Growing up in the New York area, neither basketball team has provided much excitement recently. However, the tradition and memories created at Madison Square Garden throughout the years made rooting for the Knicks an easy choice. I will never forget going to MSG for the first time and looking up at the rafters seeing the names of legends like Willis Reed, Walt Clyde Frazier, Patrick Ewing, and Earl Monroe. While this choice may seem easy, the past 10 years of watching them has been extremely frustrating. That tragedy continued Tuesday, when budding all-star Kristaps Porzingis tore his ACL dunking over Giannis Antetokounmpo.
There is a long list, but here of some of the toughest things Knicks fans have had to endure recently.
The Reign of James Dolan
Ask any Knick fan for their opinion of the owner James Dolan, and they will be brutally honest with you. If you asked me, like most fans, my answer would be filled with profanities and pleas for him to sell the team. Knicks fans have held protests outside of the Garden, threatening to boycott until Dolan leaves the team. If I lived in New York City, not only would I have attended this protest, but would have encouraged more to do so.
It did not help Dolan’s cause, when he banned Knicks legend Charles Oakley from the Garden and called security on him for merely trying to have a conversation. While I was never able to see Oakley play, he played tough, hard-nosed basketball with a mentality of “New York Grit”.
I remember watching that game against the Clippers last season, casually thinking there was a drunk fan who tried to make his way onto the court. That thought quickly faded when I realized the man being escorted out by security was Charles Oakley. Knowing what James Dolan has done in New York, this incident should not have surprised me.
Oakley, a fan favorite, was escorted out by security like a criminal. Because of Dolan’s insecurity, a Knicks legend is no longer allowed back to the world’s most famous basketball arena. In fact, Knicks fans would be rejoicing if the roles were reversed.
The Phil Jackson Years
Many Knicks fans were excited when Phil Jackson accepted the position as President of Basketball Operations. Jackson had arguably the most successful NBA head coaching career with the Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers, so many Knicks fans expected him to translate this success in the Big Apple. I was one of those Knicks fans bragging to my friends about how they would finally be back to greatness. Spoiler alert: I was wrong.
It all began going downhill when Phil Jackson tried to reassemble the recent Bulls in New York, but not the good Bulls. Joakim Noah is getting paid $18 million a year to get into a fight with the head coach and mutually agree to no longer be with the team. Derrick Rose went M.I.A. in the middle of the season and left in free agency. Checking twitter and finding out the starting point guard did not show up to a game without telling anyone is only something a Knicks fan would see.
He also, openly criticized Carmelo Anthony to the New York media. Although, Carmelo Anthony did not bring success to New York, he did deserve better treatment. While I did not like Carmelo as a player, I certainly respected his professionalism off the court, never bad mouthing him once. Jackson seems to enjoy driving talented players out of the Garden, which is why Knicks fans, myself included, were trying to get him out ASAP.
The only good thing to come from Phil Jackson’s tenure was nearly traded away. Jackson considered trading Porzingis when he skipped an exit meeting at the end of last season. That seems smart Phil, trade your best player away out of spite because he skipped a pointless meeting at the end of the season. Jackson wanted to trade a versatile shooter and one of the premier rim protectors in the NBA because The Unicorn is also the only reason a potential free agent would want to come to the Knicks. Needless to say, it is understandable why Jackson was relieved of his duties.
Kristaps Devastating Injury
Kristaps Porzingis has become a rising star in the NBA, earning his first all-star selection this year. On draft night, many Knicks fans were upset as they didn’t know what to expect from Porzingis. However, I am proud to say I was not one of those fans. Watching some of his pre-draft tape you could see just how versatile he was. Needless to say, he has quickly silenced all of his critics and became the main attraction to watch the Knicks play. Two nights ago, landing on Giannis Antetokounmpo after a ferocious dunk, an MRI confirmed a torn ACL, the first major injury he suffered in his career.
While, I knew the Knicks were no longer making the playoffs it was really tough to see this injury. The Latvian native was really starting to seem comfortable in New York and viewed by his teammates as a leader and someone to count on in the clutch. Porzingis got off to a scorching hot start in the beginning of the season, but dropped off a little when fatigue began to set in. For someone his size, a leg injury can be difficult to come back from.
While it will not be easy, Knicks fans have confidence that rehab will go smoothly and Porzingis will be back to thunderous dunks and nasty blocks next season.
Personally, I would like to thank Porzingis for making Knicks basketball exciting this season and also for being such a great teammate and role model for young children to look up to.