|Caleb Nordgren: The Glorious Knicksing of the New York Knicks
The New York Knicks are, even at the most basic level, inherently absurd. They are the
only NBA team named for an article of clothing,* which is impressive if for no other
reason than there apparently was a discussion once upon a time in which someone
essentially suggested naming a basketball team the New York Pants — or the New
York Underwear, depending on who you ask — and everyone apparently was OK with
this. Somewhere along the line, shortened from Knickerbockers, which is actually a
word that means something, to Knicks, which is a word in the sense that it is now a
part of the English language even though nobody I’ve ever met can tell you what it
means. Well, aside from “it’s short for Knickerbockers,” which, you know, yes, but
that’s not how definitions work.
*Except maybe the Los Angeles Lakers, but since nobody knows what the hell a
“laker” actually is, we’re going to leave them out of this. As a matter of fact, let’s
just leave the Lakers out of the NBA this year. Nobody will miss them.
Anyway, this year’s Knicks are absurd even against a backdrop where their name is
the Knicks and everyone just accepts this. I also don’t really understand why that is.
I didn’t understand the Knicks when they were actually good last season, and I sure
as hell don’t understand them this year now that they’re bad. What I do know is that
they took a team that had a definite identity built around a truly elite scorer in Carmelo
Anthony, and then they Knicksed it all up. Out went Chris Copeland, Steve Novak and
Jason Kidd — players with identifiable skills and defined roles on a team that won 54
games — and in came Andrea Bargnani, Metta World Peace, and Beno Udrih — players
who seem like they should be good but have not managed to actually be good in New
York. Coincidentally, two of the three players I just named are no longer with the team,
and the other one has been hurt for a while and the team is probably better for it. Oh,
and then there was Chris Smith, which would have been the most Knicks thing about
this season had the Knicks not lost a game in February to the Orlando Magic in part
because a Tyson Chandler reverse dunk bounced off Tyson Chandler’s head and back
out the way it went in and was thus disallowed. The Knicks!
Back in October, before the season started and before Derrick Rose’s other knee
buckled and another piece of my soul died, I wrote but never published a piece on the
Knicks based on the premise that they were inherently boring compared to the rest of
the Eastern Conference. Sadly, I no longer have said piece, but I remember writing
something along the lines of, “It’s hard to argue that the Knicks are better than the
Heat, the Bulls, the Pacers or the Nets, but it’s also hard to argue they’re any worse
than the fifth best team in the conference.”
These days, the Knicks are the winners of five straight games and a decent candidate
to make the playoffs in the wretched East despite spending the vast majority of the
season doing things like “relying on Andrea Bargnani” and “starting Raymond Felton at
point guard” and “being hilarious.” They also appear to be Phil Jackson’s newest
project, though nothing’s official yet, and they still have plenty of time to dick this up.
For all your Phil Jackson-related coverage, I implore you to read this piece from Kevin
McElroy right now. In fact, you go do that, and I’ll wait here.
Rather than waste a couple of lines pretending to wait for you to come back, I’m just
going to move on because I’m writing this in the past and you’re reading this in the
future, so for all I know you just went and fed your dog and masturbated and made
yourself a sandwich — hopefully in that order, I guess? Maybe not. — and lord knows
I don’t have time to sit around and wait for you to do all that. And just in case you
decided to do all that instead of reading the piece like I asked you to, I will now
excerpt what is possibly my favorite paragraph I’ve read in a while:
Such is life for the Knicks, a franchise who seems to bring in a new
savior as often as most of its competitors bring in new ballboys.
Once-in-a-generation scorer Bernard King gave way to can’t-miss-
future-Hall-of-Famer Patrick Ewing who was joined by four-time-
champion Pat Riley who was replaced by former-Coach-of-the-Year
Don Nelson whose stewardship was far too brief to work under
greatest-pure-point-guard-ever Isiah Thomas who hired former-
NBA-champion Lenny Wilkens who was fired in favor of winner-at-
all-levels-and-coacher-of-The-Right-Way Larry Brown whose
disastrous tenure led to his replacement by Thomas himself before
David Stern tore him from James Dolan’s death grip in favor of no-
nonsense-basketball-lifer Donnie Walsh who hired offensive-mind-
of-his-generation Mike D’Antoni who was reunited with proclaimer-
that-the-Knicks-are-back Amar’e Stoudemire who accepted the
role of second banana behind guy-who-grew-up-idolizing-Bernard-
King-and-holy-****-time-is-circular Carmelo Anthony. Each of these
men came in with pedigree to spare and each was hailed as a
bringer of a new era and each has baked a big, doughy New York
bagel where the championship ring was supposed to be.
From the outside, I have trouble understanding what it must be like to be a Knicks fan.
The Bulls can be dysfunctional — it was only four years ago that our GM got into a
literal fistfight with our head coach, which if it happened with the Knicks would be
front-page news for months, if not longer — and frustrating, but in the last decade,
they’ve had exactly one sub-.500 season, and that season netted them Derrick Rose.
The Knicks, on the other hand, went an entire decade without so much as winning a
playoff game, and brilliantly tanked the season immediately before possibly the most
loaded draft since LeBron and company in 2003, only to discover they had no pick in
said draft. Were I a cruel man, I would note that they also traded the picks that
became LaMarcus Aldridge and Joakim Noah for Eddy Curry — thanks for that, by the
way — but instead I’m going to move on.
I cannot fathom the pain...CONTINUE READING AT HARDWOOD PAROXYSM