Fan is short for fanatic. If you look up the definition, it goes something like this: a person who is extremely enthusiastic about and devoted to some interest or activity. (Merriam-Webster)
So, with that in mind, who’s the biggest Knicks fan ever? You’d probably go with Spike Lee, right? He has been the most prominent fan of the Knicks for a very long time, highlighted when he trash talked Reggie Miller. Still, you would be wrong. The biggest Knicks fan ever was William Goldman.
If you are a movie buff, you will know who William Goldman was. If you’re not, here are the main points. He was the first screenwriter star ever, he wrote Princess Bride and adapted it for the screen, he wrote one of the best thrillers ever called Marathon Man; won two Academy Awards, one for Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (his first original screenplay) and the second one for All the President’s Men. In basketball terms, we’re talking about a first ballot Hall of Famer who dominated his era and influenced all that came after him.
Goldman passed on November 16th and to honor is life, many wrote how much he meant to them. One of the people who he influenced profoundly was Bill Simmons who had a long podcast about Goldman in which a story of a tortured Knicks fan was told. Goldman had Knicks tickets for decades (around 40 years) and adored the team. He stuck by them come rain or shine, and at a pivotal point in his life, he chose the Knicks.
It was April 1970. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid was dominating the box office and the critics. The movie was nominated for 8 Academy Awards, including for Best Screenplay. The problem for Goldman was that the NBA playoffs were at the same time and his New York Knicks were playing the Baltimore Bullets in a Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals the day before the Oscars. So what do you do? Your life’s work is a favorite for the most prestigious award in the world, this is a pinnacle of your professional life…but the Knicks are playing.
Imagine Kobe Bryant not going to his Hall of Fame induction because his movie is screening at Sundance Film Festival. That would be extremely enthusiastic and devoted. Well, Goldman was a real fanatic and didn’t go to the Oscars! When James Earl Jones and Ali MacGraw stepped on to the stage and read out Goldman’s name as the winner, he was back home still thrilled that the Knicks were going to the Finals!
That time they didn’t break his heart; led by Wills Reed and Walt Frazier, they won 127 – 114 and advanced to the Finals. Sadly for Goldman, most of his time in Madison Square Garden was a frustrating experience, but that goes to show how much he loved the Knicks. He was there, sitting under the basket, come rain or come shine.