Amar'e Stoudemire was 12 years old when his father died of a heart attack. At the time, his mother was in and out of prison.
Carmelo Anthony was 2 when his father died. He was raised in a gang-infested swath of Baltimore.
Anthony Carter grew up in a poor section of Atlanta surrounded by drug dealers. Shawne Williams comes from a rough-and-tumble corner of Memphis. Shelden Williams hails from working-class Oklahoma City. Renaldo Balkman is from Staten Island, N.Y.
All the aforementioned men are members of the New York Knicks.
None of the families of the aforementioned men could have ever afforded season tickets to the New York Knicks.
In case you're wondering where this one's headed, we've arrived: James Dolan, the Knicks' owner/Dr. Evil, has decided the time is right to raise season-ticket prices by an average of ... 49 percent next season. Yes, you read that correctly: Knicks season-ticket packages are going up by 49 percent. Which is sorta odd, considering the Knicks already have the second-most expensive seat plans in the NBA. Tickets that were unattainable for the average fan just left the universe.
But that's not all. Some ducats will be increased by 173 percent -- those $330 seats behind the Knicks' bench soon will be $900 a pop.
On the bright side, $900 gets one quite a bit. Easier access to the T-shirts being shot from cannons during timeouts. Cheesecake shots of the Knicks City Dancers. A menu and a free plastic cup. Perspiration flying off Balkman's dreadlocks. The opportunity to tap Spike Lee on the shoulder and say, "Hey, I really loved Poetic Justice!" (Then wonder why Spike Lee has just punched you in the teeth.)
The Knicks, being the Knicks, are defending the price gouge -- ahem, I mean "ticket adjustment period" -- by noting that Dolan had honored his commitment of not raising costs until the team produced a winning product.
There are, sadly, two major flaws to this argument:
1. The only reason the Knicks were so awful for so long was because of, ahem, Dolan, a man whose NBA decision-making abilities can truly be described as Jordan-esque. Or, put differently: During the recent era of putridity, Dolan was responsible for the nightmare of Isiah Thomas, who was responsible for the nightmare of Stephon Marbury, Eddy Curry, Jalen Rose, Jerome James, Zach Randolph ...
2. The Knicks stink. Well, perhaps stink is a tad harsh. But ever since the blockbuster trade that brought Carmelo Anthony to New York in exchange for, uh, pretty much everyone, the Knicks are 6-6 (they were 28-26 before the deal and are now 34-32 overall, tied for sixth in the Eastern Conference). Worse than the post-trade record, however, is the on-court product. Say what you want about Raymond Felton, Wilson Chandler and Danilo Gallinari, three of the key components shipped to Denver, but they weren't selfish, one-dimensional players itching to score 30. The Carmelo Knickerbockers are -- yawn -- boring and predictable, a team waiting for one of two guys (Stoudemire being the other) to force up some sort of 63-degree-angle shot with time running out and three defenders in their face.
Alas, none of this matters to Dolan or the organization. When the ticket craziness was announced last Friday, team officials explained that it was a necessary step to finance the Garden's $800 million upgrade. Which is one of the great sports Catch-22s of recent note, considering the Garden's $800 million upgrade is being completed to make more money.
Truth is, the Knicks' decision is very similar, in execution and intent, to the NCAA's "new and exciting" (to, literally, nobody) 68-team field. You have a corporate entity trying to squeeze every last penny out of the consumer. You have the media screaming to the world how ridiculously terrible the change is. You have a fan base so in love with a product that it will do just about everything to maintain access.
It's sad and pathetic and wrong.