Pa-Knick sets in at Madison Square Garden

Owner James Dolan, perturbed by his team’s poor play, has shut down the Knicks City Dancers. Less dancing, more winning. Yeah right.

Four games into the NBA season, and already panic has set in at Madison Square Garden.

Coming off their best season in nearly 20 years, the Knicks have stumbled out of the gate, with inexcusable home losses to the T-Wolves and Bobcats.

As always, the problems start at the top. MSG chairman James Dolan must be the only person in world who thinks the Knicks are a championship-caliber team.

Get a clue Jimmy D. Carmelo Anthony may be a superstar, but he doesn’t make the guys around him better players. Amar’e Stoudemire may not be the worst player in the league, but he’s the most overpaid. And newly-acquired Andrea Bargnani is softer than the Pillsbury Doughboy.

Losing Tyson Chandler, their best defensive player, to a broken leg isn’t helping matters.

Dolan is so out of touch that he’s banned the Knicks City Dancers from performing some of their routines. As if that’s going to make a difference.

A short championship history of the New York Knicks

Gimme a break: Knicks full of excuses


Gimme a break: Knicks full of excuses

Melo and the Knicks are missing the point – they’re heading the wrong way.

Several weeks back, shortly after the Carmelo Anthony trade, Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni said he’d be satisfied if the Knicks won half their remaining games.

Way to set the bar high, coach. You’ve got two superstars on your team, two of the five top scorers in the NBA in Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire, and your goal is mediocrity. Sadly, the way the Knicks are playing right now, they’d settle for playing .500 ball.

The playoffs, which seemed like a lock a few weeks back, are no sure thing anymore. The Knicks are in a free fall, having lost five straight and eight of their last nine. It would take a historic collapse for the Knicks to miss the post-season in the NBA’s weak Eastern Conference, but after losing to the likes of the Bucks, Pacers, Pistons and Cavs, the playoffs are no longer automatic.

Here’s a typical Knick game: Come out flat and fall way behind in the first quarter, play catch-up ball in the second and third, then fail to execute in the fourth and go down to defeat. Again and again, the pattern repeats.

“It’s going to take a while,” D’Antoni said several weeks ago. “I don’t think we’ll get it as well as we want this week or next week. But at the end of the year we should have it real good. In the meantime we have to get in the playoffs — whatever seed it is and prepare for that team.”

“I know everybody’s anxious. I’m anxious, the players are anxious. There’s no way you can throw four-to-six new guys into a rotation and all be on the same page. Some teams exploit things we haven’t gone over.”

The Knickerbockers are good on one thing — excuses. Peter Vecsey outlined a few of those excuses in his always entertaining Hoop du Jour in the New York Post.

Excuses, Excuses, Excuses
“Everybody has them and goes to ’em nightly. You all know the drill by heart — trade adjustments; readjustments to Billups returning from a thigh bruise, though the team was 4-1 without him; rough March schedule; rough upbringing; rough surf; the dog ate my home-court advantage; James Dolan spending too much time getting Radio City ready for Charlie Sheen.”

D’Antoni is part of the problem. More than one Knick fan has suggested he remove the “D” from his name — since his team doesn’t play any.

Earlier this week, the Knicks decided not to practice on an off-day — although it’s obvious they need the work. “If nothing else,” one player said, “we need a break from each other.”

Gimme me a break. Which of course Cablevision brat James Dolan didn’t give Madison Square Garden fans when he raised ticket prices by an average of 49 percent.


30 Plus: Amar’e Tops Naulls, But Not Wilt’s 65

Amar’e Stoudemire broke the Knicks record for consecutive 30-point games….but he has miles to go to eclipse Wilt Chamberlain’s NBA record of 65.

 

Amar’e Stoudemire set a Knicks team record recently when he scored 30 points for the eighth game in a row, all of them New York victories.

Stoudemire broke the team record set by Willie Naulls in 1962, a record that has stood for nearly 50 years, surviving scoring splurges by Knick greats like Walt Frazier, Bernard King and Patrick Ewing

Naulls, nicknamed The Whale, ended his streak by scoring 31 points against the Philadelphia Warriors on March 2, 1962, in Hershey, Pa. That game is forever emblazoned in NBA lore — it’s the night Wilt Chamberlain scored a record 100 points against the Knicks.

Chamberlain holds the NBA record for most consecutive games scoring 30 or more points with 65 from November 4, 1961 to February 22, 1962. That’s the basketball equivalent of Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak, or Johnny Unitas string of 47 games with at least one touchdown pass.

Wilt on The Record
Wilt also holds the NBA record for most consecutive games with 50 points (7), 40 points (14) and 20 points (126), all established or begun during the 1961-62 season.

That was quite a year for Chamberlain, who averaged 50.4 points per game — for the season. That’s another of Wilt’s many records that will never be broken.

Willie Naulls, was drafted by the St. Louis Hawks but traded to the Knicks for Slater Martin just 19 games into his rookie season. He averaged a career-high 25 points per game for the Knicks in 1961-62.

Early in the 1962-63 season he was traded to the San Francisco Warriors along with Kenny Sears for Tom Gola, and became teammates with Chamberlain.

Naulls wound up his career winning three straight NBA championships with the Boston Celtics before he retired in 1966.


Dolan’s Courting of Isiah Tests Knick Fans

It’s only a matter of time before James Dolan and Isiah Thomas are together again.

They haven’t been to the playoffs in six years, they tanked the last two seasons in a futile attempt to recruit LeBron James, and now they’ve tried to rehire Isiah Thomas, the clown who ruined the team and then was disgraced in a sexual harassment suit that cost the club $11.6 million.

Thomas rescinded his contract because NBA rules prohibit him from working as a consultant for a team while also holding down a college coaching job.

But does anyone believe that Dolan isn’t waiting for the right opportunity to bring back Isiah, like the monster rising from the dead in so many horror films.

You can’t make up this stuff….only in New York. But it’s not funny any more.

Been a Knick fan since the 1960s. Saw my first game at the old Madison Square Garden on 49th and 8th in 1966, an all-NBA doubleheader, Sixers-Pistons followed by the Knicks against the St. Louis Hawks.

Rode the championship wave of 1970 and 1973 and the good-but-never-quite-great days of the Patrick Ewing era. Good times and bad,, win or lose.  The SportsLifer wears blue and orange.

But these Knicks are straining my patience and testing my loyalty.

What is He Thinking?
James Dolan is an idiot. Yeah, that’s a good idea, bring back Isiah as a consultant. The same Isiah who brought in the likes of Eddy Curry and Stephon Marbury to New York, trading a boatload of number once picks and then saddling the team with two outrageous contracts.

The same Isiah noted more for his exploits in the workplace than actual results on the basketball floor.

The Knicks haven’t made the playoffs since 2004, haven’t won a playoff game since 2001. That’s almost 10 years ago.

Is there any hope for the future? Nope. Not as long as Dolan’s in charge.

“Although I’m disappointed that Isiah will not be working with the Knicks as a consultant, I continue to believe in his basketball knowledge, including his ability to judge talent,” said Dolan. He’s a good friend of mine and the organization, and I will continue to solicit his views. He will always have strong ties to me and the team.”

Now that’s reassuring, isn’t it Knick fans. Very reassuring.


Can Celtics-Lakers Push the Envelope?

Are the Celtics and Lakers on a collision course to a Game Seven? Maybe so.

Incredibly, NBA fans have witnessed just one Game Seven in the NBA Finals in the past 16 years, Tim Duncan and the San Antonio Spurs over the Detroit Pistons in 2005. Before that, turn back the clock to June 22, 1994, when Hakeem Olajuwon and the Houston Rockets defeated the New York Knicks to win their first NBA championship.

Clang — that’s the sound of John Starks missing another three-pointer on his way to a 2-for-18 (0-for11 on threes) shooting performance that doomed the Knicks that night. Patrick Ewing would never come closer to a ring.

Since the NBA began play in 1946, there have been 16 seventh games in the NBA Finals. The Celtics and Lakers have played four previous winner-take-all games, with Boston winning each time — in 1962, 1966, 1969 and 1984.

Celtics 7-0 in Seventh Games
The Celtics have never lost a Game Seven in the finals. They’re a perfect 7-0. Boston beat the St. Louis (now Atlanta) Hawks to win the championship in 1957 and again in 1960, and stopped the Milwaukee Bucks in 1974.

The Lakers are 3-5 overall in Game 7 finals, with wins against the Knicks in 1952 and the Syracuse Nationals in 1954, when the franchise called Minneapolis home, and in 1988 against the Detroit Pistons.

Los Angeles’ other Game 7 loss came in 1970, the Willis Reed game, when Walt Frazier produced one of the great Game 7 performances in history, 36 points and 19 assists.

In the first NBA Game Seven, in 1951, the Rochester Royals defeated the Knicks after New York rallied from a 3-0 deficit to force a decisive game.

NHL, MLB Game Sevens
The NHL has seen 15 seventh games since the league went to that format in 1939. Notably, five of those showdown games have occured since 2001, with Colorado, New Jersey, Tampa Bay, Carolina and Pittsburgh each winning one.

The Chicago BlackHawks, who ended a 49-year Stanley Cup drought by beating the Philadelphia Flyers in six games, lost Game Seven finales to Montreal in both 1965 and 1971.

In the NHL’s first Game Seven in 1942, the Toronto Maple Leafs rallied from a 3-0 deficit to beat the Detroit Red Wings.

Major league baseball has had 35 seventh games, the last in 2002 when the Anaheim Angels beat the San Francisco Giants for their only World Series win.


The Sports Guy Hits a Three-Pointer

Bill Simmons, the ESPN Sports Guy, hits a three-pointer with “The Book of Basketball” (Ballantine Books) a wildly entertaining treatise on professional basketball, and the players and teams that make the sport special.

Simmons, a native New Englander, fellow Holy Cross alum (the SportsLifer was class of 73) and admitted Celtics fan, fills the “Book” with levels, pyramids and categories, remindful of Cosmo Kramer’s interior design in his Manhattan apartment.

The most fascinating debate in the book is the selection of the top 96 players in NBA history. Michael Jordan as number one should hardly surprise anyone, although defining Jordan the all-time, forever pick isn’t defensible. Who’s to know there’s not some kid on the horizon, born already, who will someday surpass Jordan’s numbers and his “pathological competitiveness, command of the room and mystique.” Never say never, always or forever.

Anyway, after Jordan, the rest of Simmons’ top 10 in order is Bill Russell, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Wilt Chamberlain, Tim Duncan, Jerry West, Oscar Robertson and Hakeen Olajuwon. Duncan is the only active player on the list, but Kobe (15)  and LeBron (20) are coming.

1986 Celtics Voted Best Team
The Sports Guys nod to the 86 Celtics as the greatest team in NBA history smacks of homerism. First of all, Simmons eliminates or severely penalizes all teams before 1976, citing the following reasons:

  • The pre-1960 teams (not enough black players, defense and quality shooting)
  • The 70-76 teams (because of the expansion ABA/double whammy…)
  • The pre-70s teams (because I’ve seen the tapes and you can’t tell with a straight face that the 65 Celtics or 67 Sixers wouldn’t haven gotten swept by the 01 Lakers by 25 points a game.)

The No 1 team vote for Larry Bird, right, and the 86 Celtics was based in part on Boston’s remarkable home winning streak, 50-1 that season, 55 straight over two years, 40 of the 55 wins by double digits. “You have a better chance of seeing another multi-permed NBA coaching staff than seeing another NBA team win 55 straight games in the luxury box era,” said Simmons. “No way it will happen.”

The hair reference refers to Celtics assistant coaches Jimmy Rodgers and Chris Ford, who sported ghastly perms that season. Simmons footnoted that “Ford even threw in a porn mustache and variety of 80s suits that looked like they came from the Philip Michael Thomas estate sale.”

BTW, the 01 Lakers are #5 on the all-time team Book of Basketball list, behind the second-ranked 96 Bulls, third-ranked 87 Lakers, and fourth-ranked 89 Pistons.

The best part of “The Book of Basketball” is the wacky style and creative, rambling prose of the Sports Guy. For instance, this is how he describes Allen Iverson, #29 on the all-time list.

“…..one of the most fascinating, complex athletes of my lifetime: a legendary partier and devoted family man; a loyal teammate who shot too much; a featherweight who carried himself like a heavyweight; an intimidating competitor who was always the smallest guy on the court; an ex-con with a shady entourage who also ranked among the most intuitive, self-aware, articulate superstars in any sport. If I could pick any modern athlete to spend a week with in his prime for a magazine feature, I would pick Allen Iverson. In a heartbeat.”

Hmmm, that’s interesting. The Answer. Who knew.

Lastly, you can’t do the book justice without reading the footnotes, like this one on Bob Cousy, another former Holy Cross Crusader.

“Cooz had a phenomenal French/New York accent. He couldn’t pronounce R, but that didn’t stop him from announcing Celtics games for two solid decades, leading to him calling Rodney Rogers “Wodd-ney” in 2002.”

And of course Rick Robey was Wick Wobey.


Lords Of The Ringless: Hoops Edition

They’re great players, Hall of Famers almost to a man, half of them named to the NBA’s 50 Greatest Players list in 1997. Some were MVP and scoring leaders, Rookies of the Year, rebounding kingpins, assist champions.

And they have something else in common. They’re the Lords Of The Ringless: Hoops Edition, the best players never to win an NBA championship. Some came close, others never made it to the NBA Finals.

All are members of the Basketball Hall of Fame, with the exception or Reggie Miller, who just retired and will undoubtly make it once he’s eligible.

Some came oh-so close. Patrick Ewing (right), Karl Malone, John Stockton and Charles Barkley were all derailed by the great Jordan. Elgin Baylor’s Lakers lost eight times in the NBA Finals and he retired just months before Los Angeles won the 1972 NBA championship. Adrian Dantley just missed out on the Lakers 1980 title and was traded to Dallas months before the Detroit won the 1989 championship

LORDS OF THE RINGLESS

FIRST TEAM


C — Patrick Ewing:
New York Knicks’ all-time leading scorer and rebounder, averaged 21 points, 9.8 rebounds, 11-time All-Star, first pick overall in 1985.
F — Elgin Baylor: Lifetime Laker, averaged 27.4 ppg (4th all-time) and 13.5 rebounds for career, 11-time All-Star, 71 points in one game in1960, first pick overall in 1958.
F — Karl Malone: “The Mailman” spent nearly entire career with Utah Jaxx, second leading all-time NBA scorer with 36,928 points, two-time MVP in 1997 and 1999.
G — John Stockton (left): 19 years with Utah Jazz, played 82 games 17 times, all-time NBA assist (15,806) and steals (3,265) leader, led NBA in assists 9 straight years.
G — George Gervin: “The Iceman” played in both ABA and NBA, primarily with San Antonio Spurs, won four scoring titles, average 26.2 pgg, 407 straight games in double figures.

SECOND TEAM

C — Nate Thurmond: First player to record a quadruple double (1974), averaged 15 points and 15 rebounds per game, spent most of career with Golden State Warriors
F — Charles Barkley (right): “The Round Mound of Rebound” averaged 22.1 ppg and 11.7 rebounds, was NBA MVP in 1993 with Phoenix Suns.
F — Dominique Wilkins: “The Human Highlight Film” spent majority of career with Atlanta Hawks, scored 26,668 points, ninth all-time 24.8 pgg.
G — Lenny Wilkens: Played first eight years with St. Louis Hawks, 9-time All-Star, 10th all-time in assists, all-time winningest coach.
G — Reggie Miller: Indiana Pacers sharpshooter all-time career leader with 2560 three-point field goals, scored 25,279 points, 13th all-time.

THIRD TEAM

C — Bob Lanier: Played with Detroit Pistons, Milwaukee Bucks, averaged 20.1 points, 10.1 rebounds career.
F — Alex English: Denver Nuggets, first ever with 8-straight 2,000 point season, 11th all-time scorer, won scoring title in 1983.
F — Adrian Dantley: 18th all-time with 23,177 points. led NBA with 30.6 in 1984 with Utah Jazz, averaged 30 plus 4 straight years.
G — Pete Maravich (left): “Pistol Pete” all-time college scoring champ, averaged 24.9 ppg in NBA, scoring champ in 1977.
G — Dave Bing: Primarily a Detroit Piston, averaged 20.3 ppg, won scoring championship in 1968 averaging 27.1 ppg.

FINAL CUTS

C — Walt Bellamy
F — George Yardley
F — Harry Gallatin
G — Mark Jackson
G— David Thompson

WATCH OUT

F — Chris Webber
G — Allen Iverson
G — Jason Kidd

Check out Lords Of The Ringless: Baseball Edition