Dolan to Knicks Fans: Drop Dead
I’ve been lulled out of my journalistic coma by a blind rage caused by the Knick’s decision to let Jeremy Lin walk to the Houston Rockets, either out of spite or some misguided sense of fiscal responsibility. Of course, Lin was a popular topic on this forum as he set the hoops world on fire with a remarkable string of games that elevated him from benchwarmer to superstar.
And now he’s gone.
The contract offered to Lin is a little ridiculous for a relatively unproven player, but the Knicks are so hamstrung with their ability to add players that failing to retain a guy, who at the very least could be an effective scorer off the bench or tradable asset, is infuriating. My anger is less about Lin, who I still believe to be a good player, and more about the radical ineptness of the Knicks. The Knicks owner, for the less diehard amongst us, is James Dolan. Dolan is the scion of the Cablevision empire, who took over the team from his father and subsequently led them down a road to perdition littered with bad contracts and untalented players.
Dolan is universally loathed, except by the management of opposing teams who are eager to fleece him, and players and agents who know a sucker when they see one. He’s the product of nepotism, a recovering drug addict and aspiring blues musician who’s never been told “no.” Supposedly, he values loyalty above all other traits and the Knicks have turned into a weird sort of cult under his rule. The team is notoriously tight lipped and Dolan’s voice is only heard when he awkwardly croons terrible blues ballads.
And yet, you couldn’t say he didn’t try. Dolan spent freely, if stupidly. He spared no expense, be it overpaying for the mercurial Larry Brown or the always-ravished Eddy Curry. He even covered a tort assessed for Isiah Thomas’s alleged sexual harassment of a Knicks official. That’s why consternation over Jeremy Lin’s “poison pill” contract rings so hollow. With his team on the brink of quasi-contender status, he’s now decided to be fiscally responsible?
Other reports say that Dolan got into a petty pissing match because Lin renegotiated his contract with the Rockets after Knicks’ sources leaked that they would match any contract up to “a billion dollars.” Boo-fucking-hoo Dolan, don’t tip your hand. Why the media shy Knicks felt that the Lin contract was a good time to start being more free with access boggles the mind.
Even more upsetting is that all of this was done under the context of the Knicks trying to reach Finals. They signed role players like the ancient Marcus Camby and Jason Kidd as well as the one dimensional Steve Novak to expensive and long contracts. But now they’ve decided to roll the dice with Raymond Felton, last seen in a Portland McDonalds trying to “supersize” his French fries, instead of the dynamic Lin.
An upsetting by-product is that this move will leave a lot of people misguidedly upset with Felton. Felton had a brief run with the Knicks in 2010-11, when he proved himself to be a warrior and fan favorite before he was jettisoned in the controversial Carmelo Anthony trade. Now Felton will be inextricably linked to the loss of Lin and will likely become a pariah.
Some have compared this to the Mets failure to resign Jose Reyes this offseason, but it feels a lot worse to me. The Mets financial troubles were well documented and the team was projected to be bad with or without Reyes. The Knicks fancy themselves to be contenders and let a valuable player walk for nothing.
Yesterday I was struck with a feeling of helplessness. As the three day window to match closed, I took to Twitter and, like many Knicks fans, let loose a stream of vitriol and obscenity directed at James Dolan, and it was ineffective and un-cathartic.
I’ve disagreed with almost every move the Knicks have made this offseason, as they’ve gotten older and less athletic, but that’s nothing new. I’ve long been a Knicks apologist, I gave Isiah Thomas the benefit of the doubt again and again because at least it seemed like he was trying to build a good team. I enjoyed rooting for Othella Harrington and Michael Sweetney and Michael Doleac and Eddy Curry and Stephon Marbury and Keith Van Horn and all the other inglorious bastards to wear a Knicks uniform this past decade.
My rage at the Knicks comes at an interesting time. I’ve just moved to Brooklyn and simultaneously so have the Nets. The Nets have been a little Knicks-esque with their fetishization of big name players, but at least their owner isn’t a Kim Jung Un like leader, who’s management of the Knicks matches his tone-deafness as the lead singer of JD and the Straight Shot. The internet has been abuzz with sports pundits giving me cart-blanche to switch my allegiances. So what do I do? I’m not ready to root for the Nets, but I’m just about ready to stop rooting for the Knicks.
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