The New York Knicks are a complete embarrassment to the city of New York, flaunting a league high payroll while producing a pathetic total of victories, an abominable mess that ceases to both disgust and amaze.
The demise of the Knickerbockers, a team previously beloved by a Basketball crazed City, proceeded with startling acceleration. The Knicks deteriorated from perennial contender to doormat, a turn of events that can be traced toward one unforgivable mistake.
Patrick Ewing was the City’s icon, a seven-foot Center with an unquenchable thirst for his rightful ring. Patrick never did obtain that elusive title, alternately overshadowed by legendary peers such as Jordan and Olajuwon. As his time with the team advanced in years, the end drew close, encroaching on basic sensibility.
There were a multitude of reasons for the Knicks to simply allow Ewing’s contract to expire, unfortunately, sanity became a moot point in the dealings of GM Scott Layden. It is important for one to remember that despite erroneous reports from the Associated Press, Ewing was not seeking an extension from the Knicks, basically proceeding on a yearly basis, his strenghth undermined by wrist and knee problems. Patrick was a Garden Legend who left his heart out on the Basketball Court every single night, a true warrior who possessed the perserverance to carry an entire franchise on his back. He deserved the dignity of a final season with the team, and the franchise should have afforded itself the oppurtunity to avoid descending into the depths of Salary Cap Hell.
The Patrick Ewing trade is truly a landmark, for it denotes the first in a series of awful personnel decisions by the franchise, now perfected by an astonishingly delusional ownership group. In fact, with a higher evaluating acumen and an eye for the future, the Knicks could have avoided their present, warped fate, even despite the heinous Ewing mauever.
Instead, the blindness continued, proliferating at an epic pace. Among Scott Layden’s greatest hits:
1. Unloading Glenn Rice, the booby price in the Ewing giveaway, and somehow managing to acquire even more baggage, in the tandem of Shandon Anderson and Howard Eisley.
2. Sigining Clarence Weatherspoon, a move so lacking in sensibility that its eventual failure became almost overlooked, an afterthought.
3. Packaging prime trading chip Marcus Camby and the mysterious Nene Hilario in exchange for the talented, but oft injured Antonio McDyess. The trade was a potential debacle right from its consummation, especially if Camby fulfilled his burgeoning potential. In a turn of events reeking of inevitability, Antonio blew out his knee in an exhibition game. Camby, on the other hand, excelled in a fresh environment.
No move, not even the awful transgressions against humanity presented above, can sum up the Layden Knicks quite like the selection of Frederic Weis in the 1999 NBA Draft.
Weis, a surly, unknown European center had made only one attribute of his personality abundantly clear through the draft process: A bad attitude. A history of back problems deflating his stock, Weis bristled at the Knicks’ interest in his overall health, refusing any detailed medical examination.
Surely, this type of behavior would scare any team with the slightest grip on reality.
A decision at 15 should have been made infinitely easier when Ron Artest fell right into the Knick’s lap, his slip attributed to a raging, uncontrollable temper. When weighing the issues and uncertainty seemingly attached to the two prospects, it should have been easy for the Knicks, as an entire organization, to project Artest’s superiority. He was tough, played tenacious D, and his combative personality could be possibly pliable, perhaps forging an even more menacing competitor. Most importantly, he was a U.S. Citizen. There was no guarantee that Weis would ever set foot on American Soil.
It may have been with dismay that David Stern announced the Knicks’ 15th Selection in the 1999 Draft, for the NBA was a far more marketable commodity with a competitive team in New York. Perhaps Stern knew, that by announcing Frederic Weis as the Knicks’ pick, he was hammering yet another nail in their rotting coffin.
Change is welcomed without question by sufferers of stagnancy, a principal reason why Isiah Thomas’ checkered past in operating industry was swept aside by Knick fans starving for even a marginally competent Basketball team. Thomas, benefactor of Scott Layden’s overdue dismissal, immediately reassembled a roster that had become a laughingstock.
`Spoon would no longer be, in the words of Walt Clyde Fisher “swishing and dishing, running and gunning” in a Knick Uniform.
Shandon Anderson was given his walking papers.
Thomas sought to purge the roster, setting it free from the forces of inferiority. In their place, he would infuse younger, more graceful and athletic Knicks, a new generation.
To say the plan hasn’t worked out perfectly would lie in tantamount with understating the Apocalypse.
The more his moves fail, the more Isiah seems to mirror them in every trade endeavor. Marbury fails to grasp the concept of team Basketball, so he swings a deal for Steve Francis, who may be Steph’s long-lost selfish soul mate. Now, they are free to complain together instead of separately, a marriage of inconvenience.
Trading a lottery unprotected first round draft pick for Eddy Curry only cemented Isiah’s standing as the worst Current Executive in all of sports.
Good Ship Knick continues an infinite sink into the abyss, with an indifferent Captain at the controls. It was supposed to be Larry Brown’s dream job, but one year in, its billing as nightmare doesn’t appear an arguable description. Brown didn’t help matters through his own incompetence, utterly melting down, never quite able to settle on a consistent rotation. Whenever it seemed the Knicks had established a slight modicum of stability, Brown would shuffle, creating an irate faction in the locker room, led by a libertine known only as “Starbury”. The entertainingly vain feud between star player and beleaguered coach may have been the sole interesting subplot during the Knick’s beyond lost season. They are a mess, and Larry Brown isn’t playing savior, he’s just another piece of the distorted puzzle.
No end appears in sight.
Somewhere, sometime, Charles Oakley is administering a flagrant foul, John Starks is sinking a jump shot, and Patrick Ewing ambles up-court, in measured paces, all the time in the world.