Saturday , Oct , 25 , 2008 C.Y. Ellis

The New York Knicks: The NBA’s Black Hole

Remember when Eddy Curry was a top 5 pick and the future of the Chicago franchise? Remember when Quentin Richardson was part of the big 3 in Los Angeles, destined to bring the Clippers to fame? Remember when Zach Randolph was going to be a monstrous presence inside? Remember when Steve Francis and Stephon Marbury were huge superstars in the league?

The New York Knicks: The NBA's Black HoleI’m not sure anyone else does either…it seems like great players have gone to the Knicks in recent years and become has-beens and forgotten stars. Many people would blame Isaiah Thomas for most everything involving the downfall in New York, but there are a lot of factors that have gone into this fall from grace. For a team that has only been to the playoffs twice in the new millenium and lost in the first round both times, obviously there’s more to it than a coach who fans quickly turned on.

Some of the problem is that New York is just generally a difficult city to play in, for any sport. Brett Favre and Eli Manning face a ton of criticism in the NFL. The New York Rangers are held to the highest expectations every year in the NHL. The Yankees aren’t allowed to lose more than 10 games a year. New York is a massively difficult city to play in. Especially for stars. Part of the reason the Knicks have not been good is because they pay a ton of money to bring in players they assume are good, and then absolutely crucify them the second they do anything wrong. Stephon Marbury has actually been a pretty good player in the past few years, but because he is in New York, expectations and pay are way too high to allow him to play his game. Last year was a tough year for him due to injury, but his stats and minutes still were not terrible. He has always averaged double digits in points as a Knick.

Injuries and off-the-court issues also seem to multiply in New York. It is difficult to escape the spotlight when players are under a microscope. Players force themselves to play hurt to earn their money or use a little bit of pain as an excuse for not playing well. There is of course plenty of opportunity in New York to find yourself in trouble, going to bars or spending time with famous stars from other walks of life. The problem of course with that is the New York media is everywhere, so if you slip, you are in a world of trouble.

So what has changed New York from the place that made people like Pat Riley and Patrick Ewing hall of famers to a place that has destroyed the career of so many young stars? Is it simply the pressure of the New York Media, or the bad luck of constant injuries? Maybe it’s the ridiculous price tag that so many players come into town with. And of course high expectations come with high contracts. Are the Knicks really a horrible team or is there any hope for this franchise to turn it around? What is the answer? There are so many questions, but so few answers. What do you think?