The Knicks season began with crazy street buzz and chip dreams, and its ending with $200 million worth of crappy, busted knees (half of which is uninsurable). Recognize what it is.
This recent tough home stand and the inevitably challenging five-game west coast swing which begins Monday at Golden State, was supposed to be a critical measuring stick in the Knicks’ season, as they fight to hang onto first place in the Atlantic Division and jockey for a favorable playoff seeding.
This season is looking more like a test of the Knicks’ attrition than ambition. Sheed is gone for the season, Shumpert is still working it out, and now Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire have suffered knee problems that – in my opinion – officially bury NY’s already slim chances to catch playoff wreck.
Amar’e’s season is basically a body. STAT, whose cut physique favors Greek God Apollo, but his bones are like brittle potato chips, is going to miss about six weeks undergoing a second knee debridement surgery. The same procedure that caused him to miss the first 30 games will have him out past the end of the regular season. Amar’e’s almost punch drunk with injuries at this point in his career, from his back, to his knees, to his eyes…sounds like I’m singing a damn Khia song.
With Carmelo nursing fluid on the knee, a problem that’s sure to plague him, the Knicks are screaming “Man Down” from the rafters of Madison Square Garden.
Melo’s the straw that stirs the Knicks’ Patron. Without him at full blast and with STAT on the lamb, an over-aged, undermanned Knicks team will go to war in these crucial, final 22 games with a potential starting five of Raymond Felton, Iman Shumpert, James White, Kurt Thomas and Tyson Chandler. Right now at least, we can’t really count on Melo, because we don’t know how his knee will hold up.
For two players, whose names will forever be linked together in Knicks lore, this is as rotten as it gets. It’s been a roller coaster ride for Melo and STAT since becoming the faces of the “new” Knicks franchise, and it’s becoming increasingly clear that the likelihood of these guys winning a chip together is as far-fetched as Obama becoming a Republican. Just getting them on the court together has been like figuring out the Rubik's Cube. These cats have exchanged stints on the injury list, the same way they execute a give-n-go. Melo’s missed the last three games, and without him Woodson’s had to lean on STAT more, and play him over his 30-minute limit. STAT wasn’t ready for that load and he broke down. The type of knee ailment Melo is experiencing is troublesome as well. These are chronic problems that could limit their effectiveness as aging players.
Maybe the Knicks are just cursed. Maybe they have no more good will with the basketball Gods. It could’ve been used up years ago, when Willis Reed came limping out of the tunnel just before Game 7 of the 1970 NBA Finals, shocking the Lakers sending MSG fans into a frenzy, winning the opening-tip against Wilt Chamberlain and inspiring the Knicks to an improbable chip.
Since then, the Knicks biggest stars have fallen victim to knee troubles, always turning potential greatness into pity parades, and miring the franchise in decades of “what-ifs”. What if Bernard King never ripped his knee and got to play with Patrick Ewing? What if Antonio McDyess didn’t jack his knees up before he ever got to go stupid at MSG? What if Patrick Ewing and Larry Johnson’s knees could've held up for one more seven game series against San Antonio in the ‘99 NBA Finals? What if Allan Houston’s knees never went south on him so early into that max-player deal he signed?
It seemed like maybe they were moving out of that dark cloud and into a period of respectability and a rebirth of Garden magic. We saw flashes of it, but they couldn’t keep the faucet flowing. There’s always a busted pipe here, a leaky knee there.
Word to Harthorne Wingo, Knick fans better pop in some old dusty VHS tapes of that 1973 Red Holtzman-led squad and imagine, because destiny has turned its back on the Knicks again and delivered a big nasty fart of foul fate.