After a regular season nosedive of six consecutive losses, the New York Knicks finally got to pummel a team, beating the Portland Trailblazers 121-79. But according to MSG announcers Mike Breen and NBA legend Walt "Clyde" Frazier, they did so without class.
Fortuitously for the Knicks, the Blazers are one of the few teams that could match their pace of plummet. Like the Knicks, the Blazers have a woeful 3-7 record in their last ten games, and their manifold deficiencies were evident from an early stage of the first quarter.
Once it was clear that the rout was on, the Knicks collectively seemed to exhale the mountain of pressure they have faced during their losing streak, which had culminated earlier in the day with the resignation of Coach Mike D'Antoni.
J.R. Smith was giddy while launching 14 threes and watching half of those fall through the hoop. Smith's subsequent delighted prancing was understandable since it was the first indication of the season that he was hired to play basketball for the Knicks and not to do renovation work on MSG as a bricklayer.
Steve Novak also hoisted a heavy share of long-distance jumpers, making 6 of his 10 attempts; he thus had multiple opportunities to pull out his invisible championship belt and buckle it in an Aaron Rodgers mime.
By the way these Knicks were cavorting on the court, you would have thought that they had achieved something lately, like win a game, for example. Or at least that they were finally playing consistent defense for 48 minutes against a highly-touted opponent.
After Iman Shumpert followed a breakaway windmill slam with a statuesque pose for the crowd, Breen had seen enough:
You're up by 31 points. Enough with this. Granted, you had a six-game losing streak, your team was struggling, you lost your coach, it's a frustrating night, let your emotions go; but you also need to be mindful.This is a Blazer team that is going through some very difficult times.
The squirm-factor escalated when the Knicks declined to show a modicum of respect to a team in a plight that New York has been intimately acquainted with during their own skid. Instead of ending the game with the time-honored ritual of respect--dribbling out the clock--Shumpert tried a lob to Smith, which drew the exasperated ire of MSG commentators.
You know, just run out the clock. You don't do that. I'm sorry, That's wrong. That's poor sportsmanship . . . That's no class.
Walt "Clyde" Frazier agreed and reminisced about how former Knicks coach Red Holzman would have handled the situation when Frazier was playing:
You know after Iman Shumpert did that dunk, Red Holzman would have called us over and said, 'Enough guys, just run the clock out.'
A number of television cutaways showed revelry on the bench throughout the fourth quarter.
Some Knicks fans might feel relieved to see the team bonding and sharing laughs again, after weeks of turmoil and humorless dysfunction; some might care less that it came against a team that has been consistently blown out recently.
Other fans, though, may share Breen's contempt for what they perceive as showboating.
Perhaps both imagined sides of this fan base would prefer to see celebrations for rebounds, charges, and help defense, instead of all the ebullient high-jump leaps for scoring in bunches.
Now Knicks commentators are adding "class" to the long list of glaring Knicks omissions.
For some, then, the Knicks lost even when they won. It has been that kind of season.