By Tommy Rothman
Robert Randolph is the leader of Robert Randolph and the Family Band, and was named as one of the “Greatest 100 Guitarists of All-Time” by Rolling Stone. Randolph is also a celebrity amongst Knicks fans. Randolph is a die-hard Knicks fan himself and has risen to fame in the Knicks community as the “Friday Night Knicks Guy” over the last few years. Every Friday Night on which there is a Knicks game televised on MSG, Randolph performs a game-tailored version of his song “Get There” (video above). While the song and the video are a nice, catchy part of the broadcast, Randolph has come under fire in the past due to allegations of him being a “curse”. Entering last season, the Knicks had had a losing record on Fridays for several years in a row, and every year since Randolph had joined the broadcast. Randolph promised he would do something about the curse, and he delivered; the Knicks went 10-6 on Fridays this past season. Earlier this week, I contacted Randolph asking him if he would be interested in doing an online interview, and he kindly accepted. Here is what he had to say on the team, his career, the curse, and more:
Tommy (New York Knicks Memes): How did you get started in music? What made you decide you wanted to be a musician?
Robert Randolph (Family Band, Friday Night Knicks): I grew up in New Jersey playing music in church and in public schools, that’s where I had a chance to see and get involved in music.
Tommy: Aside from your business relationship with the Knicks, what is your backstory as a Knicks fan?
Randolph: I was born a Knicks fan, my father talked about Clyde Frazier and Willis Reed growing up. But I became a die-hard Knicks fan when Patrick Ewing and Mark Jackson got drafted. Mark Jackson was my favorite player growing up.
Tommy: How did “Friday Night Knicks” get started? Did you contact the Knicks or did they reach out to you?
Randolph: I have many fans that work for MSG, they used to come to a lot of my early shows without me knowing. In 2003, I met an employee named Sammy Steinlight, who had an idea when the Knicks were doing very [badly] in 06, 07 to create some sense of hope for Knicks fans. But apparently everyone started calling me “The Jinx”. [Laugh]
Tommy: What is it like to be a part of the broadcast for the team you rooted for as a child?
Randolph: I love every minute of being part of the Knicks’ MSG family. I still get goose bumps every time I walk in the Garden.
Tommy: What is the strangest thing that has happened to you since you became “The Friday Night Knicks Guy” (aside from me asking you for this interview, of course)?
Randolph: Strangest thing [that] happens is when people who never bought any of my records or haven’t been to any of my live shows know me for just ” Friday Night Knicks.” [Laugh]
Tommy: Do you think the Knicks will be able to play with the toughness they relied on in the late 90’s now that Kenyon Martin, Metta World Peace, Tyson Chandler, JR Smith, and others are all on board?
Randolph: The 90’s Knicks were the toughest team ever. Mason, Starks, Derek Harper, Oakley… even Xman McDaniel was a badass!! But these Knicks are a much more exciting team to watch and everyone is seriously underestimating how good [Andrea Bargnani] is!
Tommy: Focusing back on your career as a successful musician, what advice do you have for the several fans of our page who are trying to break into the industry as singers and rappers?
Randolph: Fans should just follow their passion and be themselves. Too many singers and rappers try to be like some folks they see on TV, and never get a chance to grow into the talents God has given them!
Tommy: How do you feel about the state of the Knicks right now, both short-term and long-term?
Randolph: The state of the Knicks right now is all positive. We’ve added all the necessary pieces. I’m concerned about Tyson Chandler’s offensive inability to score, and Amar’e’s knees are a big concern, but Grunwald has provided insurance for both these scenarios. The Knicks will once again win the Atlantic and [they will] proceed to the Eastern Conference Finals this upcoming season!
Tommy: Would you ever consider featuring Knicks guard & rapper Iman Shumpert on a song, now that our other rapper—Steve Novak— has been traded to the Raptors?
Randolph: I would definitely do a hot song with Iman Shumpert! He is talented and everyone is raving about his skills.
Tommy: And now, the question that Knicks fans have all been waiting for. Before this season, the Knicks had never had a winning record on Fridays since you started the job. Many fans started talking about “The Friday Night Knicks Curse”. However, the Knicks went 10-6 on Fridays this past season. How did you improve your game to make this happen? Is the weight of the Knicks community finally off your shoulders?
Randolph: The reason the Knicks were losing, not only on Friday nights but all the time, was because of the sorry coach we had in [Former Knicks’ and current Lakers’ Coach Mike] D’antoni, he has an ego problem. He damaged the careers of Marbury, Eddy Curry and others, tried to do the same thing to Nate Robinson, who we see rose above all of that. And Pau Gasol now that [D’antoni] is on the Lakers… D’antoni should no longer coach NBA basketball
—— End of Interview —–
Randolph seems to have doubts about the true nature of the curse now that it has seemingly been broken. He also seems optimistic about the team. You can follow Randolph here, and buy his latest album “Lickety Split“, which is in stores now.