As a longtime fan of the New York Knicks, I can easily break the franchise’s history down into four eras:
The Willis Reed/Walt Frazier one from 1969-1974, a run that included titles in 1970 and 1973.
The post-Reed/Frazier era from 1975-1985, a down cycle with just one 50-win season.
The Patrick Ewing era from 1986-2000, which was full of 50-win seasons. There were two trips to the NBA Finals, and the Knicks were consistently a Top Five team in the NBA.
The James Dolan Wasteland from 2001-present, with one playoff series win (2013), and a litany of awful decisions by the worst owner in the NBA.
The latest disaster by Dolan to bring in Phil Jackson was doomed from the start. It was a terrible decision, and anyone with two eyes could see it was going to be doomed to fail. Here we are three years into this reign, and it has been a massive failure, Jackson is in a feud with his biggest star in Carmelo Anthony. His admirable “Big 3” plan is blowing up in his face. The Knicks franchise is headed toward losing an entire generation of fans.
It is similar to when the Dallas Cowboys’ epic run in the 1990’s ended. For 20 years, they struggled mightily. That is exactly where the Knicks franchise is at right now.
Rock bottom has to be the Charles Oakley incident. Oakley is a beloved former Knicks player who has been angry at the direction of the franchise. He is particularly angry at the comically inept Dolan, A few weeks ago, Oakley went after the owner at MSG during a nationally televised game and ended up in handcuffs.
And here we are, the Knicks are the laughingstock of the NBA. Sports fans are linked to eras in which they grow up. For example, if you were born in Boston around the turn of the century, you have grown up not knowing what futility is for the New England Patriots. A 15-year dynasty is unheard of in pro sports these days.
For Knicks fans growing up in the 1980’s, like myself, Ewing was the man. For 15 years, the Knicks opened every season with the hope of getting to the Finals. The Celtics blocked them initially, then the Pistons, and then it was the Bulls and Michael Jordan. A Knicks fan could take solace in the fact the team was going to win 50-ish games. Knicks fans knew their team was going to the playoffs where they’d likely win at least one series. And, with a break here or there, the Knicks could get to the NBA Finals.
If you were born in or around New York in the year 2000, the polar opposite is true. There has been futility. It has gotten to the point that a Knick fan would even say this is “Find-another-team” futility.
It can be traced to one person in owner James Dolan. He essentially began calling the shots for the franchise in 1999. From Allan Houston’s terrible contract to Larry “Next Town” Brown, to Isiah Thomas, and now Phil Jackson, everything Dolan has done has gone wrong. I could go on for weeks on end about this, but I digress. It’s been a decade since David Stern made his famous remark about the state of the Knicks franchise, and nothing has changed.