I’ve been so involved with work and the end of this football season lately that I have yet to watch an NBA game in its entirety. Apparently I’ve missed out on a scorching hot Golden State Warriors team, the league’s only Canadian team boasting the best record in the East and players too numerous to mention wearing protest t-shirts as their warmup jerseys. My, how times have changed.
Here’s another thing I’ve missed: the absolute shame of the New York Knicks.
Earlier this year, ESPN ran a special called “When the Garden Was Eden.” It was a Michael Rappaport-directed documentary that harkened back to the days when the Knicks were NBA Champions. That was so long ago that since then, the Giants have won four championships, the Yankees have won seven, the Islanders (yes, the Islanders) have won four and even the Rangers and Mets have won titles.
The Knicks? Yeah, not so much. This year’s Knicks team is so bad, they’re worse than the Los Angeles Lakers. This Knicks team is so bad, they make New Yorkers want to watch the Jets. This Knicks team is so bad, they’re only two games better than the Philadelphia 76ers who earlier in the season were competing for the title of one of the worst teams ever. They’re bad, they’re bad. They’re really, really bad.
I’m not going to pretend I’ve seen a Knicks game this season. After all, why would I submit myself to that sort of torture? C-Span is more entertaining.
So what in the world is going on in the city that never sleeps? Twenty-five games into this NBA season, why are these Knicks still so inept?
They are 26th in the league in scoring but ironically they’re not near the bottom of the league in either field goal percentage (20th – 45.2%), opponents’ field goal percentage (12th – 45.1%) or opponents’ points scored (12th – 99.3 ppg). With such a miserable record, one would think they’d rank considerably worse in all those categories.
So wherein lay the problem?
We already know Carmelo Anthony doesn’t pass the ball but that’s nothing new. We know JR Smith is a head case but that’s been a constant over the years as well. We know Amare Stoudemire is nowhere near the player he was when he had Steve Nash alley-ooping him the ball back in Phoenix but Jose Calderon was brought in to distribute the ball to players that are allergic to the pass.
So far that hasn’t translated into victories. Nor has Phil Jackson’s looming presence upstairs.
This off-season, the Knicks had to be secretly hoping Carmelo wouldn’t have signed that long-term deal. Like it or not, they are stuck with him and that might mean mediocrity until 2019. Knicks fans must get giddy when they hear rumors of him waving his no-trade clause. What an early Christmas gift that would be.
Apparently now there’s infighting in the locker room. Why wouldn’t there be? I can hear the fingers pointing from here. This team has no chemistry and they’re rejecting the triangle offense like my digestive system rejects dairy products. Rookie head coach Derek Fisher is probably wondering why he took that job in the first place. His winning percentage is now Kotite-like. Haven’t heard that name in a while, have you? Well, that’s how bad things have gotten in New York. A Rich Kotite reference has become perfectly apropos.
Knicks brass will tell you this is a work in progress but where is the progress? Who on that roster is worth keeping and how long will said progress take?
Once, not long ago, it looked like the ‘Melo-led Knicks might actually be competitive. They won 54 games in 2012-13 along with the Atlantic Division. The only thing they’re winning now is better odds to a first round draft pick. This team is more of an embarrassment than when Isiah Thomas was running the show.
And so, Knicks fans continue to suffer with not even a dim light at the end of their tunnel. Trust in Phil, they say, the Zen Master coach who’s never GMed. Keep the faith and tolerate the losses.
That’s something Knicks fans have been doing for forty years. At least they’re used to it by now.