No Big Loss: Losing Streak is Big Concern for Knicks

Jason BurkeCorrespondent IFebruary 17, 2009

For a moment there, it felt like the Knicks had gained some relevancy. They entered February with 21 wins and 25 losses. Although that was nothing to brag about, the Knicks had begun stringing together some wins and were playing an exciting brand of basketball heading into their "Dream Week."

"Dream Week" ended as a nightmare and has led to an 0-6 February. After losing to the three best teams in the NBA, the Lakers, Cavs, and Celtics, the Knicks took losing to all new levels by heading West and enduring a buzzer beater against Portland and two embarrassing losses to the lowly Warriors and Clippers.

But the story really began long before "Dream Week." It has been some time since the Madison Square Garden faithful had a chance to rejoice. Barack Obama might as well of stolen Knicks fans slogan when he talked of change as fans watched Scott Layden make bad trades for even worse contracts.

Under Layden the Knicks were trying to make runs at the playoffs. But Layden's inability to field a good team without players like Stockton and Malone was evident.

This change led to Isiah Thomas' eventual reign of terror. Thomas at first, seemed poised to make the Knicks a contender again after importing Stephon Marbury. It wasn't long before he proved to be Scott Layden without a soul, though. He imported player after player without thought of how those pieces would fit.

Stephon became the selfish me-first player he always was, Jerome James was paid well to over-eat, and Eddy Curry was teamed up with Zack Randolph!?!? How was that supposed to work?

Still, it wasn't his moves that proved to destroy the Knicks, as his draft picks ended up yielding the likes of David Lee, Nate Robinson, and Wilson Chandler. It was the fact that, as the Knicks became more and more over the salary cap, Isiah was forced to take more control of day-to-day basketball operations, until he eventually became head coach.

As Isiah took more and more control, a culture of losing developed around the Knicks. When Isiah came in, he said that there was no such thing as rebuilding in New York. By the time he was head coach, the Knicks payroll tripled and losing was the hard lesson to be learned if the team wanted to eventually contend. 

This leads us up to "Dream Week." As the Knicks played better, a good barometer for their development was to see how they fared against the best. Give D'Antoni and the boys credit, they held their own throughout most of the games. For the first time in a long time, we heard "MVP" chants at the Garden. Even if they were for the wrong player.

The thing that scared me was the comments and mood of the team after these losses. Al Harrington called the Cleveland defeat, "a feel good loss," while David Lee claimed that being beaten by these teams was, "the best 0-3 week I've ever had as far as playing."

It's evident by comments such as these that D"Antoni and GM Donny Walsh have yet to stamp out the last remnants of Isiah Thomas' dirty fingerprints on this franchise. A franchise that is willing to accept defeat to the elite will eventually find losing as acceptable on all levels.  

Hence, the New York Knicks are winless in February.