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Trying to score a few points with New York basketball fans on Monday, Andrew Yang instead shot an airball.
The mayoral candidate likened the improved New York Knicks, now on a nine-game winning streak and ranked fourth seed in the Eastern Conference, to an “ex-girlfriend that you root for” — but said his youthful relationship with the team was “abusive.”
“I just see the Knicks like an ex-girlfriend that you root for, you know what I mean? Like, you wish her well,” the Democratic frontrunner said in an interview with ESPN Radio. “I was a hardcore Knicks fan through my entire childhood. [Patrick] Ewing, [John] Stark, [Charles] Oakley, [Anthony] Mason, the entire gang. But then they dumped Jeremy Lin, and James Dolan just became really hard to root for.”
Later in life, Yang soured on the Knicks — and now roots for the Nets.
“I grew up a Knicks fan, but it became an abusive relationship, and then I moved on and became a Nets fan,” he said. “And I think a lot of Knicks fans can relate to some version of that.”
His interviewers wondered, though, if it was Yang who was the problem in the “relationship,” not the team.
The Schenectady-born Democrat was pressed by 98.7 FM hosts Keyshawn Johnson, Jay Williams and Alan Hahn about seeming to flip-flop on his local basketball loyalty, after claiming on the campaign trail that he’s a Brooklyn Nets fan even as he cheered on the Knicks’ recent success in a tweet.
Johnson, a former NFL wide receiver, accused Yang of being a “bandwagon” fan. He said Yang’s shifting loyalties were “kind of on both sides.”
“See, I’m from LA,” said Johnson. “Either you a Laker, or you a Clipper, man. It ain’t going to be both. You can’t be both an Angel and a Dodger. So which one is it. Are you a Nets [fan] or a Knicks [fan]?”
“I’m a Nets fan, Keyshawn,” Yang said, before plugging his New York roots.
“As a New Yorker, it’s good for the town when the Knicks are playing well. It’s been a long time since, obviously, the Knicks have been playing well,” he said. “As a New Yorker, of course if the Knicks were somehow going to win the title, you’d be thrilled because it would be great for New York. There’d be so many joyous New Yorkers!”
For Yang, his “full-out break-up” with the Knicks occurred in 2012, when after the “Linsanity” season during which he averaged nearly 23 points per game, the team let Lin go to the Houston Rockets.
“For me, I do feel like I had such an attachment to Jeremy Lin,” he said. “You can probably see why — I’m an Asian guy who likes to ball. You have your guy light the league on fire, and then you dump him for money?”
But Yang insists he doesn’t harbor any ill will toward his once-favorite basketball team.
“I am happy for them,” he said of the 34-27 Knicks. “I’m not a hater.”
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