Anybody else remember that catchy ditty from the run up to the 1994 NBA Finals?
You remember the ’94 Finals, right? For us Knicks fans, it was the top of the proverbial market. Pat Riley on the bench, Patrick Ewing jumping center. A tenacious defense that made layups by the opposing team akin to taking one’s life in his own hands. That hated soul-crusher from Chicago was off playing minor league baseball somewhere, and the title that had eluded Knicks fans since 1973 was ours for the taking.
We all know where it went from there.
John Starks couldn’t throw it in the ocean in Game 7, and inexplicably Riles kept him in the game, while (less inexplicably) Starks kept hoisting increasingly desperate heaves from all over the perimeter. The Knicks never could close the gap and time ran out. Maybe it was the “Go New York” song/video that jinxed us? I don’t know, but with the exception of that unlikely run following the strike-shortened 1999 season, when we really didn’t stand a chance in the finals with Ewing injured and going up against young Tim Duncan and the Spurs, there have been far too few hoops thrills for us Knickerbocker fans since.
And now, in case you missed it, the Knicks have fired another coach.
I grew tired of Coach Fiz’s “all hat, no cattle” act months ago. However, in fairness to the now departed former-coach, I’m not sure even the sainted Riley, circa-1994, could have done much more with this awful hodgepodge of overpaid, veteran role players, immature teens, and G-League wannabe’s.
So now we are going to reset again, hoping that maybe there’s a quality GM out there foolish or desperate enough to take control of the team should our owner, He Who Shall Not Be Named, actually wise up long enough to kick out the ridiculously incompetent front office duo of Steve Mills and Scott Perry.
Truth be told, we really have no idea as to the competence, or lack thereof, of Perry, who seems content to walk about a half step behind Mills while nodding affirmatively whenever his boss speaks. Mills though? His inept body of work goes back so far, and with such outsized horrific decisions (remember he was even part of the Isiah Thomas years), that it makes one wonder what he holds over Dolan’s head that’s allowed him to keep his seat all this time.
Enough already. Let’s clean house (yet again) and start over. How long might it take for an actual rebuild at America’s Most Famous Arena to take hold?
Wellllll….assuming that our despised joke of an owner is actually willing to step back and cede control to a real basketball man (a big if, we all know), would five years be too ambitious a timeframe for the Knicks to start to produce a consistent winner? You know, drafting well, making wise free agent signings, and draining the cultural swamp that’s become a reeking cesspool since the days of “Go New York, Go New York, Go.” Yeah, five years is ambitious, but we’d sign up for that in an instant given the disaster we find ourselves forced to watch right now.
Hmmmm…five years. That timeframe has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?
That’s right. Across the river, out at Citi Field, there’s legitimate hope this December for the first time in a looooong time. All it took was for fans to hear that tightfisted owner Fred Wilpon (and his little dog Toto, I mean, his son/COO Jeff) would be exiting the building in five years. Don’t let it hit you in the ass, boys!
Now, forget for a second that five years sounds like an effin’ eternity to me and all Mets fans, and try to focus on the long game. They’re going. And please, somebody reassure me this isn’t one of those delightful-beyond-belief dreams we have, where somewhere along the way we realize things are going so freaking well that it just can’t be real, and then we wake up all bummed out. The Wilpons said they’d go, right? And not just leave, but hand the keys on the way out to some super rich guy with a hedge fund background? Please, don’t fuck with us on something of this magnitude, Wilpons. You promised you’d leave, right?
Welllll…a lot can happen on the way to the bank as we all know, but hey, it’s hope. And not just the normal Winter Meetings-trade for Edwin Diaz and Robinson Cano-paying for them with our best prospects since apparently the days of Darryl Strawberry and Doc Gooden-kind of hope. This is real.
But yeah, we’re going to have to wait. I know, the half-full storyline is that a guy with the wealth of Steve Cohen won’t sit around for any amount of time and not begin to inject his opinions (and greenbacks, we hope) into the franchise he’s rooted for since he was a kid. So maybe it won’t be the full five years, but in the meantime, we’re not getting any younger around here folks. My buddy Geno the Sawx Fan tells me that when hedge fund money took over his ballclub, life was changed forever. So there is precedent, but hey, we are the New York Mets.
And the Mets ownership tree has delivered only two World Series championships in our entire 57-year history (and none in the last 33 years, but who’s counting). So let Mr. Cohen figure out how to broom the Wilpon Boys (and their toady Saul Katz, for God’s sake, please) sooner rather than later, and then may he start throwing that fortune of his around in a way that allows us to feel like a big market club at long last. Is that too much to ask?
So to recap, we have hope in Queens, but of the long-term, everything must fall exactly according to plan variety. We have a new coach named Mike Miller at The Garden, but the same lousy front office, backed by the worst owner in professional sports (apologies to Dan Snyder).
And think about this horrifying thought, New York sports fans — right now (excluding the Yankees, who grudgingly have earned their own separate class in such discussions following 100 years of pretty much uninterrupted excellence) the most well run (non-hockey) franchise in the New York metropolitan area today is none other than the Brooklyn Nets.
The Giants? That needle is pointed down, down, down, with the unthinkable happening as Big Blue fans are now beginning to question their long-admired ownership group. It does seem like Saquon Barkley is about as good a starting point for a rebuild as exists in pro sports today, but still, right now? Yeesh.
The Jets? They squeaked by the full-on-tank Dolphins today only because a last second field goal was set up by a shaky pass interference review call. Ownership issues abound for Gang Green also, with Chris Johnson no doubt being one of the few humans in the Tri-State area who truly wants to see both the Wilpons and James Dolan hang onto their teams. Hey, when you are being chased by a bear, you only need to outrun your friends to avoid harm, right?
Yup, it’s certainly a sign of the apocalypse when the woebegone Nets are the team to emulate when trying to pull your franchise out of the toilet. But such is the state of New York sports today.
As Casey Stengel once said in that endearing way of his that none of us realized at the time was setting a tone of incompetence for our franchise that would cast it’s pall over the majority of the next six decades, “can’t anybody here play this game?”