Sports Perspectives by Mark Elder

Tuesday, 18 March 2008

First Words / NYK

Not surprisingly the first words of a former college basketball player from New York City concern the NBA and the New York Knickerbockers, who are nearing the merciful end of, according to readers, the worst season in franchise history.  I wasn’t around to see it all begin for the Knickerbockers, but from what I’ve seen in the last 22 years, I’m inclined to agree.  The Knicks have managed to disappoint their fan base every season since the turn of the century, despite a steady slide of fan expectations.  Fans have turned on the players, the head coach, the President and the owner, leaving only the Knicks City Dancers to be considered worth the price of admission, which is, of course, as high it has ever been for any team in American sport.

Knicks City Dancers in Action

This season has been particularly devastating because the one thing to which every fan clings is gone for the foreseeable future —  we (that is New Yorkers and the NY diaspora lurking throughout the country) have no hope.  Perhaps if Mrs. Clinton takes the Democratic Presidential nomination then Barack Obama can swoop in and restore that which is the lifeblood of every true fan.  The Audacity of Hope is a bestseller, but unfortunately the suits at Madison Square Garden aren’t buying it.  Many citizens have high hopes for Obama because unlike so many American politicians he is not (yet) a proven failure, but what hope for change is there for fans in the Garden?  Isaiah Thomas has always preached a positive message of hope, but as a proven failure in Toronto, Indiana and New York he makes it impossible to continue to believe.

Don’t get me wrong here, Isaiah is not solely to blame for the failures of his team and organization.  The Knicks were lousy when he was hired and they’ll be lousy when he dies or gets fired – so why pile on him?  Well, I see it this way:  James Dolan, chairman of the Garden, hired Isaiah to fix the hole in the wall at MSG that was the failing Knicks franchise, and offered him an unlimited budget to do so.  He came in and made the hole bigger, but convinced Dolan it was part of a master plan to build a sturdy, more durable wall that would last this time.  Dolan, the sucker that he is, continued to oblige the persuasive Mr. Thomas.  Isaiah then waited until Dolan turned his back and took a sledgehammer to the wall, honestly believing it would fix everything, and here we sit today with no wall, no plan for how to construct one and the same mopes trying haplessly to figure it out (in their spare time when they’re not in court handling misconduct charges).

Knicks fans have been reduced to nothing.  We chant “M-V-P” for stars on once-hated rivals at the Garden, and talk about how much fun it is to watch the Lakers or the Celtics.  Why?  The Knicks are impossible to care about.  Fans and pundits alike are indifferent to their wins and losses.  After all, what does it matter?  If you have lost in the past and there is no hope of any significant win in the present or future, to what are fans expected to cling?

The fact is there is nothing tenable and there won’t be as long as the NYK business model of exerting NO effort toward the end of putting forth a quality product continues to turn a profit.  Knicks fans, if you, like me, have no hope for the future, vote with your dollars and abandon this team until they give us hope again.


1 Comment »

  1. Comments welcome.

    Comment by Mark — Tuesday, 18 March 2008 @ 15:05

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