Jeff Pearlman broke it down best when speaking about the Knicks. “It’s all about semantics”. Not Kevin Durant’s Achilles, or Kyrie Irving’s attitude, or even newly signed New York Knick Julius Randle’s low-post game. It all comes down to the semantical putridness of the New York Knicks, a team that thrives on semantical stupidity.
Knicks President Steve Mills released a statement addressing fans on their free agency situation. A mere three hours into said free agency. “While we understand that some Knicks fans could be disappointed with tonight’s news, we continue to be upbeat and confident in our plans to rebuild the Knicks to compete for championships in the future, through both the draft and targeted free agents.”
New York Knicks Fans Deserve an Apology
Throwing Lava into the Fire
To make matters worse, the Knicks felt the need to correct just minutes later. The only thing they added was “and continuing to build around our core of young players”. Realistically, fans should appreciate Mills for immediately addressing the concerns of supporters everywhere. However, these are the same fans who were anxiously awaiting the addition of a free agent such as Durant. This is New York after all.
This seemed to fans as the cherry on top of a rotten sundae. This statement also managed to reload the media with ammunition they already had an endless supply of. Take the apology from Mills how you will, but the worst part of the statement has been left unsaid. It simply was not necessary.
There is a lack of understanding between certain sports organizations in New York, their fans, and the media. Some franchises all-around sports do not know how to handle the media, and their fans wind up being collateral damage of such misuse. Use that as a base for an intoxicating cocktail, and add some New York media outlets to the equation, the result is a dangerous cocktail of dysfunction.
Forget the Bill of Rights
This was not better exemplified by the Knicks than just a couple weeks ago. The Knicks deviously “misinterpreted” the type of event their rookie introduction presser was. The presser was made an invite-only event, and only the New York Daily News was deprived of validated clearance passes. That decision wound up with the Knicks getting slapped with a $50,000 fine. If that wasn’t enough, it made the Knicks the butt of every media outlet’s criticism for a week straight. Typical.
The mismanagement of the media by the Knicks that week could not have possibly come at a worse time. Only a week before one of the biggest free agency periods in NBA history, which left basketball fans around the world going crazy. While media outlets were discussing the possibilities of the free agency period, the Knicks were being covered for their faults. To be an NBA player debating where to take the next chapter of his career, this is just an awful look.
Trust the Process
So the Knicks struck out. At least that’s the way the media has spun it. Reporters had a field day dismantling the Knicks to the point where it led fans to almost believe that they had lost something that day. Yet it is impossible to lose something one never had. To lose the lottery, one must buy a ticket. The Knicks never offered Durant a contract.
When Ramona Shelburne of ESPN released that information, every Knicks fan thought the same thing. “Time to get ripped apart once again”. The dominoes began to fall, the Knicks began their additions. Randle, Taj Gibson, Bobby Portis, Wayne Ellington, Reggie Bullock, and Elfrid Payton; one by one, good signings were being mocked by non-Knick NBA fans everywhere.
The Knicks have had a plan since Scott Perry took over as general manager. Sign and acquire young talent, build a culture under beloved coach David Fizdale, and build the roster through the draft. Perry has been adamant in his desire to “leave no stone unturned”. Mills has been relentless in his desire to be “opportunistic” with free agency. So when a report came out saying the Knicks were insistent on receiving Durant’s medical reports, there was unmerited shock from the constantly aforementioned media. This was capped by Stephen A. Smith also of ESPN saying “Who the hell are you?” to the Knicks front office and infamous owner James Dolan.
Judging the Unknown
Perhaps this is best described in separating what is known vs. what is unknown. It’s known that the Knicks want to continue to build around their youth to become an attractive free agency destination. It’s known the Knicks play in the “mecca of basketball” Manhattan, Madison Square Garden. What is not known is what is in those medical reports. Three people do know that however, James Dolan, Steve Mills, and finally Scott Perry. No, that is not an excuse to refrain from dropping a Brinks truck at the front door of arguably the best basketball player in the world.
Here’s the reality though, a ruptured Achilles is the worst injury in basketball today. Durant will be 32 before he steps on an NBA basketball court of any kind again. Lastly, all the Knicks have is time. The Knicks have two players under guaranteed contracts over 30 years old, Gibson and Ellington. The Knicks have no one signed beyond 2020-2021 besides Kevin Knox, Mitchell Robinson, and RJ Barrett. The average age of the Knicks excluding Gibson and Ellington is 22 years old. This does not even include the undrafted Free Agent signings of division two standout Amir Hinton, UCLA guard Kris Wilkes, and Louisville forward V.J. King. They are 22, 20, and 22 respectively.
What the Knicks Should Have Said
The Knicks are swimming in raw and undeveloped talent. Hope is not lost. The world’s most influential media city struck the Knicks fandom hard in 2019. From Stephen A. Smith saying Durant and Irving were “95 percent” going to the Knicks, to the constant picturing of number one pick Zion Williamson as a Knick, and to lastly, the mockery made of the fans and the organization for not being fortunate enough to have any of these things happen. The Knicks’ front office has stood their ground, and continued their original mission. Shortcuts have not been taken, this is night and day between Isiah Thomas‘ Knicks.
So here’s what the statement given by Steve Mills should have read, in the most blistering cold 70-degree day New York has experienced in a while.
“To all Knicks fans around the world, there is no reason for disappointment on a day like today. Our mission as an organization is still rolling full steam. We have gathered a group of young, talented men. Signed quality hard-working veterans to mentor them, and continue to establish the culture Coach Fizdale has laid the groundwork for. We have 12 draft picks in the next four years (six first round, six-second round). A locker room of fine men who want to be here, and display that with their team-friendly contracts. There are no shortcuts, we are and will continue to build a sustainable winning team.”
Now if only they can figure out a way to get rid of James Dolan.
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