Instead of the ten years helping Knick fans wise up andbuild the foundation they are already talking about removing some of the foundation for a flashy rooftop pool (that is a weird analogy, but go with it).  Without sounding like Bill Simmons too much – it is like the scenario in Teen Wolf trading in Boof for Pamela.  In the end Scott realizes who he should be with (and he still got to bone Pamela – win win!).  But in the Knicks case, they cannot have both.

Most Knick fans have been in a coma for so long (or in the case of their legion of investment banker exploding fist-bump fans a cocaine and prostitute induced stupor) that they forget that building a team is more than star power.  Carmello and Amar’e are not Wade and LeBron.  And if you get into an arms race for star power you will lose because Miami will always have the bigger guns.  But what you can do is take a page from the Spurs or the Pistons or even the early-mid 90s Knicks and build an identity and a team.  Right now the Knicks all seem to be fitting into their defined roles nicely.  Adding a superstar scorer and a sub-par defender like Anthony will only make the Knicks’ strength stronger and their weaknesses weaker. 

My advice to Knicks’ fans would be to take a deep breath and instead of begging for Carmelo Anthony – go get someone like DeAndre Jordan of the LA Clippers.  First of all, he is a free agent at the end of the season (that is what the Internet told me). Second, he is young.  Third, he is the second most athletic big man in the league after Dwight Howard.  Fourth he will allow Amar’e (seriously what is being contracted that necessitates an apostrophe?) to move to his natural position of power forward and then the Knciks could shift Wilson Chandler or Danilo Gallinari to 6th man, thus guaranteeing either player a permanent spot in the top 3 voting for 6th man of the year.

He is the answer to the Knicks' needs.

More importantly the Knicks will have addressed their biggest needs (shot blocking, rebounding and interior defense) without compromising their biggest strength (team cohesion).  Carmelo may be great, but he is not great at what the Knicks need.  Take it from  a Jazz fan who during the apex of Malone-Stockton days could have used a defensive center to protect the basket (all due respect to Greg Ostertag, Felton Spencer, Ike Austin and every other tall man that has played center for the Jazz during their title runs) and could use one now to get over the dominance of Pau Gasol, a/k/a The Big Llama for the last few years (all due respect to Kyrylo Fesenko – who proves that confused looking, untalented, immense foreign centers don’t just exist in sports comedy films).  But Utah has never been a place that could attract a player of that caliber at that position.  But the Knicks can and should.  Even though I am not a Knick fan, it was easy to cheer for, or at least respect the Riley and Van Gundy Knicks.  Getting Carmelo Anthony would just make the Knicks the 2002-2008 New York Yankees – a team with high expectations and no heart.  Ask any Yankee fan who they’d rather have Paul O’Neill or Jason Giambi and I would tell you I see the same differences between Wilson Chandler and Carmelo Anthony.

I write this because I have a brother who still likes the Knicks after an awful decade and friends who still genuinely like the Knicks (I mean the ones who still posted angry comments last year and the year before, not the ones who sort of ignored the Knicks for 5 or 6 years andare now back with a vengeance) and they have an opportunity that Jazz fans don’t (this is going to be me and Jazz fans as Ben Affleck and Knick fans as Matt Damon at the end of Good Will Hunting).

"Sure, we're Utah andwe can be alright with 2ndround playoff appearances yeeah after yeeah, but yah New Yawk. You have ah mahket Utah can nevah dream of. So, if yah still heeya in twenty yeeahs tahkin' about how close Amahr'e gawt to a title and you neva went fah DeAndre Jahdan, I'll fackin' kill ya.

The Utah Jazz will win a title one day, hopefully before I’m dead, but it will take brilliant drafting and some white guy who probably has not been born yet to be comfortable in Utah (we already had a black superstar who was comfortable in Utah and he brought us close, but what are the odds we will find another hunting, country music loving, truck driving black basketball player again?).  The Knicks on the other hand have something that Utah does not – New York City.  But they have wasted it and now they are ready to waste it again by bringing in the player everyone wants, but not the player they need.  Like Bill Clinton, the Knick answer to “why did you bring in ‘Melo?” will be, “Because we could.”  Teams like Utah do not have that luxury, but the Knicks fans seem to be intent on falling for the star power again instead of doing what teams like the Jazz have done with success and that is trying to bring in the correct piece versus the “best” piece.  The Jazz may have a ceiling of 2nd round playoff team (barring another African-American hillbilly hall of famer), but the Knicks, withthe city behind them can build a winner if they do it the right way.

But will they build it the right way?  Will they be content to be good, hope that that is eventually going to be good enough and run the risk of never winning a title (the Utah Jazz method), or will they get scared, make the obvious move to keep everyone happy short term – like some sort of superstar ponzi scheme?  Because the right method could win you 47 games, but if it works it could get you 60 and a title.  The ‘Melo move guarantees you at least 55 wins, but almost definitely guarantees you a conference finals or semifinals loss every year.

And one last morsel of food for thought: What does it say that ‘Melo has been Randy Moss-ing parts of this season?  Is this a guy who is ready to lead a team in tough times and sacrifice or is he an extremely talented front runner (who also punches and runs during fights – have Knick fans forgotten that?) who will eventually let you down.  So as a Jazz fan I say, “if you’re still here in 20 games begging for Carmelo Anthony like all the other dumb fans, I’ll fu*king kill you” (insert Boston accent).  Instead, Donnie Walsh and Mike D’Antoni should leave for LA as soon as the season is over, or before the trade deadline and just leave a note for their fans that says “We’ve gone to see about a center.”

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LeBron James Must Stay In Cleveland

I went to see LeBron James in person on Tuesday night at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland.  It was awesome.  As I have joked with crowds all week, “I want to see him in Cleveland before he follows me back to NY.”  In all honesty I hope LeBron does not go to New York or any other city.  He belongs in Cleveland and as much as any athlete can, he belongs to Cleveland.

The Christ-like worship of LeBron is a bit much in Cleveland, but only a bit.

The people in this city may have already crossed into disturbing hero worship, bordering on something out of the film The Man Who Would Be King (look it up), but it is clear that the Cleveland Cavalier fans have a unique and special relationship with LeBron James that has all but been lost in sports.  Derek Jeter has it with NY, but if he had merely performed well, without winning a title he would not have it.  LA Fans love Kobe, but more because of their star worship.  But LeBron is from Ohio. He has yet to win anything, but the Cleveland area loves him as if he is family.  They get angry when you suggest he may leave for NY because they don’t believe he will do that.  If he were never to win in Cleveland they’d be disappointed for him. If he were to never win a title in New York, the fans would feel bad for themselves.

Speaking of New York, LeBron should not go to NY because NY doesn’t deserve him.  Patrick Ewing was the last hoops superstar in NY (and he does not compare with LeBron’s star power), but many Knick fans (especially the corporate douchebags that flood the Garden during times of success as if they were having an auction of 20-something blond Midwestern transplants) consider Ewing a failure, a choke artist and do not recall the fact that he gave everything he had for 15 years to try and get a title to NY (literally millions of gallons of sweat) .  Utah does not treat Malone and Stockton as failures, but many Knick fans still consider Ewing a failure first, a great Knick second. 

In fact the Knicks this year have played above expectation (thanks in part to the exceptional play of David Lee – a rare white American star in the NBA – but who the Knicks have continued to portray as a scrappy hustler, in line with typical white stereotypes), but many Knick fans are waiting for next year to show their support when they get star power (seriously NY is starting to feel more like the stereotype that LA has owned for so long – the sporting event is not as important to people as the event surrounding the sport).  That is what the Yankees organization banked on when they started selling $2500 dollar tickets to Yankee Games: that New York, a city renowned for its grit and character was actually just becoming another Los Angeles (it is – if I see one more salad place open up with a one word name – “chop’t,” “toss’d,” “crisp” I am going to go postal.  These places may very well be in other cities, but they are starting to feel uncomfortably appropriate in NYC).  Well, thanks to the economy it turns out NY was not quite ready for $2500 tickets, but $1250 tickets were not so bad.  And the addition of LeBron will just further push out many Knick fans who can probably barely afford pre-LeBron ticket prices.

However, Cleveland is the real reason for LeBron to stay.  He is to Cleveland what General Motors is to Detroit.  If he starts to pack up I feel like it will devastate the city.  The pre-game theatrics at the Cavs game included incredible movies and pyrotechnics for God’s sake!  I have been to 6 NBA arenas (not yet to Mecca in Salt Lake City) and these were by far the best I have ever seen (though the Bulls’ intros in the 90s are untouchable, as far as I am concerned, for theatrical originality, culminating with the 6’6″ guard from Nooooorth Caaarolinaaa…” 

There have also been rumors that Nike, in light of Tiger Woods’ sexscapades, was encouraging LeBron to go to New York so that they could have Kobe and LeBron on the coasts and build up that campaign further to stem some of the losses that Tiger may/will incur.  It is bad enough that politicians are all owned by corporations, but now athletes are being dictated to by them as well?  I would love to have LeBron tell the owner of the Knicks and any other big market team a la Michael Corleone in Godfather Part II: “We are all part of the same hypocrisy Mr. Dolan, but don’t think that that extends to my family.”

Because Cleveland is like LeBron’s family.  In fact, Cleveland is like LeBron’s wife and children that have stood by him as he built his reputation and skills and career.  They have done everything to make him happy.  If he goes to New York it will be like he is leaving his family for the hottest of the many of the gold digging tramps that roam the clubs and high society functions of New York.  Although Bill Simmons, ESPN’s “The Sports Guy” likes to call Baron Davis Teen Wolf, for this discussion I would like to call LeBron Teen Wolf.  And he has a choice – he can date Boof, the cute, loyal and real person and be a success in life and as a person, or he can go for Pamela Wells, the blond who has emerged only after the onset of Teen Wolf’s new found success.  NYC has enough guys that would go for Pamela Wells – LeBron should do the right thing for everyone and stay with Boof.  But if he leaves, it falls on his doorstep and he will have killed one of the last real fairy tales in sports.

LeBron in NYC. The lesson from Teen Wolf - stay with Boof, stay in Cleveland.
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Thankful List

This site is usually saved for gripes, but today is a today for being thankful so after some reflection (family, health, etc. obviously) here are the things I am thankful for in no particular order:

1) My Obama impression.  It is not my favorite bit or part of my stand up, but I like Jimmy Chitwood in Hoosiers I do feel like my Obama impression is what could hit the metaphorical winning shot for me in my comedy career.  Of course even if it makes it big, my comedy career will still be the equivalent of a hick in Indiana.  But like money to an ugly man or big breasts and loose morals to a woman I think Obama will get my stand up going places faster than if I was without it.

Me economic recovery is based solely on how long he stays in office.
Me economic recovery is based solely on how long he stays in office.

2) The New York Knicks.  As readers of this blog know I am one of a handful of Utah Jazz fans (22 years and counting) outside of the state of Utah or the Mormon faith.  The Jazz have been a disappointment this year, but the New York Knicks have been nothing short of a disgrace and thanks to ramifications of the trade for Stephon Marbury 6 years ago the Knicks’ first round pick (most likely a top 5 pick) will go to the Jazz.

Dear NY Knicks, Thanks.  Love, Utah Jazz
Dear NY Knicks, Thanks. Love, Utah Jazz

3) My girlfriend.  If only for buying me Adam Lambert’s new CD (and apparently a point on the Kinsey scale) and saving me from one of the more emasculating purchases I could make.  I made no secret of my enjoyment of his American Idol performances and although the album is way too much Lady Gaga-light and not enough Steven Tyler/Freddie Mercury/David Bowie as it should be, no gift has ranked higher on the “it’s the thought that counts” scale, except for her purchase of a Paul Millsap game jersey for me last Christmas.   And a bonus to her is that if in some alternative universe I pull a Sal from Mad Men, she can say, “Dammit, I should have known when he was singing along to that Adam Lambert song.”

Yes, that Adam Lambert is quite the singer.  Wait, you're firing me Don?  What for? A straight man can't like Adam Lambert?
Yes, that Adam Lambert is quite the singer. Wait, you're firing me Don? What for? A straight man can't like Adam Lambert?

Note – this was all conceived before Lambert dragged men on leashes, face-fu-ked and tongue raped other men on the American Music Awards.  While I appreciate his stance that there is a double standard by the heterosexual world concerning lesbians and gay men making out, it was a bit much.  And it detracts from his considerable talent.  Add another Kinsey point. Fu-k.

4) The people running shi*ty open mics, the people who are not taking advantage of struggling, new, or desperate comics and the people who run decent shows for free in the city.   Like a house of worship, the communal strength of the good people trying to do good things in and with comedy in NYC (and elsewhere) make it easier to keep following a tough dream.  So thanks to all you people as well.  To those who are manipulating or taking advantage of even one comic, go fu-k yourselves.

For all my complaints about the establishment in comedy, there are a lot of funny and hard working people making it tolerable.
For all my complaints about the establishment in comedy, there are a lot of funny and hard working people making it tolerable.
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Yankee To Philly

Last night was a perfect storm of comedy, sports and the the thing that those two forms of entertainment have served me steadily over the years, disappointment.

At 7 pm I was on stage at Comix as the warm up comedian for 12 Angry Mascots, a fun show that features stand up, sketch comedy and interviews with comedians and local pro athletes.  Last night featured the New York Jets’ Darrelle Revis and the Duke Alum/NY Knicks’ Chris Duhon.  Of course my Jets fan friends (including one who wears a Revis jersey every Sunday), my Duke alum friends and NY Knicks fan friends did not make the show, which moves them ever  closer to my prognostication  that my friends will one day accept an invitation to be gang raped if the only other option left to them is to attend one of my shows (noted for my Michael Jordan-esque Emmy acceptance speech sometime in the next decade).  Sh*theads.

Possibly the only way left for me to get certain friends to a show.
Possibly the only way left for me to get certain friends to a show.

When I went backstage before the show I saw something that was bizarre at the backstage of a  comedy show, attractive women.  Like attractive flies to athletic sh*t, nice looking women just find out where athletes are, even if it takes them to, yikes, comedy clubs.  It dawned on me that for pro athletes like Revis and Duhon, they probably have to actively decide NOT to get laid when they go out for a night.  You know, the way a comic has to decide whether to buy a chocolate milk and walk home from an open mic or save the money for Metro card money and have a pleasant bus ride home.  Same sort of thing.

So I did my set to warm up the crowd.  I have not emceed a real show in a while and I had forgotten how cold a crowd can be when you get out there.  Material went over well – my targets were LeBron James’ oldness (Morgan Freeman going to play him as a high school senior in a biopic), racism in baseball and President Obama (per usual).  I was pretty happy with it, but there was no time to gloat or see if I could hang with Revis because it was off to Philadelphia for a show at the world famous comedy venue, JD McGillicuddys.

If he's not busy playing my dad in my biopic he could probably play LeBron James as a high school senior.
If he's not busy playing my dad in my biopic he could probably play LeBron James as a high school senior.

As I got on my Amtrak I saw that AJ Burnett had staked a 4-0 lead to the Angels.  I furiously munched peanut M&Ms and listen to the angriest Jordin Sparks song I could find on my iPod in response. 

I arrived at JD McGillicuddys in plenty of time before my set so I enjoyed some ice waters and watched the Yankees make an awesome 7th inning comeback.  Fortunately, before I lost my semi-depressed delivery the Yanks gave the lead back to the Angels.  Showtime.

Did about 25 minutes where almost everything worked (including some new bits about yelling at people in elevators and the first prison rapist), but I have never blindsided a crowd more than with a new bit that is simply called “The Terminator.”  Might need some tweaking, but it sort of veers from Greg Giraldo (my favorite comedian and the type I hope to be some day, minus the stint in rehab) into more Jim Norton (comic I really like, but who is a little to the dirty/blue side of me, but who sort of inspired me to take some darker chances with my material).   Then after the set I watched Nick Swisher pop out with the bases loaded I binge drank two beers.

The night ended with the comics crashing at Luke Cunningham’s mother’s house (because comedy, once again, is not rock and roll or professional athletics, which did not stop me from trashing the guest room).  I thought about sleeping in the train station for the night, just so I could truthfully include a The Pursuit of Happyness moment in my biopic, but opted against it.  We all got a solid 4 hours sleep before catching the 7:07 am SEPTA/NJ Transit train from Philly to NY, also known as the “My fu-king spouse insists we live in Philly, even though I work in New York” express.

All in all a very fun trip.  And it was a reminder that I could turn more of a profit if I were a homeless man who alowed frat guys to kick him in the nuts for $20 a pop.

Finally things are looking up for me - I used to be a comedian.
Finally things are looking up for me - I used to be a comedian.

Next week I will have a big show in NYC Tuesday or Wednesday (unknown yet) and then I am in Boston October 30-31st headlining Tommy’s Comedy Lounge – hope you can make it.