Start spreading the news. One of New York’s bumbling basketball
teams is about to win!
The Brooklyn Nets, who have been terrible, host the Knicks, who
are even worse, on Thursday night. A national TV audience can
witness just how bad things are in the Big Apple.
Or, they can just take it from the people involved.
”Both teams stink,” said Nets coach Jason Kidd.
”We are the laughingstock of the league right now,” said
Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony.
That’s not exactly what TNT was hoping for when the schedule
What was supposed to be a matchup that highlighted a growing
rivalry between neighboring teams with high expectations has turned
into the kind of game that will have fans scrambling for their
remote controls in search of a holiday special to watch.
The Nets are 5-13, 13th in the 15-team Eastern Conference but a
full game ahead of the Knicks (3-13), who have lost nine in a row.
Only the Milwaukee Bucks had a worse record entering play
”You’ve got two teams that expectations were high coming into
the season and we’ve both have had our struggles,” Knicks coach
Mike Woodson said. ”But again, if they’re looking at it like we’re
looking at it, nobody’s running away with the division and I still
think our team can win the division.”
Yeah, well when rebuilding Boston is currently leading the
Atlantic with just an 8-12 record, that isn’t exactly saying
It wasn’t supposed to be this way. The Knicks won the Atlantic
last season with 54 victories, the Nets weren’t far behind at 49,
and both thought they could be even better this time.
The Nets were considered the favorites after acquiring Kevin
Garnett and Paul Pierce from Boston and assembling a deep roster
with the league’s highest payroll – a team that would cost more
than $180 million once luxury taxes were factored in. The Knicks
have the league’s second-highest payroll, but both teams have been
wrecked by early season injuries.
Pierce is out with a broken bone in his hand and Deron Williams
has been sidelined by a sprained left ankle, an injury that forced
Brook Lopez to miss seven games. The Knicks lost Tyson Chandler to
a broken leg in their fourth game, taking away their most valuable
So as much as they want to beat each other, both teams realize
one game isn’t going to undo more than a month’s worth of poor
”I think at this point we’re trying to figure out who we are
and fix this,” Garnett said after a 111-87 loss to Denver on
Tuesday. ”We’re at home and getting beat by 30, 40 points. That’s
not what we want, that’s not even close to what we were predicted
or where we want to be.”
Things were much better for both teams when Kidd was playing
last season for the Knicks. New York misses his leadership on the
court and in the locker room, and it’s been a rocky transition to
the Nets’ bench, where Kidd has been fined $50,000 for
intentionally spilling a drink on the court to delay a game. He
already shook up his staff, reassigning top assistant Lawrence
Frank to a role where he won’t be at practices or games.
Woodson said he feels for Kidd, but he’s got his own problems.
With the Knicks on their longest skid in eight years, the questions
about his job security come more frequently.
”I’ve had the opportunity to come in here and coach a team and
turn a team around, and right now we’ve had our ups and downs, this
early season, but am I going to throw in the towel? Absolutely
not,” Woodson said. ”I’m still the coach of this team, we’ve got
a big game tomorrow night, which I think we can win, so we’ve just
got to stay focused and stay the course.”
Neither Anthony nor Woodson would disagree with Kidd’s
assessment of the current state of NBA basketball in New York. It
should provide plenty of fodder for Charles Barkley, who likes to
needle New Yorkers even in the best of times, and who will call the
game with Marv Albert and Steve Kerr.
Anthony wasn’t aware the game was on TNT and wasn’t concerned
much with what will be said Thursday.
”We are the laughingstock of the league right now. It’s nothing
to hide. We are,” he said. ”So that’s why it is a big game for
”Do I like being laughed at? Hell no, I don’t like that
feeling. But about it being TNT, about them guys mocking us,
they’ve got to do their job. We want to win, that’s the only thing
that I’m focusing on.”
Follow Brian Mahoney on Twitter: