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The Most Embarrassing Players in NY Knicks' Past 20 Years

John DornCorrespondent IIIJanuary 12, 2017

The Most Embarrassing Players in NY Knicks' Past 20 Years

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    Each and every NBA team is going to suffer through its fair share of inevitable embarrassments. That's just how professional sports go. But over the last two decades, the New York Knicks have done a great job at making sure we all know that organizations are entitled to making mistakes.

    Orchestrated by front office failures, injuries and controversy, the Knicks couldn't escape the spotlight through the rough years of the 2000s—and for all the wrong reasons.

    Ahead are the people who made those 'Bockers so laughable, and where they stand amongst the most counterproductive Knicks in recent memory.

Honorable Mention: Larry Brown

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    It was easy to fail as head coach of the 2005-06 Knicks, but Larry Brown failed about as epically as any Hall of Fame coach ever could. After one 23-win season—the first of a five-year, $50 million-plus deal—he was fired and handed an undisclosed but likely sizable check in the form of a buyout.

    Brown coming in to coach those Knicks was like trying to force a square, old-fashioned, Hall of Fame-worthy block into a triangular, young and insubordinate hole.

    After leading the Detroit Pistons to multiple NBA finals appearances earlier in the decade—with teams led by Chauncey Billups, Rip Hamilton and Ben Wallace—coaching a roster filled with players who'd never tasted winning before was destined for failure.

    Brown and several players, most notably point guard Stephon Marbury, battled indirectly through the press. The coach even went as far as calling Trevor Ariza, one of his own players, "delusional" mid-way through the year.

    Just about everything that could've gone wrong for Brown as Knicks head man did. He was canned after a single season, but the hilarity of that year will live on forever.

Honorable Mention: Isiah Thomas

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    This all leaves the man responsible for most of the prior embarrassments: Isiah Thomas.

    Thomas was named team president in December of 2003, and his disastrous impact was almost immediate. A week into his tenure, Thomas traded for Stephon Marbury to be the team's new franchise player.

    From that day forward, Thomas was determined to trade draft picks and young talent at every given opportunity, in favor of extremely overpaid, unproductive veterans that would never lead the Knicks anywhere close to playoff contention.

    After the 2005-06 Larry Brown disaster, Thomas was named head coach as well, giving him full reign of all things pertaining to Knicks basketball.

    So not only was Jamal Crawford making $7 million per year, but he was playing 37 minutes per game as well! Not only were Mardy Collins and Renaldo Balkman brutal picks on draft night, but they were key role players, too!

    The Isiah Thomas era Knicks were not rebuilding. They were built with one of the highest payrolls in the league each and every season, and with players whose talent didn't fit the bill.

    The team was a league-wide laughing stock and suffered through a stretch of losing seasons unlike any the franchise had ever known. It was all at the hands of one man, and for it all, he shall rest as the most embarrassing Knick of all time.

    But now, on to the players.

8. Stephon Marbury

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    Though he was actually one of the league's better point guards during his Knicks stint, Stephon Marbury was the face of the franchise during its most woeful stretch ever. 

    He posted averages of 18 points and seven assists while shooting 44 percent from the field and 38 percent from downtown over his five Knicks seasons, which is the type of production you seek from a star point guard. The issue with Marbury's tenure in New York was everything else. 

    There was his involvement in the harassment lawsuit against then-president Isiah Thomas, and later his frequent bouts with the head coach.

    "Isiah has to start me," Marbury fumed, according to the source. "I've got so much (stuff) on Isiah and he knows it. He thinks he can (get) me. But I'll (get) him first. You have no idea what I know."

    Early in the 2007 season, Thomas decided to bench Marbury in favor of Mardy Collins. Upon learning of his demotion, Marbury left the team for a period of time.

    The next season, under Mike D'Antoni, Starbury was again relegated to a bench role in favor of Chris Duhon. After an opening-night DNP-CD, the star guard and head coach continued to butt heads until Marbury was eventually banned from team activities in December. He was bought out later that season, ending his Knicks career.

    The roughly $90 million he earned during this time only made it all the more painful.

7. Steve Francis

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    When Isiah Thomas dealt away a 20-year-old Trevor Ariza for past-his-prime, trigger-happy Steve Francis in 2006, Knicks fans had not the slightest idea of what the team president had in mind. It would've taken an extraordinary career renaissance from the combo guard to sway fans' opinions, and as we now know, that's not the way things played out. 

    In 2006-07, his only full season as a Knick, the 29-year-old Francis posted the second-lowest full-season field goal mark, and lowest assist, scoring, rebounding and steal numbers of his career. He and Stephon Marbury topped the team's payroll by plenty, while leading the team to a mediocre 33-49 record.

    Stevie Franchise was promptly traded then following summer in the deal that brought Zach Randolph to the Knicks. After 10 games in a homecoming with the Houston Rockets in 2007-08, his NBA career was over.

6. Jerome James

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    If you were unaware that Jerome James ever played for the Knicks, don't feel bad. You're one of the lucky ones. 

    James was a career-long underachiever in the NBA, save for the 2005 NBA Playoffs. As a member of the Seattle SuperSonics that spring, the 7'0" center tripled his season averages by posting 13 points and 7 boards in 27 minutes per game, while shooting 51 percent over two playoff series.

    This prompted Knicks president Isiah Thomas to dish out a five-year, $30 million contract to the 30-year-old James, who at that point averaged 15 minutes, 4.9 points and 3.5 rebounds for his career. 

    Needless to say, the signing didn't pan out. James played 90 games for the Knicks from the 2006 to '09 seasons, including just four games total in his final two years.

    He managed to further dial back his career numbers by scoring 2.5 points and grabbing under two rebounds in eight minutes per game, but that didn't stop the center from collecting over $5 million in each of his four years with New York.

5. Michael Sweetney

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    The tale of Mike Sweetney is an overwhelmingly depressing one. As the Knicks' takeaway from the legendary 2003 NBA Draft, the Georgetown big-man product was immediately relied on as an impact scorer for some horrendous Knicks rosters. And, at first, everything was curiously going as planned.

    Through his first two pro seasons, Sweetney's per-36 numbers shook out to 15 and 10, while posting a 16.6 player efficiency rating and rebound rates better than Darko Milicic, Chris Bosh and Chris Kaman—big men drafted ahead of him in '03.

    He was then traded to the Chicago Bulls in what's almost certainly the worst trade in franchise history, bringing Eddy Curry to New York in exchange for everything ever.

    Sweetney went on to play two seasons in Chicago, struggle with his weight in embarrassing fashion, and crumble out of the league altogether. Last we heard, he was playing ball in Puerto Rico, and showing no signs of slimming down. You can find a good explanation as to why Sweetney was so utterly depressing on Deadspin.

4. Antonio McDyess

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    Before there was Amar'e Stoudemire and Stephon Marbury, the Knicks counted on another man to carry the franchise out of the doldrums came along with several disappointing seasons.

    On Draft Night 2002, the Knicks shipped out Marcus Camby, Mark Jackson and Nene to bring Antonio McDyess to MSG as the team's centerpiece around which to build.

    Prior to the trade, McDyess was recently a third-team All-NBA player and All-Star. He averaged 18 points and nine rebounds through 2002, and was easily one of the league's most athletic players. A trade to New York seemed to put the Knicks right back into playoff contention after missing out on the previous two postseasons.

    That was until the 28-year-old forward injured himself in the closing minutes of his third preseason game as a Knick, fractured his left knee cap on a put-back dunk with under two minutes left to play. To that point, McDyess looked every bit the savior fans had hoped he'd be, averaging 17.7 points and 13 rebounds in 29 minutes that preseason.

    He didn't play a single minute for New York that season, and returned over a calendar year later in December 2003. He averaged eight points and seven rebounds in 23 minutes through the first 18 games of that season, before the team scrapped all plans involving the oft-injured forward.

    He was shipped to the Phoenix Suns in the deal that made Stephon Marbury a Knick, as the franchise was only in the onset of its near decade-long downward spiral.

3. Amar'e Stoudemire

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    To be fair, he still has the opportunity to re-kindle his Knicks legacy, but Amar'e Stoudemire is currently one of the biggest train wrecks in franchise history. 

    When the five-year, $100 million deal was signed in 2010, most experts had their concerns about Stoudemire's health and predicted the grim fate that's upon the Knicks right now. The most upsetting part about Amar'e's current state is that, for an entire season, he looked as if he'd prove his critics completely wrong.

    Prior to the acquisition of Carmelo Anthony in 2011, Stoudemire was in the running for league MVP and top-three in scoring. The Knicks looked like a lock for the playoffs for the first time in almost a decade, and even more surprisingly, Stoudemire showed no signs of wear.

    Mike D'Antoni ran STAT out for 37 minutes nightly, and the $100 million man responded by logging 78 games that season.

    Now, several injuries later and after several failed attempts to unite with Anthony under the spotlight, Stoudemire is an unfortunate symbol of what the Knicks have recently stood for: making the right type of move, but in a disastrously wrong way.

    STAT is now merely an overpaid role player, and by overpaid I'm talking about the worst contract the league has to offer.

    Through no fault of his own—he's been as gracious a teammate as any Knick and has never once let anything hamper his commitment to winning—Stoudemire has become the example of how not to rebuild your team via free agency, as he continues to handcuff the Knicks with a sky-high salary through 2015.

2. Eddy Curry

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    When current and future NBA teams suffer and force themselves into inevitably painful rebuilds, all they need to do is remember their first scoring option isn't Eddy Curry. At least they'll have that on the 2006-08 Knicks.

    Curry found his way to New York in the most heinous way possible, and one of the most lopsided trades the league has seen in recent memory.

    The Chicago Bulls sent Curry, Antonio Davis and a pick that turned out to be Wilson Chandler to the Knicks on Oct. 4, 2005. In return, the Bulls received picks that turned into Joakim Noah and LaMarcus Aldridge, as well as three other players.

    Curry was a wide 7'0" center that couldn't jump, rebound or play anything resembling defense whatsoever. He benefited from Isiah Thomas force-feeding him basketballs—and probably food?—in 2006-07, when he played 35 minutes per game, scored 19.5 points and even grabbed seven boards.

    He shot 58 percent from the field on 12.5 shots, more than half of them coming from point-blank range, according to Basketball-Reference.

    Curry was earning over $11 million annually by the end of his six Knicks seasons, many of which were spent on the sidelines or attempting to get into playing shape. He did manage to dip under 280 pounds under Mike D'Antoni, but ballooned back to 330 by the following season, crushing any hope of him avoiding this list.

1. Frederic Weis

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    The Knicks have lived through their fair share of draft night fails, but no pick has become the punchline of as many jokes as Frederic Weis.

    Weis, a 7'2" center out of France, was the 15th overall pick in 1999. He was selected while future All-Stars Metta World Peace, Andrei Kirilenko and Manu Ginobili all remained on the draft board. Weis never signed with the Knicks or played NBA basketball at all, and retired from the sport in 2011.

    What Weis is most memorialized for, however, is the 2000 Olympics, when he acted as a human launching pad for 23-year-old Vince Carter. Off a steal, Carter charged at the paint and flew towards the rim, straddling the center's face mid-air as he jammed home one of the most outrageous dunks of the last two decades.

    When we're talking about embarrassment, it's hard to top a 7'2" center getting lept and dunked over. Consider who GM Scott Layden passed up on draft night in order to nab Weis, and the contract that never made contact with pen, and it's fair to call Frederic Weis the most embarrassing player ever associated with the Knicks.

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