Knicks 98 New Jersey 110
It’s official. No the Knicks aren’t mathematically eliminated, but they’ve given up on the season. I’ve watched the last 2 games, which considering that Time Warner and MSG haven’t settled their little blackout spat is a near miracle. Their play has been nothing short of embarrassing. The Knicks have come out flatter than Pope Urban VIII’s globe.
While the Knicks defense is normally bad, they’ve given up on stopping their opponents. They’ve let the Pacers shoot 53% (eFG) on Tuesday and the Nets 56% on Thursday. When you let Brian Scalabrine run up the court flexing his arms after an easy score, it’s a clear indication that the white flag is flying over 32nd & 7th ave. Right now as individuals and as a team, there is little to no effort on the court. I usually scoff at the notion that the Knicks needed more players with heart (I believe talent trumps all), but this team has me nearly converted.
Even the Knicks best player, Stephon Marbury, is not immune to the apathy. Early against New Jersey, Marbury shot an airball on a three pointer from the top of the arc. Running back he had a smile on his face. The Net announcers attributed the smile to embarrassment. I didn’t buy their theory, and on the Knicks’ next possession, Marbury pridefully took the ball to the hoop. Stephon was called for a charge, turning the ball over. Again the Knicks PG smiled on his way back down the court.
Watching the game as a Knick fan, that infuriated me. I’m not some 80 year old curmudgeon that thinks yesteryear’s athletes were superior in their demeanor. I fully understand that athletes are people, just like me, and I don’t expect them to be perfect human beings. However messing up at your job twice in a row and then laughing about it is only acceptable for comedians.
Even if I’m misreading Marbury’s emotions, at best it shows a lack of passion. Rebuilding is suppose to be about loveable losers, but the three Knicks juveniles (Sweetney, Ariza, and Butler) played a total of 26 minutes yesterday. I can deal with the losing associated with rebuilding, but I can’t deal with watching it happen through aloof veterans.
Knick fans might point out that losing means a better draft pick come summer, and dropping a few games is a victimless crime. I disagree. Before I go into a Herm Edwards-esque rant about winning, there is a victim here: Herb Williams. If the players show no fire on the court, it is a reflection on the coach. Playing worse under Williams than they did under Wilkens could hurt Herb’s chance at retaining the coaching job.
Maybe it’s was foreshadowing that the cable blackout coincided with the Knicks limp to the finish. Even that analogy is too kind, because it appears that New York isn’t even trying to limp anymore. They seem content to lie dead in the road, and let the rest of the NBA trample over them.