By Guest Blogger Bruce Springstead
WWWHHHOOOOOOSSSHHH. That’s the sound Spike Lee and Knick fans will be hearing on the Garden floor, now that Carmelo Anthony’s racing to New York. Like a NASCAR event, the Knicks will be zooming down the court, rapidly filling the basket for 145 points a game. Unfortunately, their tanks will be on EMPTY when they’re asked to play defense, especially during crunch time. But so what if they give up 150? Isn’t this what Knick fans have settled for — running over opponents and ringing up the score all the way to the playoffs, thumping chests, and assuming all is well again at the Garden? Finally, some excitement, right? Not so fast Kimosabe.
Knick fans and their front office are skipping down Seventh Ave., giddy with the prospect of playoff fever, which they were virtually assured of anyway, even before Carmelo’s arrival. Given the current state of Eastern Conference teams, the Knicks would still make the playoffs, even if their pre-All Star slump was extended. But will Melo and his fellow Nuggets REALLY bring the Knicks closer to a championship? Not really. Not this year, and not anytime soon. Here’s why.
When Amare Stoudemire was brought in to supply plenty of points, rebounds and excitement, the fans were jubilant. He has not disappointed, especially when surrounded by a bunch of non-stars. He’s one of the best athletes in the league, and he eased some of the pain fans felt when Lebron said “No Thanks” to New York. But there’s a LOT of miles on Amare’s knees. Coach Mike D’Antoni’s offensive philosophy — run like there’s a gun to you head — was fun in Phoenix, especially with Steve Nash passing the rock to Amare, but it had already started taking it’s toll on Stoudemire. Then D’Antoni came to New York to erase the stench that was masquerading as basketball in the Garden. Knicks brass apparently felt that an up-tempo offense would clear the air faster, and bring a little glitz back to the playoff starved fans. Adios to Eddy Curry and David Lee. Enter Amare.
Make no mistake. The Knicks are Amare’s team. Surrounded by an over-achieving point guard in Raymond Felton, an improving Danilo Gallinari, young and exciting Wilson Chandler, steady and smart Landry Fields, Amare and the Knicks started slow, but then found some chemistry. They began believing in themselves. The Knicks became competitive, feared nobody, and pulled off some impressive wins against the N.B.A. elite. There was a buzz again in New York. People were talking about Amare and the no-name Knicks. Sure, they had holes, none bigger than their defense, but they were fun to watch, and you found yourself rooting for them. D’Antoni spread his offense all over the court, the passing got crisp, and the open man was found. I started watching again. I watched more Knick games this year than in the last 5 years combined.
But with the trade deadline drawing closer, the Nets and Lakers got more interested in the Carmelo Anthony sweepstakes, which pressured the Knicks even more. Knick players heard the rumors. It affected their play, and the team slumped. Owner James Dolan didn’t want the Brooklyn bound Nets to steal Carmelo from under him, and he doesn’t want to lose the sizzle of recent success. Then the Lakers lose interest, and “advisor” Isiah Thomas whispers sweet nothings in Dolan’s ear. The trigger’s pulled. Enter Carmelo.
Carmelo Anthony is a scorer. He can fill it up fast. He can create. He’s also somewhat moody. Along in the trade comes teammate Chauncy Billups, a playmaker who will make sure Melo gets his touches. Chauncy has made a lot of clutch shots in his career at the end of games. He LIKES the game enders. No longer is Amare THE MAN. Knick chemistry is radically changed. Stoudemire could turn into Sourmire
D’Antoni’s run and gun show will enter warp speed. Surprised? He has to prove the trade will work. But he also needs to prove he knows the value of a good bench. He thinks a bench is something for his starters to put their warm-ups and water bottles on. With little substitution, Amare will break down more as time goes on, if not this year, then certainly soon. If Carmelo doesn’t get his fill, he’ll sulk. Billups has 16 years in the league. Players like Wade and Rondo will make it tough on him in the playoffs IF the Knicks make it that deep.
Lastly, Dolan’s dollars will be compromised soon, once the next collective bargaining agreement is reached. He already overspent on Stoudemire, giving him 100 million. And now Anthony drives his own Brinks truck. Caps and new fiscal rule changes will alter the chances of landing more big name free agents anytime soon. So the Knicks now own two studs, an old point guard, limited role players, an invisible bench, a coach who pushes his players to outscore the world, and management who can’t buy a clue, even with all that cable T.V. money. The future has been mortgaged again. Same ‘ol Same ‘ol.
The fans should enjoy Amare Stoudemire while he’s healthy. When the wheels fly off his chassis, it will be Carmelo’s team. Then we’re back to the starting gate. The Knicks will never win anything with James Dolan as the owner, and Donnie Walsh as team president. Period. Coach D’Antoni may keep it interesting and fun — for a while. But, can anyone explain why Isiah Thomas advises ANYONE on the Knicks? Is it any wonder this team is always within arms reach of the Self Destruct button?
Take heart Knick fans. It’s only two years until the 40th Anniversary of their last championship. Surely James Dolan will be there, promising another one before the 50th Anniversary. Isaih will tell him so.
I hope Spike Lee enjoys watching the NASCAR races at the Garden, but he should bring a fire extinguisher. There’s a crash coming right around the corner….
Bruce Springstead is “a long suffering Knicks fan who fondly remembers the days of Clyde, Pearl, Debussch, Bradley and The Captain, Willis. Cazzie off the bench was no slouch either.”