New York Knicks fans are looking to take Trae Young out of his comfort zone in MSG for Game 2. Are birds the answer?
New York Knicks fans are some of the most loyal, passionate, and perhaps bizarre people on the planet. Chants of “F*** TRAE YOUNG!” didn’t work in Game 1, but fans might have something else up their sleeve for Game 2.
Yes, birds. A phobia of birds — commonly known as ornithophobia — is something Knicks fans are honing in on after Trae Young’s dominant performance and game-winner on Sunday night. Young’s fear of birds is nothing new. This was something that received coverage during his days at Oklahoma and in the lead-up to the 2018 NBA Draft.
Oklahoma star Trae Young is scared of birds, so Oklahoma State fans are holding up pictures of birds to get in his head. pic.twitter.com/05bclAz0VH
— 𝐓𝐡𝐞 𝐒𝐩𝐨𝐫𝐭𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐍𝐞𝐰𝐬 (@sportingnews) January 20, 2018
Oklahoma State fans brought pictures of birds to a game against Young’s Oklahoma Sooners in 2018. Here is a quote from Young about Birds in an old article on CBS.
“We were in New Zealand and would go to the beaches and all that stuff,” Young said. “You know how birds would be friendly to people? I hate birds. All you see is the ocean, the sand and birds flying over you. The birds trying to eat the crabs in the sand and they’re all next to you. I’ve seen a bird attack one of my friends at my high school in the parking lot. Yeah. It scared her. The bird was by her car, she tried to turn and get in her car but the bird was so scared it just attacked her.”
This story is making the rounds on social media platforms like Twitter, Reddit, and Instagram. Knicks fans who are planning on attending Game 2 are already talking about buying bird suits, bird masks, and blowing up giant pictures of birds to throw Young off his game.
Trae Young's fear of birds btw is 100% true. I remember these stories when doing pre-draft research.
"Then there's a group of [pigeons] at this point, "We ran to the birds to make them fly around. And he took off running in the other direction."
UNLEASH THE CITY PIGEONS!
— NYKTerry (@NykTerry) May 24, 2021
Mr. Dolan…please allow birds for Game 2 https://t.co/Pf9ij7ZwuW
— David Futernick (@davidfuternick) May 24, 2021
Googling bird hats and bird masks right now trying to figure out a look and price point I’m willing to tell the first 100 people that buy and promise to wear to the game Wed that I’ll pay for.
— DP (@CAPTAINPEARLNYK) May 25, 2021
A Knick fan is really going to Wednesday’s game in a bird costume with a jersey on because of Trae Young’s phobia of birds, you can’t script this shit I love it 😂😂😂😂
— Bankai 🗡 (@New_Tape_City) May 25, 2021
Will this work for the Knicks?
While fans are devising ways to get in Young’s head, the Knicks are going to need to make some minor adjustments to the way they defend the pick-and-roll. No one expects Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau to completely scrap their drop coverage after a two-point loss, but clearly, some things need to change.
It’s impossible to know if the “bird defense” is a real thing that will happen in MSG or just fodder for social media. However, we can wonder if this strategy is the right way to get in Young’s head.
First things first, it’s clear that Young loves the bright lights and big city. For all the pearl-clutching that took place after MSG’s vulgar chants, Young showed no trepidation in front of 15,000 screaming Knicks fans. In fact, it looked like the hostile crowd was fueling him.
The same thing happened when Oklahoma State fans went all-in on the “bird defense” back in 2018. Young struggled in the first half but finished the game with 48 points and eight assists.
The counterargument to that is the fact that Young’s team lost, it took him 39 shots to get to 48 points, and he had seven turnovers.
Did the birds bother him? We may never know. Either way, Knicks fans are incredible…and maybe a little weird.