If you've been reading this site since 1995 you know that I am mystical about sports. That means I see the mystery in it. I don't see things as entirely deterministic, at least not in the sphere that you and I occupy (assuming that gods don't bother reading my rants).
In that spirit, last night's game had moments when the Knicks looked like they could win, but it was not meant to be. And like the awful way the Bay Area handled the World Series of 1989, when the As played the Giants, the Knicks doomed their own game by putting Amare Stoudemire on the bench, along with all the courageous warriors who suited up to face the enemy, and did not inflict wounds on themselves so they wouldn't have to play.
You do realize that sports is our simulation for war, in a day when wars are fought by drones, and when the bodies are kept out of view, and when taxes go down instead of up in wartime. We, as humans, have a need for war simulation at least. We need to feel that our strongest men are doing battle to preserve the honor of our tribe. And a deserter has no place of honor alongside Chandler and Anthony, even Bibby and Novak -- people who give their all for the cause. No place.
Put a picture of the young fallen hero Iman Shumpert in the seat that would be occupied by Stoudemire. Or a roll of toilet paper. I don't care. But Stoudemire had no place on the bench last night.
The place for deserters is a firing squad. Would you like to say anything before we shoot you? "I didn't punch the glass with a closed fist." Okay thank you. Then the blindfold goes on. Ready. Aim. Fire.
The pivotal scene in the great movie Patton is very much like this moment. The General is touring a hospital, pinning medals on soldiers who were injured or killed in battle. You can tell that he really feels this. Then he sees a soldier, sitting up, and asks him what's wrong. He's scared, he says. Patton blows up. Get the fuck out of my hospital, he says (paraphrasing).
You can't put a coward on the bench, a pretender, alongside heroes, and expect to win in battle. It's pretty simple.