The Knicks have one chance to right things with their fans before next season
Fresh off a 17-win campaign, the New York Knicks responded by almost doubling their win total to 32 during the 2015-2016 season. Progress! Babies must crawl before they walk, right?
The Knicks should know. For most of the past two decades, they've been doing the NBA equivalent of crawling around defecating all over the carpet with the intentions of standing upright and being a big kid one day.
But while their most recent campaign kicked off with an unusually pleasant 22-22 start, the franchise predictably fell off Planet Earth -- ending the season losing 28 of the final 38 games.
But this is the Knicks. They just don't lose -- they avalanche.
In early February, Derek Fisher was relieved of his duties as head coach. He was replaced by assistant Kurt Rambis -- who ended the season 9-19 in the interim, moving his historically-awful career head coaching record to 65-164 (.283).
So, in traditional Knicks fashion:
And then it all comes full-circle:
While the facts surrounding the annual parade of Knicks rumors are dubious, these ones aren't. The Knicks have lost at least 49 games eight of the last 11 seasons.
Knicks fans are used to the losing by now; however, what really infuriates loyalists is how and why they lose. The notorious, secretive KGB-esque culture within the Knicks front office exerts collateral damage that trickles down all the way to the fans.
Once ... just once ... Knicks fans want to feel like they have a coach who cares as much as they do.
So while the Knicks prospect more 'big names' to coach the team, hoping it will serve as an overnight remedy to a laundry list of problems
Nothing could resurrect the fan base while simultaneously signifying a change to the culture within the front office more than hiring Patrick Ewing to be head coach and promoting John Starks to be his assistant.
Any and every New York sports fan is endeared to this duo -- not just because they were the best NBA Jam team of all-time, but, for nearly a decade they fought wars on the court.
They didn't just play for themselves; they fought for the city and the name on the front of the jersey.
They loved being New York Knicks.
With the exception of the 1999 Finals squad, no Knicks team these past two decades has come even remotely close to reinforcing this sentiment with the fan base. Every great player to don the blue & orange since the "Thugball" 90's Knicks from Larry Johnson to Marbury to Linsanity to Amare to Carmelo has felt like a mercenary who made their name fighting under a different flag.
Maybe that's why Knicks fans are so attached to Porzingis and why this recommendation is somewhat feasible, because for the first time in a long time: the Knicks can be a homegrown product. Ewing, Starks, and Porzingis are to us what Derek Jeter was to Yankees faithful. David Wright to the Mets. Eli Manning to the Giants. Mike Richter to the Rangers.
It's an interesting, emotional proposition ... but, is he qualified? Patrick Ewing has been an assistant coach in the NBA for 13 years. THIRTEEN!!!! ... Most-notably being a part of the 2009 Orlando Magic staff which made the Finals.
His current boss, Charlotte Hornets head coach Steve Clifford elaborated his confusion of Ewing's situation to USA Today Sports last season:
As for Starks: the volatile Knicks die-hard is already in-house. Now going on his 12th season as a member of the Knicks front office, John is currently the organization's alumni relations and fan development advisor.
While Starks' experience as the head coach of the Westchester Wildfire USBL team is a drop in the bucket compared to Ewing's, their hiring to next year's coaching staff would set the New York City metropolis on fire in a blaze of nostalgic euphoria and reinvigorate the pride once associated with being a New York Knicks fan.
For as worthy David Blatt, Mark Jackson, and Tom Thibodeau are of the position, they don't have Knicks-issued purple hearts on their uniforms. (Mark lost his when he went to the Pacers).
Even after the acquisition of former Knicks champion Phil Jackson, this franchise has lacked heart, ego, and a sense of passion for as long as I can remember. You want your consumers to buy into a 'culture change,' James Dolan? Shock the world and don't shower the top free agent available with tens of millions of dollars like you always do -- let the two legends who are not only dying for an opportunity, but, most memorably fought in the trenches + split blood in the name of your family business lead the Knicks into battle.
This is an opportunity at a fresh start.
This is an opportunity to make the fans believe.
This is an opportunity for New York's prophet to return to 'The Mecca of Basketball'.