PAIN AND GAIN: Carmelo Leaving The Knicks Will Be A Blessing In The Disguise

  • Jake O'Donnell

For lack of a better analogy, an NBA star’s tenure with his team is a lot like the romantic relationships we find ourselves in our entire lives. The good ones, one might say, allow both parties to grow and prosper. The bad ones do the opposite. They foster stagnation and bitterness. Have you ever been in a shitty relationship that consistently disappointed? Did you ever find yourself wondering why you allowed it continue as long you did? Did it take a trip through hell and back to finally end things, and when it ended, didn’t things eventually get better?

Of course they did. And after this year, things will get better for the Knicks, too, as they’re left curled up in a corner, crying, listening to Air Supply.

Carmelo Anthony’s Knicks career has been, at best, a learning experience for all parties involved. One outlier season with the most threes ever made in the history of the NBA, and the rest, a shooter-centric inconsistent headache — the entire basketball world learned that you can’t rely on one person to single-handedly win an NBA Championship if they’ve never done it before. Maybe it’s Carmelo’s fault, maybe it’s the coaching, maybe it’s the role players, maybe it’s the media, maybe it’s the fans. One thing is for sure — it isn’t working and the blame falls squarely at the top.

The ownership. No smoke and mirrors this time, guys — we all know the independent variable throughout the Knicks miserable last decade-and-a-half (13 years under the Dolan regime). There is no hiding this time.

[Sports Illustrated] “[James Dolan] told them he believes they have enough talent to win it all,” one source said, “and he expects it to happen this year.”

Bottom-line: James Dolan has been reluctant to grow the Knicks franchise into a streamlined, basketball-first business, instead opting for the “pet project of a guy with aspirations that don’t match his basketball management acumen.”

The Knicks — as they are squarely the property of MSG/Cablevision — are the one in this relationship that needs to change, and that doesn’t happen without a season like this one. A season with such perversly high expectations that fall so, so short. It doesn’t happen without the humiliation of a top five talent walking in the offseason. Simply put, the Knicks cannot continue to pull the wool over everyone’s eyes that their management system is in anyway viable.

We know, James. We know you’re a failure at managing a basketball franchise. You are NOT good at this job. You need to stop touching the components and let the professionals do the work (and not firing them after piecing together a quality squad with very few resources). Did you know the Knicks have never had a GM win an NBA Executive of the Year award? You know which teams have over the last 10 years?

The Los Angeles Clippers, the Miami Heat, and the Indiana Pacers.

Eventually, cursed teams like the Clippers lose their masochistic management-style and get better, because they have to. Thanks to the Knicks’ horrific 2013-14 season and even more horrific 2014-15 to come, the chances of that happening in Manhattan just shot through the roof. To return to the bad relationship metaphor, the cops just got involved. The current trajectory has officially been revealed for what it is — untenable — in a fundamental way. No one likes being unhappy, despite repeating the actions that habitually lead to unhappiness. Eventually something’s gotta give, and we think that this season (which undoubtedly has scared Carmelo Anthony away) will be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.

Next season will be the wrecking ball that mashes the goddamn camel’s corpse into a bloody pulp.

So after last night’s pathetic loss to the lowly Detroit Pistons (7th straight), instead of dwelling on how bad things currently are, imagine the mounting pressure NBA’s Kim Jong-un feels. With every dramatic, nationally publicized joke of a basketball failure, his icy grip thaws just a little bit more. When Carmelo leaves, Dolan’s ability to assert his sadistic-though-bumbling will on the NBA’s biggest market will be weakened to unprecedented levels.

As Winston Churchill — one of the greatest leaders of all-time — once said, “Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfills the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things.” If that’s not a silver-lining, then we don’t know what is.