By Lenn Robbins
Unless you’re in that top one-tenth of one percent, it’s difficult to think your voice matters. It does.
Consider what recently transpired at Rutgers University. Fans, alums, students, professors had one wish for Christmas – Greg Schiano.
The former football coach is the only man to have turned the Scarlet Knights from a punch line to legitimate program. When negotiations broke down between Schiano and the athletic director, everyone with a scarlet sweater went bonkers.
They rose up with a passion and intensity usually reserved for regime changes. They threatened to withhold their donations, big and small. It worked.
Schiano now is back on the banks and hope floats at the state university of New Jersey.
Back across the river, smack dab in midtown, another fan base has been pushed to its limit. The Knicks have become to the NBA what the sideshow used to be to the circus – something freakish at which to gawk.
Like the world’s strongest man, the sword swallower, the elephant man, the Knicks have gone from sideshow to sideshow under James Dolan’s 20-year ownership.
He’s overpaid for past-their-prime free agents and has funded Phil Jackson’s retirement account. He’s brought in general managers that believed The Garden demanded superstars, to GMs that preached patience and player development.
There has been one constant with Dolan – losing. Miserable, astonishingly consistent, losing.
In the last 20 years the Knicks have had four winning seasons. Four! They’ve won one playoff series. One! Dolan has gone through 12 coaches, one for each day of a scrooge Christmas.
Dolan is almost always at Knicks games, sitting in his courtside seat wearing funereal colors, black on black. Dolan has said he attends games to show fans that he’s engaged, that he cares.
But what if there were fewer fans in The Garden to see the Ringmaster of Losing? What if Knicks fans, some of whom come to be seen and care little about basketball, simply stopped being witnesses to one of the worst franchises in sports history?
The Knicks are 9th in attendance in the NBA, one of only two franchises in the Top 10 with a losing record. The other is Portland, a playoff team last season, that has one of the league’s best backcourts but whose frontcourt has been ravaged by injuries.
There still is hope in Portland. Not in New York.
Coach David Fizdale was fired on Dec. 6th, just 22 games into his second season. President Steve Mills and GM Scott Perry could be (should be) next.
But will that change anything? Dolan has tried to sell the narrative that he leaves the basketball decisions to the basketball people, that he is not involved in the day to day.
Perhaps. But losing season to losing season, Dolan is the constant. And he has no motivation to sell. Not when an average 18,928 fans show up for every home game and many purchase $12.50 beers.
Knicks fans need to pull together and allow their anguish and frustration to be seen as well as heard. They need to stop going to Knicks games. Just stop.
You might wonder why we write this now, why today? The Knicks are coming off a respectable win, 94-82 over the Nets in Brooklyn. The victory gave interim Knicks coach Mike Miller a 4-6 record since Fizdale was fired.
There’s a sense of resignation, of learned helplessness. Knicks fans have been so abused that 4-6 seems like a good deal. Heck, if the Knicks can win 40-percent of their remaining games, they’ll finish 28-54, which looks good compared to the 15-win pace they were on under Fizdale.
It’s not a good record. It’s terrible. It’s more losing. It’s another season of losing, of no playoffs, of another coach and probably another front office.
The Knicks, no longer worthy of Christmas Day TV games, play at the Washington Wizards on Saturday. Don’t watch. They return home on Jan. 1st to face Portland. Don’t go.
If you’re a Knicks fan without a resolution, consider this: Don’t attend another Knicks game until Dolan sells. Honestly, what will you miss?