November 22, 2007:

NY Post World News Coverage on Thanksgiving:

Pushing aside wars in Middle East, global warming, genocide in Sudan, and other news of the world, NY Post uses front page on Thanksgiving to cover their mistaken guess that Isiah Thomas was going to be fired. 


Fri, Nov 23, 2007:

On the day after Thanksgiving, NY Post follows up with back-page coverage specifying that Chris Mullin, who happened to be in town simply because his team was playing the Knicks, would be the new Knicks GM as soon as Christmas. Mullin later laughed this coverage off as ridiculous.

Saturday, Nov 24:

In an interview with the media on Friday (which this writer listened to), Isiah Thomas calmy told the media that despite the headlines, he and Knick management were on the same page and had a firm understanding of where the Knicks were and what their roadmap for the future was. He said "I don't forsee there being any changes this year" and "I just don't think this is the time to panic.. that's not the way this league goes.. there's a lot of time here". The NY Post turned his statements around, and presented them as a defiant declaration in another front-page story (above).

Sunday, Nov 25, 2007:

The NY Post followed their setup by using kids to attack Isiah on Sunday -- this time with a front-page inset. Thomas had never been defiant, but these kids didn't know that.

On the back page that same day, NY Post figured a way to put a Knick win in a bad light; perhaps because they realized their contrived story was losing its steam. And the really important news of the world -- lost amidst their hubub.

In the early 1900's this kind of reporting had a name -- it was called 'yellow journalism'.

-- LouV

















December 1, 2007

Why the Knicks Don't Suck .. Anymore

But the NY Post and NY Daily News Do (Suck)

by Lou V

As the Knicks start the 2007-08 NBA season at 2-9, it would seem all of NYC is apoplectic and calling for the firing of Isiah Thomas. A media frenzy drives the casual fan to think basketball hell is taking place at Madison Square Garden. The NY Post -- closer everyday to the National Enquirer -- in its on-going effort to dumb-down the citizens of Gotham, has used the front page of its Thanksgiving edition to call for the firing of Isiah Thomas, putting his head on a turkey. As if there were no other news in this world to cover.

The Knicks Are Doing Fine

But the only thing in demise here is the journalistic integrity of the NY Post, Daily News and similar media outlets who treat the readers the way media has traditionally dealt with people in third-world countries; getting their attentions off real economic and political issues by parading sports and the lottery in front of them. Basketball isn't that important, and the Knicks are fine. They remain as they were to start the season -- a young, athletic team with guys who can score; they have great chemistry, believe in their coach, and are progressively playing better defense.

Mort Zuckerman and Rupert Murdoch dumb down NY with National Enquirer journalism while James Dolan and Isiah Thomas provide moral substance.

They're not a championship team yet, but they're a good team; a playoff-caliber team. They've had two early season issues -- turnovers and bad free throw shooting -- causing them to lose a number of tight games. A tough early-season schedule for the 3rd year in a row has started them off in arrears. And it will get worse -- their late November/early December schedule is extremely tough. The schedule eases up in January, and then gets downright pleasurable in March and April. But that's a long way away; dozens of NY Post and Daily News front and back-page assassinations to endure. It will be interesting to see if the Knicks can win enough in December to keep the wolves at bay; if James Dolan, owner, who has proven to be a stand-up, moral guy despite numerous assassinations on his own character by the same media, will stick to his word and the game plan until the casual fan is spoon fed the idea that this team isn't so bad. History favors Dolan standing by his word.

Why Isiah Thomas Is Castigated by NY Media

Exemplified by the Renaldo Balkman Affair

Isiah's overly optimistic, used-car-salesman-handshake approach and street-fighter, chip-on-his-shoulder personality doesn't wash well with the NY beat reporters, and they attack him regularly with vengeance. Previous coach Larry Brown, in contrast, ingratiated himself with the mostly white NYC beat reporters. Mike Lupica of the Daily News seemed to fall into that Brown family of friends; and it was Lupica who savagely attacked Isiah in the middle of the 2006-2007 season, when the Daily News ran a back-page Sunday edition featuring Isiah Thomas drawn as a clown. Lupica attacked Thomas for daring to say that he knew more about basketball than the typical NY fan. Thomas's sin came after months of being ridiculed by the NY beat reporters for the 2006 June draft, echoed by fans on Sports Talk Radio, when he picked Renaldo Balkman with the 20th pick in the draft. That day, basketball-expert NY fans in attendance at Madison Square Garden booed; they wanted Isiah to pick local college hero point-guard Marcus Williams. Because they'd all seen Williams on TV, and he was good. In college. And the local newsmedia prepped them before the draft by telling them that the Knicks could possibly get to draft Williams with their first round pick, which was a late first rounder. Nobody -- not the Knick beat reporters or the fans -- had ever heard of Renaldo Balkman.

Isiah Thomas had. He'd seen Balkman play in college. He'd seen Balkman play at the pre-draft drills and private tryout invites. Isiah Thomas as a GM previously with Toronto and Indiana, had established himself as a terrific evaluator of NBA talent, and draft picker. Isiah Thomas was one of the greatest point guards in the history of the NBA; led his team to two championships; and you'd figure if Thomas saw a player he'd want to play with, that would be enough for anybody. Point guards especially, know the game like noone else, since they're distributing the ball to everyone.

You'd figure that the typical NY fan would be thumbs up with whoever Thomas picked; and if he picked a 6'7" sleeper that noone had heard of, so much the better. Thomas had been hired as GM in part for his fantastic resume at making great picks in previous NBA drafts. But none of this was good enough for the NY media and the casual fan, who felt that by watching the game on TV and playing it in the schoolyard, they no doubt knew more about basketball than Thomas.

Marc Berman of NY Post and the rest of NY media and expert NY basketball fans ridiculed Isiah Thomas's pick of Renaldo Balkman with the 20th pick in the 2006 draft, and they were all dead wrong. Balkman has become a top player.

Marc Berman of the NY Post took it to another level. In the days following the drafting of Balkman, Berman wrote that he asked the other GM's picking after Thomas in that first round if they were poised to pick Balkman, and all of them said no, they didn't have Balkman on their radar. Thus, Berman reasoned, not only had Isiah made a horrendous pick in picking Balkman, but if he played his cards right, he could have picked Marcus Williams with the 20th pick, and then used his second first round pick at #29 for Balkman, thus getting both the player Berman felt the Knicks should get, and then Thomas's favorite too, instead of Mardy Collins, another player no one had heard of, whom Thomas picked at #29.

There were a number of issues with Berman's logic:

  1. He didn't know what he was talking about. Berman had no idea who Balkman was; Isiah Thomas knew exactly who he was and done all his homework to scout him.

  2. Berman was blessed with perfect hindsight -- he was the Monday morning quarterback with information on what went down after it went down. Isiah Thomas had no idea what the other GM's were thinking on draft day, and so it would've been crazy for him not to pick the player he wanted (Balkman) with the 20th pick to get a player he didn't want or need (the Knicks already had 3 point guards headed by all-star Stephon Marbury, and didn't need another point guard in Williams).

  3. Word before the draft was that Marcus Williams had a tendency to get out of shape, the same way that Pearl Washington, a great college point guard from a previous era, used to get out of shape (and thus didn't quite make it in the NBA). Isiah Thomas, one of the greatest point guards of all time, would be in best position to judge whether or not he liked the play of Marcus Williams at the point.

  4. If other GM's that Berman had interviewed had known Thomas had his eye on Balkman, at least one of them most certainly would have changed their mind and picked Balkman. Isiah has a reputation amongst other GM's as being a good evaluator of talent; and even if the other GM's picking #22 through #28 didnt' think that, they might have still picked him to force a trade with Thomas. How could Thomas have taken that chance?

  5. All of this was much ado about the 20th pick in the draft -- a pick that generally results in a player who historically doesn't stick in the NBA. The media treated it as if Thomas had used a lottery pick to draft Balkman.

  6. What was never reported in any outlet was that the New Jersey Nets, who picked Marcus Williams, didn't pick directly after the Knicks -- the Boston Celtics did. Unlike the Knicks, the Boston Celtics were in desperate need of a point guard, having only not-ever-ready-for-prime-time Sebastian Telfair. The Celtics didn't pick Marcus Williams. They picked Rajon Rondo, a point guard. Over Williams.

  7. Reading his column on a regular basis, Berman is judged by this reader to be one of the dumbest writers in NYC. He regularly gets the fine points wrong in his coverage of the game -- blaming loses on the wrong player, even after the coach tells him what went wrong in interviews after the game. He also stubbornly beats on unfounded issues for months; he spent the year after Patrick Ewing was traded reminding readers at every opportunity that that the Knicks had won a game without the help of Patrick Ewing. But that's a story for another column.

Berman continued his Isiah-should've-picked-Williams attack not for just that week following the draft, but for the next 6 months, taking any opportunity he could to remind people of this 'fact' in his regular column in the Post. Even after it soon became apparent in summer league and then the start of the 2006-07 season that Balkman was a great NBA player and the steal of the draft.

Marc Berman looks like he's never played a game of basketball in his whole life, and writes the same way, but unfortunately influences thousands of casual NY basketball fans with his illogical coverage and stubborn attacks.






























Still, Berman reasoned, Isiah could've had Balkman and Williams if he did it Berman's way, versus Balkman and Collins. As the season wore on and Collins too began to establish himself as a pretty good NBA player -- a 6'5" shooting guard and excellent defender, Berman's idiocy died down. There were no apologies, and the damage had been done -- all casual NY basketball fans condemned Thomas on sports talk radio and elsewhere for months. Causing Thomas to finally utter his brash words -- that the booing didn't bother him because he felt he knew more about NBA basketball players than the typical fan and the picks he made were based on that knowledge -- BAM -- Mike Lupica and the Daily News and all the other media outlets had another field day on Thomas. How dare he say that. The arrogance!

Why Isiah Thomas Doesn't Suck

Through great draft picks like the one for Balkman, and great trades, Isiah has turned the Knicks around in 3 years at the helm as GM.

The Knicks offense is geared around their big men -- Eddy Curry, who scores at an over .600 clip inside, relentless 6'9 power forward Zach Randolph, and super-leaper David Lee, at 6'9 one of the best young power forwards in the game whose post-up game has even shown improvement this season. And that is where you want an NBA team to be centered -- not around shooting guards like the Stu-Laden-Alan-Houston-Latrell-Sprewell Knicks. Most GM's in the NBA would exchange their best three big men for those three Knicks in a heartbeat.

Tough defenders Renaldo Balkman, Quentin Richardson, and Jarred Jeffries form the rest of the front court, and at the guard is star scoring-point-guard Stephon Marbury and the enigmatic, athletic, super-nice-guy but often-boneheaded Jamaal Crawford. Tough defender Fred Jones and the super-energetic but not-great-ball-distributor Nate Robinson round out the backcourt.

Not a perfect team; not a championship team, but a pretty good team; a playoff team, and the most hope Knicks fans have had for a fun, energetic, competitive team to watch since 1995 (and that includes the 1999 finals team that sucked throughout the regular season but turned it on for the playoffs).

The word is still out on Isiah as a coach; he has a mediocre resume there, and was never hired to be a coach of the Knicks; he was hired as a GM.  He assumed coaching responsibilities as a kind of penance for his poor choices of coach hirings -- Lenny Wilkins to be his puppet coach when he first arrived. Wilkins was in retirement mode, and was replaced with Herb Williams. An honorable choice for Isiah, but another bad decision, as Williams was a rookie and NYC was not the place to experiment. Then came the Larry Brown fiasco, which was James Dolan's doing -- Brown was the last person Isiah wanted to hire but had his arm twisted to do so. As penance, Isiah coaches this team himself.

Isiah Thomas's Knicks' Resume

Great Trades:

June 28, 2007: Acquired Zach Randolph, Fred Jones, Dan Dickau, and draft rights to Demetris Nichols (2nd round, #53 overall) from Portland in a draft day deal for Steve Francis, Channing Frye, and the Knicks' 2008 2nd round draft pick. Synopsis: Zach Randolph and Fred Jones for Channing Frye? This may go down as one of the great Knick trades ever.

June 29, 2005: Acquired Quentin Richardson (25 yrs old) and Nate Robinson (the 21st overall 1st-round pick) from the Phoenix Suns in exchange for Kurt Thomas (32.5 yrs old) and Dijon Thompson (the 54th overall 2nd-round pick). Synopsis: Kurt Thomas was getting old. Richardson is a terrific all-around ballplayer (especially after the back surgery) and almost 6 years younger. Plus the Knicks got Nate Robinson. Great trade. 

February 3, 2006: Acquired Jalen Rose from Toronto, a 1st round pick in 2006 (#20 overall, used by Knicks to select Renaldo Balkman -- this was originally Denver's pick, acquired by Toronto), and cash in exchange for Antonio Davis (and essentially $10 million in cap relief). Synopsis: Fantastic trade for NY, especially since Isiah used that pick to select Balkman. Rose played some ball in NY before being eventually waived, opening up some salary savings for NY.

February 16, 2004: Acquired Tim Thomas from Milwaukee and center Nazr Mohammed from Atlanta in a three-team trade. In exchange, Knicks sent Keith Van Horn to Milwaukee and Michael Doleac and a 2005 conditional 2nd round pick to Atlanta. (In addition, center Joel Przybilla was traded from Milwaukee to Atlanta.) Synopsis: Mohammed played some good ball in NY, but then helped Isiah rebuild with the trade listed below this one. Tim Thomas played some ball in NY, but then helped Isiah get Eddy Curry from Chicago. This Feb 2004 trade was a fantastic setup trade for the Knicks.

February 24, 2005: Acquired Malik Rose, Maurice Taylor, conditional first-round draft picks in 2005 (ended up being David Lee at #30) and 2006 (ended up being Mardy Collins at #29) from San Antonio in exchange for Nazr Mohammed, Moochie Norris, Vin Baker, and Jamison Brewer. Synopsis: Nazr Mohammed for Malik Rose, David Lee, and Mardy Collins? Great trade.

October 3, 2005: Acquired Eddy Curry and Antonio Davis from Chicago for Tim Thomas, Michael Sweetney, Jermaine Jackson, NY's 2006 1st round draft pick (eventually became Tyrus Thomas at #2 overall), a 2nd round draft choice in 2007 and 2009, and ability to switch 1st round picks in 2007 -- which they did; Chicago got NY's 2007 1st round draft pick (eventually became Joakim Noah at #9) and NY got Chicago's 1st round pick (became Wilson Chandler at #23). Synopsis: This should have been a great trade for NY, but Larry Brown took a 36 win team and made it a 23 win team, making that #1 pick in 2006 go from a mid-first-rounder to the #2 pick. Still not a bad trade for NY, whom I think would trade Curry and Wilson Chandler for Ty Thomas and Jaokim Noah even now, dependent on how Chandler and Noah develop.

August 6, 2004: Acquired Jamaal Crawford and Jerome Williams from Chicago for Frank Williams, Dikembe Mutombo, Othella Harrington, and center Cezary Trybanski. Synopsis: Great trade -- Jamaal Crawford for nothing much. Mutumbo was ancient.

January 6, 2004: Acquired Stephon Marbury, Penny Hardaway, and Cezary Trybanski from Phoenix for Antonio McDyess, Howard Eisley, Charlie Ward, Maciej Lampe, Milos Vujanic, Knicks 1st-round pick in 2004 (#16 overall, ended up being Kirk Snyder, a career reserve guard), and future conditional Knicks 1st round pick (looks like it will be the 2009 or 2010 pick) and cash. Synopsis: Despite the criticisms, Marbury has played a lot of all-star basketball in NY. The final word is still out on this trade as there is still that conditional 1st-round pick hanging out there in 2009 or 2010 that Phoenix gets from NY, but so far, NY got Stephon Marbury for a bunch of crap -- including Knick-franchise-of-the-future-according-to-Stu-Laden, Michel Lampe. Penny Hardaway was used by Knicks to help get Stevie Francis, who was used to help get Zach Randolph. Phoenix used this trade to get $7-million under the cap, enabling them to sign free agent Steve Nash, and catapulting them to an elite team. This trade looks good for both teams right now, for different reasons.

Why James Dolan Doesn't Suck

As much as Isiah Thomas has been ripped apart in the NY media, James Dolan has been almost as much so. Dolan, the son of cable magnate Charles Dolan Sr, who built the billion-dollar Cablevision empire, has been assessed by the NY media to be a stupid, rich, spoiled, arrogant never-do-good who plays with the Knicks as if it were his rich-kid's toy. Fans have taken to building websites that call for him to sell the Knicks. Open protests in front of Madison Square Garden have broken out, protesting his decisions on owning the Knicks. His Wikipedia entry currently says "It is widely agreed upon, amongst fans the media and the NBA, that his tenure has been a complete failure and his inability to manage the Knicks would be comical if it were not so pathetic."

Some of this may be true, but for all things bad there are things good, and with James Dolan what is often not said is that he is a man of moral fiber. Here's proof:

  1. A reported former alcoholic, he has gone out of his way to give other former alcoholics a chance. After the Knicks acquired talented but troubled Vin Baker in 2001, Dolan personally spent many hours talking to Baker, according to published reports, trying to help him understand and deal with his troubling disease. 

  2. He has stood up for, and valued, players who displayed fine moral character on the Knicks -- thus one of the reasons he foolishly laid so much money down to keep Alan Houston when his initial contract expired. Houston was the epitome of fine moral character -- a truly nice and giving fellow; the anti-Joe DiMaggio.

  3. When Larry Brown was attacking Knick players in the press in 2005-06, calling them stupid, Dolan cracked down on Brown, according to published reports. When Brown continued to lash at players publicly, Brown was fired -- even if it took 40 million dollars to do it.

  4. Dolan has since then publicly acknowledged that the hiring of Larry Brown was his mistake, not Isiah Thomas's, and he should take the blame. Another stand-up move not noticed by the NY media or fans.

Thomas's Resume Continued

Great Draft Picks:

Renaldo Balkman #20 in 2006. This was the draft wherein MSG fans booed and NY media ripped Thomas for months for not picking Marcus Williams. No one had ever heard of Renaldo Balkman, and thus Thomas was judged to be stupid. Balkman was a steal.

Mardy Collins #29 in 2006. Good pick, that late.

David Lee #30 in 2005. One of best young power forwards in game. Fantastic pick.

Nate Robinson #21 by Phoenix as part of trade. Robinson exudes energy and has helped win a number of games in his career so far. Needs to learn how to be a better point guard. Still a good pick that late.

Trevor Ariza #44 pick in 2004 draft. Great pick that late. Thomas was forced to trade him away by Larry Brown.

Randolph Morris -- from reports it seemed that most GM's in the NBA didn't even know this star center for Kentucky was available as a free agent as soon as his college career ended -- he had already made himself available for a previous NBA draft and went undrafted. But Isiah Thomas knew, and pounced on him before anyone else in March 2007, resulting in essentially a steal of a mid-first-round draft pick.

Wilson Chandler #23 in 2007. Too early to tell.

Demitrius Nichols #53 by Portland traded to NY. A late 2nd round pick that Thomas got Portland to deal him, Nichols alas was lost in a numbers game in NY (15 players ahead of him in talent or guaranteed contracts), and had to be released before the 2007-08 season. He was quickly picked up by defending Eastern Conference Champs Cleveland. Still, his sterling play with the Knicks in 2007 summer camp and NBA future is another testament to Thomas's ability to see NBA talent.

Channing Frye #8 in 2005. Frye ended up not being so good, but he was the best legitimate player available when Thomas was picking #8 (notwithstanding gambles who may have turned out better). After two years of Frye not living up to expectations, Thomas astutely traded him to Portland for Zach Randolph.

  1. Dolan's handling of the Anucka Browne Sanders case is prototypical of his high moral fiber. It was a case that he could have made go away without any negative publicity by just paying her five or six million (chump change for MSG) before the case ever went to trial. But his righteousness in a case where he undoubtedly felt on high moral ground would not let that happen. According to defense allegations unveiled in court trial coverage, Anucka Browne Sanders had established that she was incompetent at handling Knicks marketing and was an abrasive person to work with, who, according to Steve Mills, MSG CEO, came into his office and "told me she's lost the confidence of the people she worked with, and she can't do this anymore." Again according to defense allegations, it was only after Dolan learned that Sanders was pressuring her underlings to back her up in a sexual harassment suit that he fired her on the spot.

  1. Dolan's backing of Isiah Thomas and giving him his word that he has the 2007-08 season to put the Knicks on track is yet another example of a fellow with high moral fiber who gives his word, and stands by it. 

Finally, Knick fans should rejoice that James Dolan is clearly someone who will spend lots of money on the Knicks in an effort to make them good. It hasn't always worked out, but Knick fans could have a worse owner.

Thomas's Resume Continued

So-So Minor Free-Agent Signings:

Jerome James: A minor free agent signing -- Knicks used their $4 million exception to sign him. He's been wrecked by injury in his first 3 years in NY. He was a dominant inside defender and rebounder in Seattle and in brief healthy appearances in NY. Still 2 years left on the 5 year contract to see if he'll ever be healthy in NY.

Jared Jeffries: Another minor free agent signing with the $4 million exception. Jeffries had a poor first season in NY due to injuries and overzealous play (he was guilty of trying too hard). He remains potentially a key player for NY, their 8th man in their rotation; a 6'11" defender who can shut down another team's top-scoring big man. Has yet to be proved in NY though.

For that and all the reasons stated above, here's hoping that James Dolan stays in charge of the Knicks long into the future, with Isiah Thomas at the helm as GM, if not coach. So that the good guys can win the day. 

Tell Us What You Think: If you'd like to respond to this article, click here.

Reader Feedback

Feedback from Amateur Blogosphere -- Mike K and

One of the amateur blogs on the internet has scrutinized this article here. There were a few interesting comments amongst the replies. Nice to see that folks like Mr. Black and Mike Anderese are out there, thinking independently. Yea Mr Black! And Mr Andarese! PS: Mr Black, thanks for catching that typo on Robinson written as Richardson. I guess I had Q on my mind. And who doesn't? I also originally spelled Charles Dolan Sr as James Dolan Sr. That's simply a sign of getting old.

To the writer of the blog, we offer this reply: Dear Mike, although three ellipses is the standard, two ellipses is fine as long as one is consistent. It is journalistic style. It's especially permissible in headlines, where room is tight. (This article is also being used in the printed edition of Also, thanks for the advice on the headline but we'll stick with what we have. All words placed in our headline were done for a specific reason and effect. You should use your more to-the-point and boring headline in a future blog of yours. It would suit your writing style. Furthermore Mike, everything your third-grade teacher taught you about English wasn't necessarily correct. She was just trying to improve your writing; offer a simple template. Give you the basic rules. But it's ok to break the rules for effect and to capture your audience's attention. Also, the language is evolving. And it's ok to start a sentence with an 'and'.

Mike's blog points out how scary the internet can be, high school and college kids with just enough knowledge to get themselves in trouble -- just enough rope to hang themselves with -- shoot off missives indiscriminately, filling the blogosphere with misinformation.

Mike, are you in high school or college? Your basketball comments are well received, but please don't give out any more writing advice -- to anyone!

Now on to some of the other feedback we've received. We love you all. Thanks for coming. And hey, I think we're all Knick fans!

-- LouV

Jeff from Westfield, MA

I hope this is a joke because if it's not I hope whoever wrote this is never allowed to write anything ever again. This article is a disgrace.

-- Jeff, Westfield, MA


Alex from Brooklyn

Lou V, whoever he is, is either brain dead, works for the Knicks or MSG, or has a good sense of humor. To say that the Knicks are a playoff a completely baseless (and ridiculous) statement. There is no proof like a team's record, and the Knicks have a terrible one. As of right now they are 5-11. That is crap. You want to say they are a good team? Why? Good teams win more than they lose, and the Knicks do just the opposite.

Furthermore, they are not waiting for some superstar to get healthy and come back to save them (like Miami when they were waiting for Wade to come back) so you can not make the arguement that they will definitely be better. This is who the team is, and on this team they do not have players with winning histories. They do not have a coach with a winning history. They do not have a GM who has a history of putting together a winning team. They do not have an owner who puts winning first and makes changes when the team is not doing well. They have nothing in place that should give fans optimism. The NY Post - although I agree it's a terrible paper - has a right to dump on the Knicks until they stop s-u-c-k-i-n-g.

So they have some players (Curry, Randolph, Marbury..) who can put up good looking numbers. Again, so what? Look at the win/loss records of all of those guys. Plenty of players can put up numbers on bad teams. It's meaningless. NYers want a winning team, not a blubbery power forward who put up 20 and 10 this year.

Please tell me that the article was satire.

-- Alex, Brooklyn, NY


From Humanity

That Knicks article, about how they don't suck, dude. I'm guessing that it was written facetiously, but if not, then please let me know who your dealer is, because you'd need some serious drugs to think that I SAY UGH or that assclown Dolan have done anything but driven a once-proud franchise into an international laughingstock and piece-of-shit team.

-- Humanity, Anytown, USA


Frank from Arizona

Wow, I just had to stop in and offer my congrats to Lou V for winning the worst article of 2007, as awarded by I also wanted to ask if Lou was purposely pursuing this "honor" or if he just wrote the entire article without thinking.

Mardy Collins a better draft pick than Channing Frye? Check out the numbers: Frye averaged more points in his first two seasons with the Knicks than Collins has so far, and Frye was actually a good kid, with work ethic and no ego. (for opposite examples see Curry, Eddie and Randolph, Zach) I'm pretty sure the only argument for Frye "not being so good" is that he was traded away and is now buried in an even deeper Portland roster.(9 different guys over 6'8" on that team)

Renaldo Balkman turned out to be a solid pick, a guy with energy and who plays tough defense, but calling out the media for wanting Marcus Williams a PASS FIRST point guard (not that any Knicks fan has seen one of those in years) to put in an offense with lots of young, aggressive options? Come on, think a little bit. Maybe Marcus Williams hasn't been great for the Nets, but fans and media wanted a PG who put up assists. Remember those? Probably not, after shoot-first Starbury has failed to average even seven assists a game since his first year with the Knicks. Other PG options? the only other true guards on the Knicks' roster are Nate Robinson (dynamic but averaging less than two assists a game over his career) and good late pick Mardy Collins (putting up a whopping 4.3 points and 1.6 assists per game over his career) or maybe shooting guard Jamal Crawford, who is, by name, a shooting guard! meanwhile, Balkman splits time with Q-Rich, Fred Jones, Jared Jeffries, David Lee, Wilson Chandler and Malik Rose in the G/F role. Sounds like someone to pass the ball wouldn't be too bad.

Great trades? Seriously? Isiah Thomas has filled the Knicks rosters with attitude problems and other people's baggage while dealing young talent he could be using to rebuild right now. The Knicks traded Frye, Michael Sweetney, the second overall pick in the 2006 draft, the ninth overall pick in 2007, and various side pieces for the combination they've put together today, who are 5-11 and 9 games out of first on Dec 5. I think things could have gone better.

I think the real problem here, (with Lou and with Isiah) is outright denial. In this article, Lou calls Richardson "A terrific all around player" Balkman "A great NBA player and the steal of the draft" (by the way, I would say Daniel Gibson, who went at 42 and has actually seen the playoffs in his short career, a bigger steal) and says that Starbury has played "...a lot of All-star basketball in New York" Find me ten Knicks fans who truly agree with these statements, and I'll show you ten people who love their team too much to face facts.

Marbury is a me-first player who destroys team chemistry wherever he goes. Isiah needs to take a lesson from history and just dump him. The Nets did it, found a point guard who liked to pass the ball, and promptly won 50+ games, and with far less help than Marbury has now. Phoenix? same deal, Marbury out, lots of wins. The writing is on the wall for Steph, a player so selfish he couldn't deal with playing alongside Kevin Garnett, one of the best players in the game. That's no All-star.

Anyway, this is already a little long-winded, so I'll wrap it up, but Lou V and Isiah-lovers everywhere, I have to ask: How much is it going to take for you to realize Isiah is the worst thing to ever happen to this team?

-- Frank Calello, Tucson, Arizona

Kathy in Fort Wayne, New Jersey

I have to say that in reading Isiah Thomas'es resume as posted in your article, he has made many good moves. I hadn't realized how good his trades have been. Maybe it's his coaching that stinks or it's too early in the season as you say. I hope you're right and they turn it around. But bottom line, at least they don't have Dikembe Mutumbo and Keith Van Horn anymore. Or Charlie Ward or Alan Houston.

David Lee, Eddy Curry, Zach Randolph, Renaldo Balkman, Jamaal Crawford, and Stephon give me something to have hope in. Here's to the playoffs! I hope Isiah makes it; he seems like a good guy.

-- Kathy, Fort Wayne, NJ

We've Heard from Everyone Now


-- douche bag, NYC, NY

From the Unknown Soldier

Fascinatig read. Lou V. thnks Isiah is doing a great jon. Every trade he makes is a great trade and the worse his trades or free agent signings are ok transactions. If that is the case he should have a roster that is 5-11. If he has such great personnell..... it MUST be the coaching that is pathetic. Who is the coach...oh I forgot it i the GM ho has assembled this roster of supertars.

Found Us Out

You are what your record says you are, Mr. Isiah Thomas.


Bill from Long Island

Thanks for the refreshing article. I too thought the NY Post covering basketball on their front page on Thanksgiving was an example of the dumbing down of society. You'd think basketball was the most important thing in the world. Pretty soon we'll be like all the South American countries; everyone's poor and worried about their favorite sports team.

Thanks again. 

Bill, Long Island

Mike from ..

Wow, you suck. Possibly even more than the NY Post (Does) (Sucks, that is).

Mike, New York, NY

Editor's Response: Thanks for your intelligent and verbose response Mike. -- LouV

Craig from Scottsdale Arizona

If the GM Isiah made so many great moves and is such a great evaluator of talent, then the coach Isiah must really suck. The Nicks are simply a lousy ball club. It hurts to watch them play.

Craig, Scottsdale, Arizona

Dumb ESPN Coverage

I have come to your website because I saw this article by Lou V. referenced on a basketball blog on ESPN. All I can say is -- thank you. Finally an article that provides a fair and in-depth examination of the Knicks under James Dolan and Isiah Thomas. In the sea of crap I find a gem of an article. I suppose I can thank ESPN for that.

I know NY fans don't like James Dolan because he is rich and runs Cablevision, but beyond that, what else could you ask for in an owner? He opens up his checkbook, and hires basketball people to run things. He hired Stu Laden - who everyone said was a genius for building up Utah. Then he hired Isiah Thomas - who rebuilt Indiana. He hired Larry Brown to be coach - another guy with a great b-ball rep. Other than that, he stays out of it and lets his basketball people run things. What more could you ask for in an owner? I'm a Yankee fan and used to hate George Steinbrenner because he spent money but got too involved. We Yankee fans wanted an owner who spent money but hired experts to run things. That's Dolan. The only two things he's done wrong is let Marv Albert go because he wasn't a homer and give Alan Houston too much money because he was his golfing buddy.

So tell Lou V. to keep up the good work. He's got a better handle on things than ESPN for sure. I also like the music up here. Nice site. Thanks.

-- William Hodge, Chicago (formerly Kew Gardens, Queens)


An Interchange of Ideas, Count Zero, and Mark Cuban

I wouldn't disagree with you about the Post or Berman.

However...would you like to retract any of this nonsense based on tonight's 28 point loss to the pathetic 76ers at MSG?

This particular assertion comes to mind...

"They're not a championship team yet, but they're a good team; a playoff-caliber team."

They're a lottery team...with the highest payroll in the league. They are, to put it bluntly, spectacularly bad. Less than 35 wins bad. And since Isiah is both the architect and coach of this disaster, there really is no one else to blame.

Sure he's a good evaluator of talent -- no one really disputes that. He has used his draft picks pretty well. His trades are a completely different story, though. The problem is he has no idea how to select complementary pieces, how to put together floor rotations, or when to admit he made a mistake. Big Snacks made this roster only because Isiah can't admit that was the worst mid-level exception signing we ever made. We won't even discuss the Curry trade...

I predicted 35 Knick wins before the season started -- I would now like to take the "under" on that one. I look forward to you admitting your "playoff-caliber" mistake when this team misses the 8th seed in the East by at least seven games.

-- Count Zero

Writer's Response, and Article Explained

Hi Count Zero,

thanks very much for the feedback. And thanks for taking the time to provide a well-thought-out answer. A lot more than can be said of the feedback we apparently got from the writer of the blog.

At least we are agreed on the NY Post and Marc Berman. I know things look quite bad right now, but some of my reasoning comes from having been a diehard Knick fan since 1973, and witnessing worst eras. The Stu Laden era for example, when he left us with a team of 39-year-old Dikembe Mutumbo, Keith Van Horn, knees-were-shot-and-never-played-defense-in-his-prime Alan Houston, Charlie Ward, and a bunch of undersized power forwards. Only guy with value was Kurt Thomas and maybe Mike Sweetney (and McDyess, who was about to play out his option and could have been resigned with the mid-level exception). And then there was Stu Laden selling us on the franchise-of-the-future Michel Lampe. The day the trade was announced that sent Marcus Camby plus the #7 pick (Amare Stoudemire, Caron Butler, or Nene) to Denver for McDyess was one of the worst days as a Knick fan for me.

So compared to all that, I have to say I'm on board with what Isiah has done. I thought Ernie Grunfeld was a good GM, and I think Isiah has done a pretty good job, which hasn't worked out yet.

Yes the pieces don't all fit. This team is a bit like the Wizard of Oz -- Curry needs 'the nerve', Randolph needs 'a heart', and Crawford needs 'a brain'. Perhaps Stephon Marbury is Dorothy looking for a way home, or on those nights when he seems in a fog, the dog Kato. The wicked witch? Having worked with marketing people, and feeling I can recognize incompetent ones from 20 paces, I say it was Anuka Browne Sanders but you can fill in your choice.

Nevertheless, remember this isn't the Yankees and Major League Baseball, where Cashman can sign whatever free agent he wants. Free agency in the NBA is virtually dead. There is no team in the league 22 million under the cap; which is where you need to be to go out and sign a LeBron James or a Dwight Howard as a straight-up free agent (in other words, a 34-36 million dollar team payroll). And so the best you can do is to go out and somehow trade for secondary stars, like Curry and Randolph, or to a lesser-star extent, Crawford -- flawed players that you hope to make better. The draft is no guarantee -- look at Chicago and Ty Thomas, who is looking like an abysmal failure these days.    

Like I say, the word is still out on Isiah as a coach; he faces his biggest challenge now. What he might need is a coach who takes players given to him, flawed or not, and makes them better as a team -- a guy like Jeff Van Gundy, who was a defensive coach in his first incarnation under Pat Riley; not the prima donnas like Larry Brown who immediately power-struggle with Thomas to get their own players in. (And again, I firmly believe Brown was Dolan's choice; he's as much said so.)

I liked what Mark Cuban said yesterday -- "You take chances in this league. There are no absolutes. When you feel the pressure, you roll the dice and when you roll the dice, it's not easy to react and recover. That's the tough part of the salary cap: When you're stuck, you're stuck. It doesn't happen overnight."

I think the guy hit it on the head and couldn't agree more. The Knicks have been stuck since Layden, who left with payroll at 108 million with the cap at 56 million and a horrible, horrible team. Isiah has been rolling the dice; I think in an intelligent way. The talent base is way up. They've got at least 6 guys other teams are interested in, versus one 4 years ago.

Now it's up to Curry to 'find the heart', and Randolph to start passing out of the post and being selfish, and for Crawford to stop leaving his man wide open at the three for x times in a row. 

Again, thanks for you feedback. We'll post it to the website later tonight.


Agree to Disagree -- Count Zero's Counter-Response

I actually buy THIS argument more than the one in your original article. :-)

I still think you're giving Isiah too much credit, but I can't argue on what he inherited. Glad to know another basketball fan (not Mavericks) reads Cuban's blog. His insights are unique and informative.

Thanks for your detailed response. And keep on challenging the conventional wisdom -- the interchange of ideas should always be welcome even when we disagree.

-- Count Zero



Agreed that Mark Berman Sucks

Wait....this is serious?

I can understand bashing The Post, I can understand bashing Marc Berman, and, for the sake of this comment (and because in relation to the rest of you article its the closest to sanity) I can understand how you like Isiah as a talent evaluator. But please, please, please dont pretend that you are a real Knicks, NBA, or basketball fan and be serious with what you have written.

James Dolan is the single worst New York sports figure since Walter O'Malley. You praise him for his "loyatly" and "a man of moral fiber". This is the same man who is despised by his father and an absolute misery to work for by every single account. You confuse his desperate attempt to pay millions to be close to (what he views as) greatness with loyalty. This is why he outbid himself for Allan Houston, this is why he will never fire Zeke. He pays them, and thinks they are his buddies.

You say that Houston was kept because he was such a fine person, albeit just above average player. Well then, why keep Marbury? He brings his family around to harass Garden employees, he has extramarital affairs with interns in strip club parking lots, and he refers to high level executives as "bitches". Now thats a quality guy. You confuse Dolan's endless repetition of illogical moves with some sort of dedication to improvement.

Oh and remember New York LEGEND Marv Albert? How did Jimmy reward his lifetime of service to the Garden? Oh yeah, by firing him when he had the gall to call a terrible Knicks team terrible.

Aside from ownership, there are basically three I can make here on your article that totally destroy any credibility you have to write about the Knicks and/or basketball:

1. You repeatedly refer to Stu Laden. As a "diehard Knicks fan since 1973" I would think that you would know his name is SCOTT LAYDEN. But lets let that one slide, its just a detail.

2. Your knowledge of basketball is exposed as being virtually non-existent with your little sidebars. Jerome James played exactly 1.5 months of good basketball in his career. Isiah blew what, contrary to your beliefs, is a valuable mid level exception on signing him to a FIVE YEAR DEAL. You make the point that cap space is sparse in the NBA, yet shrug at the $4 mil per year (when in actuality he is making over 5 this year and over 6 in the final year of his deal). You commend the drafting of people Isiah cut before the season starts. You say Marbury has played "all-star basketball in NY", yet he hasnt sniffed an All-Star game since the year before he got here, and has showed none of the qualities you want from a point guard, team captian, or best player. My personal favorite is the last line regarding the Marbury trade where you explain that we got Marbury and they got Nash, and somehow its worked out for both teams, for different reasons. Well the reason it worked for the S uns is because they are now a perrennial powerhouse with Nash. The reason it worked for the Knicks is now they have a lunatic, who doesnt make anyone around him better, with a crippling contract that no team would ever trade for. Even steven.

3. You defend Isiah as both a coach and a GM. This is inexcusable. You cannot blow it off by saying that he is a stand up guy for taking the coaching job when he was hired to be GM. He wanted to be the coach, and accepted being the coach, when it is painfully obvious that he is barely qualified to coach a PAL team. Go to a game and watch him during a timeout. He spends 75% of the time standing in silence 10 feet away from his team. When he does finally say something, 90% of the players are looking anywhere but at him. Surefire signs of a top notch motivator. Maybe his X's and O's are good? When is the last time you saw them run anything outside of an isolation for a guard at the top of the key coming out of timeout when it mattered?

I sincerely hope that this article is written as a joke just to inflame true Knicks fan such as myself (and if so, job well done). If not, I pray that you do humanity a favor and chose to not reproduce. Anyone who could support Dolan and Isiah without receiving a check from MSG every two weeks (and even most of those people cant do it with a straight face) needs to be separated from society. 

-- Jared

Writer's Response

Hi Jared,

Thanks for taking the time to respond. I don't think you're seeing the forest for the trees here, and have missed the overall point of the article.

First, to respond to your points:

1. 'Stu' is a knickname given to "Scott" Layden. I'm surprised you haven't heard it before.

2. Jerome James was signed to the mid-level exception. When the latest collective bargaining agreement was initially signed, this mid-level exception was for $4 million per year, and thus, colloquially it was called the $4-million exception for a while. It's since been raised to $5 and $6 million, but that's a moot, meaningless point. What is important is that it is a minor free-agent acquisition -- $4 or $5 or $6 million a year is a minor deal when the top-echelon players make $18 to $20 million a year and the good players make $12-14 million. The length of term (5 years) is also meaningless; it's part of the deal (giving him $4-$6 million over 5 years vs $8 million for 3, which is what a player of his ilk might have made before the latest collective bargaining agreement). Jerome James, when healthy, is a difference maker on the basketball court. He is a defensive monster. It hasn't worked out due to injury, but that doesn't mean it wasn't a good pickup by Isiah Thomas. It was a terrific pickup that hasn't worked out -- yet.

Stephon Marbuy has played all-star basketball in NY. I didn't write that he's made the all-star team. There's a difference. He hasn't made the all-star team because he hasn't played that kind of ball for the whole season. But if you can tell me that Marbury hasn't had long stretches of playing terrific ball; played many games where he's scored 20-plus points and dealt out the ball and led the Knicks to victories, then you've not been watching the Knicks with a careful eye these past few years. You're having your head twisted by NY Post headlines. Just last year, Marbury had a terrible first two months, but then played all-star basketball most of the rest of the year. He played terrific defense last year too, even shutting down Kobe Bryant in a Knick win over LA. Do you remember? 

3. I had to reread my article to see if I had said anything that led you to believe I was defending Isiah as a coach. I thought I had clearly stated that "The word is still out on Isiah as a coach; he has a mediocre resume there".

As for James Dolan, and your questioning why he keeps Marbury, I'm not sure what that has to do with anything -- Isiah Thomas acquired Marbury; Marbury was already under contract, and James Dolan has shown, like I said, that he doesn't interfere with the moves that his basketball experts (in this case Isiah Thomas) choose to make. Houston was a different situation; he was a player already on the team who could've played out his option, but there were probably no other teams that would've given him the money the Knicks lavished on him; truly a mistake on Dolan's part. As for Marv Albert, I agree; he should've stayed a Knick. However, you are dangerously extrapolating when you write that Dolan is "despised by his father and an absolute misery to work for by every single account." How on earth could you know that? You know what his father thinks about his son by headlines and perhaps family verbal arguments made public in the NY Post? If I have an argument with my son that means I despise him? I've also not heard anything about people hating to work for Dolan, like you used to hear about Steinbrenner. In fact, the opposite seems true. From what I've read in the papers, the MSG personnel and Knick players seemed supportive of Dolan and Thomas in their lawsuit with Anuka Browne Sanders, who had developed a reputation as an 'abrasive personality', and was called a 'bitch' by many people behind her back.

Second, the overall point of the article has nothing to do with being a 'true fan'. I don't know what that is. The point is that there are two fellows here -- Isiah Thomas and James Dolan -- who are being fervently condemned by the NY media, who in turn influence the casual fan -- despite the fact that they have made many right moves, which just haven't worked out yet. And to me, their actions amidst this tumult show me that they have better character than the knobberheads ripping them apart from their high-horse in the newspapers everyday. Some early-season woes of a basketball team have been ratcheted up so that you would think that this is the most important thing happening in this world. As the arctic melts and wars and genocide continue with coverage on page 37.

Furthermore, how many NBA ballplayers have you read stating these Knicks have a lot of talent? I've read many say that. For example, Josh Boone of the Nets last night, said the Knicks have two big guys inside, who, when they both start cooking, are hard to deal with, and that leaves the guards like Crawford open to hit shots. Let this team play. Let's see where things are in March and April. 

Anyway, thanks for the kind words. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you.

-- Lou