If You Don’t Have Anything Nice to Chant…

The subtext-as-text of Knicks fans’ obsession with chanting FUCK TRAE YOUNG:

Some people are just fueled by negativity.

In defense of my fellow orange-and-blue faithful: when the game gives you nothing but misery (AKA: the 21st century Knicks), you become a pathologically-miserable people.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with running on negativity, but the tendency should be kept in mind whenever evaluating fan behavior.

Which is why I find it bizarre that not a single Bocks beater has suggested that Madison Square Garden’s predilection for chanting “R-J BAR-RET” might be tinged with morsels of Julius Randle slander.

Anyone who spends even a second of time in Knicks land (bless your heart) will be familiar with the recent war between Boolius and the Garden’s trusty boo-birds. Last night’s resounding win against the Mavs is being pitched as the end of the (most-recent) battle (even when silent, Knicks fans are hibernating giants, but never dead…except in our souls), with the RJ chants a positive sign of the skirmish’s conclusion.

Now, I wasn’t in attendance last night, but I was present for the two prior games, and let me tell you: those RJ chants are directed as much at Julius as at Broadway Barrett.

It started in earnest last Tuesday: both Julius and RJ turned in stellar performances, but when the former went to the free throw line late in the game, what was he greeted to? “RJ Barrett” chants (which were probably a contributing factor to Julius lashing out at MSG two nights later). Since then, the Garden has found every opportunity to shower their beloved Barrett with cheers, even at seemingly unwarranted times.

To me, the implication is clear: MSG is making it known to all within earshot how they view the team. Namely: we want it to be RJ’s team, not Julius’. It’s RJ’s building, not Julius’. RJ owns our hearts, Julius does not.

Declaring a Civil War-ish fidelity to one player over another teammate is a questionable decision, but the Garden’s never been shy about screaming their feelings to the world.

Just remember: that RJ cheer you hear is at least partially fueled by our cherished irascibility.

So it goes.

Here’s how bad we’ve had it: lately, Knicks fans have been parroting boastful factoids about how RJ is the youngest player in Knicks history to [insert the statistical achievement du jour here]. But context is always key, people. Not to take anything away from RJ, but these benchmarks are a reflection not so much of his accomplishments, but more a lack thereof in recent Knicks history. First off, for most of the NBA’s 75 years of existence, players as young as RJ were not allowed in the league; the rule flipped only in the last few decades. And saying RJ is the Knicks’ best draft pick in a while is akin to comparing his basketball skills to my own.

Which is to say: it’s not saying much of anything at all.

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