NEW YORK KNICKS SEASON OBITUARY
Added by Greg Rappaport on May 16, 2013.
Photo Credit: Charles Wenzelberg/ NY Post
I believe now is as good a time as any to write an obituary for the New York Knicks. No, the Knicks have not been officially eliminated from the playoffs, but after watching them slog through the first round against a Boston team that was likely the only other unit in the NBA as old and torpid as the Knicks (Lakers also in contention for that merit). And now, to see them getting beat up by a Pacers team that is outplaying them in almost every form, is absolutely soul-crushing.
Simply put, with the Knicks down 3-1, defeat feels imminent.
While all of the wheels fall off of the rusty jalopy that is the New York Knicks, one wonders exactly which nut came loose first?
Was it the moment when J.R. “Earl” Smith struck his elbow into the head of Jason Terry, and suddenly began to heave bricks so errant that courtside fans were in danger? It’s almost as if any damage that might have occurred to Jason Terry’s brain was actually transferred to Smith, who has shot 28.5% since the incident.
But let’s not be too quick to blame J.R., after all, it’s not as if he chooses when to check-in and out of the game; that’s actually the job of coach Mike Woodson. The very same Woodson that allowed a struggling Smith to log 31 minutes in last night’s beat-down, while key role players who have helped the Knicks all season long like Chris Copeland (12 minutes) and Pablo Prigioni (3!!!!! minutes!!) wasted away on the bench. When your two leading scorers just aren’t producing at the level they need to be as both Carmelo Anthony (who is shooting just 39% this postseason) and Smith are mired in slumps, Woodson needed to abandon the failing strategy; but he’s done the opposite.
I can already hear the postgame conference when the Knicks are eventually eliminated.
“Well, we had our backs up against the wall, so we wanted to go with ‘Melo and J.R. because we needed their offense, and they got us to where we are.” Woodson will explain.
Except that he will be wrong. Because the Knicks didn’t get to where they were solely on the contributions of Smith and Anthony. They got there by doing the things that made November such a special month for Knicks fans. We watched, with our jaws on the floor as the ‘Bockers opened up a commanding division lead in the Atlantic with their head-turning 8-1 start to the season by moving the ball, playing active team defense and producing a fountain of three-pointers.
This was all happening at a time when things seemed uncertain. The storyline of where Amar’e Stoudemire and Iman Shumpert would fit in when they returned was ever-present, and no one really seemed to know at which point to say: “yes, the Knicks are legit this year.”
Every fan of New York has had two types of moments this year (some had these two types of moments hundreds of times). There was the game that made you say, “Holy shit, the Knicks can actually compete against the Heat and possibly contend for a title.”
Mine was this game, when the Knicks went to Miami and trounced the Heat by 20 points, all with ‘Melo sidelined by injury.
Then there was the game that made you say, “all is lost, the Knicks are as bad as the worst team in the NBA and would be lucky to make it out of the first round.”
For myself, it was this game, when the Knicks were eviscerated by the Nuggets on the second game of an impossible west coast road trip, and the ‘Bockers’ deficiencies were blindingly putrid as a team full of ex-Knicks pummeled New York with a karma-brick for selling the whole lot to Denver in exchange for a mercurial superstar in Carmelo Anthony.
The most painful part of the season’s near end is this: when the year began, my expectations were low for the Knicks; I thought we’d be looking at yet another seven or eight seed, followed by a first round knockout. But I was proved wrong. All of my complaints about how old the Knicks were, and how re-signing J.R. was a terrible decision were off base. The old (like really, really old) Knicks were playing like they had discovered the Fountain of Youth deep in the bowels of MSG. Pieces just seemed to be falling into place and I soon quieted my protests, sat back, and enjoyed the ride.
But now that the Knicks are down 3-1, every preseason complaint I shouted has reawakened like a white walker from the North, and being right never felt so wrong.
Tyson Chandler’s is in pain; ‘Melo is fizzing out; J.R. is old-J.R. again; Jason Kidd forgot that the object of basketball is to score points; Woodson lost all of his coaching credibility; everything is just wrong.
But that’s kind of how the NBA playoffs work. Your driving a car, and sometimes it’s a shiny and sleek high performance vehicle like the Oklahoma City Thunder; other times it’s a Ferrari ripping down South Beach at 120 mph like the Heat; and in the Knicks case, it’s a great car with a lot of personality and spunk, but unfortunately has a penchant for breaking down at the wrong time.
And there are your 2012-1013 New York Knicks ladies and gentleman — stalled out in the middle of an intersection, smoke rising from the hood, four flat tires and just moments away from being completely decimated by the Panzer Tank that the Pacers have turned out to be.
We’ll get ‘em next year…. maybe….