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13. Because the Knicks Are Rolling Without Jeremy Lin.

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We thought we’d seen this movie before. With the departure of Jeremy Lin last summer, and with each new roster acquisition, the Knicks’ season was shaping up to be a basketball horror story of the kind that Jim Dolan has so often inflicted on the city, surfacing painful memories of Stephon Marbury and Eddy Curry and Steve Francis. While this year’s team did not have a marquee anti-hero to match those, it had a full complement of shootaholics and no-D head cases and the simply antique. Carmelo Anthony is a world-historic one-on-one talent—but a guy who can pick and choose when he wants to play defense is not a guy you want to depend on. Then there’s J. R. Smith, amazing to watch (he could have a highlight reel just of 360s), and completely lost, hoisting three-balls in transition, as if there were something fundamental about the game he just didn’t understand. Then there’s the geriatric crowd. At least Rasheed Wallace’s mouth was in constant motion, if not always his feet. Jason Kidd, with his Rain Man glare, was a step or three slow on the break, and Pablo Prigioni, a 35-year-old point guard from Argentina, was a rookie. Who were they kidding? Nobody expected these Knicks to start the season with eight out of nine wins. But somehow the script had been written. This year’s story was like one of those Dirty Dozen movies, has-beens and misfits coming together for one final mission. Carmelo is manning up and defending. Smith is playing in control—at least some of the time. Even Prigioni, when called upon, has provided quality minutes. This success is testament to Mike Woodson, a by-the-book Bobby Knight protégé who deserves huge credit for molding these misfits into a fighting force. But for all the talk about the no-nonsense Knicks, there’s actually plenty of nonsense on this Knicks team, which is the best part. Wallace is all about nonsense. J. R. Smith is a hilarious person, both on and off the court. Who knows how far the suicide mission will go (and there’s no redemption for Dolan, no matter what)? In a sense, they’ve already won. Because for the first extended period since the days of Charles Oakley and Anthony Mason and John Starks, the Knicks are fun.


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