We are the New York Knicks, the laughingstock of the NBA playing at the home of the world’s most famous basketball playground.
Basketball enthusiasts are familiar with playground legends like “Pee Wee” Kirkland and the famed streetball parks that NBA stars frequent such as Rucker Park. Over the years, New York has been referred to as “the Mecca of Basketball.”
The New York Knicks were once a franchise that epitomized the grit and grind of New York City’s blacktop playground origins with hard play night in and night out. In times past, the toughness of Knicks players like Patrick Ewing, Anthony Mason and Charles Oakley inspired children growing up in the inner cities.
Today’s Knicks look nothing like those 90s teams and the franchise has been reduced to the laughing stock of the NBA.
On the Court
For almost two decades, fans have endured terrible player signings, poor head coaching choices and dysfunction of the highest accord. Most recently, the team is wasting the prime years of one of the league’s premier players, Carmelo Anthony.
Over the summer, Knicks management assembled a team with high expectations to win now. They signed key players Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, Brandon Jennings and Courtney Lee. The increase in talent level around Carmelo Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis seemed like a good formula for a playoff appearance. But winning basketball has not materialized and the team’s record is identical to last years at this point.
Off the Court
As if poor play on the court wasn’t enough to bring embarrassment to the basketball Mecca, the Knicks find ways to subjugate its fan base to turmoil that none other would tolerate.
Currently, fans are wedged in the middle of what appears to be a war between management and its star player. Phil Jackson, whose record as an executive is nothing compared to his days coaching two dynasties, continues to find new ways to be critical of Carmelo Anthony. The latest battle, Jackson retweeting a scathing article by Bleacher Report’s Kevin Ding on Anthony’s lack of passion to win, as compared to Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan. Jackson added commentary that he learned you can’t change the spots on a leopard. In typical fashion, Jackson sent another cryptic tweet later in the week that he was misunderstood and backtracked from “discord.”
The only means of communication from Jackson this season has come from Twitter or indirect articles. He has not been available to the media although many have reached out for comment on the direction of the Knicks.
As if that wasn’t enough, there’s the ugly, downright distasteful incident with beloved ex-Knick Charles Oakley. Security forcibly removed Oakley from Madison Square Garden at the request of team owner James Dolan. Adding insult to injury, NYPD charged with him three counts of assault as well as trespassing.
Oakley, who bought a ticket to the game versus the Clippers, an egregious act in itself for a player who worked as hard as he did for this franchise, has been at odds with Dolan over the Knicks poor decisions and play over the years.
Knicks PR released a statement immediately that Oakley was disruptive and ended with “hope he gets the help he needs.” This was a clear effort to paint a picture of Oakley as a volatile individual. Oakley vehemently denied saying anything in the direction of Dolan. He stated security asked him to leave for no reason four minutes after arriving. To make matters worse, Dolan decided that banning Oakley from Madison Square Garden was the right course of action.
Despite all the PR spin efforts, the general public placed their support behind Oakley. Fans boisterously chanted his name in Friday’s game against the Nuggets.
The fact that Knicks leadership believe this is the appropriate treatment for a former player, a warrior and fan favorite, speaks volumes as to why they are in this current state of turmoil. The disconnect between Knicks management, players and the fanbase seems to have reached an all-time high.
Players have placed their support behind Carmelo Anthony and Charles Oakley, solidifying the belief that management is at the heart of the problem.
The Knicks, once the pride and joy of a frenetic city, is now one of the NBA’s beating sticks. How much longer will consumers tolerate this poor product before enough is enough?
Is it time for Dolan to sell the Knicks?
Clean house as many times as possible, nothing will change. As long as James Dolan is the owner of the Knicks, the franchise will be in constant disarray. The Knicks will not draw the marquee names necessary to compete on the highest level.
It’s more evident that James Dolan selling the team is the only way the Knicks will return to competency.