Things are going pretty well for Desus and Mero right now. Well, as anyone who has followed along with their careers over the years can tell you, the pair are as good as any at having fun with just about anything they do. But even beyond that, there are plenty of things that are making them happy amid all the weirdness in the world right now.
The pair are well-documented fans of the New York Knicks, which will enter the NBA’s All-Star break at 19-18, good for fifth place in the Eastern Conference. The team is the surprise of the season so far this year, getting spurred on by the individual brilliance of All-Star selection Julius Randle and head coach Tom Thibodeau’s tough, hard-nosed approach to basketball. The duo, like all Knicks fans, have been starved for a ray of hope to come from Madison Square Garden, and that hunger has been satiated in a big way so far this year.
The two are also parlaying their ability to be good at, well, most things they do into hosting an awards show, teaming up with Gatorade and taking the reins for this weekend’s Bolt24 Real Star Awards. What awards will they be giving out? Well, they couldn’t tell us most of them, but Mero made a promise: these are “fire awards.”
Dime caught up with the pair to discuss the Knicks, taking the various punches that come with Knicks fandom, why the Nets are “carpetbaggers,” and of course, their partnership with Gatorade, which will become clear in about two seconds.
I think the obvious place to start is how has this season been as Knicks fans?
Mero: HOOOOO HOOOO HOOOO HOOO, BABY. Refreshing, like a long sip of Bolt24.
Desus: Well-played! Well-played!
Mero: There you go! All the vitamins involved, all the electrolytes, we’re feeling refreshed and revived and great. For real, though.
Desus: We joke, but he’s 100 percent right. If you think about, to keep the analogy going, Knick fans have been dehydrated for quite some time.
Mero: For real.
Desus: I mean, the last energy drink we had was one called Linsanity, so now, we are back. We can actually check the standings and not be scared, we’re hopelessly optimistic. We’re using the forbidden P-word,”playoffs.” So you know, we’re having a good time, man. It’s a great time to be a Knick fan.
Mero: It’s been a while since I’ve had to use “the Knicks covered, so they won” excuse, the moral victory excuse. It feels like a really good time to be a Knicks fan, hovering around .500.
In your own words, what happens in New York City when the Knicks are good? Because, I’m from New Jersey, and I don’t think people understand how the Knicks are the one team that unites the entire city when they’re good.
Desus: Absolutely. And it’s just one of those thing where even if you’re … the Knicks are basically the default team. Like, if you don’t watch basketball, you don’t follow any sports, but you’re from New York, you’re like, “Oh, I’m a Knick fan.” Or you do the thing New Yorkers do where if the Knicks get in the playoffs, all of a sudden, you start watching, you start rooting for them, you start cheering for them.
So it’s a natural team for New York, it’s an established team, and New Yorkers love this team. And now you see it on the back of the Daily News, on the back of the New York Post, good news about the Knicks, and it’s raising the hopes and spirits in the city right now, especially when the city really needs it, because the city got really hit hard by COVID, and you know, just a little bit of light at the end of the tunnel is helping people get through it.
Mero: Oh, man, it’s such a beautiful thing. Because people tell us all the time, “Hey guys, yo, your guys show, your podcast, the stuff you guys put out, it gives me a little bit of respite from all this wild stuff that’s going on.” And, like, the Knicks are that for us, right now. Watching the Knicks be up 20? In the fourth quarter? You’re like, “Yo! Let’s go!”
Desus: I mean, they might blow it and have to only win by two, but it still feels good.
Mero: Still’s a W.
Desus: A win is a win.
When was the moment that it dawned on you guys that this team is different, that it’s not just the kind of Knicks team that we’ve seen in the past where they have a nice little stretch but you know they’re gonna hit that bump and then the Knicks happen.
Mero: It’s really Thibs, man. Thibs, and the roster’s so young. Thibs is an NBA coach, but he’s like a college coach in his brain. He’s really like, “Yo, I don’t care if you’ve got 35 points, if you blow this defensive assignment, I’m yanking you.” Everybody bought in, I feel like the average age on the roster is like 17 and a half.
Desus: Super young.
Mero: That’s exactly what they need, a real coach that’s gonna be like, “Yo, this is a system, we’re all buying in, don’t worry about minutes, just play hard and success will come.”
Desus: Also, very early in the season, I think probably the first game, every Knick fan was like, “Wow, they are doing ball movement, something we have not seen for how many seasons with the Knicks?” The Knicks, what was it, pass the ball, you just hold the ball until there’s like five seconds left on the shot clock and chuck it up, or just keep passing it around, no one has it. Now they’re running plays, just seeing that, you knew this team was going to be different. You knew this team, Thibs was doing his thing, and it was a whole new day in the Knicks organization.
Mero: Listen, I don’t wanna be hyperbolic, but like, yo, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Skyhook, Immanuel Quickly floater, same thing, right there. Unstoppable move, works every time.
Desus: Also, shout out to our guy Obi Toppin. He’s out there doing big things, it was a big pickup when we got him for the Knicks. Also, you know, to parallel, he’s gonna be one of the people in the Bolt24 Real Star Awards. That right there is cool because we’re New Yorkers, he’s a New York Knick, you know the vibes, bro. You gotta throw him an award real quick, throwing some of our friends awards, Sue Bird, it’s gonna be litty.
The story I always tell whenever I tell someone how starved New Yorkers were for a good Knicks team is that I went to a game in 2015 where they lost to the Hornets by 28 and Quincy Acy got MVP chants because he played hard. Do you guys have any stories like that where it’s just Knicks fans will fall in love with anyone?
Desus: Bro. Bro, come on.
Mero: Ron Baker! Ron Baker!
Desus: First of all, I wanna let you know, I was probably at that game. I went through the Quincy moment. But yeah, like he said, Ron Baker, I own a Ron Baker jersey.
There we go.
Desus: If you wanna know how dysfunctional Knicks fans are. I was at that first Jeremy Lin game and I remember, we were just chanting, we just wanted him to play. The Knicks always have that one player that…
Mero: 12th guy on the bench.
Desus: You have no chance of him being good, so you’re like, “Yo, we’re already losing, let’s see him play.” And Lin came in, it changed everything for a couple weeks. I was there for when Melo set the scoring record against Charlotte, so many Knick memories. But yeah, we Knick fans love to give anyone an MVP chant for the littlest thing. We gave Doug Christie an MVP chant. Doug Christie!
Mero: Doug Christie, fam.
Desus: Come on!
Mero: Yo, I’m out here publicly comparing Julius Randle to LeBron James with no sarcasm, no irony whatsoever. I’m like, yo, Julius Randle? LeBron James? Same thing. Same court vision, all that.
Desus: Just getting everyone on Twitter upset, I love it.
I wanted to ask about the Nets, because I think non-NY people will say there’s Yankees/Mets, there’s Jets/Giants, there’s Rangers/Islanders, Knicks/Nets have to be part of that. But I’ve never gotten that sense as someone from the tri-state area that Knicks fans view the Nets as anything other than “the team that came to our city,” what about you guys?
Desus: Literally, that’s what it is.
Mero: The little brother team.
Desus: It’s one of those things where Nets fans are like, “We’re your rivals.” And we’re like, no you’re not. We’re chillin over here, because it’s just like they literally just moved to Brooklyn, they’re still figuring out how to ride the train, the Knicks are established. Us Knick fans are invested in the Knicks — we’ve had so many losing seasons and that’s what New York is about. New York is not about being a carpetbagger and getting quick success, you gotta earn your keep here. You have to prove that you can make it here, like Frank Sinatra said.
So, it’s never seen as a rivalry. Every now and then we’ll joke, “Oh, it’s a rivalry,” whatever, but Knick fans, if the Nets win, we don’t care. You go on the timeline, if the Knicks win, it’s taking over everything, everyone’s reporting on it, ESPN is like, “The Knicks are great this year!” Meanwhile, the Nets have three superstar players, they’re barely winning some games, and it’s not as hyped as everyone thought it was gonna be. That’s because when the Knicks are good, everyone benefits from it in the NBA, and that’s what people wanna see.
Mero: And it’s like what Desus was saying, when the Knicks do something good, it’s like, that’s what they report on. That’s how the media is covering the Knicks and the Nets right now — the Knicks are like, wow, the Knicks are overperforming! They’re performing beyond expectations! And with the Nets, it’s like, they need help defensively, they have no interior defense, they need perimeter defenders, they’re very thin on the bench, blah blah blah blah blah, you know what I mean? As a Knicks fan, it’s kind of, like, ha ha ha!
Desus: It’s also cause the Nets have set the bar so high. If they do anything less than a championship this season, they fail. Meanwhile, all the Knicks have to do is get to the playoffs and we’re gonna have a parade. What team you wanna be on?
What do you guys have going on with Gatorade?
Desus: Oh yeah, baby! We are hosting the first-ever Bolt24 Real Star Awards, it’s an awards show honoring the realest talent in basketball. But it’s Bodega Boys-style, so it’s a hot, fun mess. You guys are gonna enjoy it, you’re gonna be like … if you were worried, you’re like, “Desus and Mero are working with Gatorade and Bolt24, they sold out,” wait til you see this. No we did not.
Desus: This is authentic, sucio boy, you’re gonna enjoy it. Bolt24 did their thing, they got us talent, we’re gonna be giving awards out to athletes, but not, like, regular awards.
Mero: Not, like, corny awards like most points scored in a game. Fire awards. We’re not even gonna tell you what it is.
Desus: Here’s one: Who’s most likely to wear a sweatsuit to a wedding?
Mero: There you go.
Desus: Someone’s gonna win that award.
I mean, Carmelo once wore a bathrobe to a bodega, so.
Desus: We can’t say anything!
Mero: We can’t reveal the winners!
I respect it.
Desus: Shout out to Bolt24, cause we’re drinking it through the whole awards show, it’s delicious, they’ve got a lot of flavors. My favorite is Watermelon Strawberry.
Mero: I bang with Cherry Lime, got mad vitamins, A, C, know what I’m sayin? Mad antioxidants, all that good stuff. It was mega hydrating. It was so hydrating to the point that we were like, “Yo, we gotta go to the bathroom, like, right now, cause we’re not athletes.”
Desus: But if did that to our washed bodies, imagine what it could to do if you’re an athlete.
The coolest thing is, if you wanna see this show, it’s gonna be on Instagram Live on our respective social handles, so either go to desusnice at Instagram, or thekidmero on Instagram, Saturday, March 6 at 7 p.m. Eastern, it’s gonna be right there. Special guests, I can name a couple: Damian Lillard, Seth Curry, Obi Toppin, Tacko Fall, Sue Bird, Robin Lopez, some surprise guests.
Mero: Some musical performances. It’s a real, legit award show.
Desus: It’s gonna be great.