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An Open Letter To Knicks Management
Tuesday, February 07, 2006
The Super Bowl has come and passed and pitchers and catchers don’t report for spring training for another week so all that’s left for the sports fan in me is basketball. Usually this isn’t a bad thing. As a Knicks fan, in my 27 years of life I’ve seen a lot of great basketball, unfortunately, at the rate we’re going it seems as though I may never see great, or even passably decent, Knicks basketball again.

Long gone are the days of Patrick Ewing driving the lane for a monster dunk, Anthony Mason and Charles Oakley clogging up the middle and John Starks throwing up threes. Gone are the days of Latrell Sprewell fearlessly leading a small team to the NBA finals with the help of Allan Houston. In their stead are such non-entities as Stephon Marbury, Quentin Richardson and Jalen Rose. Many may ask what my problem is with the current Knicks players. Well, not only are they not winning, but they’re not KNICKS. Just because you put on the uniform and cash the paycheck doesn’t make you a Knick, it never has. What the Knicks have now is Isiah Thomas’ below average fantasy team. There is absolutely nobody on the roster any Knicks fan feels a connection with. This is something that was all but assured when the team traded away the man I’d consider to be the last true Knick, Kurt Thomas.

The Knicks have always thrived on having a handful of good players and a bench full of fantastic role players. Remember Hubert Davis, who was money from the free throw line and beyond the three point arc? Remember Charlie Ward? He was never the best point guard in the league but was a guy who always got the job done, much like Greg Anthony, Chris Childs and Derrick Harper. More to the point, not only were the role players good, and stuck around for a number of years so the fan base could get to know them, but even our stars weren’t the high priced free agents Isiah Thomas has been going after. John Starks kicked around the CBA and a few other leagues and Anthony Mason was a proud graduate of the USBL’s Long Island Surf (shout out to the team I interned for back in college!).

I read a stat that said when Thomas took over in his current role with the Knicks in December of 2003 we had a payroll of $85 million, now it’s at $125 million, and no one in their right mind sees $40 mil worth of improvement. Mr. Thomas, it’s time to look at Knicks history and get back to basics. We know you can throw around Cablevision’s money like it’s nothing but stop it, we’ve become the old Clippers, an extremely expensive team that stands no shot at winning. Here’s a stat that should make you sick, The Knicks have 14 wins in 46 opportunities for a record of 14-32. Just down the road in Hempstead, NY, Hofstra University, my alma mater, has 16 wins in 20 chances for a record of 16-4. That’s right, Hofstra has two more wins than the Knicks in 26 less opportunities and anyone who watches the games is significantly more excited to see Loren Stokes and Antoine Agudio than Stephon Marbury and Quentin Richardson.

The Hofstra stat only reinforces another one of my ideas to help build the Knicks back to glory, we need to start building from within New York. The Knicks need to start finding players from Hofstra, St. John’s and Seton Hall, and even MAAC teams like Manhattan and Niagara, if they want any fan interest in this lost season. Put a team of guys out there where at least a few of the faces are hometown boys who, unlike Marbury, haven’t worn out their welcome. Marbury is a hometown boy but he’s not the kind Knicks fans are apt to root for. We’ve always gone for the underdog, which is why John Starks might as well be our logo. There are quite a few Hofstra, St. John’s and Seton Hall players kicking around the various leagues both in the U.S. and overseas, it’s time to round them up and get them uniforms. Remember how Hofstra’s own Rick Apodaca wrecked shop as a member of team Puerto Rico? He’s still playing over there. Other Hofstra standouts include Norman Richardson, who’s now in the NBDL, Roberto Gittens, who’s in the ABA, and of course Speedy Claxton of the New Orleans Hornets. We need to go after players like these. Yes, it’s time to gut the current roster.

Gutting the team is a necessary evil. Here’s the deal, if you were born after 1980 you need to be traded. As a team we’re not going anywhere for a while, but guys like Nate Robinson, Trevor Ariza and Channing Frye are great building blocks. Throw in a few local products and you’ll at least have a team us fans can see a future in, a rooting interest in. Losing isn’t so bad if everyone knows it’s building towards something positive. Right now all that our losing is doing is breeding more losing.

While we’re gutting the team we should also get rid of Larry Brown. Yes, he’s a great coach, but he’s no Jeff Van Gundy, heck he’s not even Stu Jackson, he’s not a Knicks kind of guy. Brown may be from New York, but he still not a Knick. He doesn’t have the “it” factor a coach needs to thrive in New York. There are a few options for coaches. First off, don’t go for Stan Van Gundy, who’s a great coach but shouldn’t have to follow in JVG’s footsteps. Good choices would be former Knicks players, or, my top choices, New York college b-ball coaches, the hardened ones who’ve been here for years and know what it takes to win in the NYC area. Lou Carnasecca may be 81, but I’d much rather see him and his trademark sweaters on our sidelines than Larry Brown (and yes, I not-so-secretly hope that one day Jay Wright will be our head coach, but that may be a pipedream since he seems to be having a pretty good time at Villanova).

So there you have it management, my plan for how to rebuild the Knicks. Gut the team, keep the youngsters, find local products, scour the NBDL, ABA and foreign leagues for talent, get back to basics and hire a New York coach to lead the team. I honestly feel that if something like this is done, especially if the trading of the current talent can net at least some late first and early second round picks coming our way, we could be back in the hunt in under five years and have a team New York can be proud to root for again.
posted by Adam Bernard @ 10:01 AM  
  • At 6:22 PM, Blogger Mr. Spriggs said…

    Good stuff man....Your right the Knicks do need rebuilding, but I feel they have an excellent offensive starting 5 now.

  • At 8:53 AM, Blogger Ketchums said…

    Well damn...

    I agree with most of what you said, but at the same time, that would take a really long time to really get going; getting the players like he is now seems like the best way to get wins now - the players just aren't meshing like they should

    I'm trying to get used to being a Knicks fan, since I'm moving to NY later on in my life. Living in MI is convenient, cuz we've got the Pistons

  • At 9:58 AM, Blogger Adam said…

    Knicks haven't won a championship since the 70's, I'm willing to wait a few more years if we can get a true Knicks team here again. I hate the free agent signings and the trades. I want my gritty old school pound it out no-name Knicks who developed their names through playing for the Knicks.

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