It wasn’t that long ago when the United States was facing an extraordinary financial disaster. The collapse of the banking industry via the mortgage crisis left millions destroyed and unemployed. The banks and auto industry received bailouts late in 2008, and the country was able to recover thanks to those bold pieces of economic policy.
But are we giving enough credit to Amar’e Stoudemire and the 2010 New York Knicks for saving America?
In a piece for The Players’ Tribune that discusses his NBA retirement and signing with Hapoel Jerusalem, Amar’e drops this bombshell:
Everyone was going to our games. And if they couldn’t go to the games, they were going to bars to watch them. People were enjoying themselves before and partying after. I swear we single-handedly revived New York’s economy. We were rock stars — me and Raymond Felton, Danilo Gallinari, Timofey Mozgov and the rest of the team. Obviously, being celebrities wasn’t our job. It was fun, but our No. 1 job was to be great basketball players — to win. Still, you can’t beat being a rock star.
Stoudemire gave us a lot to unpack here. For now, let’s focus on Timofey Mozgov getting you that job in 2010.
The 2010-11 Knicks went 42-40 and lost in the first round of the playoffs. But they started the season 3-8 and never got higher than five games over .500. For the sake of argument, let’s say that the presence of this team instantly jump-started the New York economy in November 2010, which is when the city’s unemployment rate was 9.2 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The Knicks were swept by the Boston Celtics in a series that concluded April 24, 2011. What was New York’s unemployment rate then? It was 8.4 percent.
Coincidence? How could it be?
During this three-year stretch, the Knicks reached the postseason three times before becoming the also-rans they are today. What was the unemployment rate in May 2013 as the Knicks ended a 54-28 season with a six-game, second-round loss to the Indiana Pacers? It was 8.6 percent.
Is it possible that after an initial surge in job creation, the Knicks were too good and too many people were going to games and bars to watch the team win, this creating that slight uptick in unemployment over the team’s final two years? Hey, who knows? But there’s no denying that unemployment fell 0.6 percent when the Knicks were good and those two things are absolutely related to one another. The unemployment rate today, by the way, is 6.1 percent, so everyone thank Amar’e when you see him.
This is our generation’s version of Argo, where we gave credit to someone else for saving lives when really it was the Knicks.
What about this second point, that Stoudemire, Felton, Mozgov and Gallinari were “rock stars” in New York from 2010 to 2013?
Well, let’s consider the fact the New York Giants won a Super Bowl in February 2012, the 2012 New York Rangers had the NHL’s best record and reached a Conference Finals for the first time in 16 years, and that the New York Yankees existed. The Knicks could technically be rock stars, but more so the ones that open for the openers of the opening acts before the main event while you sit in the parking lot of the concert and drink more beer.
As for the definition of rock star in modern times, what does it really mean? Check out this Billboard list of the Hot 100 songs from 2011 and try to identify a “rock” star. Rock stars are an afterthought these days, so in that way, Stoudemire was correct with his rock-star assessment of the Knicks.
So when you get down to it, Stoudemire was right — the rock-star Knicks saved the economy.