At some point last night, I fully expected Thin Lizzy’s “The Boys Are Back In Town” to start blaring over my car speakers as I ran throughout South Carolina covering the opening of the high school football playoff season.
That’s right. I am very much so a displaced New York Knicks fan that is finding new and unique ways to keep tabs on my only true winter sport squad thanks to Gary Bettman taking all the fun away from being a hockey fan (before you ask, no, I don’t have a New York alliance in football mostly due to my problem as a degenerate gambler).
Maybe it’s the Mets fan inside of me that is always drawn to the player on the team that isn’t the star, but does something that sparks excitement any time they’re playing. I mean, the Mets are pretty much a team of players that do one thing well and a lot of things below average. It’s kind of our trademark. I think.
However, I have never found a guy on the Knicks that I have hitched my bandwagon to. I was still a little young and new to the whole basketball game to get on the Charlie Ward train. Larry Johnson was probably my first, but a lot of my love for LJ comes from Space Jam and the 4-point play.
Last year, the trendy pick would’ve been Jeremy Lin. Lin-sanity washed over New York like ticker-tape in the Canyon of Champions. There wasn’t a Knicks fan in the world that didn’t enjoy riding the high that was the height of the extremely brief Jeremy Lin Era inside Madison Square Garden.
For me, and I felt that I was in the remote minority, the guy that grabbed my attention wasn’t Lin. Nor was it Carmelo Anthony, Tyson Chandler or even the ridiculousness that was J.R. Smith’s ever-changing hair-dos.
It was Steve Novak.
That’s right. From the day the Knicks picked Novak up off waivers before the start of the lockout-shortened 2011-12 season, I was all in on Novak. I mean, here’s a guy that’s best attribute is to hang out in the corner behind the arc and snipe wide-open 3s like they were lay-ups. Steve Novak was a grown-up, athletic, tall, talented-at-basketball version of me (you know, the guy in the pick-up game that almost exclusively shoots 3s).
As the season wore on, Novak started to get more playing time. And more playing time for Steve Novak meant more opportunities to hit open treys. And more opportunities to hit open treys also meant that he made more 3s at a record-setting percentage. The more 3s he made, the more attention he started to get. Once he got the attention, everyone else joined the bandwagon I seemingly built from scratch.
The story of Steve Novak is an interesting one. He’s the guy where if he does something well, the natural reaction isn’t just to get fired up. I find myself so ecstatic when Novak is on a three-point binge that I break out in uncontrollable laughter. The funny part of that is I know I’m not alone in this phenomenon. A buddy of mine sent me a text last night, saying he was watching the game at a bar and whenever Novak put up a shot, the entire place would go berserk.
Who else on the Knicks can create such an atmosphere? We expect greatness from Carmelo Anthony, so when he’s going right, we’re pumped up, but not out of our minds. Tyson Chandler is the team and emotional leader, so there will always be fist pumping and high-fiving when he makes a big play. But Novak, it’s different. Total elation is the only appropriate response to anything he pulls off.
And the best part is that anything seems possible. That’s Steve Novak.