The mistakes that Isiah Thomas made during his endless, brutal reign of terror atop the New York Knicks flowchart were not necessarily ones of money, but of length. The problem was not that he gave Eddy Curry more than $10 million a year; the problem was that he did it for six years. Thomas left four lingering stink bombs for Donnie Walsh to deal with — Curry, Jared Jeffries, Jamal Crawford, and Zach Randolph — and each came with a late expiration date. Tonight, that date comes one year closer to ticking off. All that is left is Curry.
Cheering for the Knicks the last few years has ultimately meant cheering for the passage of time; sometimes it seemed the excitement level for each was equal. Perhaps the Knicks will sign LeBron James, or Chris Bosh, or Rudy Gay, or whomever this summer, and perhaps they will not. What matters is that the time has passed. The Knicks might not have thrived over their two years in post-Isiah purgatory, but they did, alas, survive. That chapter closes tonight, in Toronto, against a Raptors team that’s fighting, likely in vain, for a playoff spot.
Curry will still be hanging around next year, at least until Walsh trades his expiring contract for a draft pick (our guess), but we’re very close now. It seemed like the era would never end, that Walsh and company would never crawl out from under Isiah’s mess. But it just took time. That time has now passed. The next time you watch the Knicks after tonight, everything will be different. Whether it’s better or worse, we don’t know. But it’ll never be like Isiah again. The worst, friends, really is over. If you made it this far, you deserve what comes next.