The ankle injury to young Kristaps Porzingis wasn’t pure happenstance. It was a sign to the New York Knicks from the basketball gods.
For a myriad of reasons, it was awful.
The sight of Kristaps Porzingis, the New York Knicks cornerstone for a decade-plus to come, limping through the hallway at the Quicken Loans Arena brought to light cruel realities fans in the Big Apple have become all too familiar with.
Kristaps Porzingis limps off to the locker room with an apparent injury pic.twitter.com/2Q4jhgH93F
— The Crossover (@TheCrossover) February 24, 2017
For one, KP can’t avoid these downticks in his physical well-being. Whether it comes via the “rookie wall” or nagging boo-boos, Porzingis’s inability to stay 100 percent all the time is hindering his progress as an NBA youth. (Let’s also not forget his foul woes, which ultimately damage his playing time the greatest.)
More significantly, at this point in time, is the idea that this injury represents the ultimate narrative in a doomed season from jump street.
The basketball gods are now torturing the Knickerbockers. Instead of allowing Phil Jackson to call the shots, they may have just forced his manipulative hands.
At 23-35, fresh off a sound beating at the hands of LeBron James and the world champion Cleveland Cavaliers, the only view the Knicks (and their supporters) could take was one of hope. Despite much noise, looking to deal off Derrick Rose to the Minnesota Timberwolves for a true point guard in Ricky Rubio never materialized. Reports have it coming down to the T-Wolves, as their side was the party that ultimately balked at the too good to be true deal.
Therefore, fans were tortured into witnessing No. 25 take the court in Cleveland on Thursday night, yet again, looking to penetrate against three defenders and “get his.” After all, this is his walk year and everybody involved knew this going in.
Nevertheless, without activity at the deadline and multiple name players remaining on the roster, New York’s attitude had to be “push for the eighth seed.”
Then KP goes down. For how long? We still don’t know. The mere fact he went down, though, just hours after a failed trade deadline, represents a situation that is all too familiar and laughable. The Knicks, even when they attempt prominence, can’t seem to get things right.
On the sunny side, as painful as it may have been, perhaps the basketball gods did the Knicks a favor.
When was the last time an eighth seed made a significant run in the NBA Playoffs? You already know who it was, the 1999 Knicks led by Jeff Van Gundy and Allan Houston. But don’t for one moment believe this team was a true eight-seed. This was the lockout year, a campaign that featured only half a season. Those Knicks represent the only team in NBA history to make a finals appearance because, well, quite frankly, they weren’t a true eight-seed.
It’s the cruel reality of this league, this association. The top dogs flourish while the mediocre squads live on in purgatory. Striving for the eighth-seed is the equivalent of banging your head against the wall and expecting Skittles to pop out of your ears.
The attention-starved organization and success-starved fanbase will push that sentiment aside for a couple of weeks if it just means their team is in the tournament. It’s a reality Isiah Thomas once played out during one of the early springs of his career when he so confidently welcomed the playoffs back to Madison Square Garden.
As exciting as it may be, it’s just not worth it. No NBA Playoffs logo on the Madison Square Garden court for one 48-minute game is worth missing a chance to build a solid foundation for decades-worth of success.
When David Robinson went down to injury in 1996-97, Gregg Popovich and the San Antonio Spurs knew what to do. His team tanked it and did so to such a phenomenal degree that it was his organization who took the legs out from underneath Rick Pitino and the Boston Celtics for the rights to draft Tim Duncan.
20 years later, the Spurs have witnessed five banners raised.
Some may argue that tanking scares off free agents. While true during the immediate state of the process, franchise credibility is what ultimately attracts them. To achieve credibility and long-lasting organization success under this CBA, acquiring assets is a must. To acquire assets, you must strip player and cap space and maneuver for a better draft slot.
How do you do this? You tank.
So, no, you may not love the idea of looking to lose games in a semi-purposeful way. I’m pretty sure nobody does. At the same time, how could NBA teams not adhere to that strategy if it actually works?
Call me crazy, but wake me up when June comes. It’ll be LeBron, Kyrie Irving and the Cavs taking on that superteam from the Bay Area, once again.
Flow with the basketball gods, Jax and the Knicks. Just hours after you failed to do anything at the deadline, they made a thunderous statement regarding your future.