Thursday, April 24, 2014

Rant #1,193: Heavy Meddle

If you are not living in New York, or not a sports fan, you have to understand that sports are almost akin to a religion in these parts.

And there is almost nothing more important than baseball, football, basketball and hockey.

The problem with the basketball end of things is that is usually revolves around the New York Knicks, perhaps the worst run franchise in the history of professional sports in America.

There is a cloud hanging over this franchise that never seems to go away, even when some good things are happening, and according to the New York Daily News, that is exactly what is happening right now.

Phil Jackson, former Knick who has won numerous championships as both a player and a coach, now hopes to add executive to his championship resume. He was hired by the Knicks to oversee their badly needing repair basketball operations.

The Knicks were supposed to challenge for the league championship this season, but to the dismay of the team's faithful fans, the team, wracked with injuries and a lousy court attitude, didn't even make the playoffs--made worse by the fact that the crosstown rival Brooklyn Nets made the postseason.

Add to that that your star player, Carmelo Anthony, may bolt this summer for another team due to free agency, your starting point guard, Raymond Felton, may be playing on a prison basketball court due to his being arrested several weeks ago for gun possession, and you have many players on the team mouthing off against management, and you have a real bad situation here.

But Jackson is being paid well to fix it, and he seemed to be going in the right direction when he recently fired the entire coaching staff, led by coach Mike Woodson.

But now we hear that there are rumblings that owner James Dolan, who admitted when he hired Jackson that he knows little about basketball, is meddling in Jackson's affairs.

Jackson is supposed to have complete autonomy over the Knicks' basketball operations, but evidently, if you are an owner with deep pockets, you can say what you want and do what you want, simply because you still write the paychecks.

The Daily News has reported that Dolan and Jackson disagree over some personnel decisions that Jackson plans to make or has made. Whether that has to do with the since fired coaching staff, player personnel, or other front-office people is uncertain, but it appears that Dolan is not staying true to his word to stay out of Jackson's way while he cleans house.

Yesterday at a news conference, Jackson denied that Dolan was putting any pressure on him to rescind his decisions, but the more he denied it, the more it became clearly evident that something is going on behind closed doors that was not supposed to go on while Jackson is supposedly in charge.

What a media circus this has caused, but who believed Dolan, anyway, when he said that he would allow Jackson to do what he wanted in running the organization?

I certainly didn't. Dolan is the son of Charles Dolan, the guy who basically created another dimension of televison with Cablevision. They own the Knicks, Madison Square Garden, and many other New York entities. James, his son, basically inherited the franchise, which is a good thing for him, because without his father, he might be taking your order at McDonald's.

This guy is not the sharpest tool in the shed, as they say.

And he continues to show is ignorance in his running of the Knicks, the toy his father gave him so that he would completely stay out of the old man's way.

Again, the meddling is speculation, but why create such a clamor if there really wasn't some truth in it?

As a long-time Knicks fan, who actually was alive, around and cognizant when they won their only two championships in 1970 and 1973, I cannot believe what this franchise has become, the laughing stock of professional sports.

This was the team of brain power--Willis Reed, Walt Frazier, Dick Barnett, Bill Bradley and the rest--and to have them fall like they have during the past 40-plus years is embarrassing.

Let's see if Jackson is able to do what he was hired to do, which is to right the franchise.

Right now, if he opted out of his contract, bolted back to California, and said his OKing a contract to run this team was a mistake, it would not surprise me.

God help the Knicks, whether that actually happens or he somehow stays on and continues to try to right this ship with a hole in its side that many think cannot be repaired.

Stay tuned ...

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