Full Disclosure: I’m not going to be nice about this, not even a bit. I’ll preface this article by telling you that at times, I’m going to be blunt and direct. Many of you will probably agree with me, but rest assured, words will not be minced or sugarcoated when discussing the state of the New York Knicks organization.
Growing up on the east coast, I spent a great deal of my life in the shadow of Madison Square Garden. Living what amounted to an hour from the World’s Greatest Arena and the proclaimed “Mecca of Basketball”, the game became a passion like it does to most New Yorkers. Whether born and bred in Gotham or a transplant from elsewhere, eventually you begin to take pride in a game that was cultivated in what becomes known as “our” streets, “our” playgrounds and ultimately, “our” arena. Indiana and Kansas can claim historical precedent, but we gave basketball its soul. We gave it swag. Basketball is a lifestyle in New York and you can ask any kid from Coney Island, to the concrete jungle above 126th, to as far up as the Bronx and he’ll tell you the same.
That’s part of the reason why Knicks fans are aggravated. It’s why the majority feel they’ve been aggrieved and had their passion as a fanbase assaulted by a man who promised them the world and hasn’t delivered. For better or worse, Phil Jackson has been a con-man and the New York Knicks fanbase were left bamboozled, hood-winked and deceived. Trust was given to Jackson, belief in his ties to the ’72 team gave him a key to the city. However, the Zen Master himself has taken that trust and that good-will and spoiled it by going to 3 road games all year, one of which was in Los Angeles a mere 15 minutes from his off-season home. He couldn’t miss that one because he could legitimately throw a rock from his porch and hit the Staples Center.
And you know what? That would have been fine. The fanbase would have gotten over that had there been a plan in place. They would have gotten over that had there been some semblance of a blueprint. Instead, Jackson and his crew, which includes Derek Fisher; a hapless coach who has been nothing but overmatched, have tried to implement the Triangle Offense with a team that doesn’t have the talent or the resources to do it. Forget the fact the Triangle hasn’t worked for anybody outside of two teams in the past 25 years, the only reason it worked with both of those teams is because Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan were on those rosters. Sadly for New Yorkers, neither man was suiting up for the Knicks this year and to implement that system wasn’t just short-sighted, it was criminal.
Regardless, that’s water under the bridge because Jackson had the opportunity at the draft to right the wrongs. He had the 4th pick in the draft, a pick that would have been higher had his team not bungled the whole idea of “tank-to-get-the-1st-pick”, but I digress. Jackson had the opportunity to finally do something as the President of the organization to show the fanbase that he had a plan, an idea. He failed miserably again.
Phil Jackson, in his infinite wisdom selected Kristaps Porzingis, a 19 year old from Latvia. He’s 7 foot 3 inches tall and can stretch the floor. He’s mobile, he can dribble and he has a shoot. He’s incredibly talented. The problem is the kid has never played against stand-out competition and he weighs about as much as 2×4. He’ll get bullied inside no matter who he stacks up against and the words “He’s a bit of a project,” are the nicest way anybody can describe the young man. “Frederich Weiss” is the cringe-inducing worst.
In 3 to 5 years, Porzingis may end up being a “Big Time Player”, but this is about the Here-And-Now. Frustratingly, Kristaps is neither of those things.
The fact of the matter is, in picking Kristaps Porzingis you are dedicating yourself to a “project” and selling the fanbase on an event that is going to take time. Instead of building a contender like you promised to do, you’re subtly declaring a rebuild and that isn’t fair to the fanbase or the people that employed you. New York doesn’t have the time or the patience to wait for 3-5 years, but Phil Jackson emphatically placed them in that position with one stroke of his diminishing genius. To put it lightly, Phil Jackson looks less like a genius and more like an old man who refuses to evolve with the times.
Most maddening about all of this is that Jackson passed up on 4 men who were NBA-ready right now today because they didn’t fit “his system”. Willie Cauley Stein, Stanley Johnson and Justise Winslow were all passed on because Jackson felt more comfortable picking a man who may-or-may-not fit your system when he develops. Jackson felt more inclined to pick a “project” than a sure-thing a year after he paid a $124 million to Carmelo Anthony and told the City of New York that the team was going to be respectable and contend.
It was hogwash then, and its hogwash now. At least now, the evidence is there that Phil Jackson was lying through his teeth the whole time.
To have the temerity, the gall and the absolute stones to do ALL of this and then claim he somehow did a “good job”, is blood-boiling to a pained fanbase. It’s a joke.
Sadly, so is the team.
Tags: Kristaps Porzingis, nba, NBA Draft, New York Knicks, Phil Jackson