Present Day Me: Hey, are you guys all here? 2008 Me: Yo yo, I’m here. 1999 Me: Hi all! Present Day Me: OK, cool. So I’ve somehow convened us all here to talk about the Knicks before the playoffs start. I want to get a gauge on what each of you think about our chances at winning it all this year… 2008 Me: What? The playoffs?! We’re going to make the playoffs five years from now? Am I getting Punk’d? Where’s Ashton at? Present Day Me: No, you’re not getting Punk’d — nor do I have any idea what has happened to Ashton Kutcher. Actually, the Knicks have made the playoffs for three straight years now. 2008 Me: * sounds of joyous, unfettered weeping* Present Day Me: Are you okay? Was it really that bad then? 2008 Me: That bad? That bad?! How could you have forgotten how bad it is? We have Stephon Marbury, Jerome James and Quentin Richardson. Fred Jones and Malik Rose are getting minutes! 1999 Me: But what happened to Allan Houston and Latrell Sprewell? They’re my favorite players. They just led us to the Finals as an eight seed and I know we’re going to go back again next year. 2008 Me: Well, my poor innocent boy, Allan Houston lingered on the bench for a while and then limped away from basketball after ripping the Knicks off for so much money that the NBA actually had to create a rule to prevent it from happening again. Spree got traded for the incomparable Keith Van Horn and then retired because, as he put it, he needed money to feed his family. No word on how that’s going for him as of yet. Present Day Me: It’s not going well. 1999 Me: * sorrowful sobs* * sniffle* But, but, what do I have to look forward to? What about this Frédéric Weis guy we just drafted from France? 2008 Me: Oh dear lord. The only things you have to look forward to when it comes to the Knicks, young Ben, are overwhelming despair and pervasive anger. Present Day Me: Erroneous! You’ll have to wait a while, but one day you’ll be able to root for the new-and-improved JR Smith! He’s like an even more fearless combination of Sprewell and John Starks, except he has yet to strangle a coach or shoot us out of an NBA Finals Game 7. He’s also the best Twitter to follow in the league. 2008 Me: Do you even remember what it’s like to cheer for Zach Randolph for an entire season? Or Eddy Curry? I can’t root for this team and respect myself at the same time. It’s just not possible. Present Day Me: Okay, okay. I get it. I remember how it was and I’m starting to see where all my self-loathing came from. It was a dark time. But it’s different now, I swear. This year we’re probably going to get the second seed in the East! 2008 Me: A dark time? Bad? That’s all you can say!? My favorite player right now is Jamal Crawford. My second favorite is Nate Robinson. Just think about that for a second. Do you not remember Isaiah Thomas? What about all the restless nights you sat up trying to figure out possible ways to convince him to quit? Think about how terrible my life is. Present Day Me: I don’t want to think about it. I’ve spent years teaching myself how to forget those seasons. Isaiah is gone and the only thing that keeps me up at night now is trying to figure out how Mike Woodson shapes his goatee so perfectly. That, and whether or not we have any chance of beating the Heat and winning a title. I’m actually pretty worried about a potential first round matchup with the Celtics. But I think with the unprecedented level to which ‘Melo has taken his game, combined with all the savvy veterans like Jason Kidd and Kenyon Martin surrounding him, and the 3-point shooters we have to spread the floor… 2008 Me: Shut up. You just shut your mouth. You’re talking about going to the Finals? Winning a title? The Knicks? Do you have any idea what I’d give to see just one playoff win? 1999 Me: Wait, did you say Jason Kidd and Kenyon… Present Day Me: Everyone just calm down. You’ll get your playoff win. It came at home last year and it wasn’t any fun. It prevented a sweep and they dropped confetti. It was actually embarrassing. 2008 Me: No, embarrassing is chanting M-V-P for Kobe and LeBron and giving them standing ovations like they were Patrick Ewing every time they come to the Garden. Present Day Me: Can we get back on topic? Does anyone think we can win a title this year? 1999 Me: Of course! As long as Ewing’s knees have gotten better… 2008 Me: Jeez that kid is delusional. Honestly, I think there’s a better chance the Yankees keep that bum A-Rod on the roster until he’s 50 than the Knicks have of ever winning another title. Present Day Me: I’m starting to think this might have been a bad idea.