An arbitration win for the players’ union is huge for the Knicks
All posts in category Knicks
Posted by jfs360 on June 22, 2012
The Knicks are riding a fresh wave of momentum into Wednesday’s Game 5 against the Heat.** After staving off elimination with a gritty 89-87 victory in Game 4, New York takes its talents to South Beach in hopes of cutting Miami’s series lead to 3-2 and setting up a raucous Game 6 at the Garden on Friday.
Posted by jfs360 on May 9, 2012
What does it mean to be a champion? To inspire with your greatness? To earn the undying love of millions who have never met you?
36 Hours in New York
12:47AM, Thursday, May 3: Deep into the night, in the 107th minute of a grueling playoff clash and the 47th minute of sudden-death overtime, the Rangers’ best offensive player slams home his first goal in the last nine games. Off a perfect feed from the suddenly unstoppable Brad Richards, Marian Gaborik powers a wrist shot through the legs of Washington’s impressive playoff rookie goalie, Braden Holtby. A 2-1, 30T win for the Rangers, and a 2-1 series lead over the Capitals in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
At what point in playoff overtime in hockey does a game become something more? Is it clerical, as in “when the teams eclipse 100 minutes on the ice”? Is it when a single player surpasses 50 minutes of ice game IN ONE GAME? That would be Ranger defenseman Ryan McDonagh, who logged an inconceivable 53:17 minutes in the Blueshirts’ series-altering win.
Maybe it’s when two cuts to the head are not enough to keep a man off the ice. That was another Rangers’ defenseman, Dan Girardi, whose face was slashed by Henrik Lundqvist’s stick late in the game. The cut required seven stitches, but Girardi miss only a handful of shifts before returning. He stayed out and battled even after a puck to the face re-opened the wound in overtime. He played 44:22 minutes. Stepping up in Girardi’s brief absence were fellow defensemen Marc Staal (49:30 of ice time) and Michael Del Zotto (43:37). What a titanic effort by these four men.
Or maybe it’s just when a team is forced into a season-defining moment and rises to meet that moment. The Rangers had to have this game — in series tied 1-1, as this was, the Game 3 winner goes on to win the series about three-quarters of the time. They had stretches where they hung on by their fingernails, no time more so than when Alex Oveckhin hit the inside of the post on a wide-open net after a New York turnover in the first overtime. The goal light went off and the horn sounded, and the Washington crowd briefly went berserk. But the ref said no goal, and the replay said no goal, and the game soldiered on.
And then, thanks to a quick, perfectly executed play by two of the Rangers’ biggest free-agent additions in recent years, the top seed remaining in the NHL playoffs has the inside track to a conference finals berth. The road to becoming a champion may be 16 wins long, but most of the 16 will not be as important as Wednesday night/Thursday morning’s marathon victory.
5:00PM, Thursday, May 3: His left arm stabilized by a sling, Amare Stoudmire trudges into Madison Square Garden. The Knicks’ star power forward smashed his left hand against a fire extinguisher case in anger after Monday’s Game 2 loss against the Heat. The glass cut his hand damn near in half. It was a stupid, incredibly short-sighted mistake. Stat will not play in this night’s Game 3 because of his short but consequential mental vacation. And while it is not the unforgivable offense so many talk-radio callers say it is, Stat’s slap is a painful remainder of what the Knicks lack. A championship mentality.
Scoff at your peril. NBA and NHL champions do not happen by accident. They win 16 playoff games and for most or all of that process demonstrate an ability to be better, to either outclass or overcome the opponents in front of them. Whatever that gene is, the Knicks as currently constructed do not have it. Melo does not have it — this is perhaps too harsh, but neither did Tracy McGrady. And Stat certainly does not have it. Who knows about Jeremy Lin, Steve Nash or some other as-yet-unknown savior. But Tyson Chandler’s grit and determination is not enough. The Knicks are fun to watch for the first time in ages, and they have had a roller-coaster season that will be remembered for a long time. But they are not champions. And let’s be honest: Right now, they’re not even contenders.
6:30PM, Thursday, May 3: What would the reaction have been at Belmont Park in 1973 if Secretariat, leading by 15 at the final turn, planted a hoof wrong and came up lame, right there, just like that?
Mariano Rivera shagged flies for about the 10,000th time as a Yankee before a Thursday night game in Kansas City, a beautiful stadium by all accounts. Rivera jumped for a fly ball at the warning track. His right leg came down, got caught in the space between the outfield grass and the warning tracks and buckled. He fell to the ground, clutched his leg and screamed.
I typed Mariano Rivera Tears ACL into my headline box last night. I typed the following paragraph in my story.
Rivera may yet come back — before this, nothing ever held him back. But there’s a good chance that he bows out gracefully rather than subject himself to a grueling rehabilitation and return to the game. In that case, Mariano Rivera has thrown his last pitch.
(I cannot believe I just typed that sentence)
I will not delve deeply into the pain of watching my favorite athlete fall — not again, anyway. But make no mistake: Mariano Rivera is a champion. He is what the Rangers seek, what the Knicks have not been since before I was born, not even when Patrick Ewing was about 98% good enough to win a title.
After the game, Rivera spoke to the assembled media. I don’t know which athletes have made a definitive, even spiritual impact on your life. I don’t know if any have. But Mariano Rivera has on mine. And when I watched him speak to the press, I cried with him.
As I type this, Rivera speaks to the media, softly answering questions with a catch in his voice. Are you going to try and come back?
“At this point I don’t know. I don’t know. We have to face this first.” His voice breaks. He cries.
9:50PM, Thursday, May 3rd: The Knicks go down meekly, 87-70. They are outscored 29-14 in the fourth quarter and personally bested 17-14 by LeBron James. In the second half, the Knicks score 30 points. Carmelo Anthony fights for 22 points on 7-23 shooting. Amare watches.
It is the franchise’s 13th consecutive postseason loss, a new NBA record — though to call it a record bastardizes the colloquial meaning of the word. The Knicks are down 3-0 in the series, a hole no NBA team has ever climbed out of, one inevitable loss from elimination. The best they can hope for is that pride and grit propel them to a Game 4 victory at home to avoid a sweep. It is not a championship the 2011-12 Knicks strive for. It is dignity.
Circa 2PM, Friday, May 4th: Rivera tweets: “I will be ok. I will be back.” He thanks friends, family and fans for their support. The greatest closer confirms the sentiment to reporters, saying: “I’m coming back. Write it down in big letters. I’m not going out like this.” The rehab will be anywhere from six months to a year. Anyone out there not think he can and will do it? Anyone?
What does it mean to be a champion?
It means triple overtime wins. It means class and poise and belief and an ineffable win to win. It means Mariano Rivera.
Posted by jfs360 on May 4, 2012
The jury is still out on Amare Stoudemire, New York Knick. Put simply, it’s impossible to predict future performance based on this season, or draw conclusions about his character because of an isolated, stupid mistake.
Posted by jfs360 on May 2, 2012
In the last 15 years, only one player on the Knicks has made me believe in greatness.
Longtime NBA fans know what I’m talking about. There are dozens of elite players in the league at any given time, but only a handful that keep you from going to the bathroom when they’re having a hot night. Only a select few have the potential for a historic game every time they get on the floor, to the point where you’re salivating for the chance to watch your star when he drops 57 points (Deron Williams) or scores 17 points in the last five minutes of a game (LeBron James). You’re willing to sell the house for a guy like that, even if it means trading five quarters for a dollar (copyright Bill Simmons 2010). Because with the exception of the 2004 Pistons, five quarters won’t win you a championship. You need at least one “dollar player” on your team, a guy who on any given night can basically win a game by himself.
That, of course, was the Knicks’ thinking when they acquired Carmelo Anthony. And for the last month, Melo has played at a level that Knicks fans have not seen from one of their own since Patrick Ewing was in his prime.
Posted by jfs360 on April 27, 2012
In my preview of the second half of the Knicks’ season, I said the team would have to earn at worst the No. 6 seed in the playoffs to have a viable chance at a first-round series win, and thus a successful year. I even titled the piece “Six or Better” a tongue-in-cheek reference to five-card draw that was nonetheless an accurate description of the team’s second-half goal.
A six-game losing streak in early March that led to the resignation of coach Mike D’Antoni pretty much put the kibosh on the Knicks’ dreams of catching the Magic, Celtics or Hawks for the coveted No. 6 spot (the seventh and eighth seeds in this year’s Eastern Conference playoffs will face the Bulls and Heat in the first round, two teams the Knicks almost certainly can’t beat in a seven-game series). But the team’s dim hopes of catching the Magic for the sixth seed (and drawing the beatable Pacers in the first round) remained alive Sunday thanks to the rarest of occurrences: a strong fourth quarter from both of the Knicks’ stars.
Posted by jfs360 on April 23, 2012
Huge game for the Knicks in Milwaukee. They’re a game up on the Bucks for the final playoff spot in the East with nine games to play. So I thought I’d jot down my thoughts on the game in real time. Let’s get to the action…
Posted by jfs360 on April 12, 2012
Hypothetical: If I had been born with a different father, would I still eat, sleep and breathe sports?
I’ve always fallen on the nature side of the nurture/nature debate — you can have the our-being-is-the-sum-total-of-our-experiences philosophy of Locke, I’ll keep my “I think, therefore I am” Descartes. But when it comes to loving sports… I can’t imagine I’d have chosen to spend a large chunk of my life watching, writing and thinking about sports without the influence of my Dad.
Posted by jfs360 on April 9, 2012
A cultural phenomenon that captivated a nation and galvanized a once-proud fan base, Linsanity was pronounced dead on Saturday, March 31, at the age of 55 days.
The cause of death was a torn meniscus in the left knee of Knicks’ starting point guard Jeremy Lin, which will likely end his season. (I know some eternal optimists are saying Lin could be back by Round 1 of the playoffs, but it would be folly to rush him back for a series against the Bulls or Heat that the Knicks are not capable of winning, no matter who their point guard is). Lin, who birthed Linsanity with his meteoric rise from “twice-cut benchwarmer” to “NBA’s most popular player” to “legitimate cultural groundbreaker”, will probably not play in an NBA game of significance before Halloween.
Posted by jfs360 on April 3, 2012
Today’s news that Carmelo Anthony is unhappy with the current situation on the Knicks and Mike D’Antoni has lost control of the team came as a shock only to fans who have not watched a Knicks game in the last two weeks. ‘Melo made it clear Wednesday that he does not want to be traded, which can only mean that the team’s star player (whom it gave up three quality players and Timofey Mosgov get) wants D’Antoni to get the hell out of Dodge — no matter how much ‘Melo plays nice in the press.
Stephen A. Smith said on ESPN this week that D’Antoni, whose four-year contract expires at the end of the season, is a “lame duck coach,” and of course he’s right. But assuming tomorrow’s trade deadline passes without a major deal for the Knicks, owner James Dolan should not wait until the spring — he should fire D’Antoni right now and hand the reins to assistant coach/defensive guru and former Atlanta Hawks coach Mike Woodson.
Posted by jfs360 on March 14, 2012