These are the times that try fan’s souls.
Throughout a season where the Knicks won a meager 23 games (for you ladies, good teams win 50-60, mediocre teams win 40) and it felt like they won 10, I never once really questioned my loyalty or allegiance to my team. I was prepared to have an awful season, after all we had an awful roster. But we also had one of, if not the best coach in the business. And not one of these flavor-of-the-month hot coaches, we had a guy who had been around and proven himself over years and years. I’m a guy who believes change and success starts at the top and trickles down and permeates. Put people who “get it” and know what they’re doing at the top, and even though it may take them a little time, eventually they will figure it out. Case in point is with the recently crowned NBA champion Miami Heat. So I was under the impression we had three wise men leading this franchise. And while Starbury had yet to look like anything close to a savior, we could still feel confident that these guys would lead us out of the wilderness.
Unfortunately now it’s clear that we didn’t have three wisemen. We had a geek, a bully, and an idiot.
First, the basketball geek Larry Brown, who knows everything there is to know about the game, and obsesses over it, and is successful at what he does, but perhaps isn’t the most gallant virtuoso of the communicative arts. Of course he’s a geek at coaching, which entails a certain amount of communication skills, but clearly where Larry Brown failed the most this season was in adapting and ultimately getting his players to like him. He was a geek, a geek empowered as the highest paid coach in the league, and that meant he didn’t have to give ground to anyone. And he didn’t. And he put out his record for everyone to see, and said, “hello, I’m the geek here. I’m the one who’s succeeded. All you guys are class clowns and fools. Listen to me, I know what I’m doing.” And as far as this business of basketball goes, he’s probably right. He was the only man around with a record of success, and the Knicks should have listened to him. Problem was he wasn’t the only guy running the ship. And the other guys didn’t use the tools of rationality and intelligence to get in their positions. Rationality and intelligence are the tools of geekery (and maybe some others), but they are not the tools of bullies and idiots.
Which brings us to the bully, aka Isiah Thomas. Thomas is not quite the traditional bully, he’s not a big physically intimidating type, he’s more of the asshole-jock type. Always a winner on the court, Zeke won a national championship with Indiana and back-to-back NBA championships with Detroit. Named one of the 50 greatest basketball players of all time, Isiah Lord Thomas’s playing skills are undeniable. Unfortunately since leaving the court and becoming an executive, all he’s done is make for an incredible case against affirmative action and avoid success like an old, poor, obese woman with AIDS, leprosy, and herpes all at once.
From 1994-1998 he was in charge of the Toronto Raptors. He made some great draft picks, but never sniffed the playoffs.
Then Thomas became a forgettable broadcaster for a while.
Then he owned the CBA, until it went bankrupt and folded under his inept management.
Then he decides to try coaching, replaces Larry Bird in Indiana, and sort of has some success. This is a vote for Isiah until you realize he had a team that had Jermaine O’Neal, Brad Miller, Ron Artest, Reggie Miller, Al Harrington, and other solid role players. These teams made the playoffs, but never did anything in them, so essentially Thomas built his coaching resume by taking a team of all-stars to the playoffs, and nothing else.
And now, he has his track record with the Knicks. Which is abysmal.
So, this man has done nothing but fail, and then to add on to his bottom line track record, he’s also a renowned asshole. The type that wouldn’t shake hands with Michael Jordan after the Bulls ended the Pistons playoff reign. The type to have to deal with sexual harassment lawsuits. The type to burn bridges and make enemies wherever he goes. In other words a jerk, an asshole, a bully. Choosing Thomas over Larry Brown to run your team, is like choosing Hulk Hogan* to run your company instead of Bill Gates. By all accounts, it is the move of an idiot.
Which leads us to James Dolan, who much to every Knicks fan's chagrin is at the top of this totem pole of buffoonery. I wondered about Dolan, thinking he might just be a victim of Isiah's bullying tactics. Which he probably is. But after his recent "I'm really an idiot" coming out party veiled as an informational interview with Al Trautwig of MSG, it's eminently clear that he's the primary source of the cancer here. Success or failure starts at the top and trickles down. We see it with the Heat. We see it with the Knicks. The thing is Dolan's foolishness isn't totally represented by the decision to stick with Isiah over Larry Brown. It's demonstrated by his attempt to spin this whole debacle. Sometimes you have to know when to face the facts, and accept your mistakes, but it seems like this idiot Dolan is digging himself a hole, then when you ask him about the hole, he's like, "no, no hole here. I mean maybe there's a small ditch in the road, but nothing we can't get out of in a couple months." And then he continues digging. Isiah Thomas is the shovel. Larry Brown was the guy walking by with a truck full of dirt to fill up the hole, willing to sell it if you gave him enough money and control of the situation. The shovel said no. The idiot digging listened to the shovel instead of the guy with the dirt. And here we are continuing our descent into darkness. Our transformation into the LA Clippers.
These are tough times Knicks fans. It's times like this we have to stick together ... and root for the NETS!!!
or at least the Mets.
I know it's easy to pile on Isiah Thomas right now. I mean the guy can't even spell his name right. But the one thing he has done over the years, is identify NBA players in the draft. They may not be winners, but they can play. So I'll hold off on trashing him for the Reynaldo Balkman selection. In the bigger picture here, it doesn't matter. We didn't pass on Tim Duncan to select him. Maybe the PG marcus Williams is a better prospect, but no one's going to be doing any fair trades with Thomas. Thomas is like the runt in your fantasy league who everyone hits up with unfair trade offers. At some point that guys just shuts down, or he has no more talent left to offer, Or he gets raked over the coals so much that he refuses to trade unless it's decidely in his favor. So Williams would have probably just set us up for another disastrous move. Might as well get a guy with some hardware, even if it is an NIT trophy.
*No offense to you Hulk, I know you're smarter than you look, just going with an archetype there brothah. ok, back to eating my vitamins.