I am a New York Knicks fan, but you wouldn’t know it. I outgrew the last of my blue and orange apparel many years ago and before this year, I had not given the team serious interest since the days of Allen Houston and Latrell Sprewell.
Over the past decade or so, I have developed a sense of affectionate realism toward the Knicks. As some sort of pride-based defense mechanism, I have turned the team into my favorite lovable losers, and I have been able to laugh as just when the franchise seems that they cannot fall any farther from grace, they do.
This year I am not laughing. I actually care when Danilo Gallinari misses a three-pointer, or when Amar’e Stoudemire gets into foul trouble or when Madison Square Garden has to watch its team lose to an under .500 team at home. For the first time since 2000-2001, the Knicks are considered a decent NBA team, New York is a great basketball town when they have decent players to root for and I legitimately care.
As the city collectively held its breath on Carmelo Anthony and the Knicks’ courtship, I must say that the deal, which was said to be New York’s final offer, may be a considerable step in the wrong direction.
The Knicks parted with starters Gallinari and Raymond Felton, sixth man Wilson Chandler, Eddy Curry, a first-round draft pick, and cash to get Anthony, an aging Chauncey Billups and a few fill-in players.
Combined, Gallinari, Felton and Chandler were the Knicks’ three top scorers behind Stoudemire, adding an average of 49.4 points to the score each game. They are also an average of 24 years old. Comparably, Anthony and Billups are combining for 41.7 points per game. Anthony is 26 and Billups is 34.
I know that Anthony has had a love affair with the Knicks for a while now, and his presence absolutely gives the team more of that superstar appeal that the Yankees and now, the Jets, possess. But, at this point, as a fan, I am less than happy that this deal went down.
Gallinari’s development has been fantastic, and at such a young age and with so much
time to continue improving, it was foolish to deal him now. Also, Billups is not the best fit for Mike D’Antoni’s offensive system.
The team finally had a few players that had potential and were not past their prime, but they were ready to gut the roster again, for a big name. Let it go.
I would have preferred they waited to see how realistic it is to get Chris Paul or Deron Williams into the Garden and go from there.
Barring a serious collapse, this season wouldn’t have been a bust anyway, even if a big deal didn’t get done.
If the playoffs began today, the Knicks would be a No. 6-seed, which is more than I have come to expect over the last few years, and as the team with the most famous arena on Earth attempts to rebuild, I could handle a one-and-done appearance against would-be No. 3-seeded Chicago.
Of course, any sort of upset would give me some serious joy and satisfaction, but after watching Stephon Marbury and Steve Francis turn the Knicks into a franchise of parody, I can only expect so much.
At this moment, I continue to be cautiously optimistic, but if Carmelo comes to the Big Apple, blows out his knee and sets the franchise back another few years, I’m crawling back into my hole.
Bobby Olivier can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.