The Architect of Your Misery
Fellow Citizens of Knick:
The influence of our Great Leader is wide, but I have found safety from his agents in the small town of Tallahassee, Florida, five hundred miles from the nearest Dolan stronghold of Miami, where the watchful eye of Great Leader’s right hand man, Isiah Thomas, is everywhere.
I write to you today from exile, but also in solidarity, in faith that as impotent as the truth may seem right now, it is still important, more important than anything. As Buddha once said, “Three things cannot be long hidden: the sun, the moon, and the truth.”
Since Mike D’Antoni first had success with his fast-paced offense, people have done all they could to tear him down. They criticized the defense of his team although it was always in the top two-thirds of the league. They criticized his offense, claiming his success was only a product of Steve Nash’s offensive genius.
Never mind that before the Anthony trade he coached the 4th youngest team in the league to a winning record, that the Knicks managed 33 wins in D’Antoni’s first season, ten more than the Isiah-led team of the previous year, despite the fact that their top three scorers were all gone (or “gone” in the case of Eddy Curry), replaced only by Al Harrington and a cameo from Tim Thomas, that his Suns teams had a winning record in the playoffs and went the Western Conference Finals in two of his four years.
“Why?” I know that word is right on your collective tongue, comrades. You are thinking, “Why tear him down?” The answer is that those who lack imagination, and they are legion, will fight tooth and claw to maintain the status quo. They do so because they rightfully fear that in a world where conventional wisdom is useless, they will be left in the dirt.
Here is a simplified list of the major moves that have occurred in Dolan’s tenure, before the Anthony trade. Draft picks are substituted for the players they became.
- Isiah Thomas as President of Basketball Operations
- Antonio McDyess for Marcus Camby and Nene
- Stephon Marbury for Antonio McDyess and Gordon Hayward
- Jamal Crawford at seven years and $56 million for spare parts
- Eddy Curry at six years and $60 million for Joakim Noah and LaMarcus Aldridge
- Steve Francis for Trevor Ariza
- Zach Randolph for Steve Francis and Channing Frye
- Jerome James and Jared Jeffries at five years and $30 million each
These don’t even include the assets that our ally Donnie Walsh gave up to escape from some of these terrible contracts.
The moves here range from lateral to absolute disasters. Again, comrades, you may be feeling that stone of a word weighing on your tongues: “Why?” We all have our currencies. Some desire to earn respect, others desire freedom, and others money. What currency does a dictator desire? It’s not money, for Great Leader could be far richer were he to have put decisions into wiser hands.
No, dictators are narcissistic, and so their currency is reality. They want to control the narrative, and they want to center themselves in that narrative. Most of these Dolan-endorsed moves involved the acquisition of a player who has appeared in leaderboards, who makes SportsCenter, who can draw people’s attention. Each of these moves gave Dolan a chance to plant his flag at the source of a “New Knick Direction.”
Were the Knicks to be “a story” without a trademark decision of our Great Leader as the starting point, regardless of how “Linsanely” exciting that story might be, regardless of how much money it might earn, is a loss of the only currency that Great Leader values, and he will use his girth and might to sabotage it. He will restore the narrative so that he is the seed.
Were Great Leader to have allowed Mike D’Antoni to stay on as commander of the team and moved stubborn Anthony, the story would have been about Donnie Walsh autonomously shepherding the team back to competitiveness, about Mike D’Antoni trusting the young Lin, about Lin himself rising to stardom. The acquisition of Carmelo Anthony, which Great Leader was solely responsible for, would have been forever-remembered as a failure.
You see, for Mr. Dolan, control is far more important than success, for if his word and plan is final, the people have no choice but to lay all faith in him. He is infallible, for all other possibilities are fantasies – only the most idealistic put hope into what can never be – and all failures are the fault of changeable parts. Linking D’Antoni’s struggles to his lame duck status or a roster that seemed designed to undercut his authority and style of play would be just as sensible as being angry about the sun rising.
Logic and reason, too, are the enemy of Great Leader, as they are the tools through which idealists steel their faith, while the self-centered and destructive are his greatest allies. Any success that doesn’t travel the avenues of Great Leader’s “wisdom” cannot be tolerated. Mr. D’Antoni, who faithfully insisted on his system, saw past the conventional wisdom of big scoring individual players. His “resignation” is only a continuation of a trend that began when Great Leader’s father consigned the state of Knick to his hapless son.
Looking more closely into Great Leader’s legacy, we see the two figures he forged the closest relationships with: Isiah Thomas and Stephon Marbury. It makes perfect sense for our Little General to trust these men, for they are unprincipled and thus easy to control. Marbury once said, “I’m a max player. Don’t get mad at me, because I’m telling you what’s real. One plus one is two, all day long, and it’s never gonna change. And that’s factorial.” As long as he collected his check, this was not a man that Dolan had to worry would stand against him. He was an ideal confederate in Dolan’s plot.
Thomas too seemingly went out of his way to prove his lack of principles and soon found a place within Great Leader’s cavernous chest. First, it was the Anucha Browne-Sanders sexual harassment suit, in response to which Great Leader only pulled Thomas closer. When the pressure mounted on Thomas, he fed to the wolves the players that he and Dolan had brought in and touted as the franchise’s salvation. No doubt these dual betrayals brought considerable joy to Great Leader, for when United Basketball Nations Secretary General Stern forced Dolan to dismiss him, Dolan insisted that Isiah remain as a consultant to the team. Great Leader continues to this day to call him, “a very good friend.”
Walsh may have ushered in a brief period of pragmatism and progress, but Dolan couldn’t help but meddle again, and this move followed the same Devil’s logic that all the previous ones had. Youth and salary flexibility were jettisoned in favor of an overrated high-scoring player, the scoop of ice cream on top being that this fellow had alienated his teammates and had confirmed in forcing his way off the Nuggets that his real objective was to be in the spotlight and make lots of cash; winning basketball games was secondary. This was a man after Dolan’s heart. The resignation of Walsh the usurper was icing on the cake. When Anthony later sabotaged his coach, he was surely inducted into the inner-circle of the Cablevision empire. That smile of Anthony’s that has received so much attention of late? It is not unlike the one Isiah Thomas often wore as he explained away the Knicks’ failures.
His reputation at stake, he may finally be exerting himself on the court, but if the Knicks make the playoffs and the pressure fades, would it be any surprise for him to return to complacency? Perhaps this experience has taught him some humility, in which case he deserves acknowledgement, but we cannot forget what was sacrificed. We cannot lose sight of the bigger picture.
Friedrich Nietzsche once said, “All things are subject to interpretation. Whichever interpretation prevails at a given time is a function of power and not truth.” That quote may well adorn the office that Dolan spends his days in, deep in the pits of Madison Square Garden.
The violence of Great Leader and his cabal for ignorance can only control the perception of what is true, not truth itself. Their unreality serves only to preserve their power over the hearts of the citizenry, and to further the suffering of the masses. Take solace, fellow citizens, in the undying power of truth. You may not live to see a Knicks championship, but history will reveal the architect of your misery.
In addition to writing for Knickerblogger, Max teaches English at Tallahassee Community College and writes short stories. He recently finished a feature screenplay, and he is working right now to raise the funds to film it. You can check it out on Kickstarter.