Lakers, LeBron Get Another New Fan After Knicks Lifer Sells Fandom on eBay

Yaron Weitzman@YaronWeitzmanFeatured ColumnistAugust 28, 2018

New York Knicks' fans stand during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the New Orleans Pelicans in New Orleans, Tuesday, Dec. 9, 2014. No team has more losses than the Knicks. Only Detroit has as many. Some fans in Knicks jerseys wore brown paper grocery bags over their heads, as fans of the “Aints” once did in the Superdome next door when the Saints were at their worst. (AP Photo/Jonathan Bachman)
Jonathan Bachman/Associated Press

Evan Perlmutter graduated from James Madison University in 2008. A few months later, he started working for Madison Square Garden in the ad-sales department. The pay was lousy. "About $31,000 a year," Perlmutter, now 33, recalled over the phone recently. "Not enough to really live in New York." But for Perlmutter, a lifelong Knicks fan who grew up in Long Island, the perks of the gig outweighed the low salary. This, after all, was his dream job.

"One of the reasons I took it was to have access to the arena and to be able to take the atmosphere in," he said. "And you should see the amount of merchandise and memorabilia I have."

But Perlmutter, who left his MSG job seven years ago and now works for a marketing company called One Line Agency, will soon be parting ways with most of these spoils. Doing so is one of the terms of the listing he posted to eBay last week, when he vowed to sell his Knicks fandom to the highest bidder. 

"Infuriated New York Knicks fan has had enough, selling my fanhood," read the listings title. In the listing, Perlmutter promised to root "whole-heartly" (sic) for whichever team the auction's winner chooses and, among other things, place a $500 wager that his new team eclipses its over/under win total, thus "ensuring I root for them each and every game." His opening bid request asked for $1,973 in honor of the Knicks' last championship (1973).

As for his Knicks gear, Perlmutter promised to "throw out my awesome Knicks trash can" and "burn no less than three articles of Knicks memorabilia."

Now, thanks to a winning bid of $3,500 from James Riedel, a 23-year-old Orange County resident who runs a YouTube channel, Perlmutter will be rooting for the Los Angeles Lakers.

"I am a lifelong LeBron James fan, and a Lakers fan of a month and half," Riedel wrote in an email. "I originally thought about turning Evan into a Nets fan for the torment, but I feel like he should be able to root for the King before he retires." Riedel added that he plans on attending the Lakers games alongside Perlumtter and record him burning his Knicks merchandise. 

"I already Vlog my experiences of NBA games so doing them with Evan is just another thing to add to the videos," Riedel wrote. 

The Knicks, meanwhile, had their own reaction. 

"We're sure our millions of loyal Knicks fans won't mind losing this attention-grabbing gentleman," a statement given to Bleacher Report by a team spokesperson read. "We remain focused on the upcoming season—with a hard-working team that is proud to represent New York and its dedicated fans."

But let's go back to the Perlmutter's public breakup, and the impetus behind the decision, because what that says about fans and fandom is much more interesting. 

In the 2,178-word description of his eBay item, the majority of which is a sprawling recap of the past 17 years in Knicks history, Perlmutter explained his decision like this:

I hate the Knicks. I love the Knicks, but I hate the Knicks. Die-hard New York Knicks fan. My childhood room is still filled with posters from the 90's, the good ole glory days. And not just Ewing, LJ, Houston, I'm talking Rick Brunson NYK articles cut-out, laminated, and still in what is now basically a museum. Pictures of me at 13-years old with blue & orange colored braces, that's a tough yearbook photo, and in a Knicks collared shirt to match nonetheless! After all the ups, downs, more downs, more downs, infinite downs, I have reached my absolute breaking point.

Still, I had questions, so I called Perlmutter on Tuesday, with three days remaining in his auction. "Why now?" I asked him. Perlmutter is certainly not the only frustrated Knicks fan in the city. But given the presence of the young core featuring Kristaps Porzingis, a potential franchise player, as well as Frank Ntilikina and rookie Kevin Knox, who dazzled in the NBA Summer League, this does seem to be a strange time for a Knicks fan to take this sort of stand.

Perlmutter disagreed. Strongly. For one, he said, the Knicks have been promising a better future for a decade, only to repeatedly let their fans down. He pointed to the team's 2010 free-agency pursuit of LeBron James. The Knicks failed to sign him and were left with an aging Amar'e Stoudemire instead. Also, Perlmutter added, the drafting of Knox was actually the last blow to his fandom that he was willing to endure.

"I was with my buddies during the draft and this was after a season where we were trying to tank and we couldn't even do that properly," he said, seemingly clutching onto the final few days of his ability to deploy the royal "we" when referring to the Knicks. "... And so we have the ninth pick instead of a top-five one and Michael Porter Jr. is sitting there, and for me he was the No. 1 target on my list of guys to draft, and I said to my buddies, I said, 'If we don't take Porter and take Knox I'm officially putting my Knicks fandom on eBay.'"

Kevin Hagen/Associated Press

Not surprisingly, Perlmutter—who spent the week tweeting his listing to media companies, many of which picked up his story—said he'd been hearing from some of the Knicks' most passionate fans. Many have pointed out to him that his timing is poor, that some of his specific basketball critiques are misplaced and that the Knicks' current future does appear to be bright. 

"I've gotten a ton of hate messages," Perlmutter said. "Some people are saying this is just a money grab, but, I mean, if I wanted to do that I would have collected on a GoFundMe page." 

He also wished to point out that the money wasn't being used to line his pockets. In his listing, he promised to place that $500 bet, purchase NBA League Pass (which costs $249.99 if you want the premium package), buy two different jerseys of players on his new team and attend one home game and one road game—two trips that would require him to pay for travel and lodging, expenses that could grow pricey, especially now that he'll be traveling to Los Angeles. 

"I'm giving a decent amount of it back," Perlmutter said. "It's not like I'm pocketing money."

The more interesting question, though, is where Perlmutter goes from here. Say the Knicks do land a big-time free agent next summer. Would he consider rejoining the team he so publicly broke up with?

"[The post] didn't clarify how long, I don't know about the long-term feasibility," he said. "For at least two years I'm officially off the bandwagon, I'm going to whatever team I get assigned to and when that team plays the Knicks I'll be booing the Knicks and rooting for the other team."

In the end, all this might be best summed up by SB Nation's Seth Rosenthal, a smart and vocal Knicks fan who founded the Knicks fan blog Posting and Toasting. I emailed Seth last week, asking his opinion on a fellow fan who decided to sell his fandom on eBay. 

Seth's reply: "I just…whatever, man."

     

Yaron Weitzman covers the NBA for Bleacher Report. Follow Yaron on Twitter @YaronWeitzman and sign up for his newsletter here

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