Every Knicks fan in the Big Apple knows Spike Lee's passion. Over the past couple of seasons, fans have also become familiar with media personality Ben Lyons' said ability to live the "real fan life."
Those two may often be front and center at The Garden, but who can forget about Steve Schirripa? Star of The Sopranos fame, the actor has also been a staple at "The World's Most Famous Arena" for quite some time now.
The New York native's passion and loyalty to the Knickerbockers is undeniable. As such, like many fans, Schirripa was happily treated to some success this past season.
"I think we made a lot of headway this year," the actor said to KnicksJournal.com regarding the team's success. "I know some people were disappointed, but I wasn't. We had a lot of injuries, but I think Mike Woodson is doing a very good job and we'll be okay."
The Pacers and Heat recently competed against one another in the Eastern Conference Finals, leaving the Knicks to do nothing more than sit home and watch. Even so, Schirripa was content with the team's progress and said he'd like to see Mike Woodson continue to be given the shot to eventually lead the Knicks back to greatness.
"I like Mike Woodson. He's doing a good job because the players seem to play hard for him," he said. "They certainly play harder for him than they did for Mike D'Antoni. I think some players need to be more consistent, but it was a good season."
Still, with an eye on the future, "Bobby Bacala" said Carmelo Anthony could use some help. He added, "I loved Pablo Prigioni. I'm a big Raymond Felton fan. I always have been. J.R Smith is....very inconsistent. I'm not saying anything that no one doesn't already know. It just seems that as J.R. Smith goes, so go the Knicks. Carmelo can't do it all himself, you know?"
Whether or not that extra help will come in the form of Smith ultimately remains to be seen. He struggled in the playoffs and is often a huge question mark on offense. Asked if the swingman can shake his inconsistencies, the actor asserted, "I don't know. Will he be a Knicks next season? I really don't know. His stock dropped a little bit. [The playoffs] separates the good players from the great ones."
Many Knicks fans hold some ill-will against the Pacers for ousting the team from the playoffs, but Schirripa insisted he wasn't one of them. In addition to saying he wouldn't have minded seeing Indiana take down the Heat, he added, "The Pacers outplayed the Knicks. They weren't the better team, but they outplayed them this year."
"Hopefully the Knicks will add another player or two for next season and be okay," he continued. "It was a great season at The Garden. Very exciting. The team had a chance to win every time out, so it wasn't like years past, you know?"
Dating back to his Sopranos fame, Schirripa could often be seen taking in games while sitting next to then co-star Michael Imperioli. With his friend living in California now, Schirripa said that his partners in crime at Knicks games these days are usually limited to a small circle that includes his wife, friends, and two daughters, who he called "big Knicks fans."
"We're true fans...not those fly-by-nights. They come and go. A lot of people jump on the bandwagon. A lot of celebrities come out when they're winning, but I've been around," he insisted.
One who clearly likes spending time with his family, Schirripa's latest work is a book titled Big Daddy's Rules. He said, "My daughters are 21 and 17. I wrote the book as kind of a love letter to them. It lets them know how I feel. In Big Daddy's Rules, the first rule is I make the rules. Parenting has gotten out of control because people don't want to say no anymore. You can't be afraid to say no to your kids. I know I might not always but the best friend, but I'm the father. No one will ever care as much as I do."
The actor joked, "It's a humorous book of parenting. I'm not Dr. Phil. I'm not telling you how to raise your kids. I'm just telling you how I raised mine. I've done okay. If I'm going to make mistakes, I'll make my own."
Big Daddy's Rules isn't Schirripa's first foray into writing. He previously penned the children's book Nicky Deuce, which was just recently made into a movie starring Schrripa and a few familiar faces. The actor/author added. "We've got Michael Imperioli, Vincent Curatola, Tony Sirico, James Gandolfini, and myself. The ratings were great, it's a family movie that was a lot of fun. I think this is the closest thing you'll see to a [Sopranos] reunion.
The movie can be purchased on DVD next month (July 2nd). In addition to the small screen, Knicks fans are not only able to catch Schirripa at MSG, but also some "Garden of Dreams" charity events. A big supporter of everything they do, the actor participated in the foundation's Garden of Laughs event this year, as well as various telethons and kid talent shows too.