I’m the die hard of all die hard Knick fans; suffered through the last decade missing maybe 20 games in a ten year period. I defended picking up Steve Francis. Made a case for Antonio McDyess. Basked in the momentary glory that was David Lee and all his whiteness. I mean, I even claimed that Don Chaney was the greatest coach since some greasy scumbag named Pat Somebody. So I should be elated about my team’s current status and rise from the ashes over the last two+ years, right? Well, I am…sort of.
Ever since “The Incision” this past summer (rumor has it that if you look closely enough you can actually see the gaping wound oozing the blood of the city of Cleveland), all I can really focus is on the idea that only two bodies now run the NBA: the players and the media. Save for Mark Cuban and potentially Mikhail “No Words Real Man Talk” Prokhorov, you can stop pretending NBA GM’s, and even most owners, including the great Dr. Buss, have even the slightest shred of relevance or power anymore.
As soon as the self-proclaimed “King” made his so-called speech (thoughts on if I should see that film in the theaters or wait for DVD by the way?), the reigns were officially handed over to the players themselves. The players buy the buses and the media drives them. Period.
Here’s a perfect example: no less than two weeks after his return to New York radio and the ESPN family, Stephen A. Smith brazenly began calling for the heads of the entire New York Knicks front office, boldly proclaiming that if the Knicks don’t get Melo, heads should roll. Right, because Stephen A. is definitely in a position to judge NBA executives who are also attorneys with four decades of NBA experience. That makes total sense. Low and behold, the next morning, every other radio host and newspaper followed suit, demanding this happen at any and all cost.
And what happened? James “I LOVE ISIAH I LOVE ISIAH I LOVE ISIAH” Dolan listened and quickly followed instructions. So here’s the chain of events, just in case you doubt my theory: summer 2010, toasts were made and conversations were had at Melo’s wedding, both by him and soon-to-be bus owner Chris Paul, that clearly indicate he wants to come to NYC. Fall 2010: Melo talks to ESPN and refers to playing in NYC as “the ultimate dream.” Winter 2011: Melo continuously does nothing to deny reports he wants to be a Knick and the media begins driving the bus. Radio hosts, newspaper men, bloggers and the rest of the free world began emphatically stating that the Knicks should do most anything – save for trade Amar’e – to acquire Anthony. And from that moment on, every reasonable sports fan knew with the utmost certainty that Melo would be here by February 24th. And that, my friends, is the problem. When a superstar says he wants something and the media wants that very same thing for their own fairly obvious reasons, that superstar gets his way without exception. Hear me clearly: the EXACT same thing will happen with at least two of the threesome that make us the free agent class of 2012 headliners: CP3, Deron Williams and Dwight Howard. In fact, let me just say it right now: CP3 will be a Knick, Dwight will be a Laker and Deron Williams will have TERRIBLE hair…in New Jersey apparently!!!! UPDATE: DERON WILLIAMS HAS JUST BEEN TRADED TO THE NYETS!!!!!!!!!!!! Remember that, folks.
Look, having ten powerhouse NBA teams in not necessarily all bad. That being said, if the league intends to continue to let this go on, then a handful of teams MUST be contracted. You cannot have a dozen teams that are truly incapable of competing with the elite lot. This is a sad thing for cities like Cleveland, but it’s still a reality. Can you imagine a league with twenty teams all within say 15 wins of each other? It would be parity at its best.
Now, onto the trade itself. Since Max already covered it, I’ll be quick because I agree with most of what he said. In short, we’re about five wins better than we were 48 hours ago and in a far-better long-term position. Let me be clear: I HATE Melo’s game as I’ve come to know it. A dude who drops 50 with no assists and doesn’t get the win, a dude who stops any and all ball movement, a dude who plays defense about as well as Joba Chamberlain diets is not a dude I’m interested in. However, like Max, I can only be optimistic and think that he too, like Amar’e, will alter his game dramatically and immediately and that he’ll do anything possible to bring a championship to his home, to the greatest city in the world.
I believe. I also believe that D’Antoni’s system – a system I’ve long condemned – will serve to expedite this change. If the idea is to run, run, run and move the ball, then I have to assume that he also won’t let Melo just stop the ball all night like he did in Denver. Above all else, what this trade accomplishes is a new beginning. Like them or not, getting rid of Wil, Gallo and all-things Knicks-past was a necessity if we ever expect to get to the next Level (it is not a coincidence that I’m omitting Ray-Ray from that group. Praying he returns somehow, even if he mans the new roast beef carving station at The Garden). We now have a new identity, one that has yet to take shape, but one that is not used to losing…and that’s all that really counts. And hey, “Mr. Hustle Harder” himself, the amazing Renaldo Balkman, is back ladies and gentleman. When you couple him with the ugliest man in the NBA, possibly the universe, Shelden Williams, you simply cannot argue against this trade.
In closing, let me emphatically state that if 1). Donnie’s contract is not renewed or 2). Isiah is back in any capacity, I don’t know how long I’ll be able to stick with this. At the start of the 2007-2008 season, the season before Donnie took over (actually he took over April 2nd, 2008 but I don’t have time to research the roster on that day, so a few of these guys may have already been gone), this was the roster: Stephon Marbury, Eddy Curry, Zack Randolph, Renaldo Balkman, Wilson Chandler, Mardy Collins, Jamaal Crawford, Jerome James, Jared Jeffries, Fred Jones, David Lee, Demetris Nichols, Quentin Richardson, Nate Robinson, Malik Rose and Isiah at the helm. If you look at the roster today, I find it hard to argue against the brilliance that has been Donnie’s stint as GM. The fact that there’s any doubt whatsoever as to whether or not to bring this man back is purely imbecilic. The only thing more imbecilic? Even considering letting Isiah into the garden whether it’s as GM or even just to use the bathroom…