Some games make us wonder why we follow sports. I'm a New Yorker, and the only team I root for from my home state are the New York Knicks.
When I was a young kid, Patrick Ewing, Charles Oakley and John Starks battled fiercely against Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls every year. Every time, the Knicks fell short despite maximum effort and Ewing sporting all the ice packs the Big Apple could muster. They gave it all, they left all of us proud.
There is nothing more beautiful in life than the triumph of the human spirit. When somebody gives all they have and still comes up short, it is something you never forget. It sticks with you, inspires you and at times, haunts your dreams. You remember because it is so rare, even for athletes being paid millions of dollars to try.
Those Knicks teams of the 1990's never did capture elusive glory, if for a missed finger roll and a Game 7 Starks will never forget. Still, I love those teams. To this day, I have a poster of Starks dunking over Jordan in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals. By the way, the Knicks blew a 2-0 series lead that year. By the way, nobody in New York will ever forget the way that team made us feel. They never quit, ever.
Then there are the Kansas City Chiefs. The Chiefs are collectively making well over $100 million and are coming off an 11-win season. Things were looking up even after a few offseason departures. Of course, Sunday happened. The loss would have stung regardless of the manner in which it was delivered, but the Chiefs made it especially painful.
The Chiefs laid down and took a vicious beating from an inferior opponent. They lacked fire and courage. It was a loss of the worst kind, an embarrassment of the highest order.
Sure, there are much worse things in life. Loved ones pass on and horrible news is given to people around the world every second of every day. I'm writing this from a heated room in a padded seat. Some poor folks have never slept a day of their lives on something padded, or understood how it felt to be warmed up by the radiator.
Still, in the arena of sports, the cardinal sin is quitting. There is nothing more scolding than the team you love giving up and accepting defeat without an effort to the contrary. It is indefensible and leaves all Kansas City fans hurt, broken and numb. Last weekend fans came out for a pep rally and showed their love. It was flatly rejected on Sunday by a performance worthy of 75,000 canes reaching toward the field.
Growing up, I knew the Knicks weren't going to topple Jordan and the Bulls. I knew the season was going to end before a championship. I also knew they would give me everything in pursuit of that dream, bleeding on the hardwood in a desperate attempt to defy all odds. I loved that team, and I'm proud of it to this day.
Recently I bought a DVD set of great Knicks games from that time period. Maybe I'll send it to One Arrowhead Drive.