Some of you might find it odd reading an article about the New York Knicks on a New Jersey Nets blog, but in the spirit of the gauntlet that was first thrown down last summer when a certain Russian billionaire put up a giant billboard outside the midtown-Manhattan office of a cable-television mogul and amateur jazz guitarist, just imagine me as the semi-drunk, angry Uncle who accidentally got his hands on a microphone during the somber wake of the New York Knicks’ 2010-11 season.
Because quite honestly, it’s situations like these where the word schadenfreude is most appropriate. Ever since Amare Stoudemire boastfully said “the Knicks are back” last summer, there has been a bit of chippy-ness from a contingent of Knicks fans who I’m sure either double as New York Yankees fans or as the shameful group of Mets fans who spend their afternoons calling WFAN demanding that David Wright be traded because he struck out with runners on base again. You know who you are: the same Knicks fans who spent their February trolling New Jersey Nets fans during the painfully drawn out Carmelo Anthony trade-saga to insightfully proclaim “No way ‘Melo goes to Jersey. He goes to Duh Meccah,” and the same batch of fans who’ve been hitting up @MarkGinocchio and the rest of us on Twitter to complain that we weren’t given the Knicks a fair shake in our posts or tweets. Because I guess as part of the infamous NBA-ABA merger in the 1970s, all Nets fans became legally obligated to praise the Knicks regardless of the circumstances, instead of being like every other normal sports fan who unabashedly derides the neighboring competition.
Well, let it be said after acquiring two super-duper-stars and one nice player (only in the year 2003 is Chauncy Billups part of any team’s “Big Three”) the Knicks have collected exactly as many playoff victories as the New Jersey Nets and precisely one less than the Indiana Pacers and Philadelphia 76ers, who didn’t spend the latter stages of the regular season telling anyone who would listen that they were going to be a “tough matchup” for their heavily favored and more experienced first-round competition. In fact, let it be said that in the timespan between the last Knicks’ playoff victory, the Nets have made the NBA Finals twice, have made the Eastern Conference semifinals three additional times, including one year where they swept the “Starbury” led Knicks to get there. Remember that Knicks fans? When Stephon Marbury and Tim Thomas were your beacons of light?
Of course I’m sure Knicks fans will tell me that the Nets have been historically bad the past two seasons and their team, at least MADE the playoffs, which that and a lottery ticket gives them a chance to win it all. Surely, my rant here is just sour grapes from a Nets fan jealous of a team that allegedly plays on the biggest stage of all. Well, let it be said that despite his MVP-caliber season, when he was needed the most, Amare, who already has knees that are ticking time bombs, pulled up with a stiff back. The aging Billups, pulled up lame again. I’ve already hear the Meccah-naires saying that injuries happen, but this is part of the reason so many of us non-Knicks fans rolled our eyes at some of the roster moves your team made. Please keep in mind that every missed opportunity for the Knicks going forward inches the organization ever-so-closely to seeing their $20 million investment of Stoudemire spending more time in a suit on the sideline than in a jersey on the court. I will be stunned to see his NBA career survive the life of his contract, and the fact that he was already a physical liability in his first postseason in New York makes a prediction like that sound even more prophetic. As for Billups, let’s see if this guy even makes it half a season next year.
That brings us to Carmelo Anthony, whose prima-donna “I want to be wooed by the Russian but I ain’t gonna sign in Jersey” act has surely earned him the scorn of Nets fans going forward. There’s no reason for Nets fans to have to praise this guy, but in a show of kindness, I’ll say ‘Melo proved in this post-season that for every exhilarating game 2 performance, there’s an exasperating game 1 showing. ‘Melo has exited stage left in the first round for the seventh time in his eight playoff seasons. And yet I’m supposed to continue to treat this guy like he’s an elite NBA player who can single-handedly carry a team to victory.
Let it also be said I have no idea if the Nets will even make the playoffs next season, nor do I know if the front office’s public confidence in resigning Deron Williams beyond 2012 is anything but Russian bluster. However, I am willing to take my chances that a full season of Williams playing with Brook Lopez, Kris Humphries and hopefully some improved talent at the SG and SF spots will be enough to make the Nets an exciting team next season . And if it’s a public embarrassment, you as Knick fans have every right to follow me on Twitter or post on Nets Are Scorching about what a disgrace the Nets organization is. Because that’s what rival fanbases do to each other. We don’t stand there like some awestruck younger sibling and heap praise, nor do we try and paint a season that ended in yet another empty trip in the postseason, as some kind of rousing success. You’ve been the cock of the walk all year Knicks fans. Time to take your lumps like a Nets fan.
UPDATE: Read fellow Nets Are Scorching writer Dennis Velasco’s take on the Knicks at Gear Live.