Wednesday, December 26th, 2007...1:08 am
A Knickabocker Depression
The blog post I’m about to write will hurt my brain. If you are, or ever were, a Knicks fan I guarantee it will hurt yours as well. But I feel a need to document this debacle. The other day somebody mentioned the “Larry Brown Era” and I had completely forgotten Brown short-lived tenure and how he basically took home over $50 Million for one season! I know it was only a few years ago but I guess I got caught up in the current mess to such degree that I couldn’t see past the thick layer of hatred I have for Isiah and Eddy Curry. Even though I’ve jumped off the Knicks bandwagon years ago, the venom still seethes through my arteries as the Knicks continue to hit rock-bottom. At this pace they’ll burn through the Earth’s inner-core by the end of the decade. I can only imagine what it will take for the Knicks to hit inner-core bottom. Perhaps Dolan becomes a transvestite and French kisses Isiah while Nate Robinson shoots up the Garden propped up on the otherwise useless shoulders of Eddy Curry.
I truly believe that my sports fan prime was between the ages of 8 and 15 when the only thing that mattered in my life was sports. That also happened to perfectly coincide with the rise of Ewing and the Knicks. The first season my brain was developed enough to actually follow the team was 88-89 which happened to be the Knicks first winning season since Bernard King’s heyday. The Jackson-Wilkins-Newman-Oakley-Ewing starting lineup with Strickland, Tucker, Sidney Green and Kenny Walker coming off the bench will forever be the model for a successful and entertaining team. The next season the Knicks bounced the mighty Celtics from the first round of the playoffs by sticking a Kenny Brunner samurai sword through Larry Bird’s already deteriorating back.
Throughout the 90′s I lived and died with the Knicks. One season I even kept stats for every game in a marble notebook. The biggest issue in my life at the time was trying to figure out what constitutes an assist and why the heck Pitino would ever bring in Eddie Lee Wilkens to give Ewing a breather. Not sure if it was his name, his game or his lanky, gangly body that I disliked so much. Besides watching my hero Ewing each night, I would closely monitor 4th quarter blow outs to see if the token white 12th man had a chance to enter the game. From Greg Butler to Brian Quinett to Eric Anderson to Greg Kite, the Knicks always had a goofy and likeable gringo to get the fans all riled up. The Knicks signing Kiki Vandeweghe might have given me my first ever erection as they finally had a white guy who could actually score. There were ups (seeing Jordan at the Garden, the Knicks beat the Jordan-less Bulls to make the finals, plucking Starks and Mason out of the CBA, Allen Houston’s rim hanging runner, Starks DUNK, Trent Tucker creates the tenth second rule, etc.) and downs (losing to the Bulls again and again, Charles Smith multiple missed lay-ups, John Starks stinking it up in Houston and Ewing missed finger roll) but overall being a Knicks fan was amazing. The Garden was always electric and the team consisted of made-for-New York warriors (Ewing, Oakley, Mason, Starks).
I’m not sure if there was one specific point where it all went wrong. Perhaps it was when the Knicks unceremoniously traded Ewing or when they resigned Allen Houston to a nine figure contract. Maybe it was the merger that gave Cablevision control of the Garden or when Jeff Van Gundy abruptly stepped down early in the ’01 season. I do know that when I left for college I was a huge Knicks fan fresh off their unlikely run to the finals and when I graduated college in 2003 the Knicks were in the early stages of an post-cold war eastern European debacle.
Needless to say it has just gotten worse and worse. At some point I stopped caring. Now, I just get upset because I wish I had a basketball team to watch. The Knicks in their current form are dead to me. In hindsight I should have seen the collapse coming. Maybe I should have taken a cue from my Pops, a lifelong Knicks fan who slept outside the Garden to get tickets to the Willis Reed game. He started rooting for Reggie Miller to beat the Knicks back in the late 90′s. Imagine my surprise as I’m sitting on the couch pouring my heart out and my dad is cheering as that Somalian looking jump shooter is tearing out my soul. The Houston contract was shakier than handing out home mortgages to Laser Disc salesmen. Even embracing Latrell Sprewell (a well-known dog fighter and human choker) reeked of some sort of “damn Yankees” sell your soul to the devil deal.
Anyway, enough reminiscing. Here are the ten worst moments for Knicks fans in this the 21st century. By worst moments, I refer to the instances when you were embarrassed to be a Knicks fan. The moments when you cringed in your skin and debated if you should throw the remote through the television because you couldn’t go on any longer watching this puke.
10) The Bad Contracts
The Knicks seem to collect bad contracts like that 3rd grade classmate with divorced parents and special needs collected his boogers, poison ivy and dried out slugs.
Allen Houston – 2001 – 6 yeas for $100.4 Million
Clarence Weatherspoon – 2001- 5 years for $27.2 Million
Shandon Anderson – 2001- 6 years for $41 Million
Howard Eisley – 2001 – 7 years for $41 Million (inherited in trade)
Jerome James – 2005 – 5 years for $29 million
Eddy Curry – 2005 – 6 yeas for $50 Million
Jared Jeffries – 2006 – 5 years for $30 Million
This doesn’t even include deals they picked up including Steve Francis, Luc Longly, Jalen Rose and Penny Hardaway. The crazy thing is that all the above deals sucked the day the Knicks made them. At least the Yankees sign pitchers who you think are going to be good before they suck. Houston was nearing the end of his prime and while he gave the Knicks a few great seasons (pre big contract) was never a player you could build the team around. Weatherspoon was an under-sized power forward who lacked skills, speed and jumping ability – a paraplegic’s Charles Barkley. Anderson and Eisley were swingmen that were never more than bench players. Jerome James tried hard for two weeks during the playoffs with Seattle but had already received an amazing nickname of “Big Snacks”. Eddy Curry has a busted heart in more ways than one. Jared Jeffries is good…at nothing. His best strength is perimeter defense. That means nothing. It is like a first baseman whose top skill is catching. Not sure if the Knicks thought these players would get better if they were outlandishly overpaid. Last I check that strategy only works with strippers and Super Bowl tickets.
9) Frederic Weis
In 1999 the Knicks were fresh off a spirited playoff run that took them to the finals and they still had their highest draft pick in years at 15. With Ewing and LJ aging the Knicks needed another player to compliment the emerging trio of Spree-Houston-Camby. With Ron Artest still on the board and dominating college hoops for two seasons in their own home arena (he hadn’t even gone psychk yet) the Knicks decided to choose an unknown stick figure frenchmen named Frederic Weis. I collapsed in front of my television and cried.
Weis had a bad back and no talent and one stint in training camp made it obvious he was a bum. The closest sniff Weis ever got to the NBA was Vince Carter’s sack in his face in one of the greatest dunks in basketball history during the 2000 Olympics. Meanwhile, who knows what happens if Artest stays home and becomes a star for the Knicks.
8 ) Larry Brown Era
Larry Brown was going to be the guy who rejuvenated the franchise. After winning a championship in Detroit he managed to weasel his way out of his contract to come home to the New York City to lead the Knicks back to glory. Dolan dished out the cash as the Knicks signed Brown to a humungous five year contract worth over $50 million that made him the higest-paid coach in NBA history.
The result was 23 wins, the second worst in the NBA in 05-06. Brown changed his starting line-up every other game and the team “quit” on him or he “quit” on the team. Brown most effective quality was criticizing his players in the press. He mentioned that Trever Ariza was delusional and just stopped short of calling Nate Robinson a lawless midget. He traded for Steve Francis and Jalen Rose and then parked them on the bench. He also got into it with Marbury as both traded barbs with who is the franchise guy.
After the season Brown tried to release a group of players including Marbury, Francis, Jerome James, Jalen Rose and Maurice Taylor. Doing so would have cost the Knicks $150 million in salaries, in addition to an equal amount in luxury taxes.
Left with little choice Dolan decided to fire Larry Brown and tries to withhold the $40 million they owe him. Commissioner Stern has to step in to arbitrate and Brown walks away with a cool $18.5 million. Between his buy-out with Detroit and his compensation with the Knicks Brown makes over $30 million for one season and averages about $1.2 million dollars per win.
7) Tim Thomas Gets all Fugazy
Tim Thomas, a life long under-achiever who is more brittle than a piece of balsa wood decided to get poetic in trashing Nets forward Kenyon Martin after a brief scuffle in the first round of the 2004 playoffs that led to a suspension of both players. After dissing his teammates for not having his “back” Thomas repeatedly calls Martin “fugazy”. Here is the urban dictionary definition of fugazy. Needless to say, the Knicks get swept in their only playoff appearance in the last six years.
6) Marbury on Mike’d Up
Stephon Marbury has been around the block. He’s a vertern of the NBA and has been squarely in the spotlight since his days as a phenom at Lincoln HS in Coney Island. So Steph should know by now not to show up for an interview higher than Willie Nelson. Marbury’s incoherent rambling is stunning to watch and rewatch and then watch again. If Francesca was actually in the studio baiting and instigating Marbury, instead of guest host Bruce Beck, this might have been the greatest nine minutes of footage in my life since the pool scene in Wild Things…
Here is one review from Slam Magazine..
Marbury answered questions with rambling non-sequiters. He received a phone call from his wife during the show and he started talking on his cell. He yelled over the host’s voice when he was trying to read highlights. He got all emotional talking about KG. He refused to answer some questions and acted like he was really offended that the host would put him on the spot. He said he might average 12 dimes and 2 assists whatever that’s supposed to mean. He said the Knicks can win the trophy this year, but he doesn’t play for trophies even though that’s what it’s all about, he just plays to win. I have no idea what any of that means. If you are confused, then I am doing my job well conveying this info to you.
Please watch this if you haven’t already seen it.
I’m not sure what’s going on inside of Steph’s head and recently he’s gone through some extremely difficult personal tragedies. He’s extremely talented but hasn’t ever helped a team win. Marbury is a New Yorker with all the glamour and all the scars. I’ll wear his sneaker and keep on rooting for him.
5) Shoot-First Point Guards
Point guards that look to shoot first and run the team second usually don’t make for a good NBA point guard. Instead they put up big numbers in a Eastern European bush league and wonder why the whole communist countries hates their guts as they put up twenty a game for the second division Ukranian D-League. It’s called Marcus Hatten syndrome.
In 2005-06, six of the Knicks 12 players were of the shoot-first point guard variety. Marbury, Jamal Crawford, Jalen Rose, Steve Francis, Nate Robinson and Penny. I don’t have the energy to calculate this stat but my guess is that there are 10-12 shooting point guards in the league at any one time. Why would the Knicks need half of them? There aren’t even enough basketballs at the pre-game shoot-around for this group. Maybe this is what Marbury meant when he said he would average 12 dimes and 2 assists per game. There’s more passing in a formula one race than on the Knicks team that season. Luckily, after the season they spent a 1st round draft pick on Mardy Collins a combo guard for Temple who likes to shoot!
4) Charlie Ward’s Faith
Apparently it does not jive with my faith. In 2001, Charlie questioned why stubborn Jew’s persecuted Jesus Christ and also remarked that Jews have blood on their hands. In Ward’s fairness he apologized and said that the quotes were taken out of context. In fact Ward also said “I didn’t mean to offend any one group because that’s not what I’m about. I have friends that are Jewish. Actually, my friend is a Jewish guy, and his name is Jesus Christ.”
I was always a fan of Charlie Ward. I thought it was cool that he won a Heisman Trophy and he was a gritty guard with a sweet shooting touch. He also seems like a religious man who contributes to his community. But it’s kind of hard to root for a guy who doesn’t root for you!
3) The Dolan Ultimatum
With Isiah’s job in limbo, he appears on television with James Dolan in which Dolan declares Isiah has one season to turn the team around or he will be canned. Isiah looked stunned as Dolan demands that the team show “significant progress”.
Isiah evidently does good enough to show “significant progress” by having the Knicks hover a few games below .500 and then promptly proceeds to lose 14 of their last 18 games. Combine that with the start of this season and the Knicks progress is a steller 11 and 31.
2) The Garden Gets Sued
Sometimes in the sports world females get treated poorly in the work place. Men don’t realize this is a business and still want it to be a game for boys and do stupid things. It seemed like this might have happened at MSG.
Anucha Brown Sanders was a marketing executive for the Knicks who sued the Garden for sexual harassment. Instead of doing what 99 out of 100 business would do in a similiar situation and settle, the Garden refused and instead allowed all of their dirty laundry to be aired to the public. In the end the Garden settled and forked over $11.6 Million dollars to Anucha’s cookie jar.
Apparently Isiah got a bit too lovey dovey with Anucha and when she complained James Dolan told her to take a hike. Isiah also called her a “black bitch” and a “ho” one too many times. In Browne Sanders testimony she also reveals that Isiah told her “Bitch, I don’t give a [expletive] about these white people,” when she tried to get him to sign sign renewal-request letters sent out to past season ticket holders.
Somehow Marbury took the stand to discuss an incident in April 2005 when he had sex with an MSG intern in his truck outside of a Manhattan strip joint. Oh vey!
1) Eddy Curry
I thought Vin Baker was tough to root for. Between a weird heart condtion and bouts of depressions Baker was a non-entity with the Knicks who always looked miserable and had no energy when he was on the court.
Then along came Eddy Curry.
The Knicks obtained Curry in a trade with Chicago. They gave up a top draft choice and a few other players and then signed Curry to a long term deal. The Bulls traded him because their team doctors would not clear him to play basketball. Curry suffers from an irregular heartbeat and the Bulls’ demanded he take a DNA test to help them understand his condition. He refused.
To watch Curry play basketball is an exercise in futility. The guy just doesn’t care. He won’t rebound. He won’t play defense. He won’t really exert himself, ever. His natural position isn’t in the paint but rather sitting in a barber shop all day smoking a joint. His quickness and offensive moves are more of a tease than a skinny girls with huge fake breasts. It’s amazing to me that Curry has a heartbeat at all. It doesn’t take a medical degree or a chromosome test to know that the guy has no heart.
Now that Curry is paired with Zach Randolph the Knicks have two pudgy big man with amazing skills and coordination and little hustle and pride. They work as well together as a hair dryer in my bath-tub.
Eddy Curry facial expressions go neck (speaking of necks I want to claw that tattoo off of his) and neck with Eli Manning’s. Pouters. Lethargic, careless, pouters.
Last summer, Curry and his family were robbed in his home in Chicago. I had nothing to do with this but my guess was that it was by a Knicks fan.
So that’s that. Let me know what I forgot. Add it as a comment to this post. See you all at the inner-core bototom. For now I’ll get my basketball fix watching the Johnnies quest for an NIT bid. Here’s a video that you’ll surely be familiar with if you’ve recently attended a Knicks game.