Okay, so we are about three weeks into the NBA’s regular season and as of the time I posted this blog, New York City’s most beloved basketball team, the Knicks are 3-6. I can’t speak for everyone in New York City, but I am already wondering, are we headed for another disastrous season? Well, in all honesty, it’s too early to tell. Nine games are not nearly enough to base a whole season on. It does, however tell me a little something. As a fan of the New York Knicks for as long as I can remember, I am seeing some things that are definitely repeating themselves. Let me be honest. I have not been blogging for a long time, but I have been watching basketball for a very long time and over the past few season I have been looking at sports with a more critical and discerning pair of eyes. I said a little bit ago that the Knicks are repeating some things that I have seen before. I’ll tell you what I’m seeing.
First off, the Knicks went out in the off-season and signed free agent Amar’e Stoudemire. I have to tell you I was not particularly impressed. Yes, I said it. Here’s why. In the past the Knicks have gone out and spent a lot of money on a lot of players. Not the caliber of Stoudemire. I’ll give them that, but let’s be real about it. Some of the players they’ve signed before have come here and been, well, less than stellar. I look back as recently as the signing of Antonio McDyess. Don’t get me wrong, I was a big fan of McDyess and still am. He’s been on my radar since his days as a high flyer with the Nuggets. A knee injury in the 2001-02 season severely hampered him and then he missed the rest of that season. McDyess came to the Knicks and it was supposed to be his big comeback year and as we all know, on October 8, 2002 with less than two minutes to go in an exhibition game, he injured his knee and was gone for the rest of what was supposed to be his big comeback season. Once he returned, he was promptly traded after having played only 18 games for the Knicks. Did the Knicks give up on him too quickly? It can be argued that they did and judging by the way he has reinvented his game with the Pistons and more notably, the Spurs, one can say that they did. New York was under pressure to win though. Then there was the hiring of Isiah Thomas, the once very prominent point guard of the great Pistons. I think its safe to say after a 23-59 year, the “Fire Isiah” chants were heard loud and clear.
Let’s look at some of the more notable names the Knicks have acquired through the years and have ultimately proven a path to self-destruction. There was Penny Hardaway, Steve Francis, Stephon Marbury (the self-proclaimed “best Point Guard in the NBA”), Eddy Curry, Jerome James, Chris Duhon, Keith Van Horn and the list goes on and on. The highlight of those was the Marbury/Francis experiment. A flop of epic proportions. How about some of the people they let go who have gone on to flourish on other teams. Players like Channing Frye, Trevor Ariza, Nene, Marcus Camby, Zach Randolph and my personal favorite, Jamal Crawford, just to name a few. Most recently, Nate Robinson and David Lee are now with other teams. Now back to Amar’e Stoudemire. This year in the great Lebron James sweepstakes, the Knicks signed STAT to a max deal. Once again, I feel like they put a lot of focus on him and Lebron and nothing more. Well, wait. There was the signing of Raymond Felton who is a serviceable point guard, but by no means in the league of say, Tony Parker, Chris Paul, Deron Williams or Derrick Rose. My point is this, the Knicks need to really examine themselves and the choices they make. Bringing in star players past their prime or coming off of injuries seems to be the Dolan M.O. Also, why can’t Knicks seems to get more than one “star” player into the fold? Not to be super harsh, but why is it always a bunch of second-rate players who just happened to have had one good year? What is going on in that front office? I mean, let’s be honest here, that’s where it all starts. Isn’t it? Why can’ t we get a GM or team president who can take this team to the next level? After the Pat Riley/ Van Gundy era, these Knicks have been on a downward spiral. A host of coaches who have not been able to do much with this team. Lenny Wilkens, Larry Brown, and Isiah Thomas. Now we have Mike D’Antoni, who I love as a coach, but once again, is floundering with the current make-up of the Knicks.
In the wake of the Pat Riley coup of signing Lebron James, Chris Bosh and resigning Dwayne Wade, all for less money than they could have gotten the Knicks signed Amare Stoudemire. In the shadows of Boston not only resigning their Big 3 and engineering signings of Shaq, Jermaine O’Neal. The Knicks sign (drumroll please!!!), Raymond Felton. The Lakers boast a team of Kobe, Gasol, Artest and in the off-season bring in Matt Barnes and Steve Blake. The Knicks sign an unknown center from Russia, Timofey Mozgov. How do the Knicks expect to compete against teams like those who have two to three elite players on their teams? If I’m a coach on the other 29 teams, beating the Knicks seems pretty simple. Get Amar’e in foul trouble and they’re done. Evidence you ask? November 12, 2010. The Knicks at half time were up against the Timberwolves 65-51. Amar’e goes to the bench with foul trouble in the third. Result? 31 points and 31 rebounds for Kevin Love and 35 points for Michael Beasley who had a couple of highlight dunks on the Knick, ahem, defense. Needless to say the Wolves come back and the Knicks go down 112-103. The last two Knick wins came against the Bulls who looked tired and the Wizards who were well….the Wizards. The Knicks are currently on a four game skid. Philadelphia, Milwaukee, Golden State, and Minnesota all have spanked the Knicks over the last week.
Am I worried? Again, it’s still to early in the season to write them off, but the Knicks have not even smelled the playoffs in six years. That’s an eternity in New York City time, so am I concerned? Yes, but let’s see what happens from now to the end of December. Let’s hope this ship rights itself. As a die-hard Knick fan, I am praying for it.
Let’s GO Knicks!! Please….let’s go.