After one of the longest and most painful losing streaks in New York Knicks history, the team is finally showing auspicious signs early in the 2010-2011 season. Surely, franchises will go through rough patches—very few have been as ugly and unpromising as that of the Knicks.
The last time Madison Square Garden had hosted a winning Knicks team was in the year 2000. That year, they had a record of 48-34 but would lose in the first round to the Toronto Raptors in five games. New York would respond the next season with a record of 30-52, their worst season in 15 years. All of a sudden, the once roaring atmosphere of The Garden’s crowd was deflating rapidly. The Knicks were crumbling. Former icons Patrick Ewing, Latrell Sprewell, and Alan Houston were all out of the picture, as New York became deprived of a basketball nucleus.
The losing continued, and became even more painful. A combination of poor management and lack of effort led to more losing seasons. Coach Jeff Van Gundy, who shaped the success of the Knicks during the 90’s, resigned in 2001. As fans would soon find out, the light at the end of the tunnel was far out of sight. The Knicks’ management was restless, and would make several attempts to improve their roster following Van Gundy’s resignation. This marked the beginning of a new era—that of underperforming athletes with expensive contracts. New acquisitions such as Howard Eisley and Shannon Anderson occupied a large part of the Knicks’ payroll, and would both fade into obscurity without much production.
As the 2000’s dragged on, so did the poor reputation of New York basketball. The 2003-2004 season brought one of the most harmful figures into the world of the Knicks—Isiah Thomas. After he was named the Knicks’ president in December of 2003, Thomas would make costly managerial decisions—both literally and figuratively. The Knicks were not only losing, they were in debt too. Thomas was a master of disaster. Under his authority came notorious decisions like the drafting of Michael Sweetney, the lingering contract of Eddy Curry, the trade to acquire Stephon Marbury, and extension of Allan Houston’s contract. None of these moves yielded any success, as they only dampened team chemistry and atmosphere.
Here we are in the 2010-2011 NBA season. Although the headlines might be centered on the fate of Lebron James in Miami, the city of New York is also seeing change. With Isiah Thomas out of the picture and restored energy in Madison Square Garden, the Knicks are inching towards their first winning season in over a decade. With the instant success of off-season acquisitions Amare Stoudemire and Raymond Felton, the future looks bright. The team is thriving off of coach Mike D’Antoni’s up-tempo offensive strategy, and is finally playing together. Nobody knows what the future holds for the New York Knicks, but I think it’s safe to say that New York basketball is back.