No King in New York
A Tale of Shadowy Forces in the Empire State of Never Mind
Basketball is probably in a better position than baseball, but not in our largest city. The current MLB season has been given a boost by both the Yankees and Mets performing at a high level, with each leading their respective divisions. Both teams boast a high approval rating superstar who’s been there awhile (Aaron Judge for the Yanks, Jacob deGrom for the Mets).
It’s never so simple for the city’s NBA teams, which, unlike big-market MLB teams, must work within a salary cap. New York franchises can’t simply leverage a financial advantage to secure prime talent; instead they must coax, cajole and cede little bits of power along the way.
Now, as happy superstars thrive in the Bronx and Queens, there is no NBA star in Manhattan, no committed star in Brooklyn. Not only are these basketball situations depressing, but the reporting on them is garbled. Player agencies, players, general managers, they’re all fighting for what they want along with the public narrative that’ll help them get it. So, large swaths of the NBA media are along for the ride, transmitting information according to agendas of men who desperately seek success. Why are they desperate? Because winning big in New York is unlike winning big anywhere else.
The New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets had ugly offseasons. That’s nothing new, but the way it’s all played out in the media is pretty novel. There’s a lot to the saga that’s remained behind the scenes. Hopefully this post adds context to the hidden and underplayed aspects of how basketball went wrong for New York City this summer.