After failing to get LeBron James in the off-season, followed by a pre-season loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves, things looked bleak this summer, but what a difference a few months makes. Antony Marino takes us through the lows of our past, up to the highs of our present (without using drugs):
Good afternoon, children. The day after another thrilling Knicks victory, I think it only right to look back at the summer that was and was not. I, like many of our loyal followers, had anticipated the Summer of 2010 years in advance. Unlike summers prior when all I had to look forward to was defending the merits of Renaldo Balkman (“He is, by far, the best dreadlocked Knick since Jamison Brewer, and his weed is fantastic”) or watching Nate Robinson courageously defy the Las Vegas Summer League age restriction policies into his mid-thirties, there was actual cause for legitimate excitement.
This would be the summer that the Knicks finally had the cap room and, conceivably, the know-how to make wholesale changes to a moribund roster. Gone were the affable chuckers (Harrington, Al), the gimpy veterans (McGrady, Tracy), and the uncoordinated fat kids (Duhon, Chris). In came an influx of cap money and a puncher’s chance at the greatest free agency class in league history. We wanted LeBron. I know it, you know it, LeBron knows it. When Donnie Walnuts signed Amare Stoudemire to a near $100 million deal, I considered it a prelude to the arrival of another star. Sure, Amare was a great pick up, but with his questionable knees, work ethic and fashion sense (high shorts and recspecs?!) seemed to be the bait for another big fish…
When The Decision occurred two things happened. One, the brave young members of the Greenwich Boys & Girls Club could finally afford to install the infinity pool they had so pined for. Two, LeBron James was gone. To South Beach. With
Satan Riley. And Dwayne Wade. And Charles Smith Chris Bosh. Knicks fans, comforted only by their thankful geographic distance from the City of Cleveland, are a tough bunch however, and had to move on from this disappointment. But move on to what? Amare and a pudgy Larry Brown castoff were to lead this clan of career losers coached by Pringles salesmen and signed by everyone’s mean grandpa. With Landry “No Seriously, Who?” Fields and the palest man in college basketball being the team’s only draft picks, coupled with the fact that Danilo Gallinari showed up to training camp looking like a Barilla quality control tester, things looked very bleak indeed.
The team struggled to gel in preseason. Raymond Felton had no concept of the pick and roll and Amare Stoudemire refused to pass out of double teams. Gallinari’s shot was off, Anthony Randolph seemed perpetually concussed and Eddy Curry continued to exist. As the losses mounted in November, the Knicks seemed headed for another decade of irrelevance, mismanagement and sexual misconduct (just a hunch, Donnie you scoundrel).
And yet through the blown leads, flat first quarters and bad losses, there seemed to be a glimmer of hope in Amare Stoudemire. He was indefatigable on the offensive end, and showed newfound pride defending the rim. He backed down from no one, and a formerly rudderless supporting cast seemed to take notice.
By mid-November, Amare Stoudemire and Raymond Felton were both playing at a All-Star levels; trusting teammates and moving the basketball like a high school team (that’s a good thing). The Knicks started beating up on weak opponents, and had won twelve out of thirteen before lacing up against the Denver Nuggets on Sunday afternoon. The New Yorkers would finally face a talented team with a franchise player. The surging Knicks could simultaneously see where they measured up against quality opposition while contemplating the addition of the opponent’s finest player. Awesome.
When the dust settled, the Knicks withstood a typically brilliant outing from Carmelo Anthony, resulting in a team-oriented victory in front of an electrified Garden crowd. Knicks fans were left with questions such as, “Would Carmelo’s isolation game adapt to our ball movement offense?”, “Could anyone stop the Anthony/Stoudemire pick and roll?” and “Does art imitate Amare or does Amare imitate art?” Even pondering these shockingly plausible questions just a year ago would have been a practice of absurdity, but now there is cause for hope.
The New York Knicks have won fourteen out of fifteen games—anything is possible.
Topics: Al Harrington, Amare Stoudemire, Antony Marino, Carmelo Anthony, Charles Smith, Chris Bosh, Chris Duhon, Danilo Gallinari, Denver Nuggets, Donnie Walsh, Dwayne Wade, Eddy Curry, Jamison Brewer, Landry Fields, LeBron James, Nate Robinson, New York Knicks, Pat Riley, Raymond Felton, Renaldo Balkman