If you are like me, then you probably are once again frantically counting down the hours until it’s too late to finish your Christmas shopping. And if you are like me, chances are the reason you are a long-time suffering New York Knicks fan is because someone close to you put this pox on you very early in life. For me, the honor of that goes to my dad, but for the rest of you, perhaps those are some of the same ones that are left on your holiday shopping list.
Going into some Godforsaken mall in the next 48 hours amidst the legions of desperate oafs searching for whatever the hell they can remember they were told to buy weeks ago is an experience I wouldn’t wish on anyone. However, the good news is that it’s never been a better time to be a last minute shopper. That’s especially true for anyone needing to get something for the Knick fan in their life. Of course tickets to a game or obscure Knicks memorabilia from ebay is great, but you don’t have that kind of coin right now, so take it from me and get them one of the great books that every Knicks fan should read.
Sometimes a good book goes a long way and with this wretched season the Knicks are having, it’s important to understand the history of how the Knicks got here, or rather, realizing how far the Knicks have fallen. Chances are you can probably find each of these in your local Barnes and Nobles, but you can also give ebook versions of these books to anyone who has an eReader.
1. “100 Things Knicks Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die” by Alan Hahn
You probably are thinking “Hey look its Alan Hahn” and that’s a good thing because Hahn has quickly become one of the most respected voices in the bloated corps of Knicks media personalities. Of course Hahn is an MSG employee now so anything said or written by him might be questioned the most jaded of fans. If you happen to be one of the fans, rest easy in knowing that Hahn still curates an accurate and comprehensive telling of both the best and worst of Knicks lore. His book is an easy to read manual of Knicks fandom that all fans should read. Whether you are a diehard fan, or new to this struggle, there’s definitely things to learn about the Knicks that anyone will find amusing. For instance, did you know the role Washington Irving played in giving the Knicks their name? What about the Knicks brief mascot Dancing Harry? Or what about the full story behind the Knicks’ infamous “frozen envelope” conspiracy that Bill Simmons always prattles on about? This is a book that will tell you all you need to know about the Knicks and one every Knick fan will appreciate.
2. “When the Garden Was Eden: Clyde, the Captain, Dollar Bill, and the Glory Day of the New York Knicks” by Harvey Araton
I’ve always noticed that some of my favorite memories of the Knicks are ones that, quite frankly, didn’t matter much to my dad. The John Starks Dunk? “So what, we lost the series.” LJ’s four pointer? “We got lucky on that call.” Linsanity? “He’s costs too much.” Anytime I’d ask my dad about his thoughts on some of my favorite Knicks moments, his riposte would always involve iconic names like Red, Clyde, Reed, DeBusschere, and Bradley, and the conversation would closed promptly. I always enjoyed seeing my dad bask in his war stories about the 70’s Knicks and though I didn’t witness those moments, in my mind that team was cemented as the embodiment of what Knicks basketball was all about. I think just about everyone takes their father’s feelings on sports teams as canon growing up, but a part of me always wondered if his adoration of the team was universally shared. Thanks to Araton though, I was able to read about this team from another source other than my father and was blown away by how equal his reverence to that team was to my father’s. In reading this book, very quickly will young fans realize that the romantic stories they hear about the Knicks from elders is something that isn’t atypical. This is a book that will help relive the glory of the greatest Knick teams ever assembled and will leave you with an important perspective on why the current hapless Knicks teams is such a betrayal to our history.
3. “Autumns in the Garden” by Ira Berkow
Ira Berkow is a name that commands the attention of Knicks fans. If you aren’t familiar with his name, it’s probably because he doesn’t write about the Knicks anymore but when he did he was a sports columnist for the New York Times that detailed the triumphs and tribulations of the Knicks with such lyrical mastery that it earned him a Pulitzer Prize. It’s not every day a sports writer is invited on to the Charlie Rose Show or even have their work featured in the American Jewish Historical Society. After reading “Autumns in the Garden” you’ll understand what makes his work so renowned. This book is a collection of his best work from over 40 years over covering the Knicks and is divided by simple sections that make it easy for all fans to find something interesting. This book is a literary time capsule that transports you the battles between Reggie Miller and John Starks, Jordan and New York, and Ewing versus himself. One of my favorite stories isn’t from anything I remember watching on the court though, it’s a story about a young Carmelo Anthony contemplating his future after high school and why college is so important to him. Littered through this entire book are some fascinating stories to look back upon as we enter 2014, and for those that remember reading those stories back on some relaxing Sunday afternoon many years ago, the nostalgia of that reliving those moments is certainly worth owning this book.
4. “We’ll Always Have Linsanity: Strange Takes on the Strangest Season in Knicks History” by Jim Cavan, Mike Kurylo, Seth Rosenthal, and Robert Silverman.
We all remember “Linsanity” and regardless of how it ended, it’s time to admit that the 2011-12 season was one of the most enjoyable ones seen at the garden in, well, decades. Think about it: Shortened season, fired coach, the Knicks first playoff appearance in years, and then of course there’s that thing about some Asian point guard off the waiver wire who went from nearly being released to dominating the league and being on the cover of Sports illustrated twice in one month. That’s the crux of “We’ll Always Have Linsantiy” and it’s something you’ll realize pretty quickly after reliving the triumphs, frustrations, and comedy of that fateful season. Easily one of the most hilarious books about the Knicks ever written, the writers in this book, each passionate and masochistic bloggers, all have a unique take on different points of the season. If you are familiar with the Knicks blogging scene then I don’t have to tell you about how passionate and hysterical each one of these writers are but it’s worth noting that this is a book that every Knick should have and pass down to their children one day so that they can understand what dad went through rooting for this team. If you want to read about the glory years of the Knicks, there’s no shortage of books to read, some of which I already mentioned. But if you want to find something that captures the hopeless and satirical mindset of the modern day Knicks fan, then this is a book that belongs on your shelf.
5. “John Starks: My Life” by: John Starks
I’ll be honest. I’m a fully fledged John Starks apologist and always will be. My dad takes most of the credit for making me a Knicks fan, but it was John Starks that really made me fall in love with this team. Yes, I know he wasn’t the most talented or smartest player out there, but no one will deny how much heart New York’s gritty guard had. You might have heard about the interesting story Starks had in becoming a professional basketball player but you probably haven’t heard Starks tell it in his own words. That’s what this book is about. He shares his beginnings from bagging groceries, to his infamous game 7 debacle, which he speaks candidly about. For anyone that is a John Starks fan, and I know there’s still a ton of them out there, this is a book for you. It’s an honest appraisal of his life, and one that can serve as inspiration to others that fight hard to achieve a dream despite their shortcomings.
6. “Garden Glory: An Oral History of the New York Knicks” by Dennis D’Agostino
You might not have heard of him but Dennis D’Agostino is the official Knicks’ team historian. What that means is that he knows more about the Knicks than you, or anyone else you know. What that also means is that he has more access to the Knicks than anyone else can dream of. This book is the holy grail for Knick fans wanting to learn what players, coaches, executives, owners, reporters, and broadcasters were thinking through the Knicks past history up until 2005 when this book was published. Too often journalists and die-hard fans are the only ones who write about the Knicks, which exclude the view points of actual players from recorded history. This book gives you insight to how those involved in the team actually feel and that’s something well worth reading.
Happy Holidays Knicks Fans. Here’s to the lottery! Oh wait, on second thought, here’s to brighter days in 2014