trae young knicks
Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

New York Knicks fans are looking to take Trae Young out of his comfort zone in MSG for Game 2. Are birds the answer?

Danny Small

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.

Birds.

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 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.

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.

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