...I ask you a question, I wanna know why
Why'd you have to make a record 'bout me...?
While working on the latest LeBron James story for the Sunday Newsday -- how the LeBronathon has conjured both intense speculation and rumors and yet a nagging need for restraint -- I felt compelled to give a call to Chris Broussard, the ESPN The Magazine writer who penned that pointed missive to Knicks fans: LeBron Doesn't Need You, New York and ask him the question you've all wanted to ask him:
Why do you hate New York?
"I think I'm public enemy number one right now," Broussard said.
Our conversation took place on Friday, when Chris was right in the heart of the city he tossed a painful reality check at in that story. Walking down the street, "feeling nothing but love," he said happily. He then headed to his home in northern New Jersey.
See? Broussard doesn't hate New York. He lives in New York.
Sure he has Ohio roots -- went to high school and college in the Cleveland area (he also played college ball at the Div. III level) -- but he says New York "is the best place I've lived in my life and I've lived in seven different cities . . . I like it here better than living in Cleveland."
Did you hear that LeBron?
Broussard, who said Chicago was the better -- and, from his informed opinion, more likely -- destination for LeBron, went on to explain that the point he was trying to make with the story:
"It's nothing against the Knicks," he said. "What does bother me is the arrogance of New Yorkers and the New York media in assuming that all NBA players, if they had their druthers, would love to play in New York. That the Knicks are this great NBA franchise that is beloved throughout the country by fans growing up and they all want to play for the Knicks.
"The Knicks," he continued, "are not the Yankees. They're not the Dallas Cowboys. Thy're not the Lakers or Celtics. And that's just my point."
Let me counter with this: no one grew up wanting to play for the Chicago Bulls until Michael Jordan arrived.
And the last label you can ever paste to New Yorkers is naive. No one here has ever tried to put the Knicks up with the Lakers or Celtics when it comes to franchise legacy or popularity. Everyone here knows what the Knicks are. No one is more aware of it.
But what New Yorkers do believe is that dusty, old Madison Square Garden (which, by the way, is set to undergo a $775M-$850M privately-funded transformation) is the best address in the game and there's no denying that the best players in the game all acknowledge that they love playing on that stage. That stage has only had guest stars. It never has had it's own legit superstar and there is a great desire to finally have one.
I'm not sure how it would go. The championship era had heroes and Hall of Famers, but really it was a team built on a team concept. The teams in the 1990s, which came close but fell short in title runs, was essentially built the same way. Patrick Ewing was the best player, but really not a quote-unquote superstar with national appeal.
Speaking of national appeal, Broussard saw over 500 comments posted on his story and he waded through a few dozen. "Most of them were negative," he said. "You could tell who was from New York."
But most of the backlash was limited to there. "I have not received phone calls or death threats or anything like that," he said.
That can always be arranged, Chris.