Being a fan of a particular sports team can be both rewarding and harrowing, and the team you root for will mostly dictate how much pleasure you derive from the experience. It hasn’t been a very fun time to be a New York Knicks fan over the last decade or so — they haven’t won a playoff series since 2000 — so there have been plenty of boos raining down from the rafters of Madison Square Garden.
One player who has been a recipient of more verbal abuse from fans than most Knicks is Jared Jeffries. They don’t boo him because he’s lazy or dumb, because he is neither of those things. They boo him because he has an unfortunate tendency to miss uncontested shots. He’s not quite the worst offensive player in the league — that would be Reggie Evans and I’ll fight you if argue otherwise — but he’s pretty awful at that end of the court. Among the 313 NBA players who have taken at least 50 field goal attempts this season, Jeffries’ .349 field goal percentage ranks 288th. If you’re not a stat nerd like I am, allow me to break that down for you: That’s not good.
And so, Jared Jeffries gets booed… a lot. Well, Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni has had enough!
“Indulge me for a second, anybody who boos Jared Jeffries has got to reexamine their life a little bit. I love our fans and I like Madison Square Garden, the arena, but here’s a guy who came back to us, minimum contract. He could’ve gone to a lot of other teams. He plays as hard as anybody could possibly ever play, with injuries, everything you ask him. He takes every charge, every dirty play, every rebound. He works every second.”
You hear that, Knicks fans, you big meanies? Coach Mike thinks you should order some copies of Chicken Soup for the Fan of a Perennially Losing Team’s Soul and Don’t Sweat the Blown Layups off Amazon and figure out a way to convert all that negative energy into something more constructive. Instead of booing Jeffries, try yelling “A-plus for effort, Jared!” or “You’ll catch the ball next time it’s passed to you in the post, Jared!”
In all seriousness, good for D’Antoni for sticking up for his guy. Jeffries certainly appreciates the support: “I’ll die for him. I’ll leave blood on the court… because he’s the best coach in the NBA.”
I can’t say I agree with Jeffries about the “best coach” part, but D’Antoni’s heart is obviously bigger than his playbook.