As the NBA season comes to a close, we look back yet again on a disappointing season for Knicks basketball. Last year was the same—Oh, Carmelo is so good (he is), he’ll lead the team, and all these young players will help the Knicks make a playoff run! Which means we could win the final! Well, that didn’t happen, and it hasn’t happened since 1973. We got back there twice—in 1994 and 1999—when the Knicks came close to winning but never quite could.
From then on, we’ve been your classic middle-of-the-pack team—occasionally 7th or 8th seed, but never making it past the conference finals, even with Melo and Stoudemire (A.K.A Stat). This was the story last year as the Knicks missed the playoffs and we looked forward to the new season with Melo as a free agent and thinking about the future of our team. Well, Melo singed a five-year deal and with all the chaos of LeBron, Love, and Wiggins, the Knicks made their own five-star acquisition—the famous Phil Jackson, coach of the two greatest shooting guards to play the game. After winning 11 championships as a coach—and two as a player on the Knicks—Phil would try out his famous triangle offense in another big city. The fans were excited. I was excited! Finally, a change. We all thought better things were to come.
But from opening day, you could see it would be a long season. The Knicks were quickly down by 30, and many fans expressed their anger with language too vulgar for BenSPN. One balding, frustrated man ripped off his Christmas-themed Melo jersey and threw it into the crowd, so clearly angered by yet another terrible start to a season for the Knicks.
After winning the next game, analysts changed their opinions and expectations. Perhaps this could work. Maybe the Kicks and Phil Jackson could do this. And then the team went on the longest losing streak the city of New York had ever seen. At some point, the Kicks just started to tank. Whether it was the countless close losses, the injuries to Melo and Stat, or maybe the trades. Ah, yes, the trades: Shumpert, who on the Knicks couldn’t shoot or play defense, is now the staple defensive player and three-point shooter off the Cavs’ bench. Then J.R, an inconsistent scorer and wimpy defender on the Knicks yet he now starts for Cleveland and is bringing new energy to that contender.
After this, the fans and analysts learned to expect no more wins. Then the dropping of Stat left us with…only Melo. And then even he was shut down for the season with knee issues. This has left the Knicks with draft picks, boatloads of money, a couple of scrubs, and Andrea Bargnani.
The fans don’t even boo anymore; they have come to expect terrible losses. Even Spike Lee has been sitting in his seat the entire game instead of getting up and yelling. This season is long over and has been for a long time. Fans have showed up with bags over their heads because they were so ashamed to watch the Knicks yet now we again look forward, but this time with optimism. A historic and great franchise in a city equally great. Once destroyed by the likes of Isaiah Thomas and Mike D’Antoni, the fans now look forward to the magic of what Phil Jackson can do in the offseason.
Phil has to prove to New York that he can build a team and put New York back on the map. There are skeptics. Phil has not had to rebuild before. Phil hasn’t even had a front office job before the Knicks because he is so used to coaching. He has always been given great teams to coach and he still has to improve ours if we can make a run at the title. But we have faith—we have to have faith—that this great basketball mind can fix our disheveled franchise.
But after all it could all come down to chance, a lottery pick, or even the selfishness of a certain free agent.