'This is so exhausting': The Knicks season as told by Ben Stiller's social media

Ben Stiller’s routine is simple. When the New York Knicks are playing, he clears his schedule and tries to be home.

He doesn’t make dinner plans on game nights. Stiller guesses that might be the definition of “being maybe a little too into it.” When not sitting courtside at Madison Square Garden, his preference is simply watching the team alone.

“I can then … shout or scream at the screen or whatever,” Stiller told ESPN. “And I find when I’m watching the game in public, I start releasing sounds that I’m not aware of when I’m alone.”

When he’s watching by himself, Stiller remains connected to his fellow Knicks faithful across the world thanks to his frequent posts on X.

Stiller’s posts are almost strictly about the team. Since the start of the 2023-24 season on Oct. 25, 2023, “#Knicks” or “#LetsGoKnicks” have been included in his posts over 100 times. “#Brunson” is another one of Stiller’s preferred hashtags, with over 40 posts.

While the “Zoolander” actor and born New Yorker isn’t sure how the posting started — his earliest Knicks-related posts date back to late 2020 — he said the X connection with other passionate fans has been “really fun to engage in.”

“I guess it just became an outlet kind of, and like I said, it was kind of like, just an organic way of expressing myself,” Stiller said. “And then I started to engage with some of these fans because it’s just fun on that level, when it’s just about the game or about the team, and then you connect with these people who are as passionate.”

It has come at a fun time too. New York is in the middle of a resurgence after reaching the playoffs for the second straight season — a feat the Knicks haven’t accomplished since their three consecutive playoff appearances from 2010-11 to 2012-13. This season, they finished No. 2 in the Eastern Conference and had 50 wins in a full season for their second time in the 21st century.

Stiller began following the Knicks in the early 1970s, witnessing their championship run and attending games with his late father, Jerry Stiller. As a kid, Ben’s wall included a poster of Knicks star Willis Reed.

Stiller remembers a childhood encounter with Phil Jackson during warmups in Jackson’s playing days. The former Knicks forward shook Stiller’s hand while Stiller flashed a grin, missing his front teeth. Jackson quipped: “What do you want for Christmas? Your two front teeth?”

“That was my last interaction with Phil Jackson,” Stiller said, chuckling. “Look, the Phil Jackson era was a painful time for Knicks fans too, because [of] what we wanted, so I choose to remember the good times.”

When Stiller moved to Los Angeles in the 1990s, he couldn’t come around to following the Lakers. The change of scenery led to a disconnect with the Knicks, but when he returned to New York in the early 2010s, his fandom flooded back during a tough period for the franchise. From the 2010-11 season to the 2019-20 season, New York had a 316-472 record.

In April 2022, Stiller told JJ Redick on the former NBA guard’s podcast that he believed he would be in his mid-60s by the time the Knicks rebounded: “Yeah, they’re ahead of schedule,” Stiller, 58, said laughing when asked about their recent resurgence.

He credits the expedited turnaround to the team’s chemistry — spearheaded by the “Villanova Knicks” — and moves the front office has made. Stiller feels that in previous years, early signs of chemistry would be thwarted by player departures.

That hasn’t been the case in recent years, even though he worried it would happen with the RJ Barrett and Immanuel Quickley trade in December 2023.

“It’s been interesting because this team is sort of a combination of trades, and also homegrown talent, and watching that build has been really exciting,” Stiller said. “It’s gone from ‘Well, if we just got that one other piece’ to like, ‘No, wait, this is the team there.'”

Stiller is currently filming Season Two of “Severance,” and acknowledged it’s “really hard” to watch games while working. He said he doesn’t attend many in person, maybe 10 a year.

Stiller isn’t entirely comfortable live posting. He even wondered whether people found his posts interesting since he doesn’t offer analysis. He never played basketball in high school, admitting he tried out but didn’t make the team.

“I guess my vertical leap wasn’t there,” he joked.

Instead, Stiller has learned more about the game through Knicks fan accounts that do deep dives on the team. Engaging with those accounts has been really fun for him, though it hasn’t changed the nature of his posts.

“I’ve never had anything really smart or clever to say, so I just sort of like express my emotion at the moment,” Stiller said. “And it’s pretty like, almost intentionally, like I’m just like, not trying to say anything profound you know? Like take it or leave it, I guess.”

Here’s a look at notable moments of the Knicks’ season paired with Stiller’s posts on X.

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Nov. 6 — ‘Love RJ and his new consistency’

Game result: 111-97 win vs. LA Clippers

Barrett started the season scoring at least 20 points in two of his first four games. He scored 26 points — a then season high — on 9-of-16 shooting against the Clippers.

Stiller shared his appreciation for Barrett’s strong start to the season and still posts when the guard has a breakout game, even though he’s no longer on the Knicks.

“I think I always liked… being able to see RJ develop, and like, I was always rooting for RJ from the beginning, I just liked him, you know, his style of play and the potential that he had,” Stiller said.

Nov. 30 — Birthday victory and Jalen Brunson 40-piece

Game result: 118-112 vs. Detroit Pistons

There’s nothing like your favorite team winning on your birthday. The Knicks did exactly that for Stiller behind a stellar performance from Brunson. The guard dropped 42 points on 54.2% shooting from the field, his second 40-point game of the month.

Stiller called Brunson “sort of that classic underdog,” a reason he loves the star so much.

Dec. 15 — Brunson scores a then career-high 50 points

Game result: 139-122 win vs. Phoenix Suns

Brunson dropped 50 points in mid-December alongside nine assists and five steals on 73.9% shooting. Brunson became the fourth player in Knicks history to have 50 points on at least 70% shooting — joining Hall of Famers Patrick Ewing, Bernard King and Willis Reed, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

Stiller recalled standing up by himself, watching in his office at home and texting his son during the game. He described how Brunson has scoring outputs where “it just starts to happen,” and that watching them in real time is always more exciting.

“It was exciting in the moment. I think it was one of those things also because I was like ‘Alright, I’m going to stay up late and watch this game’ and it’s like, ‘Oh, man, this was totally worth it,'” he said.

Dec. 30 — ‘Ugh’: Candid reaction to OG Anunoby trade

The OG Anunoby trade hit close to home for Stiller.

New York acquired Anunoby, Precious Achiuwa and Malachi Flynn for Barrett, Quickley and a 2024 second-round pick. At the time, the Knicks had a 17-14 record and were seventh in the Eastern Conference. The trade would mark a turning point in their season.

Both Barrett and Quickley had spent their entire careers in New York where they developed a relationship with the team’s fans. Stiller called both players exciting and said it was “great” to watch them develop.

When the move happened, Stiller likened it to trades in past Knicks seasons when the team would trade away players who had seemed to be part of its future.

“It was a little bit kind of, like, ‘OK, I hope this works out,'” Stiller said. “Because again, like what I was saying earlier, there’s other trades where you’d see players that you start to develop a relationship with, and then they’re gone. So it’s a little bit bittersweet.”

However, Stiller expressed that seeing how Barrett and Quickley have thrived in Toronto has led to a feeling that “has been great.”

Jan. 9 — Knicks win fifth straight after Anunoby trade

Game result: 112-84 win vs. Portland Trail Blazers

New York found an extra gear after trading for Anunoby. In a game when Brunson and Julius Randle combined for just 32 points, the Knicks dominated the Trail Blazers at home. Anunoby had a game-high 23 points and a Stiller-approved postgame interview.

He posted: “As a fan, I am enjoying this.” Stiller pointed to multiple reasons for his enjoyment.

“Watching a team with an identity, watching them be connected on the court. Feeling the energy that they have, even after games when they, you know, where you see that they’re friendly with each other, and the connection that they have with each other,” he said.

Stiller added that watching the Knicks not be the team for many years that “always ends up breaking your heart,” and expecting them to win also prompted his reaction.

“When I tweet that, it’s … just exciting to see them do what you’ve imagined them doing,” he said. “And to be the team that actually does well, the majority of the time and that you can count on.”

Feb. 1 — ‘MVP, Our guy’

Game result: 109-105 win vs. Indiana Pacers

Belief began to set in for Knicks fans as February came around. Prior to their ninth straight win, Stiller compared this season’s team to the 1993-94 edition, which reached the NBA Finals.

On the same day that he was named an All-Star for the first time in his career, Brunson had another 40-point game.

The win put the Knicks 15 games over .500 for the first time since 2012-13. Stiller once again showed love to Brunson.

Feb. 12 — Controversial Rockets ending

Game result: 105-103 loss vs. Houston Rockets

New York’s hot streak cooled off in the middle of February with four straight losses. The third of those four defeats came in controversial fashion. A foul call on Brunson late in the fourth quarter gave Houston the win. After the game, the officiating crew acknowledged in the last two-minute report that the foul call was incorrect.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that the Knicks filed a protest to dispute the loss, which was denied.

Feb. 29 — ‘This is so exhausting’

Game result: 110-99 loss vs. Golden State Warriors

What started as a prosperous month ended trending in a different direction. Marred by injuries, the Knicks suffered their seventh loss in nine games at the end of February.

New York had already been missing Mitchell Robinson, but injuries to Randle and Anunoby left the Knicks thinned. Golden State comfortably won, never trailing in the game.

Stiller pointed to the ups and downs of that month, which left him exhausted, especially as injuries depleted the depth of the bench.

“Not having OG [Anunoby], Mitchell [Robinson] and Julius [Randle] I think constantly having to kind of make up for that was so hard on the team… [Tom Thibodeau] would say it’s like, ‘Hey, we’re missing our three starters,'” Stiller said.

April 4 — Rollercoaster of emotions

Game result: 120-109 win vs. Sacramento Kings

The day started with the news that Randle would undergo season-ending shoulder surgery. Randle, who had been out since dislocating his shoulder on Jan. 27, averaged 24.0 points, 9.2 rebounds and 5.0 assists in 46 games.

New York was 29-17 at the time of Randle’s injury, and Stiller reacted accordingly to the news.

However, his mood shifted as nighttime came around. The Knicks came back to defeat the Kings, snapping their three-game losing streak. Brunson, Josh Hart and Donte DiVincenzo combined for 87 points. Hart had a season-high 31 points plus 9 rebounds, 8 assists and 2 steals, earning praise from Stiller after the big win.

The actor credited players such as Brunson, Hart and Isaiah Hartenstein as embodying what the team is.

“Those guys are such Knicks through and through in terms of what they bring,” Stiller said.

But, while Brunson and the Knicks may be considered underdogs heading into the playoffs with Randle injured, it won’t impact Stiller’s ability to root for his team.

“The team, I think going into the playoffs, even this year are going to be that [underdog] you know,” he said. “And that’s really easy to root for.”

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