Phil Jackson working on memoir, publisher says – ESPN Los Angeles

Phil Jackson working on memoir, publisher says – ESPN Los Angeles.

College basketball: Saint Marys draws road trip to Murray State in BracketBusters matchup on Feb. 18

College basketball: Saint Marys draws road trip to Murray State in BracketBusters matchup on Feb. 18 – San Jose Mercury News.

Ranking the best high school teams in the country

Xcellent 25 high school boys basketball rankings – MaxPreps News.

MarShon Brooks Injury: New Jersey Nets’ rookie sidelined with broken toe

New Jersey Nets rookie MarShon Brooks sidelined with broken toe – ESPN New York.

Several St. Gregory’s University players injured in bus accident

Several St. Gregory’s University players injured in bus accident – ESPN.

USC Trojans forward Dewayne Dedmon tears MCL, out for year – ESPN Los Angeles

USC Trojans forward Dewayne Dedmon tears MCL, out for year – ESPN Los Angeles.

Arizona Wildcats’ Kevin Parrom lost for season with broken foot

Arizona Wildcats’ Kevin Parrom lost for season with broken foot – ESPN.

College of Charleston Cougars’ Bobby Cremins’ to take indefinite leave of absence

College of Charleston Cougars’ Bobby Cremins’ to take indefinite leave of absence – ESPN.

Attorney for Connecticut Huskies’ Ryan Boatright, mother says NCAA erred in disclosure of probe

Attorney for Connecticut Huskies’ Ryan Boatright, mother says NCAA erred in disclosure of probe – ESPN.

A Decade of Misery

Willis Reed

Let me start this off by posing a question to you all: Do you remember? Do you remember the days of Willis Reed and Walt “Clyde” Frazier? Do you think of one of the most famous games in NBA history? Game 7, 1970 NBA Finals. Reed fights through the pain in his leg after tearing a muscle in his right thigh early in Game 5. The Knicks lost Game 6 so it was all or nothing at this point. Willis knew that and went through the wire for his once proud franchise. Willis limped on the court and scored only 4 points that day. That was enough to push his team through the top. Willis was the only player to win NBA MVP, Finals MVP, and All Star MVP in one season. He also catapulted New York into another championship year in 1973 over the Los Angeles Lakers.

How about Bernard King? Bernard, one of the most resilient players to ever touch an NBA floor, has been through it all. Hailing out of Brooklyn, New York, King had always struggled between alcohol addiction and knee injuries. Many critics doubted him and what he could do after both unfortunate circumstances with addiction and health. Bouncing from team to team, Bernard had some of his proudest moments as a Knick. This man–proudly suited in a Knicks uniform–responded to critics by being one of the best scorers of his era. The four-time All-Star finished his career with 19,655 points, the comeback player of the year award in 1981, and also two 1st team all NBA awards.

Bernard King

After all of that, do you think King was satisfied? No. He was disappointed he couldn’t finish his career in the 20,000 point club. He was disappointed that he couldn’t win any championships at any point in his career. All of this after fighting through the struggles that life had to throw at Bernard.

How about Patrick Ewing and his New York Knicks? The same Knicks that went to war with Michael Jordan’s Bulls and Reggie Miller’s Pacers. The same New York Knicks that were an 8th seed to make the NBA finals? They’re still the only 8th seed–to this day–to make it that far in the post season. That was during a season where the players were locked out for the majority of it.

Even though Ewing wasn’t apart of the team that actually played in the Finals, they still has his Knick spirit and pride within. They eventually lost to Tim Duncan and the Spurs, but their unforgettable run just showed the toughness and swagger that New York embodies.

The next time you take a trip to the Garden, think of how much history has gone through that building. Some of the most magical moments in the history of basketball have happened there.

Think about that city. What is New York? As a basketball fan, its one of the cities that you dream on going to; an absolute basketball Mecca. When you think of hoops, you think of New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Boston, and North Carolina. Those are places where basketball thrives. It runs through their citizen’s veins; some of the greatest hoops legends have been made in these areas.

Which city has the most clout? It has to be New York.

New York has been host to some of the best basketball talent that we’ve ever seen. There was a reason that Durant went off for 66 in the Rucker. Kobe and LeBron play their hearts out every time they visit Madison Square. Why? Because its NEW YORK!

That lesson leads me to this. One of the most glorified franchises in NBA history has been driven into the dirt. As a basketball junkie, lover, hipster, whatever you want to call me, it hurts me to the inner depths of my soul to see this once proud franchise become an absolute mockery in the NBA.

Let’s go back, post Patrick Ewing era. Ewing was traded to the Seattle Super Sonics in September of the year 2000. In the 2001, Jeff Van Gundy had decided to call it quits after 7 years in New York. The Knicks weren’t off to a stellar start, but had recently won a few games to get above .500.He didn’t have the drive anymore and he didn’t want to short change the Knicks team at all. Instead of putting on the facade of a coach who was still willing to be in the business, he took his hand out of the cookie jar.

“I didn’t feel my focus was at its best. I didn’t want to hurt our team. I certainly don’t regret the effort I put forth. I just think it’s time to step back and let the team move on.” – Jeff Van Gundy via Pro Basketball Talk. 2001.

Van Gundy Directing his sqaud

Of course, maybe the Knicks aforementioned Patrick Ewing trade had something to do with that. Maybe, like many of us, Van Gundy wanted to take some time off with his family after the September 11th tragedy that terrified our nation. You can’t blame a man for needing a break; being overwhelmed is no good to anyone. For whatever the case, though, Van Gundy removed himself from the New York Knicks franchise and moved on with life.

Don Chaney took over as the interim coach of the Knicks and it wasn’t a galvanizing run to say the least. The Knicks finished 30-52 that season and were left searching for answers. For the first time in about 15 years the Knicks had failed to make the playoffs.

The pieces seemed to be picked up after the Knicks hired former Detroit Piston hall of fame point guard Isiah Thomas as the team president. Isiah seemed to bring a certain swagger to the Knicks that they had been lacking for years.

In truth, this is where a lot of the turmoil started.

For whatever reason, in a shock to much of the national media, the Knicks had extended Don Chaney’s contract the previous season before Isiah was hired. It was probably because he was told to coach a team that honestly wasn’t very good and was asked to do it on such short notice. Naming a few–Antonio Mcdyess, Penny Hardaway, Dikembe Mutumbo, and Tim Thomas.

Then all of a sudden, in a power move only about one month after his hire, Isiah decided to Fire Chaney and bring in Lenny Wilkens. This came in as a shock to the national media even though Chaney had only led the Knicks to a 15-24 record.

The newly retooled Knicks had made the post season in the 2003-2004 season only to be swept away by the New Jersey Nets, a new power in the Eastern Conference that had experienced some playoff success in recent years. Not to mention that David Chaney had been let go after only 39 games. Even with the franchise making the playoffs, this was not Knicks basketball. They were winners and they had a standard to live up to. The feel that the franchise wasn’t going in the right direction was increasing throughout the National Media. All eyes were on them.

The next season, Isiah put the Knicks through another coaching carousel once again. He eventually fired Wilkens as the head coach after going 17-22 on the first half of the season. Herb Williams came into the fold as the interim head coach and wasn’t very good at it either. The Knicks had gone 33-49 after that season and were faced with a lot of adversity. The Media was already on the Knicks for picking up a personality like Stephon Marbury. He was shipped out of Minnesota for having chemistry problems with Kevin Garnett. Many thought that it wasn’t wise for the Knicks to pick up someone with a destructive personality like his.

The Knicks proceeded to make bad move after bad move. They brought in center Eddy Curry and drafted center Channing Frye 8th overall in the NBA draft in 2005. Thomas was looking for a new center piece, like Ewing, and would pay any amount of money to acquire it. That showed in his signings of Eddy Curry–who was said to have weight and heart issues, and also clashed with John Paxson in Chicago–and Jerome James.

Also, Thomas blew up the Knicks draft chances in his trade for Eddy Curry. He sent the Bulls unprotected lotto draft rights in 2007’s draft and also sent them 2007 and 2009’s draft pick. He put too many eggs in a small childs Easter basket and it was bound to burst.

In 2005 Isiah had hired NBA and NCAA Champion coach Larry Brown to help resurrect the franchise. Remember that Easter basket that I was talking about earlier? Yeah, it exploded. The Knicks ended up finishing 23-59 this season–not to mention they had one of the most expensive payrolls in the league. There was really no excuse for all of the deficiencies of this franchise besides the fact that the Knicks had an extremely bad team. After going through this debacle of a year, Isiah Thomas proceeded to buy out Larry Brown’s contract–about 18 million down the drain.

With Brown out of the picture, Isiah decided to take over the reigns of the head coach seat himself. The team’s win total only increased by 8 the next season. More and more people started questioning whether or not Isiah knew what he was doing. He had been through so many coaches, he had overpaid so many players. When was all of this going to pay off? Time for change was obviously needed in New York.

Isiah Thomas

What’s more is that Isiah was being charged with sexual harassment. This was about as low as the Knicks could go. He was now an embarrassment to the organization and could no longer represent the city of New York. There was no turning back now; Isiah had to go.

In 2008 the New York Knicks owner, James Dolan, had decided to relieve Isiah Thomas of his duties as team president and head coach soon after their 23-59 season. He had seen enough of this miserable team and was tired of losing. He wanted to instill a winning culture in New York so he needed people who had won to do just that. He also hired Donnie Walsh, who had a lot of success with the Indiana Pacers for a little longer than a decade and a half, as the team president. Then, in turn, Walsh hired Mike D’Antoni as the head coach of the Knicks. Coming off of a successful tenure with the Phoenix Suns, this seemed like a no brainer for the Knicks. Things looked to be turning around.

There still needed to be overhaul in the roster. In 2009 the Knicks shipped Stephon Marbury out to Boston, who was a contender at the time. They also shipped Jamal Crawford out to the Golden State Warriors for Al Harrington, who’s contract would soon expire. The organization was moving forward with young centerpieces like David Lee, Danillo Gallinari, and Nate Robinson. Robinson was eventually traded because he and D’Antoni’s had bumps along the road, but the point is that they were moving forward for one big reason. What was that reason? The Summer of 2010.

As we all know, the big name free agent class was coming and teams were making room. There were stories in the national news about LeBron James possibly going to New York. Even if they didn’t land him, there were names like Amar’e Stoudamire, Joe Johnson, Chris Bosh, and Dwyane Wade out there for the taking. Initially, it looked like James was going to choose New York. Instead, he went to Miami and formed the royal triumvirate of Bosh, Wade, and James.

However, New York didn’t leave the best free agent class the league has ever seen empty-handed. They left the pool with Amar’e Stoudamire, who had signed a big deal with New York. Amar’e stated “The Knicks are back!” and it really seemed like they were. The Knicks had their swagger back under new coach D’Antoni and with new pieces that actually can co-exist they were making a name for themselves in the league.

Enter, Melo-Drama.

James Dolan, Carmelo Anthony, Tyson Chandler, Amar’e Stoudamire

There had been a proposed toast at Carmelo Anthony’s wedding. New Orleans Hornets point guard Chris Paul, Stoudamire, and Anthony had supposedly proposed a toast to make their own big three in New York. Eventually, after a lot of bickering and fence-strattling, Carmelo was traded to the New York Knicks. Many were happy about it; they thought that the Knicks had their swagger back. Coach D’Antoni had warned the organization about Carmelo Anthony, though. He didn’t believe that they should give up so many pieces in order to get him because then the team wouldn’t be very deep at all. Dolan made the move anyway, and enter Carmelo. The proud Brooklyn native looking to be the next Bernard King.

This was Dolan’s plan as soon as he hired Walsh; the greatest free agent class of all time was coming and he knew he had change to play with. Then again, here the Knicks are putting all of their eggs in one basket. As we can see the rival franchise of the New York Knicks are the poster-child of success with 2 top 10 players and three of the top 30 players in the NBA.

The Miami Heat have had a finals appearance in their first year of acquiring their big 3. New York? Not so much. They could only manage to be swept by the Boston Celtics, who would soon falter to the Miami Heat.

Donnie Walsh resigned from the position as the team gutted the roster for Carmelo Anthony. They traded away Danillo Gallinari, Raymond Felton, Wilson Chandler, and Timofey Mozgov for Carmelo Anthony. That’s an awful lot of players for a guy who isn’t very versatile in his game or making his teammates better.

This takes us to the present day. The Denver Nuggets are having a lot more success than the New York Knicks right now. They’re currently the 2nd best team in the Western Conference with the pieces that the Knicks willingly gave up to them. Meanwhile, in New York heads are being called for and people want bodies to roll out of Madison Square. The Knicks are currently talking lottery and are out of the playoff picture right now.

This team has a lot of problems that go beyond Amare and Carmelo not being able to coincide with each other. There is very little depth to this team, even after dumping a load of money on NBA champion center Tyson Chandler. The problem is not the defense, the Knicks are ranked 10th in defensive efficiency according to Basketball Reference. They can’t score points, shockingly, because of their lack of depth and their lack of good point guard play.

Carmelo and Amar’e came back from the lock-out induced offseason out of shape and weren’t ready to play the number of minutes that they have been entrusted with.

Too much responsibility has been left on two players that are only scorers in particular, not creators. That’s what’s wrong with this team. These guys don’t mesh on the floor and it shows every time they play. They need someone who can properly run the show and distribute the ball well enough to make things right.

No coach can fix that problem without the proper personnel. This is why you don’t build your team through players that you don’t really have a feel for.

Hindsight is always 20/20 and it says that these guys can’t play with each other on a team with a lack of depth and no point guard in particular. They aren’t guys who create for others, but they can score the ball as good as anyone. What you’re stuck with here is two scorers and ball stoppers; where is the distribution coming from?

You’ve got them playing with a bunch of back-ups and borderline starters. Toney Douglas, Bill Walker, Jared Jeffries, Mike Bibby. Who are these guys?

Of course, Tyson Chandler helps plug up the middle. That’s why this team is better defensively. The true problem here is something that New York has been seeing for the past decade; this team doesn’t mesh at all.

This is a page ripped right out of the Washington Redskins book. The Skins always used to look for the big name free agent and splurge as soon as it was time. No matter what the fit, as long as the player was good it didn’t matter. They’d figure it out right? Wrong.

Building a team takes more than one player’s skill. In no team sport has one player ever won a championship on his own; it takes the whole team’s effort. That’s what is missing in this situation. There is no team. This team is not good. The Knicks are an incomplete project right now and the whole world can see it.

Now–fans of New York–I grieve with you. This franchise has gone from Willis Reed and Bernard King to being the laughing-stock of the NBA. If I were you I would be totally embarrassed at the effort that this organization has given over the last few years and the amount of time that has been waisted in building a perpetual loser. There is no excuse for not having won a playoff series in over 12 years.

This is one of the NBA’s marquee franchises; anything but winning is not acceptable here. This franchise has the highest standard in the NBA. It’s NEW YORK! The media is cold and unforgiving and so are its citizens. They’ll turn on you like a rabid dog in very little time at all. That’s what has happened with the Carmelo Anthony situation and I can’t blame any New York fans.

These are the New York Knickerbockers. Act like it.

Michael D. Sykes, II