The Knicks have stunk this season. It’s leaving a bad taste in the mouth of head coach David Fizdale, but the last thing he wants you to suggesting is flossing. Forget talent, effort, and drive being the cause of the Knicks’ woes, Fitzdale is blaming it on Fortnite.
It’s been a common refrain from Fizdale this season, who’s blamed the game twice in as many months for the team’s issues. Now it’s his biggest source of trouble — an observation that’s being contested in the Knicks’ locker room.
“‘Fortnite,’ that’s my competitor right now,” Fizdale said in December. “‘Fortnite’ is tougher than the Boston Celtics.”
Fizdale believes his players are staying up until the early hours of the morning to play Fortnite, sacrificing their sleep to the game. He says he’s noticed players being more irritable, reducing their reaction time, and blamed blue light (which comes from screens) as being a core reason for their lack of productivity.
Numerous studies support the idea that blue light interferes with sleep and the body’s regular metabolic functions, but it’s unclear if that would be enough to do something like, say, cause the Knicks to lose 47 of their 58 games this season.
Rookie Mitchell Robinson and forward Kevin Knox confess there were times they did get addicted to the game, since curbing their Fortnite habit. Robinson in particular has noted a positive change to his energy since limiting how much he plays.
“I kind of limit my time now, after I read that,” he said. “It kind of makes sense. My energy level is better than it usually was.”
Not everyone is cutting Fortnite out of their lives, however. Mario Hezonja disagreed that the game was causing issues for the team.
“If you can control yourself, there’s no problem for you,” he said. “But if you are reckless with it. You don’t think about it. Video games, partying, going out, all that other stuff you’re going to end up in trouble regardless. I understand what Fiz is saying. It might be a problem. But I don’t think anyone over here is going crazy about it. We play for fun. I play for stress relief. For me it’s a fun way to get away from things. I don’t think anyone else is 3 a.m. staying up.”
There is, of course, a positive to players choosing to spend their free time playing games. Fizdale noted that despite his concerns with Fortnite hurting his team, he did see the benefit in his players choosing to stay in, rather than going out and partying — especially on road trips.
“I feel like it’s definitely a different generation from that standpoint,” he said. “I don’t feel like this generation is just running out when you get on the road to go party. At least my team isn’t. It’s not the same as it used to be.”
This might feel like an “old man yells at cloud” moment, but Fizdale doesn’t hate the game. The 44-year-old is even open to trying to play Fornite for the first time.
“I’m gonna have to get it on,” Fizdale said. “I’ll probably just to be able to connect to them, just to be able to do it. I’ll get Mitchell to teach me. He can yell at me on that. That’ll be his time to yell. He can be my coach.”
Who knows, maybe Fizdale will get addicted too.