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Tag: Fizdale

Need a Resolution? Stop Going to Knicks Games

ROBBINS NEST

By Lenn Robbins

File photo /The New York Extra

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. 

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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?

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The Fizdale Era Ends But the Dysfunction Continues

Robbins Nest

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By Lenn Robbins

  So much for patience. So much for building from the ground up. So much for credibility.

The New York Knicks believability quotient ranks lower than a late-night ad for an anti-aging potion. There is no one – not the owner, not the president, not the GM – who can ever be given the benefit of the doubt. If their lips are moving, they are not telling the truth.

The most recent betrayal of the fans’ trust came Friday afternoon with the Knicks displaying their mastery of decades-long dysfunction. They fired coach David Fizdale after he ran practice. The team then jetted to Indianapolis although it might as well have flown to Planet Lovetron.

The Fizdale Era lasted a mere season and one quarter. When Mills and Perry hired Fizdale they stressed patience. The quick fix was done. They wanted assurances from Fizdale that understood the Knicks were building a new culture.

“I told them, ‘You don’t have to worry about me because I am in for the plan,’” Fizdale told Marc Stein last year. “The plan is we’re going after particular people who are trying to fit what we are trying to build. And if it doesn’t fall in line, then we don’t go down that road.”

That lasted 104 games.

The 4-17 Knicks are the NBA’s of version of 90 Day Fiancé’.

Certainly, Fizdale didn’t offer much cause for optimism that this marriage could turn. His record in New York was 21-83.

 After the team’s 44-point road loss to the Bucks on Monday night he said, “I think we didn’t come in with an idea we could beat this team from the beginning.” And he described Thursday night’s 37-point home loss to the Nuggets as “sickening.”

 Which might be how Knicks fans might feel about the way Mills and Perry have run this franchise. They bragged about their ability to attract top-tier free agents but got rejected by Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and never had a shot at trading for Anthony Davis.

With no shiny baubles interested in lighting up Broadway, they spent some $70 million in cap space on mid-tier players such as Bobby Portis, Marcus Morris, Taj Gibson and Julius Randle. What a waste.

It also completely torched the stated culture of developing young talent. Last year’s No.1 pick, Kevin Knox, has been anchored to the bench. Second-round pick Mitchell Robinson has been usurped by Gibson.

And this year’s top pick, small forward RJ Barrett, was played at shooting guard and occasionally at point guard, because hey, if that LeBron guy can go from power forward to point guard anyone can, right?

Barrett was hailed as the team’s new foundation leaving him to negotiate that awkward path while not alienating the Portises and Morrises of the world.

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What’s most galling about all this is the way Fizdale’s firing went down. According to reports, Mills and Perry, knowing they were about to ax Fizdale, were seen kibitzing with their dead man walking coach after he addressed reporters following practice.

Let us repeat together: Keep your friends close and your smiling, back-stabbing enemies closer.

“Today marks a culture change for our organization where we reestablish the pride, work ethic and responsibility that comes with playing for the Knicks and representing New York,” read a statement from owner James Dolan when he hired Mills and Perry.

 “I’m confident that Steve is the right person to take on this role, and ensure that we return to one of the elite teams of the NBA. He’s got an ambitious plan that centers on building a young team focused on player development, communication and teamwork.”

One problem. The man quoted is a nightmare of a communication and has created a culture of paranoia.

 Fans can’t heckle him. Reporters can be harassed for criticizing him. Former players can be banned for expressing their anti-Dolan sentiments. Decent employees are fired by Dolan for reasons only he can fathom.

This reign of odious ownership has resulted in 12 coaching changes but just one playoff series win. Forget patience and credibility. The Knicks are the most toxic organization in the NBA.

Anyone who enters this planet’s orbit does so at his own peril.

The Knicks Phenomenon: If You Don’t Build It, They Will Come

Robbins Nest

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By Lenn Robbins

  The wait has gone unrewarded.

  After Monday night’s utterly humiliating beat down at the hands of the Milwaukee Bucks, it seemed that Knicks management had to offer up some thoughts as to what has become of this season where this franchise headed.

  But as they say in a Grade B horror movie, “It’s quiet, too quiet,” on Seventh Avenue. We heard nothing from owner Charles Dolan, or team president Steve Mills, or GM Scott Perry in the wake of a 132-88 loss to Milwaukee.  The words that kept resounding where those of coach David Fizdale, who offered this soul less take.

“Personally, I think we didn’t come in with an idea we could beat this team from the beginning,’’ said Fizdale, who threw himself under the bus with that statement. How did he allow a culture in which a professional basketball team went into a game not believing it can win?

 “That’s what was most disappointing,” continued Fizdale, who threw his veterans under the same bus. “They got whatever they wanted, whenever they wanted. We never took a real stand.’’

So, there is no leader in the locker room that was able to implore his teammates to “Man Up!”  Not one veteran, Bobby Portis, who in fairness, has never known what consistent success looks like in the NBA having played for the Bulls, and not Marcus Morris, who has his MA in winning culture having spent the last three seasons in Boston, took a stand.

This 132-88 score looks like something you see in college basketball when the UConn women schedule Dayton and wins 75-37 as was the case earlier this season. This, however, is the NBA. The minimal expectation is that a team will come to compete.

“I felt the [lack of] morale at the beginning of the game,’’ Randle said about the Knicks pregame locker room. “A lack of energy. Our spirit has to be everything.’’

It wasn’t there from the opening tip. The Knicks fell behind 33-15 in the first quarter. They never challenged, which could be the story of the season. They’re 4-17, the worst 21-game start of any season.

   The Bucks are the more talented team, no doubt, led by the breathtaking Giannis Antetokounmpo. The Knicks have yet to find such a player. Kristaps Porzingis will forever be a benign unicorn, piling up impressive stats only to find camouflage when he’s muscled up.

The Bucks also hired a proven coach in Mike Budenholzer. Fizdale came with a lot of questions about his unsightly divorce in Memphis

 The failure of New York to bring these talents to the World’s Greatest Arena, falls on Mills and Perry, who a few weeks ago seemed ready to fire Fizdale. That would be the easy out. But there’s no guarantee the Knicks, over the long haul, would play and harder or better.

Which begs the question: Why would a Knicks fan watch one more game, buy one more overpriced beer in The Garden, gift an RJ Barrett jersey to a son or daughter over the holidays? I have friends around the country who are baffled by this Knicks Phenomenon.

 ‘Why does The Garden continue to sell out when the Knicks are awful?”  There is no sane explanation. Nor is there’s any motivation for the owner to demand excellence when, with the exception of some home playoff games, he wouldn’t make any more money.

If it’s broke and profitable, why fix it?

The Knicks have a coach that can’t impart confidence to his team. The team has no clear-cut leader. The president and GM lurk off stage, waiting for a scapegoat to come along. The owner plays a decent guitar but can’t put the pieces in place for a decent team.

Fisdale saved his most enlightening comment about the Knicks when as about Giannis.

“I watch and listen to him lead his guys,” Fizdale said. “He’s just impressive. The league is in good hands, I know that, when you’ve got a guy like that at the top.”

Can anyone honestly say that about the Knicks?