Sports

America’s Saddest Fan Is Attending Every Knicks Game

Knicks
In spite of the team's bad record, Doyle still attends every single game—often alone. Robert Hanashiro/USA TODAY Sports

Last spring, Dennis Doyle left his mind-numbing job as a lawyer and committed to a once in a lifetime project: He would go and see every single game his favorite team, the New York Knicks, were playing for an entire season.

He ponied up $3,500 for season tickets at home and spent an additional $21,500 on travel and tickets for away games. The 32-year-old, who is not married, had enough money saved up for rent and other expenses, meaning he would not have to hold down a job during the NBA season.

While the Knicks started off the year with a loss, the second game was a big win: They beat the Cleveland Cavaliers on their own turf and upset LeBron James’s much-ballyhooed homecoming. It was Doyle’s favorite game of the season. As for his least favorite: “There are,” he sighs, “too many to choose from.”

After that second game, the Knicks would stumble mightily, heading toward what could become one of the team’s worst seasons of all time, with a winning percentage so far of .191 and a 9-38 record.

Devoted to his project, Doyle still attends every single game. “They aren’t spectacular seats,” he says of his season tickets at Madison Square Garden. “For away games, I’ve sat everywhere from courtside to the last row. Whatever was available.”

He says a few other die-hard fans sit in his section at home. They aren’t close, Doyle explains, but they are in this together.

Despite the awful record, the Knicks have managed to pack the Garden during home games. “They are still listing games as sellouts, still filling the Garden close to capacity, which is kind of amazing at some level,” Doyle tells Newsweek. “Sometimes I kind of wonder what everyone is doing here, then I look at myself and think how I could ask that question in the first place.”

The Knicks are aware of what Doyle is doing, but he doesn’t believe the public relations team is all that fond of him. “I tend to be pretty candid in terms of my opinions about the team,” he says. “I don’t sugarcoat anything. But it’s kind of hard to sugarcoat anything in terms of players like this.”

When asked what went wrong to create this perfect storm of a season, Doyle says: “Everything.” He faults the freshman coach, poor draft choices, aging players, a difficult owner and what he calls a general “talent deficit.”

Doyle will see more basketball games in a year than some fans will see in a lifetime, and he is fully tuned in to the professional league, but he hasn’t been keeping much of an eye on college ball. That’s somewhat surprising because when teams are as bad as the Knicks, they at least know they’re in line to receive high draft picks, and Doyle could have his eye on talented college players that may join his team next season.

At the time of publication, the Knicks are technically the second worst team in the league—the Minnesota Timberwolves are 8-37, which puts them at a .178 win percentage. The Knicks recently saw their record improve slightly due to a three-game winning streak, which was bittersweet for Doyle: “I still think the Knicks should tank to try and get the best picks possible. That being said, it is still nice to see them win some games.”

While many basketball fans can ease the sting of a rough season by seeing another team that they like doing well, Doyle is purely a Knicks fan. He doesn’t follow any other professional or college sports teams. “I don’t have any other team to root for. This is it,” he explained. That kind of loyalty has led Doyle to describe himself as “definitely not emotionally balanced.”

Though many would disagree, Doyle doesn’t view himself as a superfan. “I get why I’m categorized that way, but this is a one-off experience. I’m not going to be doing this beyond this year; usually I only go to one or two games a year. I would say I’m a diehard fan, but not a superfan.”

To his point, Doyle says he doesn’t bring signs to the games or own dozens of jerseys. “I’m not overly demonstrative, but I’m emotionally invested,” he explained. “Go New York,” a chant from the 1990s, is his favorite.

The Knicks season has been a lonely one for Doyle, as many friends won’t go to games with him because of the team’s abysmal record. His family is quite supportive, and at the end of the long road he hopes to maybe write a book about the experience. For now, though, he’s stuck with the team, living an NBA player’s lifestyle without any of the glory.

 
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