on 23 May 2012
But to understand the importance of Latrell, and the feelings he evokes, one must go not just to the videotape but to the mood of the franchise, and the city, in 1999. I remember meeting with a friend a few weeks into the new millennium, a few months before the bottom fell out of the dot-com boom. The Knicks’ season was underway. Ewing was back. Sprewell, already canonized, was leading. To say that he had rehabilitated his image from the choking incident is to miss the point. A lot of people liked him for it. It was a breathtaking act of defiance, and it fit the mood of the city at the time. My friend worked at a Silicon Alley start-up. I had gone to see him for advice about a Web site. He listened to me politely. When I was finished talking he leaned forward with a gleam in his eye, as though he was going to impart some deep bit of wisdom. “Choke the coach,” he said matter-of-factly. He repeated it about ten times, pounding his fist, getting to his feet, getting louder each time. It reminded me of the song “Alice’s Restaurant,” when everyone starts jumping around yelling, “I want to kill!” He wasn’t even a basketball fan.