While you may have been totally fixated on what was going on during the Academy Awards on Sunday, you can bet a sliver of Spike Lee’s attention was focused on Madison Square Garden where his beloved New York Knicks were playing San Antonio.
If you aren’t aware, Lee is as much a fixture at Knicks games at MSG as a Nathan’s hot dog. In fact, Lee has a lot of hot-dogging in him. From his baseline seat across from the benches, he has steered many rambling conversations with players and officials, none more famous than his verbal jousts with Reggie Miller during New York’s glamour days in the 1990s.
Let’s put it this way: Spike is really into it.
So it was no big surprise when Samuel L. Jackson, one of Lee’s best friends, included a score update while presenting the award for Best Adapted Screenplay – the award Lee would win.
While speaking, Jackson scanned the crowd for Lee (he was wearing purple, easy to find) in order to tell him the Knicks had beaten the Spurs 130-118 to break an 18-game home losing streak.
“First of all, Spike, I’m so glad you’re sitting down,” Jackson said. “After 18 consecutive home losses, the Knicks won tonight. I repeat the Knicks won tonight.”
From his seat, Spike yelled, “We’re trying to tank!”
Of course, the tank reference refers to the Knicks (12-48) alleged effort to lose as many games as possible to ensure the highest odds possible of winning the NBA’s Draft Lottery. That would allow them to select Duke freshman Zion Williamson and make everyone in Manhattan very happy. Especially Spike.
Things being the way they are these days, it wasn’t long before Spike’s train of thought pulled into Grand Central Station, catching the attention of Knicks coach David Fizdale.
Fizdale was asked about Spike’s latest spout.
“No comment on that part,” coach David Fizdale said. “But it’s nice to hear our names being mentioned.”
Fizdale has seen Spike at the Garden many times, even during his days as coach of the Memphis Grizzlies when it was his duty to ignore what was coming out of Lee’s mouth.
“He’s been awesome,” Fizdale said. “And he’s been extremely supportive. Extremely. We actually exchanged texts last night.”
Someone asked Dennis Smith Jr., who recently joined the Knicks from Dallas in the deal for Kristaps Porzingas, if he heard what Spike had said.
“It is what it is,” Smith said. “We’re trying to win games up here. That’s what we get paid to do so that’s what we’re going to go out and do every night.”
Let’s face it, Spike has every right to feel the Knicks don’t have their hearts in it. They had won just four of 28 home games before taking on the Spurs and that had Fizdale in a joking mood before the game.
“Incense? Sage?” Fizdale joked. “We’ve just got to get better and we’ve got to do our jobs better when we’re out there. Execute the detail, communicate, fly around for 48 minutes.”
And so they did. The win was the Knicks’ first at MSG since Dec. 1. They were one loss shy of tying the longest home losing streak in NBA history, set by the 1993-94 Dallas Mavericks.
“We haven’t won here since Dec. 1. I wasn’t a part of that one, but I’m glad we could get it tonight and give fans something to see,” Smith Jr. said. “That’s the least we could do is get a win for them. They’ve been supporting every night. It was major for us to win it tonight.”
Hey, ESPN said the home losing streak was the third-longest all-time among teams from the NFL, NHL and MLB. You’ve got to admit, that’s a bad stretch.
If the Knicks are guilty of tanking, just imagine what’s going on in Phoenix, where the Suns are 12-50.
On Monday, Devin Booker scored 20 points to help the Suns end a club-record 17-game losing streak with a 124-121 win in Miami. It was their first win in 44 days and it came on the final night of a six-day Eastern Conference swing.
Seven players scored in double figures for the Suns, who won for the first time since upsetting Denver on Jan. 12.
“Thank God,” Deandre Ayton said.
The Suns shot 78 percent in the final period, and scored 72 points after halftime. It was just the second time in 44 games Phoenix won after trailing heading into the fourth quarter. They’d also lost 42 straight road games when down after three.
”It feels like we’re out,” Booker said. ”It feels like we were in prison.” … “When tough times come, that’s when we have to be even closer.”
The Knicks and the Suns. Tank 1 and Tank 2. Man, just do the right thing, guys.