New York Knicks 96 – Chicago Bulls 86 – Game Recap

It’s cool being the worst team in the NBA for the season but knowing that your opponent is going to be the worst team in the NBA on the nights it’s facing you. Our active roster looks like this: two 9th overall picks, an 18th pick, a 23rd pick, two second round picks and three undrafted dudes. There’s no way someone is going to do worse, right?

Well, I present to you the April 2019 Chicago Bulls: a hodge-podge of fringe guys around a legitimate NBA player (Robin Lopez) and nothing else. They never presented a challenge to our own merry band of misfits, and how could they? They are essentially the basketball equivalent of the team Pro Evolution Soccer gave you at the start of a new Master League: computer-generated players lacking skills, namesake recognition and (sometimes) purpose.

Our guys started very strong, up twenty (35-15) with 2:30 to go in the first on the heels of strong performances by Kornet, Mitch, Knox and a bit of DSJ. The momentum hit a lull in the second when we fielded a terrible lineup composed by Garrett, Jenkins, Dotson, Ellenson and Hicks, where everybody was too slow and unathletic to do anything and our guys weren’t able to score for three straight minutes. Fortunately, the Bulls were also terrible but the stench of that lineup stayed in the air for the remainder of the game, and Chicago crept several times close to us. Like a bored old man in a hot summer night with a pesky mosquito, though, the Knicks kept mustering just the minimum amount of effort needed to keep the nuisance at more than an arm’s length, and the victory was never in doubt.

In the third quarter we were even treated to a jumpshot attempt by Mitch, who improves in every aspect of his game: his first jumpshot attempts of the season, in late October, was an airball. This one grazed the rim! Maybe by his fifth attempt he’ll actually hit the back rim. Anyway I was delighted to see him take the shot, not because it was good or even needed (it was neither of them), but because it means that he actually might have the freedom to attempt things outside of his comfort zone. I don’t want a jump shooting Mitch, but if he’s able to add a few wrinkles to his offensive game in the offseason, we’re going to have a real shot of having a superstar on our roster.

Notes about the game:

– This game meant absolutely nothing apart from the fact that winning it saved this ragtag bunch of scrappy-doers the ignominy to helm the absolute worst season in franchise history. Right now they’re tied with the Phil-laden 2014-15 abomination, and with a victory against the Pistons would condemn that atrocious iteration to stay alone in its own basketball hell. I’ll be rooting hard for these kids tonight.

– When Mike Breen said there would have been no Mario at point last night, I was visibly saddened by the notion. Judging by Breen’s frown, I think he shared my malady. The Mudiay experience has gone so far that a (mostly) sane person is forced to deeply appreciate the more nuanced approach to the position that Mario brings with him. It’s like going to rural China for a few months, and after that being delighted at the thought of a meal entirely made by Big Macs and McNuggets.

– Speaking of point guards, DSJ played in a very Mudiay-like manner last night. 25 points on 23 shots, 5 assists and 4 turnovers, and a general incapability to involve guys in the action. I seriously hope this version of Smith Jr is just hampered by his back problems, because there’s definitely not a lot to like about that. Also, his shot looks irreparably broken.

– A lot of us have been pining for Mitch and Kornet together. We know that this game shouldn’t count for much, but here they were: 20 points, 30 rebounds and 9 blocks (!) together. You know who would have played very well alongside Mitch, don’t you?

– Kornet’s numbers (12 points, 13 rebounds, 6 blocks and 2 threes) were great, and just the 11th such occurrence in NBA’s history. Only two players have done it more than once, one is Shawn Marion and you know who is the other, don’t you?

– Here’s the list of Knicks rookies grabbing 17+ boards on multiple occasions: Willis Reed, Patrick Ewing, some guy named Johnny Green in 1959 and Mitch. The legend of the lob goes on.

– Apropos of lobs, it is really that hard to throw a decent high pass? People seem to have forgotten how to send a dime in the general Mitch vertical zone. It’s a shame.

– Again about Mitch: he’s now the 20th rookie ever to have blocked at least 160 shots. I’ll wait one more game and then I’ll shower you with all of the accolades and records he’s amassed in his phenomenal rookie season.

– Kevin Knox had a decent game, apart from the fact that he’s a remorseless chucker. 17 and 10, but 5-for-16 from the field (1-for-8 inside the arc).

– Kornet is a terrible chucker too, though. He needed 14 shots to get to 12 point. It’s ok being a stretch 4/5, but sometimes it would be good to hit those shots inside of the arc, you know? This season’s TS% is 53.7 for Luke, and that’s with him shooting a bad 41.5% from two. I hope he develops a couple moves from the post, if he wants to stick for good.

– I usually root for nobodies plucked from the G-League depths, but I can’t find the inner strength to actually lobby for Billy Garrett’s future. Sad thing is, he’s not that far from Ntilikina in terms of real basketball contributions.

– Madness all around the League! Magic steps down from the Lakers’ President of Basketball Operations seat without telling anyone beforehand. Heat fans sing “Paul Pierce sucks!” after the Truth’s bonkers remarks about his career being on par with Dwyane Wade’s, only Wade was able to ride his teammates’ train a little more (it’s the same as hearing Britney Spears saying she’s equal to Whitney Houston, having had the same career and skills but being overlooked because one starred in “Crossroads” and the other in “The Bodyguard”). Dallas wins another game and loses ground on the tanking race. It feels good to be normal-awful, for once.

Guys, just one more. Let’s do this, and then keep our fingers crossed for 34 days.

Chicago Bulls 105 – New York Knicks 113 – Game Recap

Well, well, well. Did anyone ever doubt we would end up winning this one? I mean, did you see beforehand the Bulls’ starting lineup? Three undrafted guys. A late first round-pick on his third team. A good center with a journeyman resume. If there ever was a blatant tank job, it was this one. Not that I blame them: it’s the right thing to do, just like it was the right thing to do to play our (mostly) young guys and be happy with any result.

In short: of course we did win this one. To be honest, I’m pretty amazed that we were able to let the Bulls mount a fake comeback of their own, letting them shave the deficit to a meager five points before putting the game in the fridge for good.

It wasn’t a good game to watch. The Knicks were hitting on all cylinders in the first half (even getting to a 28-point lead), but the atmosphere and the intensity were very similar to a glorified scrimmage against a varsity team. There are things that aren’t quantifiable, and one of them is the heaviness of the air inside of an arena when a game is played. You can’t gauge that heaviness in measurables, but you feel if it’s high or it’s low. Anyone who’s ever watched a game knows what I’m talking about. Well, this one was as heavy as the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man right after having been defeated by the Ghostbusters. Fluffy, vanilla-white, strangely inconsequential. It looked like nobody was playing for something because, to be honest, nobody was playing for something (save for the guys on unguaranteed contracts for next year, but even then, the effort wasn’t enough to make up for the overall suckiness).

Final result notwithstanding, the script was pretty much the same as it has been in the last month (since Mudiay came back from his injury): the less Mud is involved in the offense, the better the ball moves. It’s just a shame that we’re left with zero PG on our roster apart from him thanks to a wide variety of injuries, since even Kadeem went down with a concussion and I guess will be questionable for Wednesday. I mean, who am I kidding, Fiz would play Mud anyway for at least 30 minutes, but right now he can just play the “who the hell should I play here instead?” card and nobody can hold him accountable for that.

Onto the notes for the game:

– Keep in mind that whatever will get written here has to be taken with a grain of salt, because when you play early April NBA basketball a lot of things are not reliable, but it’s so easy on the eyes seeing Mitch and Kornet play together. That’s not even on them as players, it’s more on them as specific molds: the rim running center, quick in space and able to cover the perimeter on defense, and the sharp shooting tall guy, with cinderblocks for feet but long enough to protect the rim up close. It wasn’t hard to figure that it could have worked, and I’d say early results are good. Maybe not real NBA good, but early April NBA good for sure.

– Kornet scored a career-high 24 points on just 11 shots, and added 6 rebounds and 3 blocks for good measure. Is he the third best player on the active roster right now? I think he is. I honestly hope they’ll keep him around, as a situational sharp shooting big good for 10 minutes per game he’s pretty good. He even had a monster jam in traffic, but then again, early April NBA. Or Fizdale magic, call it what you want.

– Tied for third best player on our active roster there is Damyean Dotson. who after a shooting slump came back strong and went on to score 18 points on 8 shots (6/7 from three), while adding to the table 6 boards and 6 assists. I swear, Dotson is a better distributor than that sorry excuse of a playmaker going by the name “Emmanuel”. I can’t still get if Dotson is a plus defender or merely an average one (I guess the latter), but for this season Dot’s play is one of few good notes.

– Our second best player is a sophomore 26-year fake point guard, who plays point guard much better than our nominal point guard. Kadeem Allen was somehow able to record a game-high +20 plus/minus in under 10 minutes of play, before the aforementioned concussion put him on the shelf for the remainder of the game. He also had 5 assists in those 9:46 of playing time and just one turnover.

– His PG buddy, instead, was a mess (strange, huh? But they fixed him for good!). The whole Knicks team went on to shoot 50% from the field tonight, including a stupendous 47.4% from three, and recorded 24 assists. Mudiay shot 33.3% (17 points on 21 shots), had 4 assists to 3 turnovers, and was able to post the second-worst plus/minus of the whole game, Bulls players included. For fuck’s sake, for all his improvements (which are certainly real) Mudiay is on pace to a .024 WS/48 season. Kadeem Allen stands as .101 (small sample size, I know, but come on). I think bringing back Mudiay is a borderline fireable offense, but I’m not even hoping to see him on another roster in August. I think resignation did set in, and we’ll have this useless waste of space as our backup (or, god forbid, starting) point guard for two more years. We shall see.

– I liked a bit DSJ in his Knicks time, but man, is he frail.

– Kevin Knox had a strange game. Numbers are goodish (19 points on 15 shots, 9 boards, 3 assists, 1 block in 40 minutes) but his impact on the game is almost null. Season’s almost over, at least, so we can look to improvements in summer league (or to draft day trades, I beg of you Perry). For now, be happy to know that Kevin is 14th in the all-time NYK list for most points scored in a rookie season, and a good bet to end 12th. If he improves a bit his shot selection, there’s even a chance he’ll have a better TS% in his rookie season than Willis Reed had in his. I can’t wrap my head around that thought (not that it means much, but really? Willis Reed shot .477 TS% in 64-65? Ouch).

– By the same logic, did you know that Frank Ntilikina had a better rookie TS% than Micheal Ray Richardson? Were players shooting with a blindfold on in the 20th century?

– I know you want me to wax poetic about Mitchell. I would, but I’m almost out of words and angry at the fact that this guy (with a quiet line of 14/10/4/3) was able to shot only 4 times in 33 minutes on the court. Much of that stems from the fact the Mudiay is an atrocious passer (unless it’s his drive and kick move he dusts off twice a game, just to revert back to dribble dribble dribble midrange jumpers for the rest of the game), but some of them has to be on the coaching staff. He’s sealing shorter guys in the low post, give him the ball! The man has a really cool touch around the rim. There was a possession where Dotson mistimed the pass for a lob, but Mitch was still able to catch it, move around Robin Lopez and score with a reverse left-handed bank layup. He has a feel for putting the ball in the basket from close, it’s not only power dunks. Also: I love when he blocks a jump shot and immediately recovers the basket to jumpstart the fastbreak. He did just that for his third block: a smothered Antonio Blakeney three turned into a rebound turned into an opportunity to run. Glorious.

– I’m a bit sad seeing his block% going down a bit. Right now it’s 10.6%, good for third ever in the NBA. And it went down in the last two games (when he had 4 and 3 blocks, respectively. Damn). I’m much more happy, instead, seeing his REB% go to respectable heights. For the season he’s at 16.8%, a far cry from his early season 12.2%. I never, never, never expected him to improve so much in that area. That REB% would be good for 20th in the League if he qualified for the leaderboard.

– Phoenix won a huge game for us last night. Right now we need to lose three more games (or Phoenix to win three, or any combo of Knicks losses and Suns wins than amounts to three) and we’ve locked the last spot. I’ve warmed a bit on the top 5 of the draft. Of course you’d like to pick Zion and immediately transform yourself into a playoff-hopeful team overnight, but I can see this team working out even with Morant, Culver, Clarke or (gasp!) Barrett. A DSJ-Dotson-Barrett-(TBD)-Mitch team would probably lose a lot of games again but it would be a fun team to watch.

– Bron, can you insist to bring Fizdale to Los Angeles? I want to see this team coached by Mike Miller. The Westchester one, of course, not the shoe-losing, three-bomb abusing one.

Let’s prepare to get our asses handed to us in Orlando on Wednesday for good! See you soon.

 

 

Chicago Bulls 116 – New York Knicks 115 (2 OT) – Game Recap

So we weren’t able to play 48 minutes of good basketball… how about 58 minutes of filth?

Look, I’m as big a fan of basketball as anyone, but tonight I was begging for my life that the game would just be over already, whatever the final score. If the game against the Wizards was the worst Knicks game, this one takes the cake as the worst overall game. And it just wouldn’t quit! It was like an all you can eat of slightly spoiled asian fusion food: you love it at first, but after the twentieth or so small plate you begin to feel fairly constipated and in need to leave the joint. That’s exactly how I felt at the end of the first overtime, realizing I had to endure (at least) other five minutes of terrible basketball.

The game was so bad that I felt no emotional attachment to the outcome, so I can’t really hand good and bad labels today. I’ll just keep the sushi metaphor rolling and assign a different dish to every player who got tainted by this foul show. I assume you’re all well versed in the (imitative) Japanese cuisine, but for further context I’ll encourage you to look at this.

– Spicy salmon and avocado temaki: Enes Kanter (23 pts, 24 rebs, 7 ast, +7 +/-) was everything and more tonight, scoring with high-medium efficiency, rebounding everything in sight and bullying pretty much everyone on the floor. Wendell Carter Jr. is no slouch, but had no chance of guarding Enes one on one. When the offense wasn’t working, which means pretty much always, you could give the ball to Enes on the left block and let him cook. He was often badly exposed on defense (what a surprise), but the team needed too much his offense to sit him in spite of his deficiencies on the other side of the floor. He played 42 minutes and didn’t look that spent at the end. Sadly, Enes is a guy who needs playing time to perform at his best, and that hinders the development of a few key pieces, namely the extremely raw Mitchell Robinson. Oh, and here’s your total list of guys with 23-24-7 starting from the bench in NBA history: Enes, and Kanter. He also posted the highest ever Game Score by a reserve. He gets to be the temaki since it’s the biggest, beefiest of the sushi family, giving you everything while you’re eating it (the crispness of seaweed, the amazing texture of salmon, the slick roll of avocado on your palate, the thickness of the rice, and the punch of the spicy sauce) but ultimately you end up thinking that you just ate a lot of rice and your stomach is a quarter full, leaving less room to try more interesting things.

– Surf and turf roll: Mario Hezonja (15 pts, 6 rebs, 2 ast, +2 +/-) has a lot of ingredients in him, but you’re never really sure what you’re getting from a bite. Sometimes it’s tasty, sometimes it’s bland, sometimes you can’t handle the chopsticks well and you bite nothing at all since it just falls helplessly on the floor. His connections with Enes were great, but if he has to finish a contested layup from the dribble he puts up such a weak effort that it’s always gonna get easily swatted away. Anyway, he provided some offense on a team that had none for a large portion of the game, it’s just that he was inefficient and inconsistent at that.

– Philly roll: Emmanuel Mudiay (16 pts, 6 rebs, 2 ast, +11 +/-) is the dish that looks good for everyone that’s not really into sushi, as the cream cheese pretty much drowns every other taste, making the feat of swallowing raw fish more manageable for kids and easily impressionable table companions, especially if confidently dipped in soy sauce. His game tonight was much easier to gobble down that in any other Knicks venture of his, as he was a jolt of energy to the anemic PG spot. He ended up hitting the game tying layup with 2.7 seconds remaining (ah! the soft salmon on the tongue!) and committing a very stupid and evident foul with 0.2 seconds on LaVine, who ultimately made 1 of 2 to seal the game (damn, who put this much cream cheese into this roll? It’s stomach-churning for any real sushi lover!)

– Sake nigiri: Damyean Dotson (18 pts, 5 rebs, 1 ast, -1 +/-) is easily the most dependable Knick nowadays. You know what you get from the get go and he never disappoints you. Also his game is like sake nigiri, in that you remember when you were asking your former partner (or coach) to give it a chance but it was a no go, and understand how lucky you are that your current partner (or coach) knows you were right and trusts it so much.

– Unagi roll: Noah Vonleh (10 pts, 11 rebs, 1 ast, -4 +/-) is too much volatile from one game to another – or even one quarter to another, just like it’s hard to find two pieces of unagi roll that taste the same. Lady Farfa likes to order it everytime we find a restaurant that has it, and there’s no way we’re gonna enjoy every single piece. There’s always at least one that tastes funny (sometimes the whole roll), but when you find the ones that taste good, boy how nice it is! Noah’s game tonight was all over the place, with strong rebounding intersparsed with half-arsed attempts at the rim and apathetic and perfunctory playmaking (4 TOs). At least he didn’t commit a lot of fouls and was able to play 35 minutes, posting another double double in the process.

– Tempura roll: Allonzo Trier (21 pts, 3 rebs, 1 ast, -1 +/-) started timidly and seemed out of place at the beginning. Who would have thought that to disrupt the very basic offensive sets of Fizdale just sending a double would be enough? Trier was completely neutralized in the first half because of that – and the inability of any other Knick to be a bit of a playmaker. He was much more confident in the second half and subsequent overtimes, getting to the line at will and scoring efficiently (21 points on 15 shots) even on a night when his shots weren’t falling that much. Loving this kid sassiness, just like I love the impudent fried shrimp stealing the job of raw fish.

– Tuna sashimi: Frank Ntilikina (0 pts, 1 reb, 2 ast, -17 +/-). A friend of yours keep telling that, hey, he’s been in Tokyo, and there’s nothing like a good katsuo sashimi; you have to try it to really know it. You trust your friend, and order tuna sashimi at every restaurant. Sometimes it’s meh, sometimes it’s just ok, sometimes (like Frank tonight) it’s downright terrible, since tuna is the fish most prone to oxidation among the most prominent ones in sushi kingdom. You’ll keep on trying it, hoping to catch lightning in a bottle, even if your trust in that friend is slowly, sadly starting to wane. Maybe a tuna nigiri would be better (read: taking away Frank from the ball)?

– Soy sauce: Mitchell Robinson (0 pts, 3 reb, 2 blks, -9 +/-) was quite useless tonight. His game should make everything more mouthwatering, but when it’s not properly seasoned you should reeeally pick your spots about when to use it. Sorry Mitch, this wasn’t the game for you, even if it’s not entirely your fault. Fiz’s crew has to figure out something more creative on offense to make things click and open some cracks for Mitch to slip in and dunk a few.

– Hosomaki kappa: Trey Burke (8 pts, 2 reb, 3 ast, +7 +/-). You know that dish that, well, maybe you eat because you’re bored while waiting for most tasty stuff, but doesn’t make you feel guilty because in the end it’s just rice and vegetables? Heh. Trey was just mediocre, which tonight was a huge improvement on Ntilikina’s output.

– Pickled ginger: Lance Thomas (2 pts, 1 reb, 50% FG, +1 +/-) is like the thing they give you in most restaurants to eat between different dishes to make you feel better the taste before and after. Lance makes you remember how the guy that played before him was better, and makes you appreciate how the guy that plays after him is better. 5 minutes played in a 58 minutes romp is still a good sign from Fiz.

– A random dish you can’t see well from the other side of the room but you think you might like: Kevin Knox (2 pts, 1 stl, 50% FG). Is he good? We hope so. What is he? Who knows? Anyway it’s good to know he’s on the menu.

Desserts and beverages not included:

– Fiz’s ATOs must be the worst in the entire league. I can’t remember a single ATO where we ended up scoring the ball in 11 games. I’m seriously baffled at how we’re offensively challenged when we can’t get in transition.

– Frank is 0 for 13 from three since his last make. He’s reverting to a lot of bad habits. I hope the coaching staff can do something for him, we can’t afford him to be a useless (or detrimental) cog on offense.

– So, is this life without THJ? I might have been too harsh with him. In two games played without full strenght Timmy, our offense has looked between grisly and hideous. I don’t think THJ’r return will make things that much more palatable, but we need all the help we can get. Especially me if I’m to go through a full season of recaps.

– Tonight’s starting lineup was the youngest ever for the Knicks franchise. I suspect we won’t be seeing the same starting five next game, even if THJ is sidelined. I expect Mudiay to start at PG.

Ok, at least we bagged another loss as we climb our way to the summit of mount Tank. See you on Wedsnesday for the Hawks game, where I think we’ll win comfortably.

Grading the Knicks 2010 Deadline Deals

DARKO MILICIC TO MINNESOTA
FOR
BRIAN CARDINAL

Mike Kurylo: Hard to hate or love this deal. The Knicks were intent to not play Darko, and Milicic has an Erik Estrada sized chip on his shoulder. The NBA grapevine has it that the Knicks are going to release Cardinal, but I don’t see why. Kelly Dwyer called Cardinal the anti-Milicic, a guy who worked hard to squeeze out minutes like you would an old tube of toothpaste. Unlike Darko, Cardinal is on the tail end of his career, but if the Knicks decide to keep him I can see D’Antoni having a use for him in a Jeffries-esque-do-the-little-things kinda way.

Cardinal’s career stats aren’t awful 12.4 pts/36, TS% 55.2, 2.6 ast/36, 2.0 to/36, 6.2 reb/36, 1.7 stl/36. The question is how much of that is from his earlier days, and how much does he have left in the tank? I’ll put a clause out on my grade. If Cardinal plays 200+ minutes for the Knicks, I’ll call it a B+. If not then I’ll go with a C, since you have to hand it to Donnie for trying to get something out of nothing.

Thomas B.: I see this as trading goldenrod for saffron. But this is worth a C+ because we knew Milicic was never going to play. At least now we can wonder if Cardinal will play. Cardinal has been a pro for 9 years and I never heard of him. I had a picture in my mind of who I thought he was and I went to NBA.com to see if it matched; it did not. I was thinking of Bison Dele–he retired a decade ago.

Kevin McElroy: Knicks look set to cut Cardinal, so this seems like a clever piece of bookkeeping that will save them a shade over a million dollars. Small potatoes in the grand scheme of things? Sure. But who am I to hate on a team that wants to save a couple million bucks a few months before its intends to shell out roughly three gazillion dollars to let me root for LeBron and a high-priced sidekick. Not like they gave up anything we’ll miss, and Darko’s malingering could only have caused tension, so I’ll throw this one a C+. Somewhere, Q-Rich is wondering why he had to pay all those real estate agents in the first place.

Robert Silverman: Although I would have gotten a weird kink out of seeing Brian “The Janitor” Cardinal get some spin, it looks like we”ll never know. I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for career backup PF/C’s. It’s why the only Nix jersey that I actually own is a Ken “The Animal” Bannister model from ’85-’86. B-

Caleb: Most NBA fans probably didn’t know that Darko was still in the league. Here’s my favorite Brian Cardinal story – can you believe there is a Brian Cardinal story? It’s how he got that contract in the first place. Allegedly, Michael Hensley was giving Jerry West a lot of grief, “why haven’t you signed anyone? etc.” West was about fed up and so he picked up the phone, called Cardinal’s agent and asked if he wanted $30 million. Ten seconds later, he turned to Hensley and said, “I signed a free agent. Are you satisfied?” I don’t know if it’s true but it’s a good story. This trade saved the Knicks about a million bucks, counting luxury tax. Supposedly Kahn is his protege. Guess there was a favor owed. A-

Brian Cronin: As Caleb notes, the trade saved the Knicks roughly $1 million off of their luxury tax bill, and since they were not playing Darko at all, this is a pretty easy win (now as to why they never really played Darko at all, well, that’s another story). A-

Dave Crockett: A little tax relief, and a potential end-of-bench player. Moving right along. A (but only worth a few points)

NATE ROBINSON AND MARCUS LANDRY TO BOSTON
FOR
EDDIE HOUSE, J.R. GIDDENS AND BILL WALKER

Mike Kurylo: Nate’s days were numbered under D’Antoni. Getting the starting job over Duhon seemed to indicate a final opportunity for Nate to win over D’Antoni. Being demoted just 2 days afterwards told you all you needed to know about Nate’s future in New York. In Walsh’s defense Nate did reject the deal to Memphis, but perhaps he could have played chicken with Nate and tried to force his hand (no one wants to sit in the final year of their contract). I’m sad the Knicks didn’t get a draft pick in return in this deal, especially considering that they gave one (and a half) away to Houston. It seems that there’s always a few teams willing to give one away, perhaps the Lakers might have been interested.

In the short term Eddie House will bring the big three ball, and fit in nicer with D’Antoni than Nate ever did. Giddens & Walkers NBDL numbers aren’t bad, but considering how little last year’s NBDLers played, I don’t envision the Knicks giving them lots of playing time. Oh and Giddens just had knee surgery, with no timetable to return. The Celtics got by far the best player of the bunch, and the Knicks didn’t receive anything here except perhaps a rental on House and a short look at Walker. D+

Thomas B.: I guess this means I lost when I took the over for Nate Robinson games as a Knick (82.5) prior to the season. I don’t like the move because Robinson is worth more than what we brought back. I’d have much rather had Robinson added to Jeffries deal with the Knicks keeping the “sweetener” picks. Or bring back a late first round pick when sending Robinson to Boston. A protected pick in 2012 would have made the 2012 pick we moved out with Jeffries easier to take. Of course, Walsh was somewhat limited since Nate could void the trades. This deal makes me think letting Robinson walk at the end of the season is okay. I just can’t see House, Walker, or Giddens dropping 41 points combined in any game this season much less any one of them doing it alone. D-

Kevin McElroy: This trade was presented in a ton of different forms and with a number of different justifications over the last month, most of which made sense for one reason or another. These reasons included:

1) Because the Knicks were going to get a draft pick back.
2) Because the Knicks were going to dump a player to reduce next year’s cap number.
3) Because the Celtics needed an incentive to be pulled into the larger Knicks/Rockets/Kings trade.
4) Because the Knicks wanted to get Toney Douglas more playing time without Nate looking over his shoulder.

In its final version, the trade accomplishes zero of these things. No draft pick came back and no long-term salary left with Nate, the Celtics trade was conducted separately from the mega-deal, and Alan Hahn has tweeted that Douglas will remain out of D’Antoni’s rotation (behind Duhon and the newly acquired Sergio Rodriguez).

Ultimately, the Knicks sent away a fan favorite for players that won’t be around after a couple months, received no assets, cleared up no cap room, and have run the risk of rejuvenating a division rival for a playoff run by sending them a much-needed bench scorer (seriously, I know the Knicks are out of it, but we can all agree that we’d rather not see the Celtics succeed in the postseason, right?). On a personal level, I’m happy that Nate gets to play for a good team, but the Knicks did absolutely nothing to advance their interests here. More worryingly, it feels like the Knicks brass was simply out-maneuvered, failing to take a hard line as the best parts of their return package came off the table. It feels silly to give such a poor grade to this one, seeing as Nate would have walked in a few months anyway, but the direction that this negotiation took shouldn’t get anything more than a D+.

Caleb: This was depressing. Like Balkman, an example of Walshtoni dumping someone they just didn’t like. Although, to be fair, it saved the Knicks more than $1 million, counting luxury tax. On the plus side, I’m happy for Nate, who will have a lot of fun the next three months. Wild-card: Bill Walker. Before he blew out both knees, there was talk of his being a top-5 pick. If they ever invent a new surgery/rejuvenation machine he could be a stud. D

Robert Silverman: First of all, can we please stop holding a torch for the supposed “Kenny Thomas for Jeffries & Nate deal that Donnie Moth$%&*^!ing Walsh turned down!!!!” deal. It was a rumor. No one, save Walsh and Petrie, knows if it’s true and they’re not telling. It’s like still being pissed at Isiah for (supposedly) retiring in ’93 rather than accept a trade to the Knicks (as Pete Vescey/Pete Vescey’s psychic Ms. Cleo claims). No, two C-Minus prospects like Giddens and Walker isn’t much of a haul for a productive (if maddening/maddeningly inconsistent) player. But what’s the alternative? Even if you could get another team to go for a sign and trade this off-season (which, considering Olympiakos was the strongest bidder in the summer of ’09 isn’t likely), you’re still going to have to take back a contract to make the deal work, thus cutting into our sweet, creamery cap space. The one thing that royally cheeses me off is that come playoff time, I will pull for Nate when he’s in the game (b/c he’s Nate. Warts and all, I so dig the dude). As a result, I’ll have to…sort of…root…for…the Celtics. Ick. I just threw up a little in my mouth. C-

Brian Cronin: I agree that it is a bit frustrating that Nate returned little value partially because his own coach was pretty clear about not liking him (way to market your assets!), but once you allow that Nate’s value was depressed to the point where you weren’t going to get a draft pick for him (by the way, the deal apparently does include a conditional second round pick, but I believe it’s one of those conditional picks where the chances of the conditions ever actually existing are next to nil, so it’s effectively not really a pick at all), then saving some money on the luxury tax is as good as anything else, I suppose. C+

Dave Crockett: This was all about coach D. I just cannot understand why Nate couldn’t play in 7SOL (such that it is in NY) while he got big mileage out of Barbosa in PHO. Happy for Nate, but I recall from my Beantown days that Tommy Heinsen HATES Nate. That’s never a good thing in that town. D

JORDAN HILL, JARED JEFFRIES, OPTION TO SWAP 1ST ROUND PICK IN 2011 (TOP 1 PROTECTION), 2012 1ST ROUND PICK (TOP 5 PROTECTION), AND LARRY HUGHES TO HOUSTON/SACRAMENTO
FOR
TRACY MCGRADY, SERGIO RODRIGUEZ

Mike Kurylo: I’m not sure what else to say that I didn’t say yesterday. So I’ll look at what this deal means for this year. I admit I’m a bit excited to see some new blood on what’s become a lifeless team. However there’s a nagging voice in the back of my head that is telling me not to get too optimistic. I would love for someone to take Duhon’s place in the starting lineup. But part of me is hoping it’s not McGrady, because if he plays well then the front office might overpay to keep him. I don’t want my future hopes resting on Donnie Walsh giving him a reasonable contract, T-Mac staying healthy for a full season, and shooting more efficiently than he’s been in the past (he’s had exactly one season with a TS% over 54%). What are the odds all that comes to fruition?

Perhaps Sergio Rodriguez would be the guy to send Duhon packing. But I just don’t trust D’Antoni to play him, and can you blame me? Remember the NBDL-shuffle of last year? The 2 whole games he gave Nate Robinson this year (one against Cleveland) before calling the experiment a failure? Von Wafer? Morris Almond? I just don’t envision Mike D’Antoni handing over the reigns to a youngster, especially with how oddly married he is to Duhon. My guess is that Sergio won’t get a chance until it’s too late, and he’ll be gone without given a fair shake.

On the long term it’s a lot to pay for moving the contracts of Hill and Jeffries, and I’d be much happier if things go wrong in the next 3 seasons we still have our draft pick to comfort us on those cold February days when the team is playing poorly. I’d like to give this a D or an F, but the remote chance this brings in 2 studs and the draft picks don’t matter gives it some hope. C-

Thomas B.: This is NOT the 13 points in 35 second Tracy McGrady coming to NY. I hope folks understand that. This guy is much closer to the Anfernee Hardaway we got in 2004: an injury riddled once dominant scoring wing. I’m excited about what Sergio might be able to do…to Duhon. If he can’t steal Duhon’s minutes at point he does not need to be in the NBA. Sergio should be allowed a fair shot to supplant Duhon. We know Duhon won’t be back, so at least see if Sergio is worth bringing back on the cheap. Other than the draft picks, I won’t miss what we sent away.

This deal was not about players, it was about cap room and Walsh delivered. Now we have to see what that cap room turns in to. This deal can’t be graded fairly until July 2010. And the true impact will not be known until May of 2011 (playoffs anyone?). For now, I’ll grade this pass/fail. So for giving the team a chance to dream about James/Bosh or James/Wade or Wade/Bosh, Walsh earns a Pass. But if he goes all Dumars this off season…..

Robert Silverman: Outside of the roundball ramifications, from a semi-ontological point of view, doesn’t it seem like the Knicks are somehow osmotically taking on the karma/organizational principles (or lack thereof) of their Madison Sq. Garden co-occupants? For years, nay, decades…heck, since ice was invented, the Blueshirts have given a washed-up/injured “star” a year or two to spin/reclaim their former glory. Some worked out well (Messier, Jagr, even Gretzky) while for the most part they, to use an utterly shop-worn tabloid cliche, bombed in their B’way revival (Plante, Sawchuk, Hedberg, Nilsson, Esposito, Hodge, Dionne, Carpenter, Lafleur, Nicholls, Gartner, Kurri, Robitaille, Lindros, Fleury, etc. etc.). Look at the cats who’ve graced our roster in the past decade – McGrady, Hardaway, Jalen Rose, Steve Francis, Stephon Marbury, Van Horn, McDyess, Mutombo, etc. In 2001, that’s an all-star roster. Alas, it isn’t 2001 anymore, Victoria. And there ain’t no Santa Claus.

Look, Walsh went all in for LeBron/Wade. And as my fellow Knickerbloggers/other sportswriters/pundits have written, he had to do it. I’m going to cross the sporting barriers for my take on this: “…The day you say you have to do something, you’re screwed. Because you are going to make a bad deal…” – Billy Beane/Michael Lewis, Moneyball

Say LeBron/Wade gives the ‘Bockers the Heisman. What does Walsh do then? Just let all of that cap space sit there? Doesn’t Walsh, by the same logic then have to overpay Stoudamire/Johnson/Gay (or trade for Arenas – shudder) even if none of them are close to being worth a max deal? Like Thomas B., I’m going to hedge my bets/grades: A+ (LeBron/Wade agrees to be NY’s best girl)/D- (Walshtoni’s so depressed/on the rebound that he throws money/a promise ring at the first vaguely attractive gal who comes his way)

Kevin McElroy: Look everybody, I know we’ve grown accustomed to expecting the worst here. I also know that there is plenty NOT to like about this trade [For example: how’s that “Nate and Jeffries for Kenny Thomas” trade look now? Far be it from me to say “I told you so,” but I think we can put to rest the idea that Walsh was wise to turn down that opportunity because he was waiting on something better (I’m looking at you “Donnie Walsh Report Card” commenters!) I hope for the sake of Walsh’s sleep schedule that rumor was unfounded all along.].

But these are the facts, and they are undisputed: The Knicks, even by the most pessimistic cap projections, will have $32 million in cap space next year. The Knicks have retained David Lee, who can be used in a sign-and-trade this summer. The Knicks have retained Danilo Gallinari and Wilson Chandler, the two players who most fans feared would have to be sacrificed to unload Jared Jeffries contract. And the Knicks will enter next season, no matter the free agent machinations, with Eddy Curry’s $11 million dollar expiring contract, allowing them to either make a mid-season trade or add another very good player in the summer of 2011. Make no mistake, the Knicks paid dearly to get here, and if they strike out in free agency, the lost draft picks could haunt them for a decade. But look around, and think about where we were 24 months ago (Isiah in charge, capped out beyond belief, any hope of signing LeBron as faded as my 1998-99 Eastern Conference Champions graphic tee), and realize that you now root for an NBA team with a blank slate, four months before the best basketball player in the world becomes a free agent. And, yes, there is no guarantee that he, or anyone else, is coming. But this was the only reasonable course of action given where the Knicks started and the potential reward.

When Walsh arrived, he inherited three players with cap-killing contracts that extended past 2010. He was widely expected to find takers for ZERO of them. He found takers for THREE of them (Z-Bo, Crawford, Jeffries). This can’t be forgotten. The road here was a bumpy one, but the fact that we’re here at all is cause for quiet celebration. And cause for an A- .

Caleb: For me the key is opportunity cost. Without moving Jeffries, the Knicks ran a real risk of being able to afford only one major free agent, a scenario that probably would have led to signing no one — who would come to MSG, if even David Lee were gone? They were truly, truly desperate.
But the reactions are also just that people can’t believe their eyes. Or they remember the Bulls and Jerry Krause striking out for a couple of years, or they’re quivering at the memory of Isiah throwing $29 million at Jerome James. But free agency isn’t bad, guys. For $3 million, you can get someone better than Jordan Hill. Along those same lines, I think there’s very little chance the lost draft picks are in the teens, much less the lottery, and Walsh has covered his worst-case scenarios. $32 million buys a lot of options, LeBron or no. It won’t be hard to make this team a contender again. The only reason not to give this trade a higher grade is because when both the other teams come away grinning ear to ear, you have to figure you might have paid more than you had to. B

Brian Cronin: Not for nothing, but I believe the most pessimistic cap projections (a cap of $53 million) give the Knicks $31 million. Not a big deal, but you would need more than that to give full maximum contracts to either Lebron, Wade or Bosh. In any event, I think this is a trade that the Knicks had to do, and as Robert notes, when it is clear that you have to do something, other General Managers are going to take advantage of that need, and Daryl Morey is one of the best General Managers in the NBA, so he basically got as much as he could possibly get in this deal – but because the deal had to be made, I think it’s still a worthwhile move. I am on board with the notion of splitting the difference between an A (if this nets either Lebron/Wade, Lebron/Bosh, Wade/Bosh or Lebron/Lee) and F (if this nets no one of note, not even Joe Johnson), so the middle of that is a C.

EDITED TO ADD: I just realized another valuable aspect of this trade. It now allows the Knicks to sign up to $20.5 million worth of free agents (presuming a $53 million cap) while still keeping Lee’s cap hold in place rather than the $11 million worth of free agents before this trade. If they do that, they can then go over the cap to re-sign Lee. That basically puts them into a position where they can pretty much guarantee themselves that they will keep Lee if they want to keep Lee, as they’d be able to match any offer he gets. That’s big. Big enough for me to raise my grade to a B-.

Dave Crockett: You have to give this an incomplete. On the downside, the cost of this flexibility is high. So in one sense, it’s almost impossible to see this deal as an A+. Even in the best case scenario, we win the Yankee way–at a higher cost-per-win than any other team. Nevertheless, I’d rather win than not win. So, we’ll have to see what Donnie does with the flexibility. Its worth noting that the flexibility we have should also extend to sign-and-trades and trades. Incomplete.

Trading Nate, The Logistics

With Nate Robinson in D’Antoni’s doghouse it’s only natural for Knick fans to expect the diminutive guard to be traded. Nate is in the last year of his deal, and if he isn’t getting playing time now, then it seems unlikely that New York is going to tender him a long term deal. Additionally considering Nate’s instant offense and other tangibles, he’ll likely be courted by a few different teams. Hence it makes the most sense for the Knicks to move him this year, before they get nothing in return for their investment.

Unfortunately trades in the NBA are rarely as easy as finding a match in talent. You also have to be mindful of the salary cap & the rules that accompany it. For instance there have been rumors of the Knicks interested in Tyrus Thomas, but the teams couldn’t swap the two straight up due to the cap rules. And this is where things get interesting.

In the NBA any trade involving teams over the salary cap has to be within of 125% plus $0.1M of the contracts given up. This means if the Knicks traded someone that was making $4M, the most they could get back in contacts is $5.1M ($4M * 1.25 + $0.1M). However there is a rule in place for Base Year Compensation players (BYC) which is meant to prevent teams from signing players solely to match contracts in order to make trades. This was put in place to prevent teams from let’s say giving Morris Almond $10M to trade him with a future first for Luol Deng.

New York signed Robinson for $4M this year, but according to ESPN his BYC amount is $2.02M. This means that when calculating how much the Knicks can receive, we use $2.02M, and when calculating how much the other team can receive it uses $4M. Under the salary cap rules, a team that sends out $2.02M can only receive $2.54M in salaries, hence this makes it impossible to do a 1 for 1 BYC deal with a team over the cap.

Since the calculation is based on a percentage, the only way for a team to trade a BYC player is to include enough salaries so that the team is within the allowed threshold. Figuring out this how much requires a little bit of arithmetic. Solve for x where: $4M + X – (1.25*($2.02M+X)) = $0.1M, and X = $5.5M. So in order to trade Nate Robinson the Knicks would have to include at least $5.5M in salaries.

Knowing this makes for some interesting trade possibilities. One way to work a Nate Robinson for Tyrus Thomas trade would be to add shot-blocking bench-warming centers Darko Milicic ($7.54M) and Jerome James ($6.6M). If the Knicks wanted to shed some salary for the summer, they could include Jared Jeffries ($6.47M) and the Malik Rose trade exception ($0.9M) instead of Darko.

What if, as rumored, the Bulls want Al Harrington? Then the two could do Nate, Harrington and the Quentin Richardson exception for Thomas & Brad Miller. Too one sided for Chicago? Then perhaps the deal could be expanded to something like Thomas, Noah and Miller, for Nate, Harrington, Darko, and Jordan Hill. Although I don’t expect the Bulls to trade Noah so easily, it’s not a ridiculous deal. The Bulls plan on replacing Thomas with Taj Gibson anyway, and Al Harrington would probably eat up some of those minute and more. Between Harrington and Nate, the Bulls wouldn’t lack for scoring. They would be losing a bit at center, but Jordan Hill would give them a young option there.

In any case the Knicks and Bulls do have some options and flexibility in generating a trade. Moving Robinson is easier than moving David Lee because of the smaller salary. To trade Lee, the Knicks would have to pile on $10.1M in salary. Although you have to consider that New York isn’t likely to move Lee, given that he’s the team’s best player and leads them in minutes.

The Fix Is (Still) In

So I was watching Outside the Lines on ESPN and they were showing clips of the Tim Donaghy interview. At the conclusion, they made mention of a poll running on ESPN.com, where the question was posed, “How will Tim Donaghy’s claims influence how you watch NBA games.”

And the possible responses were: A) Will never view games the same way or B) No, influence, he isn’t credible.

My immediate reaction was, where’s C) It confirms something I knew innately to be true and won’t change a gosh-darned thing about how I watch NBA games. Why isn’t that a possible poll choice, ESPN.com?

Does anyone on this forum really think games are officiated fairly? Does anyone doubt that since the dawn of time, superstars (whether it’s Kobe, or Magic or Michael, or Larry or Dr. J or Hakeem or Shaq or LeBron or any of the pantheon of individuals who can be readily identified by their first name only) have gotten and will continue to get the calls. Now, the majority of my NBA-gazing is occupied by Nix games, but over the last 25 (gulp) years, I can say that our boys have always gotten hosed by the refs (the Hue Hollins call in game 5 in the ’94 semis v. the Bulls being the exception that proves the rule. But then again, his royal Nike-peddlingness was swatting the horsehide that summer, so maybe it isn’t an exception after all.)

In my early years of fandom, I keenly recall staring dumbly at Channel 9 (we didn’t have cable) and being utterly unable to fathom why Kevin McHale was allowed to use those ultra-sharp elbows of his to whack away at Pat Cummings, Ken “The Animal” Bannister, Louie Orr and others of their ilk with impunity whilst any mere mortal (see above) who dared fart in Bird’s general direction was immediately showered with whistles and a series of arcane/disco-like gestures from the refs. Even at that early age, I could tell that some players/teams were favored for reasons at that time, seemed beyond me. After all, I loved Mike Newlin. Why did the refs seem to hate him so much?

So this afternoon on the teevee, when Donaghy said that he was able to predict/bet on games with 75-80% accuracy simply because he knew who favored/loathed which players, my first thought was, “Duh! Of course you can. If you’re in the locker room, chewing the fat with the other refs, of course you’re going to hear who hates Rasheed Wallace or who loves Mike Fratello’s teams. (What that’s about I’ll never know. Possibly there’s a rogue ref who just loves the movie, “Hoosiers,” or something and pines for a return to those days of yore.) When you combine that with the unstated (or secretly stated) mandate to build up/market individual talents that Stern instituted to promote the league during the financially problematic years pre-Bird/Magic/Jordan, it’s clear how one could make a crapload of cash betting on the NBA.”

It’s one of the things that actually, in my own perverse kink, leads me to prefer watching b-ball to the Jets or the Mets (Yes, I know. I’ve really picked some winners there). I know that it’s not a level playing field and that seems to me to be a far more apt parallel to the world at large than the pristine, pastoral, Jeffersonian/democratic ideal (pre-‘Roids) presented by MLB or the power/precision, crypto-fascist, ground acquisition/military conquest paradigm put forth by the NFL. In both cases, while there are certainly times that I’ll fling inanimate objects and howl in horror at a botched call, for the most part, the refs/umps do a good job and I never get the impression that the game is in the bag for a particular team and/or player.

But, if I was the kind of individual who believed that the world was for the most part a fair and just place, I’m sure I’d be out there painting my face and clutching a Bud more often. But I don’t.

I’m a New Yorker. This is New York. We know that the fix is in. Solving that wholly unsolvable problem is far less important than making sure we’ve got the inside dope/skinny and can profit accordingly.

It’s why it’s so essential that Walsh is able to snag a LeBron or Dwyane. Not only because they are supreme talents, but because having a superstar who gets the benefit of the doubt is the best way to win a title over the last 30 years in the NBA. [Ed’s note: Also LeBron or Wade provide a little more production than say Jared Jeffries or Wilson Chandler.]

Our one chance at a super-duper star, Patrick Ewing was never qualified to join the first-name only club. I’m not sure why. Maybe it is because some unseen force wanted him to be Bill Russell 2.0 and he wasn’t. Maybe because all the grunts and the profuse sweating made him lack the grace and/or effortlessness that true stars seem to possess. It never seemed easy for our Patrick. I mean, he worked like a mofo for every basket/rebound/block he ever got but he never made the unbelievable play that simultaneously seemed routine. And while he was allowed to take an extra step or two when he rolled to the middle to unleash that trusty jump hook of his, because his archetype was that of the working-class hero, he was never anointed by the refs to the degree that would have/could have pushed those Riley/Van Gundy era teams over the top. To whit: If Jordan had strayed a few steps off the bench in ’97 do you think there’s any way he’d have been suspended for game 6? No way. Ain’t gonna happen.

So while Stern frets about the perception/bottom line of his beloved league as Timmy D the canary keeps singing his song, were he to seek my council, I’d say, relax Dave! We real fans get it. Nudge nudge, wink wink. Say no more.

The Remastered Michael Jordan

Two things happen this week that seem momentous but really aren’t. Except that they kind of are.

Yesterday, (when love was such an easy game to play), a remastered edition of The Beatles’ entire catalogue was released, much to the delight of millions of people who already own copies of all of their records.

On Friday, Michael Jordan (for whom Game 1 of the 1992 Finals was such an easy game to play) will be inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame, a foregone conclusion that would have come to pass five years ago had Jordan not (temporarily) traded his golf clubs for a Wizards jersey in 2001, two years shy of becoming eligible for first ballot enshrinement.

So it is that the worlds of rock music and professional basketball turn their respective eyes to the greatest icons in their respective histories, despite the fact that neither icon has created anything new, accomplished anything unexpected, or done anything else to warrant the attention being newly heaped upon them (especially not that awful Okafor for Chandler trade). And yet, somehow, I have spent the better part of the week with the Beatles playing on my iPod and am in the midst of DVRing 9 hours of NBA TV’s Jordan marathon (including the double nickel, which I will revisit out of the masochism with which visitors to a website named KnickerBlogger should be well acquainted).

The lesson, I suppose, is that truly transcendent greatness, the kind that gets inside its observers and re-emerges as either influence or obsession, doesn’t ever stop. Icons capable of so thoroughly dominating the cultural consciousness at the height of their greatness end up defining those cultures long after that greatness subsides. Some people desperately search for excuses to revisit the experience of buying Beatles albums (Oh, the harmonies on Abbey Road sound good this time? You’re kidding!) because they want to recapture the awe they felt hearing them for the first time; other (or in some cases the same) people use Jordan’s Hall of Fame Induction as an excuse to watch 20 year old basketball games for the fifth time without seeming like they’re (completely) crazy.

We buy into contrived excuses to revisit that kind of brilliance for two reasons. The first reason is that the kind of greatness in which the Beatles and Jordan traffic is irreplicableirreplicable because no one, not the Kinks or Kobe, not Oasis or LeBron, can ever be exactly what The Beatles or Jordan were (and still are), mean exactly what The Beatles or Jordan meant (and still mean). Through their achievements and connotations (both good and bad), both have carved out places in the zeitgeist whose impact can be equalled, possibly even surpassed, but never duplicated.

The second reason we keep going back for more is that transcendent greatness is inexhaustible. Much like the second half of Abbey Road or the crescendos in A Day in the Life, Jordan’s series winning jumper over Craig Ehlo in the first round of the 1989 playoffs never stops producing goosebumps. Neither does his dunk on Ewing in the ’91 playoffs (which gives me a rare goosebumps/nausea combo), his hand-switching finish against the Lakers in that season’s Finals, the Flu Game in the ’97 finals, the ’98 title-winner over Bryon Russell, or any of a dozen other moments, each of which is, individually, made greater by awareness of the whole; in Jordan’s case, success is all the more meaningful because so few failures exist to counterbalance it (on the court, at least).

The elephant in the room here is that I am a Knicks fan and, as such, I (and most of the people visiting this site) rooted against a great many of the accomplishments that are now being aggrandized in this space. At the time, I couldn’t have imagined that some of the very moments that served to keep the Knicks titleless throughout my youth would become the moments that I held in the highest esteem little more than a decade later. But, in the end, Michael Jordan’s induction into the Hall of Fame is not only a celebration of his brilliance, but also a celebration of brilliance itself. We watch the highlights and re-read the columns and anticipate his induction speech for the same reason that the opening chords of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band continue to boost listeners’ pulses four decades after they were recorded.

Because greatness is always worth celebrating and always worth revisiting. Even if we need a dumb excuse to do it.

Congratulations to Michael Jordan from a fan base that respects you as much as it hates you. The most fitting tribute we can offer you is a comment board filled with memories of times you crushed us.