The Knicks have been a cruel joke for longer than anyone—Spike Lee, especially—is willing to admit: an endless procession of anti-charismatic, poorly motivated, underachieving me-first yahoos stumbling all over themselves while the Madison Square Garden faithful look on in abject horror. The team’s official plan now is to sacrifice multiple seasons (including this one) in the not-at-all-assured quest to lure LeBron James to town, an alleged B-ball messiah who has yet to win an NBA Finals game and spent his off-season failing to suppress video evidence of some who-dat dunking on him at a summer camp. Shit is grim. And David Lee has slogged through all of it with you, workmanlike and unflappable, never giving up or in. He’s not a star, he’s not a leader, he’s not even really a scorer, but he plays with maniacal passion and rousing hustle, brawling for rebounds and muscling up low-post shots all the more admirable for their ugliness. He has been the only likable thing about this team for, like, a half-decade (all right, maybe Nate Robinson, too, though the Dunk Contest doesn’t count). Trade threats have been and remain omnipresent, of course, but he deserves to stay, to be here when this debacle finally turns around, when glory is restored, to enjoy that redemption firsthand, and to watch us enjoying watching him enjoy it.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on October 21, 2009