Growing up as a Knick fan, I had grown accustomed to teams that played with toughness. With passion and heart. We had a hall of fame center who might not have been flashy or spectacular, but was consistent, loyal, and a consummate professional.
Ever since he was traded to Seattle in 2000, the Knicks have taken a nosedive. We've had a constant rotation of counterfeit stars with outrageous salaries and even more outrageous personalities. No playoff appearances or winning seasons.
The glory years in the '90s had tough dedicated professionals whose main obstacle wasn't work ethic or egos like it is now. One single problem, by the name of Michael Jordan. That's nothing to be ashamed of.
Here are a few of my favorite moves since Ewing that have made the Knicks one of the worst franchises in all of sports. From riches to rags in less than a decade.
We'll start with the architect himself, the man who is primarily responsible for a majority of the people on this list. I don't even need to mention his non-basketball issues.
However, his reckless use of a clueless high spending owner put New York in a hole for years. I don't even need to list all of his dumb moves, since they already are.
I've always said that Isiah is by far the best talent scout in the league. His draft record is impeccable. Think that two of our best pieces came from Isiah out of the draft in David Lee and Wilson Chandler.
I heard boos the night he was drafted. He's certainly not a good judge of combining talent or building a team. He has no concept of blending personalities and chemistry issues. And I surely wouldn't want him involved in any financial responsibility.
The Knicks got Isiah to try to patch up a hole hat was left by Ewing, instead of rebuilding. They got Isiah to clean up Scott Layden's mess. He just made it worse. Isiah was the first of many bad acquisitions to come.
Here's a guy who took his 15 minutes of fame and turned it into millions. I chose the picture above because Jerome James did more work in this picture than he did during his entire duration with the Knicks. Maybe he was loading up his refrigerator,
Through his early career, he was a below average backup center with the Sonics. It took one playoff series against the Spurs one year for him to get an early Christmas gift from Isiah. He dunked on Tim Duncan twice in that series.
I remember a reporter asking James after a game if he was trying to make Duncan respect him by going to the rim so strong. James replied that he didn't have respect for Duncan. Idiot.
The Knicks were so inspired by his six game performance of the bench that they were compelled to give him a five year $30 million contract. They thought pairing him with Eddy Curry would be a good thing.
He came to New York and did absolutely nothing. He came to training camp always out of shape. He was rumored to have even showed up to practice drunk around New Years eve. He was constantly injured with petty and suspect injuries. I guess him getting that contract made him a success in his mind.
The only thing I remember about him is watching his lazy, fat ass stand on the sideline with his tacky, ten button pimp style zoot suits. Some people obviously don't know what to do when they are rewarded for fluke performances. One of the worst, most useless Knicks, EVER.
Lord have mercy. That's all I could really say about this one.
This was the one move that I thought Isiah got right. After all of his clashes with former coaches, I felt coming home to play in Madison Square Garden would give Steph a chance to turn his career around. And they got rid of Antonio McDyess. I even made the outrageous prediction of him leading the league in assists.
Things went sour quickly. He had a problem with every single coach, and got paid to do nothing the last two years of his contract. He even turned on Thomas who fought for and defended him during his entire stay. Marbury had the talent to be one of the legends.
His unwillingness to be coached and his arrogant attitude destroyed his career. Now he's shooting hoops in China somewhere, until he blows that.
What kind of person who claims to be a star cant conduct himself properly in his own hometown? An idiot with a No. 3 tattooed on the side of his head.
Picture it. Draft day 2002. After a few draft busts, most notably the Frederic Weis over Artest choice, the Knicks had their first lottery pick in years. There's no way we could blow this one. David Stern gets to the podium and announces the Knicks drafted Nene Hilario out of Brazil, a relative unknown to most.
Knicks fans weren't thrilled since we never seen or heard of Nene. Then the comissioner comes back to the podium to say that Marcus Camby and that pick were traded to Denver for McDyess.
At the time he was a rising all star, a 20 and 10 playere with loads of athleticism. However, he was coming off a major knee operation that sidelined him for seventy games the previous season. Not to mention the added salary.
McDyess winds up re-injuring himself in the preseason, and missed the entire next season. He came back a shell of his former self. Also the expectations and pressure put on him was ridiculous. Once he left, he regained some of his form and most of his health.
As a role player he was fine. You cant expect a person to be a savior while rehabbing a surgically repaired knee. A "fix it quick" scheme gone wrong.
Here's a perfect example of a square peg being shoved into a circle hole. On paper this looked like a great trade. Especially considering it virtually didn't cost the Knicks any players. It did cost them a whole lot of money. Just what they needed.
Zach, who already was labeled as a problem was bought into a locker room and franchise that was in total chaos. Also pairing him with Stephon Marbury, who sat out after feuding with Isiah the previous season made no sense whatsoever. Poor team construction.
Ironically, him and David Lee worked pretty well together. Everyone else on the other hand was different. Then again, what kind of chemistry could he have with the Knicks if they didn't even have chemistry with each other. Poor team construction.
Randolph actually kept his nose clean, with minimal problems with his teammates and staff. This time it wasn't his fault. The wrong man for the wrong organization. While I was a little sad to see him go, they had to shed the salary.
What happens when Zach Randolph leaves? He gets his first all-star selection.
It pains me to put him on the list, but once again, it was the front offices fault. After Ewing carried the Knicks singlehandedly for over a decade, they finally got him some outside help by acquiring Latrell Sprewell and Houston.
After a few semi-successful years with Patrick breaking down physically, the Knicks decided to give Houston a contract extension, to the tune of six years and $100 million. He was good, but not that good. Six figure players should either be big men, or Kobe-caliber type players, which are scarce.
After that, his knee problems began, finally ending in a microfracture surgery, and he limped his way into retirement. Think the Knicks are still paying him to this day, even though he hasn't played a meaningful game in years.
Houston was a great teammate and competitor. A professional who represented himself as well as his organization with class. Most fans don't view him as a disappointment, since we expected him to be an outside shooter and scorer, which he was.
The only thing that makes people have a sour taste in their mouth when mentioning Houston was the money. And that once again was management's fault.
People expected him to be like Kobe since he was getting paid like him. In the end, he was just Allan Houston, whose team placed an undeserved burden on him.
This guy was monikered "Baby Shaq" upon coming into the league. He was drafted to Chicago, where he showed promise, but didn't seem to improve much. Now what makes this acquisition a horrible mistake was that not only did they have to sign him to an extension, but the Knicks traded away a lottery pick, just like before, and didn't protect it.
It wound up being the number two pick in the draft, which wound up being Tyrus Thomas. In the beginning it looked like the right move. His second year, he looked like an All Star, and people just new he would make it the next year.
However, he didn't work on his game, or stay in shape. All the scoring he did was off the court, with his wife, and god knows whoever else,
Curry's talent was never questioned. His work ethic and desire to improve is what was. He was a beast on the block, but as far as rebounding, defending, or even showing any type of resistance or presence in the paint...non existent.
After a promising year being coached by Thomas, he totally regressed. His slow plodding style is the exact opposite of D'Antoni's speedball system. It also doesn't help that he's a terrible rebounder and shot blocker.
Eddy is one of those players that a person could tell that this sport isn't their first love, or their passion in life. He lacks the work ethic, despite having all the tools and skills to be considered in the same class as Dwight Howard, or a younger Shaq.
Curry has been the forgotten man since D'Antoni arrived. I believed in what Isiah was thinking with this deal. But here's a case where work ethic and character weren't questioned. It looked good on paper, but character goes a long way.
Building a team is way more than getting talent. You have to combine a bunch of talents and character, and get the right type of players with the right work ethic. Not the case here.
Im not going to say too many things about Jalen Rose, since I liked him as a player and person. All the way since the Fab Five Michigan. He bounced around from team to team. A point guard in a small forwards body, with his one main weakness being defense.
So what do the Knicks do. They add his hefty salary to the payroll while his role, just like everyone else's, was undefined. He lasted less than half a season. For a team in financial trouble, picking Rose up was at the top of the list as far as screw-ups.
The common theme to a lot of these players is that they were maxed out or close, and the Knicks traded for them picking up the remaining money on their contract. After stellar years in Houston, and a few good ones with the Magic, Isiah decided to pick up Francis, which made absolutely no sense at all.
First, they picked up more salary. Secondly with Marbury and Crawford already in the mix, where would Francis fit in? He came to New York and was an average player at best. Hardly worth picking up his $15 million in salary.
Not only was he an odd man out, but his game wasn't near the level it was. No explosiveness or speed, two things that propelled him to superstardom. The Marbury-Francis-Crawford tandem when tragically wrong.
In the end, the Knicks got rid of him, where he went to Portland, and then Houston, where his career is pretty much non existent. He was 32 years old, and his tank was empty. The Knicks were the the end of the road for him. Much too early, because the talent was there. He just never found his fit after leaving Houston.
This is one of Isiah's move's that looked doomed from the start. After years of loosey-goosey coaching, particularly Lenny Wilkens, they bring a a disciplinarian known for improving teams, and instilling a defensive team mentality. Unfortunately, he did neither, but the pieces were all wrong, from the very beginning.
He was paired with Stephon Marbury, a career coach-clasher, and others such as Eddy Curry, who had a reputation for being extremely lazy. The experiment went wrong from the start.
Surprisingly, Marbury didn't like his role, and Brown kept fluctuating the starting lineups as well as the rotation to the point nobody trusted him, not even the fans. He even went as far as comparing his accomplishments to Marbury's in a press conference, for which I lost a lot of respect for him.
All in all, Brown knew what he was getting into. The Knicks were coming off a 23-win season, while the Pistons were a year ahead of winning a championship. When he didn't get his way, it showed, and the team wound up being the worst in franchise history.
I commend Isiah for going out and getting a coach with a winning pedigree, but once again, what's good on paper isn't always the right fit for the team. As great of a coach that I think Larry Brown is, he did a horrible coaching job with the Knicks. Period. So much so that they had to get rid of him after only a year.