The New York Knicks have failed in recent times due to Hobbes’s “state of nature”. With superstars Carmelo Anthony, Amar’e Stoudemire, and Tyson Chandler, they all fell into the same trap Hobbes warned us about in the Leviathan. Being a New York Knicks fan my entire life, the 2011 New York Knicks brought hope and optimism to New York, to Madison Square Garden, and to fans all around the world. They had acquired superstars Carmelo Anthony, Amar’e Stoudemire, and Tyson Chandler and people had believed they were serious contenders for the championship that year. Notably some of the greatest players in the NBA at the time, they all brought different talents, skills, and statistics to the then revamped New York Knicks. Hobbes’s social contract theory inherently made the Knicks’s season “nasty, brutish, and short.”
These three superstars in “the mecca of the NBA” were supposed to help the Knicks win a championship for the first time in nearly 20 season. New Yorkers love winning and believed this was the answer. However, the NBA and Miami Heat had different thoughts on this new team. According to Hobbes’s state of nature and their “four basic facts of human life“, people need equality of needs, need equality of power, have self-interested motives, and have a scarcity of resources. Similarly, the “leviathans” of the Knicks, Carmelo, Amar’e, and Tyson, fell into the same state of nature.
These big three players alone accounted for $53.6 million for the salary cap for the New York Knicks for the 2011-2012 NBA season. This “equality of need” not only allowed no other room for improvement for the Knicks, but also weakened the depth needed for the team to succeed. The basic needs of salaries and promotions of these players brought lot of attention to New York. This attention swayed the focus away from basketball and to the gossip and drama of New York’s new trio.
2. All superstars on different teams before joining forces in New York, these three players’ “equality of power” proved to be a huge detriment for this so-called “Dream Team.” The true leader of the team was unclear. The rest of the team did not have a true role and the team revolved around the three players without set rules or organization.
3. Three players needed the ball to produce on the field. Assists became an unknown stat in New York. As superstars on there respective teams before uniting, all of the players competed egotistically and in self-interest. Trying to get the most points, rebounds, blocks, and steals, the three did not mesh well together and proved to destroy the Knicks chances in the playoffs. In addition, Carmelo Anthony, in the running for MVP, tried to lead the team single-handedly with more shots taken than ever before. Once again, this proved to not work well with the help of Amar’e and Tyson.
4. In all, Anthony, Stoudemire, and Chandler all needed to have an impact on the floor with a 48 minute-time restraint. The fact that all three of these players could not mesh well meant they needed to play at different times. This “scarcity” of playing time gave no room for production and actually statistical evidence which showed up on many fantasy leagues and eventually the scoreboards and standings.
With practice, unselfish passing, and rules to make sure players knew how to understand the new dynamics (a social contract), a 2011-2012 banner might be hanging on the ceiling of Madison Square Garden today. In addition, in Hobbes’s book, Leviathan, he argues for rule by an absolute sovereign. Had the Knicks decided that Carmelo Anthony would be the face of the New York Knicks and allowed him to run the offense with his discretion, the outcome could have been much different. Having three different leaders with many different role players interfering with the dynamics, the 7-time All Star and 2-time olympic gold medalist, Carmelo Anthony was not able to help the Knicks win. Had Amar’e Stoudemire and Tyson Chandler given up some of their power and stat-making prowess in order to allow the Knicks and Carmelo Anthony to control the offense and defense, they might have won more than one game in the first round of the playoffs.
Throughout my life, sport teams, professional and recreational, have not succeed due to the state of nature explained by Hobbes. When I was 12 on my township recreational basketball team, we had lost every game of the season due to Hobbes’s state of nature. We had no captains, no set instructions, selfish seventh graders who wanted to rescue a decimated team, and no guidelines to help steer the team in the right direction. Even though the severity of a seventh grade recreational basketball team is minimal, it shows the importance of a social contract and sovereignty in sports.