Think back to last Friday. It was the night before the playoffs when all throughout the Garden, Knicks fans were once again hopeful. Our “ball-stopper” Carmelo Anthony was the Eastern Conference Player of the Month after his inspired play in the month of April.
Tyson Chandler commanded the paint. Iman Shumpert was a defensive specialist ready to shut Dwyane Wade down. Amar’e Stoudemire was back from injury and ready to roll.Steve Novak couldn’t miss a shot and J.R. Smith would provide the extra punch off the bench, things were perfect. But we forgot one thing, these are the New York Knicks, and with them, nothing is ever certain.
In the next 72 hours, as if out of some Franz Kafka novel, the Knicks season began to unravel before our eyes in stunning fashion. It started Friday night with Chandler contracting the flu, he would play in Game 1 but his performance was deplorable and hindsight suggests he should not have been on the floor at all.
As if that was not bad enough, Game 1 was an absolute travesty with the Knicks losing by 33 points to the Lebron James lead Heat. The Knicks were silly and uninspired, and though the referee calls were very suspicious, they allowed it to kill their spirit, something you cannot do on the road in the playoffs. To add injury to insult, so to speak, Iman Shumpert completely blew out his knee and will now miss the next 6-8 months. This is especially bad for the Knicks as the rookie has been an integral part of their set-up this season.
Now he will have no offseason and instead will have to spend that time rehabbing his injured knee. Many wonder if he will ever be the same in terms of his athleticism. Then it came to a boil after Game 2. After losing again to Miami in a game that was never really as close as the scoreline suggested, Amar’e Stoudemire proceeded to lacerate his hand by punching a fire extinguisher glass. At this point nothing is surprising anymore but to see the meltdown of the Knicks over the last weekend was hilarious.
Game 3 did nothing to appease the fans. The vibrant Garden crowd hoped for an inspired performance and for three quarters they had it.
But in typical Knicks fashion, they faltered down the stretch, losing by 17 points. But Knicks fans should be used to it by now. The amount of pain Knick fans have gone through over the years is astounding, quite frankly most of us probably need therapy at this point Knicks’ seasons have gone from hopeful to “how are they going to mess it up this time.” The problem with the Knicks franchise is that they are never that bad, which makes this whole situation that much worse, in a practical way as well.
For instance, remember when the Thunder (then the Sonics) was a horrible team? From 2007 to 2009 their record was a combined 43-121, bad enough that during that time period they received a number of high draft picks. In 2007, then the Sonics the drafted Kevin Durant no. 2, in 2008 Russell Westbrook was their no. 4 overall pick (they also picked up Serge Ibaka with the 24th pick in the same draft) and in 2009 James Harden was their no. 3 overall pick. Thats 80 percent of their current lineup, not to mention that Durant has been the NBA leading scorer for two seasons. This has set up the Thunder for a decade of dominance, the Knicks on the other hand always hover around the 8-15 spot in the draft because they never “let themselves get bad.”
Just to be clear I am not talking about sabotage here, I would never condone the losing of basketball games on purpose. But every season you see the Knicks making ridiculous trades in an attempt to stay relevant, all the while giving up on their young nucleus in search of green pastures. However the grass is not always greener on the other side, its greener when you water it and the Knicks will have to learn to nurture their own players if they want to be successful.
The Knicks always rush the development of players and hope for instant results. Sports doesn’t work like that, we need to start letting our young players breathe, we can’t be in “win now” mode every year, its not working.Maybe you have a bad season or two that you have to take on the chin, but after that it could be a dream. Or would you rather a decade of mediocrity? Because that’s what we have now.