We’ve got a birthday today. Nostalgic for some, painful for others. No matter what direction your biased heart strings guide you, it’s hard not to appreciate John Starks. He was short but he could score. He walked around with a swaggering bravado that compelled him to think a left-handed dunk, over two Chicago Bulls, with 40 seconds left in the game, in the playoffs, was a good idea. There’s just something about the Marv Albert call, the crowd – it’s momentous. It’s not about Jordan not even getting totally posterized, or Patrick Ewing blatantly shoving the guy he set a pick on. When something like this happens, you subconsciously make a mental note and add it to the goose bump memory bank. You know, when you’re surfing YouTube, hoping to vicariously relive someone else’s glory. I do it all the time with this Steve Gerrard goal that allowed Liverpool to advance in the Champions League.
But moments like these, they surpass momentary ecstasy. Something more was happening, even if it was only two points in a game of basketball. Maybe it was an apocalypse of truth – the little guy who could actually can. It briefly shed the weight of expectation, eclipsing the familiar and reminding us why watch the game in the first place.
Sometimes I think about why I’m watching game No. 32 of the season at 1 a.m. EST as the Knicks take on the Warriors. Certainly the game doesn’t matter. A win or loss may spur momentum one way or the other for a week or so, but the NBA is volatile. Everything and anything happens at every and any time. I’m a diehard Knicks fan, without a doubt. But I’m watching that game for more than just my fanhood instincts. I think it’s because I’m hoping, wondering if one of those moments will pass me by if I don’t incessantly watch.
So Happy Birthday, John Starks, and here’s to a decade of future Knicks memories being made.
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