No team in NBA history has received as much undeserved coverage as this year’s installment of the New York Knicks. Since their Christmas Day tipoff to their impending, and totally predictable, first-round playoff exit, the Knicks have been fussed over like title contenders whose championship pedigree is augmented by the serial-dating of Hollywood starlets while volunteering at no-kill animal shelters. The point is that the Knicks are irrelevant, and the amount of time wasted on them by the national media is absurd.
ESPN Radio’s Mike and Mike spent the lion’s share of their show harping over Amar’e Stoudemire’s postgame punching of a glass fire extinguisher case following Monday evening 104-94 loss to the Miami Heat, who now possess a 2-0 series lead. The story demanded attention, but devoting nearly four hours to the season-ending left jab and then the Knicks’ future wasn’t just overkill, it was kill, dig up the grave and kill again.
It’s the same old story: pedestrian New York shoved down our throats, every game dissected like an eighth-grade frog, with way too many aired. Why? Aside from Jeremy Lin’s also overblown rags to riches – hard to say about a Harvard graduate – what has New York done to warrant such attention?
Outside of the Tri-State, the Knicks are irrelevant. No contender, despite constant efforts to tag the Knicks are “dangerous,” worries about New York. They’re not the Heat or San Antonio Spurs. They’re not even the Atlanta Hawks.
The Knicks are an average team in every way. They tied with Dallas for the league’s 10th best record: 36-30. This despite playing in the Eastern Conference which housed the league’s three worst teams: Charlotte, Washington and Cleveland. The Cavaliers and New Orleans shared a 21-45 mark. New York was 15-20 against teams above .500.
The fact that Stoudemire lost his bout against the case – despite the broken glass each of the three judges scoring the fight had the encasement on their scorecards – isn’t surprising. New York doesn’t win anything and hasn’t for a long time. The franchise’s only two titles came famously back in 1970 and 1973. New York hasn’t won a division title since 1994 and won a playoff series since the 1999-2000 Eastern Conference semis.
Monday’s loss was a NBA-record 12th consecutive postseason setback. New York’s last playoff win occurred in 2001 against Toronto. The Knicks lost the series 3-2.
New York’s stars shone faintly this season, and typically in a star-driven league that’s not only an on-court issue, but an off-court one as well. Teams without stars get ignored – except the Knicks.
Yes, Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony did battle injuries, but neither performed up to their superstar billings. Stoudemire’s 17.5 points per game were his lowest in a full-season since his rookie campaign. His 7.8 boards were a career-low. Anthony’s 43 percent shooting percent was his worst since his debut season while his 22.6 points per outing constituted his worst production since 2008-2009. To be fair much of the attention these two received wasn’t flattering, but still, you’re never kept abreast of the daily ebbs and flows of a member of the Houston Rockets or even Chicago Bulls like you were with Melo and Stoudemire.
More annoying than anything though is the jock-sniffing of Madison Square Garden. Some prescribe mystical powers to MSG, believing that the arena and its 19,000 occupants are a not-so-secret weapon capable of turning the tide of a game or even series. Both have been such a factor that the Knicks and New York Rangers have a combined three championships since the building opened in 1968 and none since 1994.
Of course much of the attention stems from the New York stitched across the jersey. Everything in the Big Apple is overblown. That’s not only okay, it’s often entertaining. This year’s coverage of the Knicks, however, has gone from mildly amusing to not even over-the-pail, but drown yourself in it annoying.
Other NBA outfits have received similar gobs of attention. For example: any of MJ’s Bulls teams; the Lakers with Shaq, Kobe, Gary Payton and Karl Malone and last season’s Heat team. The difference however is those teams were good, all at least reaching the Finals, while the Knicks simply aren’t.
Finally, I know it’s ironic, and even perhaps hypocritical, I feed the very fire I’m trying to extinguish and penned this column.