Kris Humphries's summer sideshow was entertaining but seemed ultimately irrelevant: his dalliances with Kim Kardashian and with reality TV were in the universe of entertainment and celebrity, not our sports universe. We'd get our jokes, E! gets their ratings, Humphries and the Kardashians make a quick buck, and we all go on with our lives. But if last night's merciless taunting at the hands of Knicks fans is an indication, the Kris Humphries-as-punchline era will culminate, unexpectedly, in a basketball story.
MSG rained boos upon Humphries when he entered the game in the second quarter, and more cruelly, they laughed at him. They spent the entire second half chanting "We Want Humphries" at him on the bench, not because they like him—and the boos weren't because they hate him, despite the inexplicable "most disliked player" award from his peers—but because they were desperate for more chances to heap their scorn.
So let's say this keeps up for 66 games. Will the constant abuse affect Humphries's game? It's legitimate question that has to be asked, because it was certainly asked by every GM considering giving him a contract. It's incredible that a 26-year-old who averaged a double-double last season would only receive a one-year contract, and would only get it four days before the season begins. Very Important Basketball People spent a lot of time wondering if Humphries's offseason antics would follow him on the court.
The question becomes, is Kris Humphries mentally tough? Can he block it all out and just focus on basketball? Yesterday he said yes, though this was before Knicks fans had their crack at him.
"Life just happens," said Humphries, who was not asked directly about Kardashian. "I'm a positive thinker. In life I always look at the things that I can control, which is being ready and working on my game."
I'm not qualified to judge, so I asked someone who eagerly consumes all sorts of Kardashian media. She thinks Humphries will be fine, because on the show he always comes across as a guy who can stand up for himself in the face of constant teasing from his former in-laws. She describes him as "very dumb, but kind of mature."
We're going to find out soon, because the Nets play 10 of their first 14 games on the road, and they'll need someone better than Shelden Williams to play alongside Brook Lopez. If Humphries does end up crumbling, it would be a tragedy precisely because he is a genuinely good basketball player. But it might not be a tragedy at all, because no one can say he didn't bring it all on himself in a quixotic grab at riches, crossover fame, and dirty dirty sex.