Monthly: Anatomy Of The “Knicks Curse”!
This edition of The Monthly is strictly for my Knickerbockers fans. In April we watched the New York Knicks close out yet another disappointing regular season finishing with a record of 31-51 – one game worse than the year before. It was year filled with high expectations based off big name summer acquisitions, a brand new coach and all the hype that comes naturally with a team that resides in the most famous city in the world. The goal at the very least was a return to the post season, which has eluded them the past three seasons, and it was only months ago that playoffs appeared to be a lock…. until everything went downhill fast in pure Knicks fashion.
By December 13th of last year, the Knicks were the 3rd seed in the Eastern Conference with a 14-10 record. By February 25th, however, they were 23-35 and had dropped to the 12th seed. This must’ve come as quite a shock to all the bandwagoners who jumped on the Knicks “hype train” as soon as Derrick Rose joined the team. To us REAL knick fans, this mid-season collapse made perfect sense. As if on cue, Carmelo Anthony took most of the blame for the losses. Remember, he’s just the latest scapegoat for the Knicks woes. But who are we really kidding here, Carmelo isn’t to blame. Rather, many would argue the organization as a whole has been cursed since Patrick Ewing attempted that ill-fated finger-roll layup way back in 1995, and in free fall ever since they traded him away to the Sonics. Now almost 20 years later after basically 2 decades of losing, it appears even Melo can’t even save them.
Like I said, most die hard Knick fans saw the teams 2016-17 struggles coming from far. They know Knicks can’t have anything nice… not for long at least. Theres a poplar sentiment among knicks fans, thats weary of any knicks success. It won’t last. The Knicks always give you a slither of hope only to dissapoing you in the end. By January, sings were clear. The season, although it started well, was ultimately headed for a disaster. No matter how good things looked in the off season, preseason, even a month prior, the knicks are just destined miss the playoffs seasons end.
But was simply making the Playoffs the ultimate goal to begin with?
This revamped Knicks squad was supposed to be contending for a NBA title, right?
The 2016-17 Knick “Super Team” as Derrick Rose crowned them over the summer turned out to be the very opposite of that. Don’t get me wrong, Rose had a decent season, but the other high profile acquisitions of Noah, Jennings and Courtney Lee proved to be more detrimental to the team than anything. Instead of challenging the Cavs for the top spot in the East, they would finish with one of the worst records in the conference. And for another year (the 4th straight year) they didn’t make the playoffs. Thats 13 times in the last 16 seasons the Knicks failed to make the post season. With all the great players that have donned the legendary “orange and blue” in this time period, you’d think they would’ve won a title already let alone make the playoffs at a higher rate. Now tell me this team isn’t cursed.
I’m not sure exactly when it happened, but these days the entire city of New York has pretty much accepted this notion of a “Knicks curse” and some fans have even embraced the teams losing ways. For Knick fans, losing is nothing they haven’t grown accustomed to, however this season, if any, was the one time everyone, even the most skeptical, pessimist and bitter Knicks fan expected the team to break the curse. Turns out the 2016-17 year might be the worst of any in franchise history given the expectations.
Like I said things were all good in 2016 until around Christmas when the Knicks began string off heart breaking losses lasting through January which included blown 4th quarter leads and shocking upsets at the buzzer. Some of their lowest points of the timespan were the team giving up 42 points in one quarter en route to a demoralizing loss to the Raptors. This was only days after blowing a late 10 point lead and losing at the buzzer to one of the leagues worst teams, the Philadelphia 76ers. Then there was the time Derrick Rose went missing hours before a game. All these events were sure signs the Knicks “comeback season” was soon headed down the drain.
In February things went from bad to worse as Carmelo, who in the midst of his own struggles, was wasnt even elected as an All-Star. The latest “Melo drama” dominated Newspaper headlines as did reoccurring trade rumors. Luckily Carmelo wasn’t traded in attempted deal with the Cavs for Kevin Love, and ironically made the All Star team as a replacement for the Cavs Power forward. In related news, Kristaps would win the Skills challenge during All-Star weekend. Little did he know this would be the highlight of his season and the only good thing to happen within the organization during the 2nd half of the season.
In March, as Knicks fans prayed for a last minute turn around and playoff push, the basketball Gods had other plans. The curse kicked into over drive as a series of unfortunate events unfolded. The 72 million man, Joacim Noah, went down with injury. Knicks fans hated him anyways so that was more fuel to the fire. On the contrary, fan favorite Brandon Jennings was later waived because he wanted to play for a contender. Soon enough, even Phil Jackson came under fire, all the while the Knicks kept losing and eventually dropped out of playoff contention. By the seasons end, Noah returned from injury only to serve a “illegal substance” based suspension he was handed out weeks prior. Then on April 2, as if the team hadn’t already reached their figurative “rock bottom”, Derrick Rose suffered a season ending injury, just as a friendly reminder that the Knicks curse is in fact the real deal in case you forgot.
The final few games of the season were unwatchable as the Knicks started playing a line up full of white guys no casual fan could even recognize. The Knicks were finally in “tank mode” thank God, but even they couldn’t get that right complexity. By somehow managing to win 3 out of their last 7 games –including the final game of the season- the team arguably ruined their chances at landing a Top 5 pick in this Summers NBA draft.
If there was a silver lining to the Knicks disappointing 2016-17 season it would be getting at least a a high draft pick out of it but even the knicks couldn’t accomplish that. And they would follow this “L” with a real one in a coin toss serving a tie breaker with the Timberwolves (who they shared the same record with) to decide their chances in the draft lottery. The loss landing them the 7th best odds and Minnesota the 6th.
For everyone thinking sliding down one draft pick in the NBA draft board isnt a big deal, let me remind you of the Knicks past luck in the draft lottery. I doubt they want to come up a pick short in this years stacked rookie class. As you can see above, the difference of 1 spot can be between picking whoever the Knicks ended up drafting that year (I honestly don’t remember) and a two-time MVP.
In the aftermath of the regular season, the Knicks old problems continued to surface, as Phil Jackson uncharacteristically openly criticized Carmelo (this time not on Twitter). When asked by the media if he wanted Carmelo back next season, the “Zen Master” replied:
“We have not been able to win with him on the court at this time, and I think the direction with our team is that he is a player that will be better off somewhere else and using his talent somewhere where he can win or chase that championship.
This statement only helped incite trade rumors again, which will surely haunt Melo fans into the off season. But the Melo drama doesn’t end there. Last week news surfaced that Carmelo and LaLa, his wife of 16 years, would be separating because he allegendy got a stripper pregnant. I’m sure this was music to the ears of all the “Carmelo haters” and for the sports media icing on the cake of yet another drama filled calendar year in Knicks basketball.
If anything you could say this Knick season was an entertaining one; one filled with more twists and turns than ever before in franchise history. A storyline not unlike you’d find in a book on The New York times best seller list or, better yet, a Vh1 reality show. Despite being horrible, the team managed be a fixture in the news all season whether it be Espn, sports radio, podcasts or internet blogs. Because they were horrible they were also the subject of some of the most popular memes to grace your social media feed, definitely providing a few laughs for all the non-Knick fans all over the world because the team is truly a joke. Admittedly, I even got a few laughs out this disastrous season. Sometimes that’s all us remaing loyal Knick fans can do to deal with the pain.
Yea, the Knicks suck. The entire organization very well might be cursed, but one thing for sure, New York City is still the Mecca of Basketball. Madison Square Garden is still the most famous arena in all the NBA and as I type this the franchise is still most valuable in the NBA. These three facts alone justify rooting for the team season after season win or lose. Oh, and never forget, Carmelo still has that “no trade” clause.