The Knicks front office put the pieces in place to land two big free agents, but…
— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) June 30, 2019
It also reinforces all of the negative narratives and pessimism that surrounds the No. 1 team in the largest sports market in the world.
The main culprit and target of anti-Knicks sentiment is usually owner James Dolan who has become one of the most hated men in sports because of a media pile on that seems to enjoy seeing the NBA’s most valuable franchise treated like a second-rate sideshow.
Commissioner Silver rightly forced Donald Sterling to sell the Clippers. It’s time he do the same in New York and separate James Dolan from the Knicks.
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) July 1, 2019
Caught up in the anti-Knicks parade and Dolan hate that runs rampant, is the reputation of coaches, players, and front office personnel associated with the franchise’s recent failures.
Fairly or unfairly, the Knicks new front office of President Steve Mills, General Manager Scott Perry, assistant GM Gerald Matkins, and head coach David Fizdale have had barely a year to correct the mess left by the old guard. Their failure to lock down any of the elite 2019 free agents has made them the latest victims of popular criticism directed towards the franchise.
For the past decade, the Knicks have been an easy target for much of the basketball world. While there’s been plenty of other teams mired in dysfunction, front office ineptitude and underachieving, the Knicks are the team that most fans take pride in bashing.
The hiring of Phil Jackson, a championship coach and former Knicks player with 11 rings, was supposed to be a turning point. Jackson was paid handsomely to transform a failing franchise and make it a winner. Instead, he became one of the worst hires in NBA history and drove the franchise deeper into the abyss.
That forgettable chapter alienated more dedicated Knicks fans and further strengthened the social and sports media-driven narrative that the Knicks franchise is doomed and incompetent. It also further sullied Dolan’s image. He gave Phil the keys to the bugatti and Phil drove it off a cliff.
Several publicized incidents unrelated to basketball, including the embarrassing confrontation between Charles Oakley and Knicks security where the former Knicks star was basically yoked up and dragged out of Madison Square Garden in front of a full house of fans and Dolan’s obnoxious mistreatment of several Knicks fans over the past few years, only added to the frustrations of Knicks Nation and the negative sentiments towards the team’s owner.
It really sucks to be a @nyknicks fan. So fucking mad right now.
— Ahmet Gurbuz (@gurbuzza) July 1, 2019
From those series of setbacks arose the “angry Knicks fan” narrative, which social media and ESPN took to another level and fueled with premeditated commentary.
Stephen A. Smith was a leader of this movement. He claims to be a Knicks fan but kept using his influential platform to tell people that Dolan’s presence makes it almost impossible for the Knicks to sign any free agents. Eventually, everyone ran with that narrative — KD and Kyrie included.
Then he comes on TV and blasts them for not closing the deal.
Stephen A. Smith gives his take on the Knicks losing both KD and Kyrie … to the Nets.
— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) July 1, 2019
Other homegrown New Yorkers with huge sports followings continue to fan the flames and manipulate the narrative, even suggesting that The Barclays will now replace the Garden as NY’s premiere pro hoops destination
— FOX Sports Radio (@FoxSportsRadio) June 30, 2019
For now, the Knicks franchise remains the brunt of jokes.
Three seasons from now, however, Knicks fans might be looking at the Brooklyn Nets’ free agent signings as a blessing in disguise. Both players are injury prone and Durant won’t even be available to play next season. For that very reason, the Knicks front office showed some hesitation to give Durant max-money, especially with the franchise’s history of signing players who were either washed up, overrated or physically compromised such as Amare Stoudemire.
There are a few outliers who think logically and believe the Knicks will be better off in the long run. Signing those guys would have been exactly what the fans say they didn’t want — more of the same ole’ Knicks philosophy.
Knicks are taking a public beating, but I've talked to several rival execs tonight who think the Knicks did the right thing. Kyrie wanted to be a Net. No one has any idea how Durant, at 32, will bounce back. Weak free agency class in 2020. Bad optics. Maybe not a bad decision.
— Chris Mannix (@SIChrisMannix) July 1, 2019
For now, however, the knee-jerk reaction smothered in years of pessimism and frustration is that the front office failed to deliver. Mills, Perry, and Fiz are already being attacked and criticized and the majority of the backlash has to do with their association with Dolan and the slow demise of Knicks culture. It will only get worse if the Knicks continue to lose games at a rapid rate.
The Knicks bashing also lends itself to illogical thought processes and low hanging fruit theories concerning the front office.
A few NYK related items: I supported the hiring of Fizdale, still do. But a big part of his appeal was his ability to leverage league-wide relationships into tangible assets for the team. If top FA's pass, that's a big, big problem.
— Brandon Tierney 🎤 (@BrandonTierney) June 27, 2019
In reality, these guys did everything right within their control. They got rid of another injury-prone player in Kristaps Porzingis who didn’t want to be here and tried to position his brother to have control over front office decisions. Then they cleared out $70 million in salary space for two max free agents and positioned themselves to potentially draft Zion Williamson.
Those are the moves that the front office should be judged by and it came through with flying colors. Getting the No. 3 pick instead of No 1 is based on luck. Actually getting one or two of the elite free agents to sign with the Knicks is also beyond their control. The players have to want to play here. There are 30 teams in the NBA and the top free agents can only choose one.
To discredit the front office already because an injured KD and team-hopping Kyrie Irving didn’t want to play in the Garden is just wrong. It’s overkill and unfortunate that a front office that did everything the fans asked to prepare for June 30th will now face a barrage of demeaning criticism because they work for an owner who has developed a reputation for being a player-repellant.
It’s totally unfair to Knicks brass who have actually assembled a young team of talent with RJ Barrett, Mitchell Robinson, Dennis Smith Jr., and Alonzo Trier and some veterans in Taj Gibson and Julis Randall to guide them through the growing pains.
Further proof of the exaggerated negativity that the Knicks must endure is the fact that some folks are calling Randall, a guy who averaged 22 ppg and 9 rebounds last season, a second-rate player.
“We know Julius Randall ain’t shit, but….” – The Knicks https://t.co/6Lp2iESjJX
— Andre (@_wheresANDRE) July 1, 2019
It’s a no-win situation for the Knicks front office. Dolan has become a symbol of everything that’s wrong with the franchise and as long as he’s running it, anyone associated with him will be held to impossible standards and any move they make will be immediately criticized, unfairly questioned and belittled. Right now, that’s just life for anyone associated with Dolan and the New York Knicks.