I guess I’m a bit too old for toys & games but I was hoping you could use some of your North Pole magic to help grant me and my Knicks’ a joyful Christmas. Yes, I know that some of us didn’t make the “Good List” this year, but JR Smith has already promised to be a little less naughty net year; at least on Twitter. After the past decade of heartbreak, embarrassment and despair, I speak for all Knick fans in believing we have done enough penance for driving Ewing out of NY decade ago; so we are hoping our Christmas wishes have finally hit your desk. (By the way, we found your lost elf this earlier week. He’s been seen parading on the bench in Chicago.)
Lower Ticket Prices
Santa, you have to help us out here. True Knick fans have put up with a lot these past few years and weren’t dissuaded from showing up to support our guys. I even remember paying a premium price for tickets back when Wilson Chandler and Nate Robinson we’re being advertised on billboards as the Garden “draw” for God’s sake. Now that we actually have players worth spending a part of our paychecks on, some of us have to debate whether it’s worth missing a mortgage payment to attend a game at the “World’s Most Famous Arena.” Don’t believe me? Go to Stub hub right now and look at the lowest ticket prices for last year’s two NBA Finals teams. Affordable prices fluctuate between $16 (Heat vs. Hawks) $18 (Thunder vs. Kings) and $20 (Heat vs Bulls). Now go browse what the most affordable tickets are for the Knicks. Not even you would spend $175 (3 hours before game time) to watch the T-Wolves, or over $60 to watch the pitiful Bobcats. We all know that the most rabid of fans aren’t the corporate lackeys and celebrities seen on the sidelines but to price middle class families out of the 200 row of MSG is just wrong. Let’s not forget that these ticket prices doesn’t include parking, food, and merchandise so in actuality a hard working father taking his kid to a game is something that will costs much more than it did in years past.
Raise #3 into the Rafters
Okay, I’m a bit biased on this. (Just look at the title of this blog) Look I know history hasn’t been kind to John Starks. It’s become impossible to divorce him from his disastrous performance in game 7 back in the 1994 Finals. It was a bad game, but people forget about game 6 when he nearly single handedly won that game by himself. There wasn’t a Knick fan alive that didn’t think that corner 3 was going to hit anything but the bottom of the net if Hakeem’s arms weren’t so freakishly long enough to alter the shot. There is also no question that the Knicks wouldn’t have even been in the Finals if it weren’t for his All-Star season. John Starks is the epitome of what a Knick is supposed to represent. A hard worker, full of heart, a misfit on other teams but a natural fit at MSG, imperfect but perfectly fine with us fans, and someone who had to work his ass off to keep his job. John Starks wasn’t the most talented player to put on a Knick uniform. In terms of talent, he doesn’t even crack the top 10. Starks wasn’t about talent though. To fans, he was a manifestation of always trying your best and not being discouraged by failure to keep focused on the job at hand. It’s this kind of grittiness New Yorkers indentified with in the post Mayor Dinkins New York City. And while he wasn’t the most talented, I challenge you to find many Knick players who were more beloved than him. He will always be our loyal soldier and for that he deserves to be honored. He should be a symbol of what it means to be a New York Knick and the only way to cement that is by raising his number up to the rafters to serve as a message to every other player that has the honor of putting on a Knick jersey.
Bring Back Ewing
Much like John Starks, I think there is another error in history the Knicks can easily repair. Every year we read about Patrick Ewing’s never ending job search and every year we have to deal with the uncomfortable realization that he probably isn’t the man for the job. Coach Woodson’s “temporary” aura as coach has all but faded, and in no way am I advocating Ewing being thrown into head coach talks. I believe Woodson has the matter settled but I still do not see why the Knicks have not entertained the thought of bringing him on as an Assistant Coach. For some reason Herb Williams has been so sacred to the Knicks and I’m still unsure of a single contribution he has made to any of our big men in the years he has been on the sidelines. Eddy Curry, Jerome James, Michael Sweatney, Jackie Butler and many other failures certainly suggest that Williams hasn’t had any magic touch so why can’t a NBA Hall of Famer and New York Knick icon get a chance to work with our bigs? Part of being a respectable franchise is finding ways to honor and celebrate alumni. For the Knicks to continuously ignore Patrick Ewing is nothing short of a black eye for MSG. Santa, please replace Herb Williams with Pat. At the very least, he could probably stand around and hold the clipboard just as well as Herb has.
A Healthy Amare
I don’t know what to expect from Amare and I’m worried about him. Of course with Rasheed and Camby both out it seems as if the road has been paved for him to fit nicely into a off the bench role. Still, if it doesn’t work out the Knicks are going to be in serious salary cap trouble by being stuck with what has been cited as one the most immovable contracts in the league. Much has been made of Stoudemire’s role within the current roster and there is still much uncertainty over whether or not he will be able to embrace coming off the bench. His contract isn’t typical of a bench player and his numbers will probably not get much better than what they were last season but if he fits well enough to fill the void left by injuries to Wallace and Camby, then maybe it’s a moot point. A second unit anchored by Amare and surrounded by a cast of match up nightmares that consists of Novak, Smith, Kidd, and Copeland (or Camby) could make the Knicks even more legitimate title contenders. The Knicks don’t necessarily need the MVP version Amare of 2010-11 that was the central focus of offense (25.3 Pts, 8.2 Rbs, 1.9 Bks) but they could make use of an energetic bench guy that could easily put up 17pts 7 boards and 1 block each game. It would be new role for him and one that the Knicks could salvage from the fools errand of trying to trade him away “for free” as the New York Times recently revealed. As long as Amare is healthy he is sure to help the Knicks and that is the only thing Knick fans could ask for. Even Amare knows that this is Melo’s team at this point and since the burden of carrying this franchise has been removed from his shoulders, he should have enough room to thrive in his new role as the captain of the second unit. Let’s also be real about this. If the Knicks have to end up moving him, the chances of a team making a play for him will only increase once he shows he could be productive on the floor.
Deep Playoff Run
Santa I know that asking for the Larry O’Brien trophy might be a stretch even for the elves in your workshop, so I have another wish. How about a deep playoff run? The last time the Knicks even made it to the second round of the playoffs: the Twin Towers still stood, Y2K was an actual concern, the PS2 just hit the shelves, and Apple computers seemed like a gimmick. Last year the Knicks got their first playoff victory in a decade but still were disposed of in embarrassing fashion. This year I want to not only get through the first round but to actually make a run in April. There is a reason the NBA playoffs is called the “second season” and it’s well overdue for the Knicks to finally be a part of that. From what I remember about our beloved 90s Knick teams, the playoffs in New York is something that this writer can’t put into words. I was in high school at the time and still get goose bumps when thinking about how pumped up I was each day in class awaiting games 5-6-7 of epic hardwood battles between the Knicks and teams like the Heat and Pacers. Things seem like they have finally turned for the Knicks as of late, but don’t be mistaken, this is just the regular season. Until the Knicks can show they are prominently featured in the playoffs, these early games will all be forgotten pretty instantly.
Consider this one a stocking stuffer. I’m not going to suggest some kind of conspiracy against the Knicks but I do find it interesting to know that out of the top 20 leaders in technical fouls, there are three Knicks on the list (8 for Melo, and 4 a piece for both Smith and Wallace). I’m not a fan of arguing calls, especially when someone jogs up the court and completely forgetting about their man, but I do believe in holding your ground. It’s a skillful art that only a few have mastered. Tyson Chandler for instance rarely lets a call go by that he doesn’t counter but amazingly he’s only got 2 technical fouls. This comes with experience and a respect that officials lavish on only a select crop of players. Either way the ease of blowing the whistle that refs have displayed against the Knicks is something that needs to be addressed.