To James Dolan, owner of the New York Knicks, there are two types of basketball players: the few he can sell and the multitudes he can’t. Stars and others. In that regard Wilson Chandler, Danilo Gallinari and Raymond Felton were disposable to Dolan.
Trash doesn’t equate to cash.
And looking back at the Garden’s incessant “We want ‘Melo! We want ‘Melo!” chants, it’s laughable and downright hysterical that the Knicks have lost three straight games and six of 12 since the trade.
Knicks basketball hasn’t been relevant since they got blown-the-hell out by the New Jersey Nets in the first round of the playoffs seven years ago. The Knicks fans and management should have been content being a surefire playoff team without Anthony, especially because they were probably going to land him in the summer anyway.
And yet they sold out the players that finally, FINALLY got them to the playoffs. And by “they,” I mean the fans and James Dolan.
C’mon, it’s funny because five losses have come against the Pacers and Cavaliers and because Dolan announced a few days ago that Knicks ticket prices are increasing by 50 percent—the same ratio of games that the Knicks are winning.
Is that what Knick fans were chanting for? Mediocrity.
Ironically, it seems the Knicks players only show up to the games that national fans want to watch. Nobody wants to watch them play the Cavs, so naturally they don’t want to play against them either.
The Knicks players are only posing as competitors, playing hard against better teams and letting the bottom half of the Eastern Conference play punching bag to their self-indulging egos.
Hasn’t this been the same criticism of the Knicks all year? That they play to the level of their competition but never to their potential? It also sounds a little familiar to the collective scouting report of Anthony.
It’s funny because the Knicks aren’t any better. They may be worse, at least through this year. And the shameless chanting by New York's fans in front of hard-working Knick players was just short of the pre-championship celebration that Miami’s Big Three threw to congratulate themselves as terrific.
Even the quotes coming out of New York have been hilarious. "Now we’ve got two guys in our stable," was how Mike D’Antoni described the trade, perhaps forgetting that a team consists of 12 players and not two individual horses.
The whole city of New York, from its owner on down, wanted its cake and to eat it too. But New York can spend all the money it has to (on players and tickets), and it won’t necessarily offer its rafters any cloth.
Meanwhile, back in the lowly and not-big-enough city of Denver, the Nuggets are flourishing without the sticky-fingered Anthony. They’re blowing out opponents that they lost to with ‘Melo.
They removed the drama that trashed their season and have since shown what they treasure: wins.
Since the trade, the Nuggets are 9-2. They’ve beaten the likes of New Orleans, Boston and then Atlanta twice. They’ve only lost to one team not heading towards the postseason while beating potentially seven.
Last night Denver served up an embarrassing home loss to the Hawks by dishing out 26 assists on 39 made field goals. And their defense held Atlanta to only 42 percent shooting.
Have you looked at Denver’s roster? Sure, it’s starless. But it features two starting lineups that are complete 1-5. Defense, rebounding, shooting, passing—both contain everything winning teams need.
Their speed alone is uncontested by anyone in the league. And they’re so good that their best point guard comes off the bench.
Denver has gone ladder climbing in a much tougher conference. The Nuggets have potential to win their division and seal home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs.
None of those things were likely to happen with Anthony on the roster.
At best the Nuggets would have been the fifth seed and conceded the Northwest Division to the Oklahoma City Thunder. But without him, well, Denver is a whole new basketball team.
The players who came over from New York have seamlessly meshed with the leftovers in Denver because every single player from both teams was in constant threat of being traded elsewhere.
They wanted what any worker wants: security. And when they got it, basketball was all that mattered anymore.
The Knicks wanted another superstar in the stable. George Karl and the Nuggets only wanted players who wanted to play basketball. The patience of Denver has paid off. New York’s indiscretion hasn’t.
In the end, they both got what they wanted, and quite possibly what they deserved.