DEJA VU ALL OVER AGAIN (The Eternal Hell of being a Knick Fan)

As the start of a new NBA season fills the air with hope for the elite teams, the stench of desperation pervades the air around 7th Avenue and 33rd Street in Manhattan, where the New York Knicks, fresh off of the Soul-Sucking Melo-drama of the past 6 seasons now turn to  their newest Savior, the still-wet-behind-the ears  22 year old, 7 foot 3 inch Unicorn Kristaps Porzingis, born in August, 1995 just a few months after that Decade’s designated Savior, Patrick Ewing rimmed out a buzzer-beating layup in Game 7 of the Knick’s Eastern Conference Semifinal loss vs the Indiana Pacers and Pat Riley walked out of the Garden as Knick Coach for the last time, on his way to South Beach to collect a small fortune and 3 More NBA Championships. The Knicks?. They were on their way to one more Finals loss in 1999, an unceremonious dumping of Ewing to Seattle in 2000, followed by 17 seasons of misery, 3 Saviors (Stephon Marbury, Amare Stoudemire and OKC-Bound Carmello Anthony) and exactly one Playoff round Victory.

But the sellout crowds at the World’s Greatest Arena year after year prove the ever-delusional Knick fan has mastered the art of smelling the roses growing from a festering pile of Feces, so they dropped Melo’s number 7 jersey into the Hudson River and now bow at the feet of the precocious neophyte they call KP, who will don the Blue and Orange Jacket as THE MAN who will lead this Black Hole of a Franchise of nearly 45 years to the Glory days of Willis, Clyde, Earl the Pearl, Dollar Bill and Dave D.

And there’s the Rub. As a Knick fan since 1971 I have had more Poop shoveled my way than a Texas Cattle Rancher; my BS detector is so fine tuned I can tell what you had for Dinner in Dubai from my Home in Los Angeles County. The Knicks are currently in the 45th year of their 5 year plan since the 1973 Champs rode off into the Sunset…so of course their Media Day celebrates the passing of Melo like a bad Kidney Stone and the unveiling of….wait for it….Their 5-Year rebuilding Plan!..  OMG this is Unprecedented!  

So in my now-infinite wisdom, I present to you a peek at the future: the inevitable endgame of the Porzingis Era, to save you time, money and searing back and neck pain suffered from hours on the Couch watching the pursuit of ineptitude by the Franchise that made ineptitude their Credo….

June 21, 2020 (Draft Night)

The  New York Knicks have traded 2 Time All Star Forward Kristaps Porzingis to the (Your Team Here) for (1-2 Players of overrated Talent here) and (future first round Pick in the low 20’s and second round pick in the mid 50’s ). Porzingis refused to sign an extension with the Knicks due to their miserable 85-161 record over the past three seasons; his Agent (his older Brother) had informed the team at the beginning of the season that the Face of the Franchise would test Free Agency this summer.

Porzingis  has  averaged 23.7 points, 8.4 Rebounds, 3 assists and 2 Blocked shots over the past 3 seasons, and was selected as an All-Star Starter in 2019-20 despite the Knicks finishing 11th in the Eastern Conference and not making the Playoffs since 2012-13. He played under 4 Head Coaches in his New York tenure: Derek Fisher, Kurt Rambis, Jeff Hornacek (fired after the 2017-18 season after repeated clashes with Porzingis) and (add Next Lame Duck Knick Coach here). 

Porzingis came under unrelenting scrutiny from the New York tabloids for failing to lead his team to the playoffs the last 3 seasons; every potential game-winning shot missed, rebound lost to a physically stronger opponent or nagging injury that kept him in his KristapsWear Apparel (No 1. Selling Sports Apparel in New York in 2020) on the bench became back page and sports talk fodder for his detractors; he became progressively sullen and withdrawn from the Media as he was compared ad nauseam to his contemporaries Karl Anthony Towns (second in MVP voting last season to Boston’s Anthony Davis) and All-NBA second team Center Joel Embid, whose Philadelphia teams have been Eastern Conference contenders the past 3 seasons. Porzingis continually took a beating in the tabloids for his inability to solidify a porous Knick defense that  ranked 27th, 28th and 27th in Defensive Efficiency from 2017-2020.

Embattled General Manager Scott Perry is currently in the last year of his Contract and under fire by media and fans alike for the disastrous selections of (add Draft Busts 1 and 2 here) in the 2018 and 2019 Drafts over (add future NBA All Stars 1 and 2 here, both selected after the Knick picks), which led to the abrupt firing of team President Steve Mills in February. Perry, who also sent the Knicks’ 2021 First round draft pick to (Your other favorite team) for (add declining former All Star player with a chronic injury history here) in a desperate effort to placate Porzingis, stopped attending Knick home games as ever-larger throngs of fans at Madison Square Garden chanted for his firing.

Perry  released the following Statement this morning  at JFK Airport as he hastily left for his scouting trip in Outer Mongolia:  

“The New York Knicks wish Kristaps the very best; he has been a consummate professional in dealing with a challenging  situation as the team has faced an uphill climb to playoff contention. The Knicks remain committed to building a Championship contender that the City of New York can be proud of, and we are excited to add (lame duck players traded for Porzingis) to a promising core led by Frank Ntilikina (who has logged a 10 Player Efficiency Rating in 3 seasons), Willie Hernangomez (15 PER),  the 2018/2019 draft busts and Tim Hardaway Jr. (who the Knicks have unsuccessfully attempted to trade for months after he averaged career-worst offensive numbers across the board last season and spent most of it in the Lame Duck Coaches’ Doghouse). The Battle for New York Basketball just became more exciting”.

Knick Center Joaquin Noah, whose signed a 2-Year, 30 million dollar contract extension after averaging 2.2 points and 6.4 rebounds in 55 games last season (his most games played since 2014 in Chicago) said “I’ll miss Kristaps, he was a great player and teammate, but we have more than enough to contend  for a 3rd or 4th seed with the guys still on this roster “.  (Noah immediately tripped over his Gym bag, spraining his knee and will be out indefinitely).

In an emotional farewell to Knick fans on  the Player’s Tribune Webpage, Porzingis thanked them for their unconditional hero worship over the past 5 seasons and hoped their future would one day include a Championship Parade along the Canyon of Heroes before they reached retirement age; he closed his letter with “you are all First-Ballot Hall of Fame Suckers” (Sucker is Latvian for fan).

Porzingis will play for the defending Eurobasket Champion Latvian National team this summer before reporting to Brooklyn where he will become the centerpiece of the Nets’ resurgence to the top of the East after they lost a heartbreaking 7 Game second round Series to the Boston Celtics in May. He joins (First team All-NBA Point Guard) and (First Time All Star and steal of the 2018 Draft picked after the Knicks’ selection) to form a team picked by ESPN to finish first in the Eastern Conference in 2020-21.

2019-20 NBA Executive of the Year Sean Marks stated ” The acquisition of Kristaps represents the continued pursuit of excellence by the Nets Organization with the single minded Goal of an NBA Championship. The future is now”.

Porzingis’  5 year, 350 Million Dollar Contract catapults him into the top 20 of NBA salaries, still a far Cry from LeBron James’ new one year 80 million per year deal with the 5 time NBA Champion Golden State Warriors, where he will join Kevin Durant, Stephon Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, Russell Westbrook, Paul George, Carmello Anthony, Duane Wade and Chris Paul in pursuit of the Franchise’s 5th title in 6 seasons.

Knick owner James Dolan, on tour with his Band JD and the Sure Shots in the Cayman Islands, where they will open for a Fleetwood Mac cover band released this statement: ” I wish Mr. Porzingis smashing success in the Western Conference except the one night per season that his team visits Madison Square Garden…wait, what…The NETS?”.

The Back Page of the New York Post saluted Porzingis’ tenure as a Knick with a tribute inspired by the Patrick Ewing Farewell Cover in 2000:

                   “GOOD RIDDANCE!!!”

Pouty Porzingis lugs his losing legacy across the Bridge to Brooklyn

 

The New York Daily News Back Page, not to be outdone simply stated:

                  “Crooklyn!”

Porzingis takes his Not Ready for Prime Time game Off- Broadway for big $$$$…

 

….and the (JD) Band plays on.

Editor’s note…

(I was only kidding about the LeBron thing)

 

REPRINT OF “THANKS, ‘NAAD’ FROM THE GOLDEN AGE OF BASKETBALL PART ONE

I was watching Derrick Rose’s press conference yesterday, and as a Chronic Knick Fan I couldn’t help being transported back in time when another seriously injured Fallen Star was unceremoniously let go from his beloved team in a city that loved him, only to recapture glory, if only briefly, on another team.

A RE-EDITED STORY FROM THE GOLDEN AGE OF BASKETBALL, VOLUME ONE, THE NBA IN THE DECADE OF THE EIGHTIES.

THANKS, “‘NAAD”

Knick fans know the never-ending saga, featuring a history of senseless trades, weak drafts, oft-injured players, revolving door Coaches, clueless General Managers, rudderless ownership, horrendous starts, worse finishes, forgettable decades. Jordan. Charles Smith blocked x 4. Starks 2 for 18. Isiah and Marbury. Yada, yada, yada.

Fans of my generation, born around 1960 were still young enough to smell the liniment on Willis Reed’s knees, hear the twine of the net pop on a Bill Bradley jumper or Dave DeBusschere’s grunts while snatching down rebounds; race downcourt with Walt “Clyde” Frazier after he’d hijack an opponent’s dribble or throw a patented head fake, then hit the dagger shot of the game; spin with Earl Monroe thru the lane, double pump, flip the ball off the backboard, into the cup. Catch a Phil Jackson elbow, watch the flight of a Jerry Lucas bomb. Watching Coach Red Holtzman deftly orchestrate the show from the bench. Listening to Marv Albert’s golden voice on the radio, “DeBusschere over to Bradley in the corner, now to Frazier across to Reed, down the lane, Yes!! and it counts!.”

My memory could still hear the roar of the MSG crowd, the thunderous din of “Dee-Fense”, “DEE-FENSE”; feeling my heart beat through my chest while yelling at the top of my lungs on so many winter weeknights into spring in front of the TV, from middle school thru high school, together with my older Brother leaping out of our seats time and time again, experiencing basketball poetry in motion, while the Knicks would prevail time and time again.

Then it was gone.

By 1984, the 10 year drought of Championship caliber Basketball weighed heavier on fans than the New York skyline. The Knick faithful, (of which I am a charter member), was still easily seduced by the continuing Knick soap opera, known as “This Season’s Savior”. Spencer Haywood, Marvin Webster, Bob McAdoo, Bill Cartwright (who had the misfortune of entering the league the same year as Bird and Magic, which amplified his deficiencies, then distinguishing himself for having all of Bill Walton’s foot injuries but none of Walton’s game); mercurial but troubled guard Michael “Sugar Ray” Richardson and the like; either their best days were behind them, or the crucible of New York pressure just got the best of them.

In the 82-83 Season, the Knicks traded Richardson, who had a problem with substance abuse that eventually cost him his career, for forward Bernard King, raised in Brooklyn, who had a history of alcohol abuse which nearly cost him his career. While Fans saw this move as another botched Knick transaction, Bernard King sensed an opportunity for recovery and redemption. Released from the relative obscurity of the Golden State Warriors (yes kids the Warriors used to suck), Bernard returned home to play in the place he dreamed of as a kid, Madison Square Garden, the Mecca of Basketball, with a clean slate, in a city starved for heroes, desperate to win again.
.

To say the Bernard King carried a Knick fan’s hopes on his shoulders is the understatement of the decade. Coach Hubie Brown, as tough a taskmaster that ever walked an NBA sideline, knew he had struck oil and gold in the same vein. Brown coupled the prodigious King’s offense with a full- court, 48 minute pressing, trapping defense, and by the 1984 season, the 47 win Knicks rekindled the flame that had been barely a flicker for far too long. Bernard’s performances had Knick fans thinking about a deep playoff run for the first time in a decade. New York finally found a player to look Magic and Bird in the squarely in the eyes without blinking.

King was fearless. Deftly mixing an assortment of quick-release 15 to 18 foot jumpers with dynamic slashes to the basket, he played every game as if possessed, locked in for 48 minutes. He became the most dangerous scoring machine in the NBA, power lifting the Knicks into conference contention, while dueling for 1984 league MVP honors with Larry Bird the entire season. This while playing with a clearly inferior supporting cast to the Lakers or Celtics, as King, Knick defense and Brown’s coaching made up for lack of All Star support. Larry Bird won the regular season MVP award, but made it clear he would have voted for Bernard, the supreme compliment.

The 5-game, first- round playoff series are typically footnotes during the “second season” of any year, that initial round and all performances in them typically forgotten before the second round gets underway. The Celtics, who would win the East, then the NBA Championship that year had minimal concern with New York and King, as Boston was big, deep, and experienced, while the Knicks were viewed as little more than a one man show on a junior varsity squad. The Knicks’ first round opponent, the Detroit Pistons were led by diminutive but tough as nails Isiah Thomas. New York and Detroit were tied 2 games apiece, and game 5 on a steamy hot Friday night in Detroit’s Joe Louis Arena found the Knicks 8 points ahead and the Pistons 94 seconds away from elimination.

Thomas, in what was to be the first national display of his individual playoff brilliance, wasn’t ready to go home. He scored sixteen points in those 94 seconds, all on a variety of playground moves, stunning New York, nearly giving Hubie Brown a coronary, and sending the game into overtime.
New York once again turned to their savior, and King carried them in the extra period, featuring a Spiderman meets Superman putback slam to seal the deal.

King scored 213 points in the series, an average of 42.6 per game, to this point the all-time record in a 5 game series, passing the 23 year old record of 197 points set by Laker legend Elgin Baylor.

The Celtics weren’t impressed. Celtic defensive stopper and infamous trash talker Cedric Maxwell took the King challenge with relish, vowing pre-series that King would never visit the neighborhood of 40 points against their superior front line. The Celtics outlasted the Knicks in 7 games, winning their 4 home games by large margins, but the King of New York gave Knick fans 3 fantastic performances in MSG, scoring 43 and 44 in games 4 and 6, both Knick victories. The Celtic depth and majesty of Bird, who averaged 30.4 points in the series, proved too much for King and the Knicks to overcome, but new hope rose from the ashes of defeat on the streets of Manhattan. Basking in the glow of King’s 34.8 ppg average in the 84 playoffs,
the Knicks seemed only a few players away from serious title contention, as King was now a certified All NBA first teamer, league leading scorer and cornerstone of the future.

That future was short-lived. The Knicks couldn’t capitalize on the momentum of 1984, struggled through 1985, and suffered a devastating loss when King shredded the Anterior Cruciate Ligament of his Knee in March of 1985, shredding Knick hopes, driving them into the basement of the Atlantic Division. King would treat knee rehab as he played the game, working out like a madman, finally ready to return 18 months later. In my meager defense of Knick Management, the later advances in Orthopedic Surgery, Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation were just scratching the surface in 1985. Players of that era just didn’t come back from ACL tears, and if they did, they were shells of their former selves, not Franchise Players.

A silver lining in that dark cloud would emerge, as the King injury positioned the Knicks to win the 1985 Draft Lottery and its biggest prize, Georgetown Center Patrick Ewing. Welcome, new Savior. Keeping faithful to their legacy of short-sided decisions, King would only play only 6 more games with the Knicks, who refused to sign King and his post-surgical Knee to a big dollar contract extension.

Folks, this exchange actually happened; I saw Knick Coach Rick Pitino at the Fabulous Forum in Los Angeles during an early season game with the Lakers in 1987 before the news of King’s departure to Washington had been reported; (remember kids, this was light years before social media).

Our conversation went like this…
Me: “Hey Coach, how’s Bernard?”
Pitino: “We had to let him go”

We…had…to…let…him…go……..

What followed was that long, painful, awkward silence when your mind is racing at the speed of light trying to bring something out of your mouth that has even an iota of coherence, similar to the shock of being rear ended by a Bus while your car is at a complete stop. At that moment my gaze looked completely through Pitino, into the inner depths of his very soul.

Me: “Uh, Who…who’d you get for him?”.
Pitno: “Nobody…He had us over a Barrel”.

Nobody. NOBODY FOR BERNARD KING.
…yet another eternal pause….
Me: “Uh, good luck this season, Coach”.

Bernard took his reconditioned limb and wounded pride on an Amtrak ride south to the Nation’s Capital, where he would star for 4 seasons with the Washington Bullets, reaching the 40 and 50 point game marks again, making the playoffs, embarrassing the Knicks in 1991, smoking them for 49 in the Garden, even making the 1991 NBA All Star Team, if not quite returning to All- NBA form. Knick fans can only speculate how King would have benefited from playing in a frontcourt alongside Patrick Ewing for 4 years, and vice-versa. Ten excruciating seasons later, in 1994 once again with a stifling defense, a great coach and an average supporting cast, Ewing played in his first NBA Final. He too, lost in 7 games to the league MVP, Hakeem Olajuwon and the Houston Rockets. Some things never change. The soap opera continues, the Knick Management spending last 15 years looking for their next chapter of “This Year’s Savior”, while Knick fans just look for empathy.

So Maybe, just maybe, for at least one fun-filled season Derek Rose (aka This Season’s Savior) is the Karmic debt payoff for Bernard King.

And 29 years later, the wheels on the Knick Bus still go round and round, round and round, round and round….

The King of New York
The King of New York (Photo Copyright 2016 Steven A. Roseboro)
Photo Copyright 2016 Steven A. Roseboro
Photo Copyright 2016 Steven A. Roseboro
Photo Copyright 2016 Steven A. Roseboro
Photo Copyright 2016 Steven A. Roseboro

 

 

 

The (Second) Summer of Lebron and Friends, PART TWO

So where are we?.
First, let’s tune into TMZ, NBA Style…
Lebron James, his leg cramps and Kevin Love are headed to Cleveland, Number One Draft pick Andrew Wiggins’ career path took a dramatic turn for the worse before he played a single game, Chris Bosh cashed in, Dwayne Wade didn’t, Carmello Anthony found 50 million reasons to stay a Knick, Linsanity’s coming to Staples Center, Larry Bird’s Pacers lost 70% of an already dysfunctional offense in a week, Lance Stephenson became Michael Jordan’s headache, Derek Rose is back with Pau Gasol in tow, and Paul George replaces Rose in sick bay, gone but not forgotten. MVP Kevin Durant, nearing an Uber-deal with Under Armour abruptly ditches USA Men’s Basketball, citing “physical and mental fatigue” (hey, counting to 300 million by ones is exhausting, folks!).

Houston crapped out in free agency, losing Lebron, Carmello and Bosh while Dallas slipped Chandler Parsons out the Rockets’ back door. Houston did overpay Trevor Ariza, who the Wizards replaced with Paul Pierce, the latest casualty of the latest failed Superteam. Speaking of slipping out the back door, Jason Kidd cashed in his rubles and bid adios (or dah svee-DAH-nee-yah in Russian) to Mikhail Prokhorov and the Nets, giving up on their aging, injured, overpaid roster for beer, bratwurst, Jabari Parker and the Diaper Dandies of Milwaukee. After at least 37 “second interviews”, Byron Scott is a Laker again; David Stern, Alonzo Mourning and Mitch Richmond have been immortalized, and Donald Sterling has finally been kicked off the Island (warning, NBA owners…that leggy vixen in the oversized shades is V. Stephano!!!).

In another related development, the Spurs won their 5th NBA Championship in a brilliant display of dribbling, passing, shooting, coaching and team defense. San Antonio re-signed all their principals for next season, and hired Becky Hammon as the first Female NBA Assistant Coach. And If you missed those press releases, it’s because there weren’t any coming out of San Antonio. Do the Spurs even have a Press Agent?.

All caught up now?.

That’s the 411, now the Basketball…
Lebron, now the de-facto GM and Coach of the Cavaliers, manipulated the off-season like a master puppeteer; he wasted no time re-booting his Title pursuit, dumping Miami’s aging, beat up roster for Kyrie Irving and the Cavs like a Baby Boomer takes on a new Trophy Wife. Kevin Love will finally have a chance to prove if he’s just a numbers-chewing fraud on bad teams who couldn’t taste a single playoff game in 6 seasons or a major upgrade over Chris Bosh as the third option in a Cavalier offense built around Lebron James and Irving. If he has the mindset of Bosh, who was reduced from first and second option in Toronto to a space-clearing, shot clock expiring three point chucker for the Miami Lebrons (good for two parades), Love could decide his role is to lead the league in offensive rebounds. LBJ and Kyrie Irving will dominate the Ball for 48 minutes, and team defense will determine how deep Lebron can take the Cavs into the playoffs.

Chicago lost Melo but gained Gasol, who will once again find the love he lost in LA, where none of his good deeds went unpunished; Pau was the picture of unhappiness as he was seemingly blamed for Nash and Kobe’s brittle bones, Dwight Howard’s immaturity, Phil’s defection, Mike D’Antoni’s irrational coaching philosophy and that goofy Dysfunctional Family otherwise known as the Laker front office. Gasol, who has plenty left in the tank will thrive under the high-octane coaching of Tom Thibodeau, the manic energy of Joaquin Noah and Taj Gibson, and he’ll love the easy buckets he’ll get playing with the Human Video Game, Derek Rose. Rose’s return may actually trump the homecoming of the prodigal Lebron, as the Bulls are bloodthirsty for a trip to the Finals after playing the underdog role the past two seasons.
The injury to Paul George and departure of Lance Stephenson effectively slammed Indiana’s Championship window shut, and made it a two-horse race to the Eastern Conference Title. I think a healthy Rose, the Bulls front line and a possessed Thibodeau is enough to edge the Cleveland Lebrons in late May. The only storyline in the East this upcoming season is the race for slots 3-8.

Poor Andrew Wiggins; he could have been filling the lane on the other side of Lebron every night, turning slick feeds from Kyrie into thunderous Dunks that would even make the King envious; now he’s playing to half-empty crowds in the god-forsaken Siberia of the NBA, where his chances of making the playoffs during his 5- year rookie contract are less than the Cavs ever winning another Lottery (read into that what you will). I rarely care about fates like that, but I was hoping Lebron would take the challenge of grooming this Kid to become his Scottie Pippen; the timing was just wrong for Wiggins in this lifetime. Lebron, for all of this feel-good return to Akron, his vision for helping the community, and his love for the fans, is about Lebron winning, Lebron winning now, and Lebron keeping the Lebron Brand at the top of the Mountain. The Heat, and his formerly best buddies Wade and Bosh had outlived their usefulness in just one week in June gone horribly wrong, so the King bailed, again for greener pastures. Love was there for the taking, Irving was a young Star on the rise, and Dan Gilbert is officially in the King’s pocket. The two year contract gives him time to survey the NBA landscape until he makes the next move that’s best for Lebron. If that means finding a new city with new best buddies, so be it. Savvy business moves by one of the sharp young business minds of his generation. I believe his first unsuccessful tour in Cleveland gave him the acute understanding of how brief a moment in time an NBA career is, how incredibly difficult it is to get to and stay on top, and he’s finishing his career by draining every drop of opportunity available to him. Good for him, it’s the NBA’s New World Order, the lasting legacy of David Stern’s vision, and we’re living in it.

I’m just glad it wasn’t the NBA I fell in love with as a Kid.

Pat Riley, architect of the 4 time Eastern Conference Champion Heat, was without question devastated to lose LBJ but as we would expect remained unflinching, making Bosh rich while appeasing Wade with a 4 year contract that most certainly included a promise he will be a part of the Miami franchise for life. Bosh’s new role as the Man coupled with Wade’s wounded pride could make Miami a dangerous out come playoff time.

Melo took the money…for his legion of critics, one more nail in his career coffin; for the Hundreds of millions living check to check, and the Mega-Millions living below the poverty line, ….what took you so long?. The Knick roster next season plays barely above the Mendoza line with Melo; but you could have read the Franchise their Last Rites if he had bolted. Phil Jackson has a plan and Derek Fisher will be an outstanding Coach/future GM, they can walk the walk and their resumes on the court back it up. But to build a contender they desperately needed a Chip and Melo perfectly fits the bill. One of the few Stars of his generation that wanted to play in the Garden, he played his ass off in front of the toughest critics in America, and was a consummate pro while doing so, positioning him for the big payday. I was amused how his street cred went through the roof in July, how even his harshest critics knew how valuable he was during Melo’s “Not really a Free Agent” tour, shuddering at the thought of pairing him with Rose and Noah. No Franchise on Earth needs a culture of stability more than the Knicks, and with PJ, Fish and Melo signed on for the next 5 seasons, they can mold a roster in their image, drafting, trading for and signing players that FIT. Keeping James Dolan, the New York Press and their devoted legion of fans around the world from pulling their hair out the next 12 months until (wait for it…..”the Summer of 2015!!!) will take all the Zenergetics the Zen Master can muster. However, one of the things the Knicks have done better than any team, in any sport in the last 42 years, is sell hope.

There’s no hope of Pacer star Paul George leading Indiana to the Playoffs next season; George’s gruesome Knee injury in the Olympic Basketball scrimmage in Las Vegas gave Pacer President Larry Bird visions of suiting up this fall. Indiana’s dysfunctional 2013-14 campaign was a tale of two seasons which ended with a ton of question marks, but the loss of ticking time bomb Lance Stephenson to the Hornets coupled with George’s season-ending injury left a gaping wound in the Pacer lineup that even Basketball Jesus can’t mend. Indiana may turn to full blowup mode, as there is no timetable for George’s return to All-NBA form.
Roy Hibbert’s value will never be higher, and David West could land some valuable future assets. From the front door of the Penthouse to the Outhouse in 6 weeks. Ouch.

None of these Eastern Conference follies moved the needle on the 2015 Championship meter; the West remains the Best by a landslide, and there are surely some moves to be made among those contenders in the coming months. The Rockets may have actually lost ground in the Conference with their tunnel vision pursuit of the big names this summer. In the end, Trevor Ariza is a nice piece but was losing Parsons to a Division rival worth a PhotoShopped Banner of Melo in a Rocket uniform on the side of the Toyota Center?. Was moving Omar Asik or Jeremy Lin, two productive bench players, for next to nothing?. I was waiting for Ashton Kutcher to come into the Rockets’ front offices with a Camera crew, they were Punked.

The shame of these dog and pony shows, first in 2010 (where Lebron also called the shots and gave Riley all the credit) and this summer is Franchises have to play the game at the cost of future assets they move like trading cards in the hope Lebron or Melo returns their phone calls. Teams are either paralyzed from making moves, make panic moves, or unnecessarily clear roster spots waiting for the cream of the crop make their “Decisions”. The real winners are the second-tier stars, who cash in on the losers in the Lebron, Dwight Howard, or Melo Races, as their GM’s must appease disappointed Owners and fan bases. In February of 2010, Charles Barkley, who is edging closer to Howard Stern than Howard Cosell as he enters his AARP years, was prophetic when he predicted Amare Stoudemire, a free agent in the upcoming summer of 2010 , would be the big winner in the Lebron sweepstakes as half of the league was clearing cap space for “the big three”. “They ain’t all getting Lebron”, said Barkley, and these teams gonna need somebody to give all that money to”. 5 months, 5 years and 100 million dollars later, Amare is limping his way back into Free Agency, after giving the Knicks 6 solid months of production.

Chris Bosh is the recipient of this summer’s Amare Award, 118 million over 5 for a guy who was 4th option on nights Mario Chalmers was feelin’ it. Luol Deng also held his ground, waited for the smoke to clear and landed 12 million per from Riley. Not a bad haul.

This second Summer of Lebron leaves us no choice but to brace ourselves for the Summer of 2015 propaganda (starting next weekend), and with a 24/7 , 365 day news cycle on hundreds of Media outlets to fill it’s never too early to discuss the Kevin Durant to (your favorite team here) in 2016 rumors on your local station.

God spare us.

A shout out to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, Chris Sheridan of Sheridan Hoops, Ramona Shelbourne and Brian Windhorst of ESPN, who consistently outshined their media competition by reporting fact vs. fiction. A rarity in the Twitterverse.

Best of Luck to USA!! USA!! At the World Cup in Spain

Get Well Soon Paul George.

Best of Luck to the US Men’s Team in Spain, stay tuned.

A tale of two Cities

The Knicks and Nets, who just a year ago were touting the New York Metropolitan area once again as the “Mecca of Basketball”, face a stark reality.. .. they are both back to square one. The Nets were cold-cocked by the slithery Jason Kidd, who once again reared his ugly head and high-tailed it for potentially greener pastures in Milwaukee, as their new Coach (oh, would someone call Larry Drew and let him know?), and future President of Basketball operations. Kidd has officially become the Larry Brown of his generation, power-hungry narcissists that leave a trail of broken coaches, bloodied GM’s and stunned Team owners in their wake. And are always kind enough to leave forwarding addresses to send their checks. Brooklyn can now tout a 100 Million Dollar point guard with one playoff victory and two surgically repaired Ankles, a 90 Million shooting guard on the downside of his career and an 80 million Dollar Center who missed half of last season with two screws in his foot. Oh yeah, and they just lost one of their best players, Shaun Livingston to Golden State and will probably lose Paul Pierce, who rues the day he left Boston, to the Clippers. But they still have the carcass of Kevin Garnett to stare down the refs, sneer at fans and cheap shot opponents. So that’s something. Still good enough for 6th in the East next season.

And My beloved Knicks. We’re now entering our 10th 4-year rebuilding plan since 1973.  They did get to two NBA Finals in the 90’s so thankfully we have the MSG Network to replay the 1994 season 7 days a week to remind Knick fans that individual game tickets for next season go on sale soon!. With or without Carmello Anthony, the NBA requires 12 Knicks to suit up on October 31. God (known in the greater Metropolitan area as Phil Jackson) only knows who is going to suit up, show up out of shape, get suspended, get traded, demand to be traded, pull some muscle no one’s ever heard of, get arrested for some random felony, be accused of sexual harassment, have the worst year of their career, break some bone we’ve never heard of, go 2 for 18, miss a finger roll, rip out a tendon we never heard of, get 4 shots blocked at the rim, have some surgery we’ve never heard of, piss off Spike Lee;  you get my drift, Knick Fans. We’ve been to Hell and Back to Hell, and now, 4.5 years after they drilled “The Summer of 2010!” in our heads so we could watch Lebron’s vapors head to South Beach and toy with our team for 4 years, Knick Management is premiering the sequel, “The Summer of 2015!”. Yay!. At least Melo would bank a cool 33 Million bonus if he suspended common sense, rejected sure-fire contenders in Chicago and Houston and returned to the Garden with us to suffer through “The Summer of 2015!”. What the Hell do the rest of us  get?. We have to pay for tickets or League pass or Cablevision to watch Phil clean his glasses and make glib remarks about Native American Meditative Triangle Sage Championship Teepee Zen of Motorcycle Maintenance JibberJabber while Lebron, Durant, Duncan, Parker, Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, Rose, Melo, Noah, Paul George and Company run rampant in MSG. Jeezus, the Knicks are really the Milwaukee Bucks of Manhattan!. Wait, the Bucks just drafted Jabari Parker!. Charlotte and Cleveland have better rosters!. God,  If that sounds really bad, Knick Fans, in a week it might be even worse.  I think it’s time to get Netflix.

Free Agent Frenzy

Well, the plot thickens….the Heatles opt out, Melo is a travelin’ kind of fello, and the NBA is hard at work printing money to throw at players they hope will make them contenders, or at least relevant in 2014-15. Once the Melo domino falls, all hell will break loose in the NBA’s version of Musical Chairs. Stay Tuned.