Bobby Tuzzio ’20
Being a fan of the New York Knicks sucks. Well, I guess for most of the time it sucks. It could be worse. There are definitely more atrocious teams than the Knicks. However, the fans of those teams are used to losing at this point. But let’s face it, this is the New York Knicks we’re talking about. This is a team that has won eight conference titles. Two championships. In fact, the 1970 champion New York Knicks are considered by many to be one of the greatest NBA teams of all time. It featured four Hall of Famers, including Walt “Clyde” Frazier, Bill Bradley, Dave DeBusschere, and Willis Reed. The Knicks would go on to win the championship again in 1973.
Following a string of so-so success in the late 1970s to early 1980s, it appeared that the Knicks’ return to glory was imminent with the drafting of Patrick Ewing in 1985. Ewing, a once-in-a-generation talent out of Georgetown University, became one of the most dominant centers the NBA had ever seen. With Ewing leading the squad and legendary coach Pat Riley at the helm, the Knicks returned to the NBA Finals in 1994, which they would lose to in a hard-fought series against the Houston Rockets, a team that featured its own legendary center in Hakeem Olajuwon. Most people forget that the Knicks made the NBA Finals in 1999. However, yet again, they would lose to another Texas team, this time the San Antonio Spurs, which were led by a young Tim Duncan and All-Star center David Robinson.
Alright, now we reach the 2000s. My lifetime. And boy have the Knicks really just sucked ever since ‘99. Ok, I suppose that’s a bit of an exaggeration. They made the playoffs in the 2003-2004 season, but lost in the first round to the New Jersey Nets (a team that I probably should have paid more attention to in the early 2000s). With that one playoff appearance, the 2000s for the Knicks is best summed up as atrocious. Thanks a lot, Isiah Thomas.
However, by the 2010s, it looked as though the Knicks were going to regain their former success when they signed Amar’e Stoudemire in the 2010 offseason and then Carmelo Anthony in 2011. The Knicks then made it to the playoffs three straight seasons. They lost in the first round to the Celtics in 2011, lost in the first round to the Heat in 2012, and then beat the Celtics in the first round but lost to the Pacers in the conference semi-finals in 2013. Oh, and Linsanity was pretty cool during that period too.
Then Phil Jackson came in and just absolutely ruined the Knicks. This period is marked by terrible, just, God awful decisions in the front office. I don’t even want to begin to dissect the triangle offense. And then there’s the draft choices. I’ll admit, when the Knicks drafted Kristaps Porzingis in the 2015 NBA draft, I was livid. What a waste of a first-round lottery pick. But then, like most Knicks fans, it turned out that I was wrong. It was like watching a young Dirk Nowitzki. I had never seen a guy with that height and level of skill in my lifetime. It was awesome. But, the Knicks still sucked. It was in 2017 that my frustrations against the Knicks came into full effect. Whether you see the potential or not, I never understood the drafting of Frank Ntilikina. I distinctly remember driving home the night of the draft when a New York sports radio host said “The Knicks first-round pick Frank Ntilikina told the French press earlier this year that he wasn’t sure if he was ready for the NBA because he thought it was too physical.” Right when I heard that, I said to myself, “we are so screwed.” And look, I get it, he’s still super young, but I just don’t see it yet. Hopefully I’m wrong about him, though, and he turns out to be a great player.
At this point you’re probably wondering why I’m writing this article in the first place and where this is all leading up to. Well, you may or may not have heard that last week, the Knicks stumped down to an all-time low when they traded Kristaps Porzingis (and a couple of other players that I actually wanted to see leave) to the Dallas Mavericks for DeAndre Jordan, Wesley Matthews, and Dennis Smith Jr. (whom the Knicks could have drafted two Junes ago, but took Ntilikina instead). The Knicks traded away their franchise player. Seriously, what were they thinking? To be fair, Porzingis has been sidelined all year with an ACL tear. He was recovering smoothly but was most likely not going to play this season (which now he officially won’t). He was also on the last year of his contract, so either the Knicks traded him, signed him to a max deal, or let him get picked up in free agency. It seemed like the last two options were not going to happen, a sentiment that Porzingis and the Knicks front office agreed upon just hours before he was traded to Dallas. It seems like everyone in the world is criticizing the trade. However, we don’t know what kind of player Porzingis will be when he comes back. He could have lost his touch. Another scenario, which Knicks fans would REALLY hate, is that he comes back even better than he was before he got injured.
The Knicks also traded Tim Hardaway Jr., who was an average player that got way overpaid. Trading him also got rid of his insanely large contract. The trade also nabbed the Knicks a couple of future first-round draft picks. The trade, essentially, frees up a ton of cap space for the Knicks to go after big-name free agents this summer, including Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. The Knicks have somewhat of a shot of landing Durant or Irving (or both). This trade allows them to go to someone like Durant this summer and say “Hey KD, picture this: you could play for one of the most storied franchises in the NBA (despite everything I just told you), play in the world’s most famous arena every night, and guess what, you could regain your credibility back by winning a championship on your own without joining a super team. Oh, and did we mention that we freed up a ton of cap space so that you could bring in one of your really good friends who is also really good at basketball and that he could also sign a max deal? How about Kyrie? Didn’t he grow up a Knicks fan in northern New Jersey? Here, sign this piece of paper and let’s go win an NBA championship.” Knowing the Knicks, I’m sure that’s exactly how that conversation will go. And I bet Durant will pick up his things and go somewhere else, such as the Celtics.
The most legitimate thing that the Knicks have going for them right now is landing the number one overall pick in this years draft, which I would HOPE they use to pick Zion Williamson out of Duke. The Knicks are currently the worst team in the league, posting a 10-43 record. Right now they have the best chance of winning the draft lottery. But again, knowing the Knicks, I’m sure they’ll win a few games in the last two weeks of the season and fall to the fifth or sixth pick.
So, in closing, it’s a tough life being a Knicks fan. I’ve seen very little success for my favorite team during my lifetime. However, there’s one thing that almost all Knicks fans, including myself, always do, and that’s never give up on them. They may be one of the most frustrating teams in all of basketball, however, they’re still the New York Knicks. I just hope to God they make some blockbuster moves this off-season.