Tag Archives: Knicks

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

Durant’s Best Option: Russell Westbrook

Now that Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant have been embarrassed losing a best out of seven series to the Warriors after having  a 3-1 game lead – it’s time to talk about the future.  If you read every tweet posted on twitter, Kevin Durant is expected to meet with half of the NBA in the off-season.  Durant is the NBA’s hottest free agent piece in this year’s market and for good reason.  Durant is a former MVP, a four time scoring champion and a seven time All-Star, since his rookie campaign in 2008 – of which he won rookie of the year honors as well.

Kevin+Durant+Oklahoma+City+Thunder+v+Golden+a1VlR1QNZrQl

Durant has had a little more of an “attitude” accompanied by his game in the last two years or so, but it seems to suit him well.  He seems to have a more competitive drive and his goal to win an NBA Championship (or championships) have become quite clear.

Some thought that if the Oklahoma City Thunder won the Western Conference, it would solidify Durant’s ties to OKC.  Now, after a game seven loss, any and everything is up for discussion.  Durant has publicly said that he needs to talk with his inner circle to see all of his options, but in the meantime let’s help him out.

1. New York Knicks – They have Kristop Porzingus, who Durant has admitted to being a fan of, but is that enough for Durant to want to join this media circus led by the weirdest of all team presidents in the league, Phil Jackson?  K.D. has established his brand in Oklahoma City, so the bright lights and all that come with New York City, won’t mean a thing to him.

2. Golden State Warriors – Remember this rumor earlier this year?  If Golden State frees up the cap-room, they might be a team who Durant would consider. . . something just tells my above average intelligence K.D. is not down with the old “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” mantra. . .

Kevin+Durant+Oklahoma+City+Thunder+v+Golden+KyCO_ukhQHQl

3. Philadelphia 76ers  – Apparently the Sixers want to win games now, and no longer tank for draft picks.  They want to make a pitch to K.D. and intrigue him with all the young talent they’ve acquired over the years.  Problem is, K.D. has seen how a good franchise can maintain their position and still acquire talent without tanking.  He has a nice blend of young and veteran players on OKC, so why’d he trade that for a bunch of “wet behind the ears, lottery picks.”

4. Washington Bullets – Yes, we call them the Bullets here, not the Wizards.  This team disappointed not only their fans, but even casual NBA fans this season. Playing alongside John Wall isn’t as appealing as playing alongside Russell Westbrook and Washington is really banking on the “home-coming” feel.  It’s the same feel, that brought LeBron James back to Cleveland.  The problem is, LeBron won his championships elsewhere “just in case” he doesn’t win them in Cleveland – and also LeBron was pretty much promised total control of the team.  K.D. doesn’t have any of those things in his back pocket.

5. Miami Heat – This one is “kind of” intriguing but only because of Pat Riley, who no doubt “can sell water to a whale,” to quote Jay-Z’s lyrics from “U Don’t Know”.   .  .

There are a few other teams with rumored interest like the Celtics and the Spurs, but smart money says that Kevin Durant with sign a two year deal with OKC, with a second year opt out clause.  As mentioned earlier, he wants a championship and this team has the tools to deliver that championship trophy on Durant’s mantle.  Other than Westbrook, the pieces that make up the Thunder are intriguing in Steven Adams, Serge Ibaka, and Andre Roberson.  It also would seem as if this team now has the right coach in Billy Donovan. If you exclude the ridiculously unrealistic options of San Antonio and Golden State – every other option for Kevin Durant moves him a step further from his goal of winning an NBA title.

Kevin+Durant+Oklahoma+City+Thunder+v+Dallas+C3VQaGUZgCcl

The league is designed for star players to unite and win championships.  He won’t go anywhere else and find a better star to work with than Russell Westbrook.  Him and Russell have a great understanding of each other’s games and it would seem that they have a great respect for each other.  K.D. and Russ need to figure this thing out for themselves because if they separate, the road to winning a championship only becomes harder for each of them.

Smart money says Kevin Durant gives it at least another year with Russell Westbrook.  Maybe they both decided to stay in OKC for the long haul, maybe they decide to leave together and go somewhere else — maybe they decide to split up and start anew. . . Whatever the outcome, expect the media to be all over Durant’s travels in the off-season and in the end, expect a lot of teams to be left with nothing but a hefty dinner bill after Durant decides to stay put with the Thunder and Russell Westbrook.

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:

Tampa+Bay+Lightning+v+New+York+Rangers+Game+yz3mz0bmiPMl

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.

Kristaps+Porzingis+Golden+State+Warriors+v+wpmEAAldnoMl

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:

Kurt+Rambis+Washington+Wizards+v+New+York+0QFA8DzcoUnl

and when he played, he looked like this:

kpj2oa-b78536143z120090806102608000gnrj2lsr1lg

Someone needs to tell Phil Jackson to pump the brakes.

The Brooklyn Nets

Mikhail+Prokhorov+Chicago+Bulls+v+Brooklyn+KHZNx41q0Ucl

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.

Brook+Lopez+Toronto+Raptors+v+Brooklyn+Nets+tgJQdcqJigYl

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