Tag Archives: Carmelo Anthony

James “Do’h” Lan

One must give the New York Knicks credit.  For a team whose record is 23-33, which makes them the fourth worse team in the Eastern Conference; for a team that has a team president who looks uninterested in the job and  a star player who’s future with the team is in limbo – they keep themselves as popular as the Warriors and the Cavs.

How do they achieve this?  The answer my friends is one word: Chaos.

The owner of the Knicks, James Dolan is worth somewhere near the $1.5 billion dollar mark.   Too bad the dollars don’t add up to wins for the Knicks though. This franchise has been a comedy of errors since the turn of the century.  There is a healthy-chuckle of names that have been tied to the Knicks and massive amounts of dollars wasted: Allan Houston, Isiah Thomas, Larry Brown, Jerome James, Eddy Curry and most currently Joakim Noah.

Let’s not ignore the presence of the Zen-Master, Phil Jackson though.  In 2014, Dolan gave Phil Jackson a five-year, $60 million dollar contract to become president of the New York Knicks (this is an executive position Phil Jackson has never held in his lifetime).  It is now early 2017 and it’s safe to say this Phil Jackson experiment is a disaster.  Phil Jackson lives in a past where he believes his fabled “triangle-offense” is the only way this Knicks team can succeed.  He goes on twitter to childishly “sub” players and fans alike.  And his huge ego has made him now, cower away from the podium where he used to be at his most comfortable.

Jackson has an on-going beef with star Carmelo Anthony (who Jackson re-signed to the team in 2014 to a five-year deal).   Although Dolan said he would let Phil Jackson run this team and he (Dolan) would not interfere at all – rumor has it that Dolan’s one request to Phil Jackson was to re-sign Carmelo Anthony.  Jackson has never hid his criticisms of Anthony, and this year with talks of trying to trade Carmelo, while pretty much throwing him under the bus for this season – Knicks fans and players are now tired of the Jackson-routine and have favored with Anthony (even if trading him actually makes more sense than holding onto him.)

As if this wasn’t enough – oh yeah, remember they are 23-33, Derrick Rose “no-showed” for a game,  Joakim Noah is awful and their young star Kristaps Porziņģis is out there trying to make a dollar out of fifteen cents – here comes the Charles Oakley thing.

As we all know, on February 8th, Charles Oakley got into a scuffle of sorts with security at Madison Square Garden, was escorted out and arrested the same night. Of course there are conflicting sides to this story.  The Knicks released a statement saying  Oakley “came to the game tonight and behaved in a highly inappropriate and completely abusive manner,” while Oakley said he “was minding his own business when he was confronted by Madison Square Garden Security, who asked why he was sitting so close to Dolan.”

Charles Oakley is a legend in New York.  And although Oakley admitted he was wrong for putting his hands on someone else (because he was wrong about that, lets not lose sight of that) – isn’t it strange that he had to buy his own ticket to watch a Knicks game.  Oakley is revered in New York as a player who gave 100% every night.  A player that would thrown his body on the line for a teammate, loose ball or anything that would benefit his team.  Seeing their “hero” getting thrown out of MSG, while watching their beloved Knicks during another struggling season became a boiling point for fans.

Dolan did not help matters, after it was confirmed that Oakley had been banned from MSG by accusing Oakley of being an alcoholic and an overly aggressive person: “He may have a problem with alcohol, we don’t know,” said Dolan, a recovering addict. “Behaviors of being physically and verbally abusive, those are personality problems (New York Post).” 

This statement coming from a guy who went to a drug rehabilitation center to take care of his demons in 1993.  And this, coming from a man who in 2015, responded to an angry fan who wrote a letter about his frustration with the Knicks with statements like “root for the Nets because the Knicks don’t want you” and even said in his letter that the man was probably an “alcoholic.”

And not for nothing, maybe someone should check the temperature on Dolan’s sobriety after offering Phil Jackson that team-president job. . .

According to ESPN, forces are trying to reconcile this beef between Dolan and Oakley.  Dolan has made a very obvious attempt at being a “good guy” with former players by having former Knick Lattrell Sprewell sit next to him court side for the Spurs-Knicks game last Sunday at the Garden.  Sprewell spoke with the media after in what seemed like a very “prepared” speech which spoke highly about how he’s been treated as a former player.

Knicks fans aren’t dumb enough to fall for such a transparent ploy.

According to ESPN’s Ian Begley  there is “some momentum toward a resolution” between Oakley and Dolan, thanks to recent conversation between both sides.”  This would be good, if it’s resolved quickly, but even then – we all saw the true nature of James Dolan.  And what the world has witness in the last week about Dolan is what New Yorkers have known for far too long.

G.W.Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio

NY Sports Today, Pt. One: The NBA

New York is pretty much the center of the universe.  Us citizens in New York acknowledge that fact and we ride with it.  Even those who aren’t from the great city of NY – when they compare our city to any other, it usually ends in a defeated mutter: “. . . but nothing is like New York.”   Yes, it’s the city all others love to hate and for good reason.  We stick our noses in the air,  and we are all in a rush because we all have somewhere to go or someone to meet.  Another reason this city is the one most love to hate, is because of it’s sports fans.  Personally, I get it.  Growing up in New York, I grew away from the fan bases of all the metropolitan franchises and mainly because the fans were just awful.   It’s not the fans’ fault though.  They grew up in the city that the world revolves around, so why wouldn’t the sports world revolve around their teams as well?

For the next few weeks I’ll be breaking down exactly where the professional franchises in this great city are in respect to the leagues they’re in.  This week we’ll tackle the NBA.  Here is where on one side you have a team that’s holding on to some imaginary greatness in the Knicks, and on the other side is one of the more forgotten professional franchises in the Brooklyn Nets, who are (unfortunately) the only team I care about in this great city. . .

The New York Knicks:

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Since the start of the new millennium, the New York Knicks have been a downtrodden franchise, who have been the focal point of frustration for most New Yorkers. Some blame Donnie Walsh.  Others blame Mike D’Antoni or Isiah Thomas.  The truth is, it was a cluster of stupid mistakes combined with ill-timed trades that had the Knicks in a perpetual state of hopelessness.  Since appointing Phil Jackson as the team president, the fan base has gone through  many ups and downs, in what is now – just about two years.  Phil Jackson hasn’t done much to re-ignite hope in the fan base until (let’s be honest) he got lucky and drafted Kristaps Porzingis with the fourth pick in the draft.  Why, lucky?  Because, in all truth he wanted Towns or Okafor – everyone did.  When he drafted the 7-footer out of Latvia, nobody knew what to expect.  And in true New York Knicks fashion – their fans expected the worse.  Much to their delight Porzingis has shown enough flashes in his rookie season that Knicks fans are comfortable moving forward with him.

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Things don’t get easier for the Knicks though.  Phil Jackson’s first choice as head coach, Derek Fisher was released this year and he has been replaced by Kurt Rambis.  Rambis, by resume or sheer looks is not the guy Knicks fans want.  To complicate things even further with the Knicks this year is they don’t know what/who they are.  They should be a team looking to groom it’s young star in Porzingis and even give more playing time to the youngsters Langston Galloway and rookie Jerian Grant but it seems like Jackson and Rambis want to “push for the playoffs.”  For what?  To get swept by the Cavs in the first round?  What does that do for you?  As it stands right now the Knicks are the 12th seed.  Last time I looked this wasn’t the NCAA Championship Tournament so being a 12th seed does you no good here.  In the Knicks’ weak attempt at trying for the playoffs, they are consistly playing with a back court of Aaron Affalo and Jose Calderon – those are two guys you couldn’t package in a deal even if you threw in all the Beatles masters and the sword of Gryffindor.

So, when it comes to the Knicks they have this one piece to build with in Porzingis.  A fading star in Carmelo Anthony.  And three interesting role players.  Oh and they’re all being coached by a guy who looks like this:

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and when he played, he looked like this:

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Someone needs to tell Phil Jackson to pump the brakes.

The Brooklyn Nets

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If there was ever a “wrong” team to root for – it might be this one.  You have to search high and low to find true Nets fans in New York.  Unfortunately for me, I see one in the mirror everyday (albeit it’s not a horrible sight, but I digress. . .).   When Mikhail Prokhorov bought the Nets in 2009, he brought with it a re-branding, a fresh start and an excitement rarely seen by this fan-base.   That lasted all but 3 years.  Give Prokhorov credit though, it’s not like he didn’t try.  He wasn’t shy with his money (as he had the most expensive and over-paid back court in the history of the NBA with Deron Williams and Joe Johnson) and he was quick to pull the trigger on a trade to bring Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to Brooklyn (which resulted in the NETS giving the Celtics every first round pick from now until I’m in my 40’s.)   “The Mad Russian” tried to bully his way into the league and he realized the err of his ways.  This brings us to the present day where the NETS are the fourth worst team in the NBA.  Put that into perspective they have only 15 wins, which is currently only one game better than the Phoenix Suns – a team that fights with itself on the bench.

The Nets have hired Sean Marks to be the team’s new general manager.  This got the fan base excited because he comes from the San Antonio Spurs offices and he waived Andrea Bargnani right away.   Marks has his work cut out for him though.  There are no draft picks to speak of and the entire roster from top to bottom needs to be reworked.  The NETS should’ve traded Thaddeus Young at the trade deadline because his stock will most likely never be higher than it is right now.  And although everybody loves him, it’s time to part ways with Brook Lopez.  Besides the injury bug that always haunts him, it’s the fact that the NBA is moving in a different direction.  Big men like Lopez still have a place in this league, but not on a team like the NETS that really can’t do anything to protect his weaknesses as a player.  Joe Johnson should’ve found a spot on a playoff team at the trade deadline, but that didn’t happen either.

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The good thing about being a NETS fan is that you really don’t expect much. . . ever.  So Sean Marks has more than enough time to put something together, and if he doesn’t – oh well, we’re the NETS. . .

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio

Why Durant to the Knicks Makes Sense

The New York Knicks and the Oklahoma City Thunder are two teams in two very different predicaments.  The New York Knicks are now part of a complete over-haul.  They are in Year One of the Phil Jackson era, and not much has gone right.  The Zen-Master’s office wizardry has left little to be desired and Carmelo Anthony, the team’s one true “superstar/max-player” has been sidelined for the rest of this season due to injury.  Not that having Anthony on the roster would change much, considering the Knicks are constantly in (what seems to be a battle for) last place in the NBA.

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The Oklahoma City Thunder aren’t in the shape the Knickerbockers are in, but this season has been a disappointment.  Injuries have shaken this roster so much, that it’s been a rare occurrence to see Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant on the court at the same time.   Now, while the Thunder fight to be an eight seed in the Western Conference Playoff picture, it appears they are without Serge Ibaka for some time and there is a good chance Durant is done for the rest of the season.

No matter the outcome to this season, the Thunder know they can re-up with a healthy squad next season and have a good chance of coming out of the West, while the Knicks know they are years away from thinking about challenging for their division and even less, the Eastern Conference.

A funny thing has happened in Oklahoma City, though.

In Kevin Durant’s absence, Russell Westbrook has shone like he never has before.  Everyone was well aware that Westbrook was a top 5 player in the league and the debate gained steam last season of “who’s better?” between him and Durant.   Westbrook has been leading the Thunder and keeping them in the playoff conversation and has done so in MVP fashion.  Westbrook is one of the league’s fiercest competitors and his stat sheet as of late averages a triple double.  Westbrook’s play has opened the flood gates to rumor mills and has many people thinking – maybe Durant is expendable.  

If that is the case, there is no better suitor than the New York Knicks.

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The Knicks have been trying to pair up Carmelo Anthony with someone for as long as they’ve had him.  The problem is (and the secret is apparently out) nobody really wants to play with Melo.  Melo is a different kind of star, in the sense that there are always questions of his work ethic and leadership, but still there is no denying – when healthy – he’s one of the leagues toughest to defend.  For Durant, he comes to New York where his star will continue to shine and where he will pretty much own the city that never sleeps.   Sure, Anthony is a step down from the all around player Westbrook is, but at least he’s still playing alongside an All Star, in what is a very weak Eastern Conference.

Of course, the price for Durant won’t come cheap.  The New York Knicks are destined for a prime first round selection in what has been talked up to be a very promising draft class.  Obviously, the Knicks don’t need to trade for Durant – they can just draft one of these hot shots and start the rebuilding process – but considering the heat Phil Jackson has been under in his first year as team president of the Knicks – he might want to make a bigger splash and acquiring one of the NBA’s best players would do just that.

The Thunder meanwhile, would inherit this draft pick (and most likely the following years pick as well) and build around Westbrook.  Without Durant, Westbrook would still have Serge Ibaka and the likes of Enes Kanter, Dion Waiters and Jeremy Lamb on the team as well as a draft pick which can end up being: Jahlil Okafor of Duke, or one of Kentucky’s big men, Karl Anthony-Towns or Willie Cauley-Stein.   Also keep in mind, this move would give the Thunder more flexibility with money.

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For the Thunder, this move secures at least one of their two stars moving forward, with the ability to build a team while still being a contender in the Western Conference.   For the Knicks, this gives them a chance to be relevant again.  This isn’t the Knicks over-paying for a star passed his prime again either.  Here, they would be acquiring a 26 year old player who is always in the MVP discussion.  Of course if the Knicks did acquire Durant, the topic would be that neither he or Carmelo Anthony are known for their defensive prowess, but still, this is basketball and you have to score more points than the other team ultimately – and having two players who can hit shots from anywhere on the floor while being defended is hard to come by.   Although if history is to repeat itself in the form of bad luck which seems to plague the Knicks, Durant would probably only have two healthy seasons out of five – and this trade will be a bust for the Knicks.  Then years later, the New York media would kill Phil Jackson for trading away picks for a broken down Durant.

Damned if you do and damned if you don’t, in the city that never sleeps.

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio