Monday, December 24, 2012

State of the Garden: Dolan's Boys

I am a carbon copy of my father. It has nothing to do with the fact that my peoples all look alike (okay, maybe just a little bit). But it's other things: we have the same mannerisms, we showcase the same stubbornness, and we make the same mistakes because we run through the same thought processes and use the same logic.

Similarly, YOUR New York Knickerbockers are a carbon copy of their illegitimate father, James Dolan. We know the story of Dolan already. The stupidity of the Isiah Thomas era, the botched handling of Linsanity, and the foolishness of JD and the Straight Shot all tell us that in spite of his obvious intelligence, the King of New York is too brash, too vindictive, and too ridiculous. We're lucky that general manager Glen Grunwald has undoubtedly been the best executive in pro sports for the past two years (and yes, I'm including Presti in OKC, Buford in Santone, Baalke in Frisco, Friedman in Tampa, and any other executive who decided to take a job in the National Hockey League).

The Knicks are Dolan's boys. Their attitudes and their play on the court, from superstar Carmelo Anthony to head coach Mike Woodson, give Dolan every reason to call the Bockers his team. Let's take a look why:

The Technical Fouls

Anthony leads the league in technical fouls with 8. J.R. Smith and Rasheed Wallace each have 4. Including Woodson, the Knicks have gotten T'd up 24 times in 27 games.

NBA referees are horrendous. But they were horrendous during the days of Naismith's peach baskets. They'll continue to be horrendous in the future because a) the NBA doesn't conduct a rigorous hand-eye coordination test to become employed, and b) referees are human. Even the most calm player will show a little emotion when there is a missed call or no-call, but the Knicks compound forgivable human error with unforgiveable human error. Exhibit A, Anthony against the Rockets last month (fast-forward to 1:20 if you're so inclined):

Anthony's blatant disregard to continue playing basketball does the obvious: the Rockets had a clear path to two points. But this and other reactions to referee mistakes has given the Knicks a terrible reputation. Many basketball heads point to the Knicks' inability to get to the free throw line as a huge reason why the winning ways of the Bockers is unsustainable. But I counter by saying that Melo and Smith are just not getting the calls near the basket. Breen hammered on that point during yesterday's game against Minnesota, that Carmelo is just getting beat up down low without the benefit of hearing a whistle.

The players' reaction to non-calls, missed calls, and the technical fouls themselves portray Dolan-ing at its finest. When asked about the whistle-happy referees that ejected Tyson Chandler, Woodson, and himself against Chicago on Saturday, Anthony said:

"Sh*t happens."

How lovely. Don't blame it on the fact that we can't control our emotions like rational adults. Blame it on someone else, it's the Jimmy D way.

The Overconfidence

Dolan and Isiah, sitting in a tree, k-i-s-s-i-n-g. I'm all for standing by your boys til the bitter end, but the continued employment and affection for someone who torpedoed the franchise for years was comical. People are bad at their jobs all the time, and sure, Isiah should have been fired for that. But when Anucha Browne-Sanders filed an eight-figure sexual harassment lawsuit against Madison Square Garden based on Isiah's transgressions (I love that word), the right thing to do would be to settle the case, fire Isiah, and bingo bango you're ready to move on. Or, you can drag it near to the end, wasting legal fees and ultimately paying Browne-Sanders anyway. That worked.

Let's take a look at the Knickerbockers' 7 losses this season. 3 of them are completely excusable in my book. The Memphis and Dallas games were both on the road and were the 2nd end of a back-to-back. The road game against Chicago was without Anthony and came right after the emotional high of beating Miami by 20 in South Beach. A fourth loss came at the hands of Chicago at home in which the Knicks were beat by the better team that night, plain and simple.

That leaves 3 losses: at Brooklyn, and 2 to the Houston Lins.

Uglier than the average Mambinite.
On November 23rd, New York traveled to Houston to face the Rockets, seeing old friend teammate Jeremy Lin suit up on the opposite bench. They were smacked in the face, once by the sight of those ugly Rockets uniforms, and again during the game, losing by 28 points.

After the game, Woodson admitted that the team wasn't ready to play, but such an admission wasn't necessary. From the get-go, Raymond Felton took this game personally, as if New York's 8-2 record heading into the game didn't make him realize that the Knicks were better off without Lin. A quick look at the box score will make it seem like I'm an idiot, but we all know that's not true. The majority of Felton's field goal attempts were contested, and the ones that were uncontested reeked of selfishness.

The Brooklyn game looked largely the same. The Nets are certainly a playoff team, but head coach Avery Johnson's ineptitude when it comes to designing an offense keeps them from being consistent. 3 days after losing to Lin in Houston, the Knicks wanted to show Prokhorov that this "Battle of New York" nonsense was conjured up by the Nets and the local media. The road team showed up at Barclays with that one goal in mind, with a secondary goal of winning the actual game. Shooting 39% from the floor, the Knicks allowed the Nets to escape with a win they didn't really deserve.

I don't want to discuss Lin's victorious return to the Garden. So let's just call it a day. Unless the Knicks separate themselves from their vindictive, foolish owner, they will continue to incur awful losses, which will deprive them of momentum they have built from Day 1. They can decide what story will be on the front page, because for the most part, this team has been fun to watch, efficient in execution, and a force that must be taken seriously by the rest of the league...except for those nights that end in a Dolan-loss.

I'm back, Mambinites, probably to your dismay. And to make it worse for you guys, KOBEsh has given me the go-ahead to proclaim this week to be "BockerKnocker week." Come back tomorrow for a look at the future of The Fighting Pride of the Philippines, Manny Pacquiao.

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