Keidel: Knicks Can't Complain About Bad Luck After Years Of Instability

Jason Keidel
June 11, 2019 - 1:21 pm

Not long ago, this slice of cyberspace warned you this would happen.

All your dream bubbles of dream teams went down with Kevin Durant last night. After a sparkling first quarter in Game 5 of the NBA Finals, Durant made a basketball move in the second quarter, only to feel something pop again in his tender right leg, ending his series, season and migration to the Big Apple. We don't yet know if Durant tore his Achilles, but a gruesome replay showed some amalgam of muscle and tendon snap, with Durant's face resigned to his fate, while his Warriors comrades carried him to the locker room. And there was a sudden, solemn feel in the air, from Oakland to Gotham.

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All those premature parades with Durant, Kyrie Irving, and Zion Williamson just swirled down the sink, and no plumber, mechanic or wizard can retrieve them. The injury not only shows how fickle sports can be, but also proves that bad teams are bad for many seasons for many reasons. You have bad management, bad judgment and bad luck.

Just consider the improbability of the whole thing. What gave Knicks fans the chest-out posture that comes with confidence in your favorite team? The last 20 years of abject failure? The calls for coaches and the owner to be removed from the building? The two 17-65 records in the last five years? The Carmelo Anthony era? The Phil Jackson experiment?

Now Durant is on the shelf for a while, making him an undesirable target for any team, since none of them knows when Durant can play again. Word is he was seriously considering the Knicks, but good things and great players are not synonymous with their modern motif.

So, you can likely kiss Kyrie goodbye. The Celtics guard was already reportedly leaning toward Brooklyn, and now that Durant isn't an option, Irving has no incentive to play for the Knicks. Then there was the third part of this hardwood triumvirate. If Knicks fans weren't delusional enough to place positive odds on Irving-Durant duo, they also figured the Knicks would win the draft lottery for the first time since 1986. Not so much. It only italicized the algorithm of bad management + bad moves + bad luck = loser.


Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant sits on the court after an apparent injury in Game 5 of the NBA Finals against the Raptors on June 10, 2019, in Toronto.
Kyle Terada/USA TODAY Images

If you didn't watch Boomer & Gio this morning, the people at CBS Sports Network posted a chilling graphic of the Knicks' lottery picks since they bagged Patrick Ewing in the first official lottery in 1986.  

-Kevin Knox

-Frank Nkitilina

-Kristaps Porzingis

-Jordan Hill

-Danilo Gallinari

-Channing Frye

-Mike Sweetney

-Nene Hilario

-Greg Anthony

-Kenny Walker

-Patrick Ewing

Is that emblematic of a team that knows what it's doing? Recently, I said that Madison Square Garden used to matter - a view Mike Francesa dismissed as silly. If Mike is right, then please name all the stars and All-Stars over the last 15 years who couldn't wait to flee their teams and towns and hop on the next train or plane to MSG? Exactly. Jordan lit-up the Garden because it mattered at the moment. Kobe is an NBA historian who got the ghosts of the Garden.

Do you think Steph Curry circles the Knicks on his calendar? Does James Harden stroke his beard at the idea of playing on the frostbitten streets of Manhattan in January? The Garden really was the Mecca of boxing and basketball, because they had the product to back it.

You can be sure RJ Barrett will be here, and wants to be here - he just said so himself - and perhaps he turns out to be a primetime player, the rare draft pick who basks in Broadway's glow rather than burning in its glare. But it's a far cry from that holy hardwood trinity that seemed so close just a month ago. This is why teams like the Knicks, Mets and Jets always end up in the same place, in the bowels of their division, playing musical chairs with management.

When you look at the most iconic franchises in history, the first thing you find is stability, a corporate ladder that rarely cracks, and a clear pecking order. Teams like the Knicks are a perverse form of stable in that they are consistently chaotic. It's not an accident that the same ominous cloud hovers over the same teams, and it takes more than cap space to snap the shackles of your shameful history.

So maybe the Knicks turn their periscopes toward Kawhi Leonard or Anthony Davis. As a fan, you have every right to want players of their timbre. You just don't have the right to expect it.

Follow Jason on Twitter: @JasonKeidel