By Jonathan Tillman / @thetillshow
I have had two days to think this over. So, I present to you the Knicks season-in-review on the day after in which Game Six of the team’s first-round series with the Miami Heat was to be played. I chose this day because it is a microcosm of the Knicks’ entire season: “what if?” Rather, this Knicks’ season is a boulevard of broken dreams. — Till
Where do I begin? I’ll start by saying that the Knicks finished with roughly the record I expected them to have. The path taken to get there, however, was as unpredictable as I’ve seen during my tenure as a fan. Mike D’Antoni was given a roster with no point guard to run his famed Seven Seconds or Less (SSOL) offense, and Melo’s isolation-based game looked like the biggest square peg in the smallest round hole. Stoudemire, still recovering from back injury, lost all the aggressiveness he had at the beginning of last season. Combine that with his drives to the basket now being crowded by Tyson Chandler, and Amar’e became more like a 6’10” shooting guard.
Defensively, the team improved. And the team’s effort was consistently higher. Yet, the chemistry remained unequally yoked. Even through “Linsanity” and the coaching change, those ideals were true: better defense and effort, but couldn’t buy a decent offensive possession.
I admit I wanted D’Antoni fired, but only because I knew he could do nothing with the roster as constructed. Enter Mike Woodson and his isolation-based offense, and Melo became the hottest player the last six weeks of the year. There is no question that his individual effort increased once D’Antoni was removed, but this is not the first time a star player has overthrown a coach. It is what it is.
If there is one staple of New York Knicks fandom, it’s that, eventually, some befuddling misfortune will befall the team. There will be something inexplicable that will occur that will send the franchise back to being the laughing stock it’s been. I don’t need to revisit any of those moments. They are well-documented. Anyway, so after Game Two, Amar’e Stoudemire decides to unleash his frustration on a fire extinguisher case. Fitting, considering those have “In case of emergency, break glass” written on them (insert rebounding joke here). When the news broke, I was stunned. Yet, the numbness of years of Knicks foolishness overcame me and I reduced to a somber, “of course, Amar’e did that.” Let’s just move on.
In the end, I got to see my favorite basketball team win a playoff game for the first time since 2001, even though it took Wade bailing them out with a jumper to secure the victory. This chapter of the Knickography is closed, and we’ll be ready to do it again in October.
Thirty-nine years and counting. Salute to Walt Frazier.