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Knick Knacks: D’Antoni’s Departure Means This Season Is Doomed

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If anyone thinks that the “resignation” of Knicks head coach Mike D’Antoni is a good thing, he or she is living in an alternate universe where the Knicks lead the Celtics in the standings. In this real world things are getting ugly as they can get for the Knicks and their fans, and the writing was on the Madison Square Garden wall when fans were booing the team on Monday.

Whether or not D’Antoni actually resigned is not the point, even if Knicks owner Jim Dolan says he and the coach “mutually agreed” on this decision. The truth is that the whole thing came down to Carmelo Anthony or Mike D’Antoni. That’s like saying it came down to a 1965 Chevy and 2012 Mustang (admittedly with a few dents). Obviously, there was only one way this thing could go.

Last year Dolan gave away some quality players to get Anthony, so if he had traded him before tomorrow’s deadline, it would have been an admission that move was flawed. Anyone who has watched the Knicks knows that to be the case, but here we go trying to put spit and polish on the lackluster efforts of Anthony.

Make no mistake, he is not alone in this debacle. Amar’e Stoudemire has been doing his best Madame Tussaud impersonation all season. Watch him under the net and you may see birds resting on his head. Jeremy Lin, Tyson Chandler, J.R. Smith, and all the other assorted Cratchits are to blame as well, but it is easier to just to say “Off with his head” and be done with D’Antoni than to address the deep trouble that exists on this team right now.

Assistant coach Mike Woodson will be the interim head for the remainder of the season. With the Knicks losing six in a row and eight of their last ten, I don’t think anyone can seriously believe this change is going to do anything to stop the insanity (with the Linsanity almost all but forgotten now).

D’Antoni is gone but the problems remain. Look for the Knicks to be overtaken by the Milwaukee Bucks for the last playoff spot, and be realistic and thankful for this merciful exit out. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to see this squad anywhere near any of the teams in the first round of the playoffs.

Go gentle into that good night, Knicks fans. It’s over.

Photo Credit – NY Daily News

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About Victor Lana

Victor Lana's stories, articles, and poems have been published in literary magazines and online. His books 'A Death in Prague' (2002), 'Move' (2003), 'The Savage Quiet September Sun: A Collection of 9/11 Stories' (2005), and 'Like a Passing Shadow' (2009) are available in print, online, and as e-books. His latest books 'If the Fates Allow: New York Christmas Stories,' 'Garden of Ghosts,' and 'Flashes in the Pan' are available exclusively on Amazon. He has won the National Arts Club Award for Poetry, but has concentrated on writing mostly fiction and non-fiction prose in recent years. He has worked as a faculty advisor to school literary magazines and enjoys the creative process as a writer, editor, and collaborator. He has been with 'Blogcritics Magazine' since July 2005 and has written well over 500 articles; previously co-head sports editor, he now is a Culture and Society editor. Having traveled extensively, Victor has visited six continents and intends to get to Antarctica someday where he figures a few ideas for new stories await him.
  • I’m troubled that he could be forced out by an under achieving player. The NBA is becoming like the NHL. IF a coach’s team is on a 6 game losing streak, he’s fired.

  • zingzing

    they did just blow out portland by 40+…

  • The NBA is becoming like the NHL. IF a coach’s team is on a 6 game losing streak, he’s fired.

    Psshh. Kid’s stuff. Come to watch Premier League football in England, where coaches can get fired if the team loses one important game… or even at random, because the team owner was bored one day.

    A few years ago in the Spanish Primera Liga, expectations got so unrealistically high with some teams that if they weren’t winning 5-0 after 20 minutes of the new coach’s first game in charge, he walked.

  • Zingzing

    There was a manager in the premiership that got fired recently… Arsenal maybe… Chelsea… I dunno, anyway, the team was in 8th place or something like that. Some London club. They fired his ass as soon as he lost the locker room.

    New York is the same way. Even through years of mediocrity, it’s expected that the team wins or someone is axed. It’s a terrible strategy, but the team has talent on the court and money in the office and d’antoni couldn’t make either side happy or win. Firing the coach is the cheaper option short term.

  • It was Chelsea. They’d only won something like two games out of the previous eleven and were fifth, which for a club like them isn’t good enough, particularly when failing to make the top four means you don’t qualify for next season’s Champions League.

    Those of us who support not-so-fabulously-rich-and-all-conquering teams just look at Chelsea, who fired their boss when they were fifth, and think, “Must be nice.”

  • Dr. Dreadful, good point about the English Premiere League. A couple of weeks ago, I was watching weekly highlights of the Premiere League and something caught my eye. One of the team’s managers was apologizing and babbling (not quite crying) over his team’s loss.
    Thinking the season was over, I went to the league’s website, only to notice that season was far from over.

  • D’Antoni is a scapegoat, but people who run teams love that. New York is unfortunately a center for this kind of activity. Look at how many times Steinbrenner fired (and rehired) Billy Martin.

  • Stakes are astronomically high in the EPL, Sport. Sadly, it all comes down to money, which has ruined top-level English football as a fan-friendly sport.

    I often yearn for the days of the old First Division – the predecessor to the Premier League – in which the playing field was a hell of a lot more even. Yes, you got teams who would dominate, but never for more than a few years at a stretch, and everybody had a fighting chance. Back in the late seventies, Nottingham Forest were even able to get promotion and then win the league in their very first season. Just to prove they were no flash in the pan, they went on to win the European Cup (now the UEFA Champions’ League) two years running.

    That kind of Cinderella story isn’t ever going to happen again. Nowadays there are only two (maybe three) teams who realistically have the ability to win the league. There are another four capable of finishing third and fourth. Then there’s everybody else.

    There’s no doubt that the EPL is one of the best leagues in the world and attracts some of the best players, and if you’re a neutral that makes it a great spectacle.

    But the massive salaries these guys get, as team owners throw more and more cash at that desperate attempt to finish seventh or eighth – or even just to stay in the Premier League, for crying out loud – are helping to price a lot of fans out of the game.

    And it’s just a little bit soul-destroying to be a fan of a team that you know in your heart of hearts is never going to win the league – and I mean NEVER. (There’s no equalizing draft system as in American sports: the best players go to the teams that can afford them.) And that the very best you can hope for is seventh place and maybe a win in one of the knockout cup competitions.

    Small wonder that a lot of fans are turning to the second-tier Championship and the leagues below that, which are more affordable to watch – and more like the way the First Division used to be.

    Not to mention that, because of the promotion/relegation system, a new champion is guaranteed every year!

    (Bosses still get fired left, right and centre though – that’s just the way English football is!)

  • That’s not entirely accurate, Doc.

    One of the richest teams in football, Queen’s Park Rangers, are on the verge of relegation; Manchester City have just been knocked off the top of the league by a team who have nowhere near as much money as them but play better football; and Chelsea, probably the second richest team in the Premier League are struggling to hold on to 5th place.

    Manchester United have always had serious competition since winning their first title under Sir Alex – unlike Liverpool in the 90s who won everything in sight for many years and had no competition at all most of the time. That was when football was at its most boring.

    The American draft system is a feeble attempt at introducing some level of competition into a system which is inherently sterile because it has no system of relegation to get rid of the weaklings and introduce new blood. It is an oddly socialist system too for the spiritual home of competition and freedom!

  • Part of it’s the name recognition, though, Chris. Man U may not have as much money as their neighbours but they still have an awful lot – and they’ve been a huge club and a worldwide brand for many decades. Long before the Premier League, you could go to a village in a remote backwater of Africa or Asia and ask someone what their favourite team was – and chances were they would say Manchester United.

    So brand recognition is the key to their success: top players want to come and play for them, to associate their name with that brand. Having played for Manchester United looks great on your resume. It doesn’t hurt that they have the greatest manager of all time either.

    The current QPR squad was put together halfway through the season and doesn’t include any megastars – yet. Give them time (if Tony Fernandes has patience).

    Liverpool won practically nothing in the 90s. Their period of dominance was from ’73 to ’90, the last year they were champions of England. Even then, other teams consistently mounted strong challenges: Forest, Ipswich, Aston Villa, Everton and Arsenal to name a few. The Reds also didn’t have much joy in the FA Cup, which actually meant something back then. Arsenal, Man U and Spurs had far more success in that competition than the boys from Anfield did.

    The teams who’ve challenged United have usually been the ones that have had stacks of money thrown at them – Blackburn, Chelsea and now Man City. Having won one title, Walker got bored and walked away – and look at Blackburn now. I fear for Chelsea and Man City when Abramovich and the Etihad boys finally do likewise. Your only opposition with genuine consistency has been Arsenal, who were already a rich and successful club with almost as much worldwide recognition as Man U.

    That’s why I like what Tottenham are doing now. They’ve got themselves into a position where they can mount a serious challenge in years to come, and have done so without a bottomless pit of cash. The key to their success is that good, old-fashioned secret, a gifted coach. If Redknapp does take the England job, sadly, I think they may fizzle out.

    Agree with you about the draft system. It’s uninspiring. Frankly, it’s up to the rest of English football to be as good as United are with the resources they have – and hopefully do it the right way and not destroy themselves trying.

  • And as a side note, Chris (not really germane to anything under discussion but what the hell), the 70s and 80s were also the era in which English (and to a lesser extent Scottish) teams were dominant in Europe. From the mid-60s through to Heysel, I believe there wasn’t a single season when at least one of the three European club competitions didn’t feature a British finalist.

    The reason for this was that continental sides just couldn’t cope with the frenetic British style of play. Even mediocre English teams swept all before them in Europe. It was no coincidence that the ones who failed were the ones who decided it would be an absolutely splendid wheeze if they abandoned what had been working for them all season and tried to suddenly become Generic European Team A.

    It’s the same reason why the England national team failed miserably during that very era and continues to fail on the biggest stages.

    This is obvious to fans but seems to be an occasional blind spot for even the best coaches, which is why Man U have dropped down to the Europa League this season and are in danger of being knocked out even of that.

  • As further evidence that it isn’t about the money in football, tiny Bilbao have just seen off my beloved Manchester United for a second time.

    Manchester United are the best club in the world because people love the way they play, which is basically “we’ll score more goals than you”, although it is also obvious that a higher workrate is also needed to compete these days and that is something we are going to have to adapt to.

    Even when we won nothing for over 25 years we still had the highest attendances in the whole country.

  • Zingzing

    Man city really has more money than man u?

  • Yeah, far more; they were bought by some billionaires from Abu Dhabi 3 or 4 years ago and have spent something like half a billion dollars buying up quality players.

    Manchester United have never really had that much money as none of their owners have ever invested in the side, only in the club.

    They are currently saddled with fairly large debts due to the way the Glazers financed the purchase of the club but appear to be successfully trading their way out of that oppressive burden.

  • zingzing

    glazers being… not americans, i hope. i know americans have taken ownership of some english clubs, to crying british eyes.

    meh. it’s good that city has some money behind it. some of my favorite manchester musicians are city fans, so i’ll go for them even beyond my quite natural hatred of united. (united would probably win both the most beloved club and most hated club on earth if they polled it.)

    god damn manchester united.

    just took a look at the table. city obviously isn’t out of it yet. spurs so high and liverpool so low is rather strange. i remember spurs as a middle of the table club and liverpool as 3/4. and villa… my, they were one of the mighty as far as i remember. newcastle was a bottom feeder back in the day.

    i’ve been paying more attention to the international game and the mls recently. going to see (as in being there) the us play brazil in may. thought it would be a wipeout, but given the result in italy, i’m beginning to hope.

    mls is obviously still a minor league, but some good players (for the usmnt and for european clubs) have come out of there. it’s a retirement village for euro players and a training camp for north american players. interesting to watch.

  • Even when we won nothing for over 25 years

    “Nothing” meaning the league, presumably, because there were trifles like the FA Cup in ’77, ’83, ’85 and ’90, the Cup-Winners’ Cup in ’91 and the League Cup in ’92. Nothing to get revved up about, though.

    It would have been nice if Newcastle had won even one of those in all that time. But… not a sausage. Oh, I forget. We did pick up one or two Anglo-Italian Cups and Texaco Cups back in the seventies. But, like I said, nothing to get excited about.


  • And yes, zing, the Glazers are American. They own the Buccaneers, I believe.

    A lot of United fans were extremely pissed off that they bought the club, to the extent that some of them even decided to start their own breakaway club, called FC United of Manchester: currently, I believe, playing seven levels below their parent team.

  • Even after City walloped United 6-1 at Old Trafford earlier this season, I still thought Man U would win the league and I stand by that prediction. City have a far tougher run-in than United and, more damagingly, have forgotten how to win away from home.

    The way things are panning out, there’s a good possibility that the return fixture between City and United at the end of April could be the game that decides the title. If so, it’s going to be some afternoon.

  • zingzing

    fuck. i thought so. the name was familiar. well, nice to see their business practices haven’t fucked up the product on the field (damn it).

    funny how they don’t fuck up that club while they fuck up their american team. tampa was a pretty good team a few years ago (maybe a decade…) before it was dismantled, although they are apparently going on a spending spree right now. 4-12 last season, at any rate. what does “at any rate” really mean?

  • zingzing

    well, i’m going for everton, then fulham, then man city. anyone but man u.

  • zingzing, I’m baffled by your hostility to the Red Devils; you’re not a fan of that uninspired recycler of other people’s ideas known as Oasis are you? That – or being a City supporter (same thing) – is the easiest way to blow any semblance of cool in my eyes!

    We have always stood for beautiful football, the fast, brave attacking style that is a thrill to watch, as opposed to either the long ball game or the dour defensive tactics that ruin any match. Who wouldn’t love that?

    There are many other teams that play that way of course, including Spurs and these days even Arsenal too, but none with the history and commitment of United. Come on you reds!

  • Jordan Richardson

    Alright, alright. Secret’s out: I am an unabashed, unashamed Manchester United fan.

    To zingzing: sit on it, you daft sonuva so-and-so. 🙂

  • Chris, I have a theory that too much dominance causes a team’s followers to lose something of the fan experience.

    It manifests itself in the way a crowd celebrates a goal. There’s no more exhilarating feeling as a spectator than seeing the ball go into the opponents’ net, so the normal reaction when a team scores at home is for everyone to leap out of their seats and go absolutely berserk with joy. When United score at Old Trafford, there’s a brief, blasé cheer and then everyone sits down again until the next goal arrives a few minutes later.

    I used to notice the same thing when Liverpool were at their all-conquering best in the 80s. Too much of a good thing breeds complacency.

  • Zingzing

    Being a fan of united these days must be a dull existence. A championship is expected and comes as a relief. Where’s the joy?

    My brother’s a fan of unc basketball, which has won the NCAA tournament 6 or so times during his lifetime. Whenever they do win, he is satisfied, but that’s all. The only time he gets emotional about it at all is when they have a rare off year. Anger, of a certain type, is the strongest emotion he can really muster towards the sport.

    And no, I’m not an oasis fan. I am a fan of new order and the fall. I’m a city fan only in that having city win must hit home pretty hard for united.

  • Zingzing

    Besides, hating a team is almost as good as loving one. In college basketball fandom, there’s a fan of “ABC,” meaning “anybody but carolina” (unc). I’m not quite an “ABC” fan, if only because I hate duke more.

  • Doc: Well, banter aside, personally I’ve never seen United as dominant, certainly not in the way Liverpool were back in the day.

    The team has always been vulnerable to other teams that find ways to stop our style as we have seen so many times this season alone.

    Given the chronic injury problems we’ve had this season I’m frankly amazed that we are top of the table right now.

    Zingzing: Being a fan of United is NEVER dull, we are too unpredictable for that!

    At least your musical taste is better than your football one. Despite the resurgence of our “noisy neighbours” in the last few years, our main rivalry is with Liverpool and Arsenal, although that may be changing if City continue to thrive.

  • Zingzing

    Well, if it’s not dull, it’s certainly easy.

  • Easy? You must be joking!

    Not only are we the most unpredictable team around, we are also both the most loved and the most hated!!!

  • personally I’ve never seen United as dominant, certainly not in the way Liverpool were back in the day.

    You’ve got to be joking. Under Fergie, Man U have won the Premier League 12 times, the FA Cup 5 times (although surprisingly, not since 2004), the League Cup four times, the Double three times and the Champions’ League twice. (Oh, and the Community Shield 8 1/2 times, FWTW.) That’s more than most clubs can boast in their entire history.

    For all their dominance, Liverpool struggled in cup competitions (apart from the European Cup, where the two-legged ties played to their overall consistency) and only ever managed the Double once.

    This was despite the fact that they never had consistent competition. Sure, strong teams would emerge, give them the occasional run for their money and win a Championship or two, but they always faded away again.

    United, on the other hand, have had Arsenal, Chelsea and to a lesser extent Liverpool constantly breathing down their necks – and still almost always end up with the silverware.

  • And you’re also wrong about United being the most unpredictable team. That would be Newcastle. One week we’ll be capable of sweeping the world’s best off the park, the next we’ll come out playing like a Sunday pub side and not a particularly good one at that.

  • That’s 12 titles in over a quarter of a century, Doc. Frequent winners, yes, but never really dominant the way Liverpool once were.

    As you say yourself, Liverpool never had “consistent competition” whereas we have had “Arsenal, Chelsea and… Liverpool breathing down their necks”. To say nothing of Blackburn Rovers and once almost your own Newcastle United.

    Just look at the English teams that have beaten us this season; apart from the City fiasco, Crystal Palace, Blackburn, Newcastle and Liverpool have won and we’ve already been knocked out of four different cup tournaments!

  • we’ve already been knocked out of four different cup tournaments!

    Consistency is the key.

  • My point was that Liverpool didn’t achieve anything like United’s trophy haul despite their competition being, on the whole, far weaker.

    I’ve always maintained that the key to their success was that they would immediately sign any player who had the temerity to score against them, thereby removing said competition!

  • zingzing

    well, i must say that my favorite teams are predictable, in that only my baseball team has won ANYTHING during my lifetime. basketball, zero; football, zero; soccer, zero. (everton hasn’t won anything since i started following them. the usmnt has won a lot of concacaf tournaments, but never anything really worth celebrating.)

    12 titles in 25 years would be ridiculous. astounding. would make me greedy. it would also be very difficult to pull off in america… most sports have salary caps or luxury taxes that make it damn near impossible.

    but yeah… being a fan of a consistent winner is easy. it’s much harder when they suck. but that’s half the thrill, i suppose.

  • (And, having once signed, he would go straight into the reserves to put him in his place.)

  • zing: This is exactly why I find United fans like Chris hard to stomach sometimes when they complain about their team’s imaginary shortcomings.

    The last time Newcastle won a major trophy was the 1969 Fairs Cup, which was the predecessor of the predecessor of the current Europa League (the Champions League’s poor relation). And I was too young to remember it. Before that, you have to go back to ’55.

    We’ve reached a couple of finals since then, but always got beat.

    If the lads could win just one piece of silverware in my lifetime… just one – I know the Premier League is beyond us but just one FA Cup or Europa League or even League Cup… something… and I’ll be able to die happy.

    I suppose it could be worse and I could be a Cubs fan. I was just thinking the other day that there’s probably no-one alive who remembers the last time they won the World Series. Staggering.

  • zingzing

    my (american) football team hasn’t won a thing since before the advent of the superbowl (which is when things started to count). they’ve made it one game away from the superbowl four times during my lifetime, but failed to make it. before that, they made it to the superbowl four times, but always managed to lose. and they just suffered through one of their worst seasons ever.

    my college basketball team made it to the final four once. in like 1960 or something. and they just suffered through one of their worst seasons ever, although not as bad as last season, which was their worst season ever.

    my baseball team won the world series twice in my lifetime, but never after i was a teenager. i barely remember the first one, and it’s been two decades since the last one. and they just suffered through their second worst season ever. 99 losses! they celebrated like they won the world series when they won their last game and avoided 100 losses.

    and the usmnt… all i can say is fuck ghana.

    chris knows not suffering. he may know mild disappointment. but not suffering. chronic, debilitating suffering. the tiniest sliver of hope fading.

  • Far as American college sports go, I suppose “my” team is Fresno State, even though I don’t live there any more.

    Generally speaking, Fresno State athletics struggles at sucking completely, so they usually have to fall back on their repertoire of backup strategies which includes (a) chronic underachievement (b) getting caught cheating (c) sexual harrassment and (d) having one of their star players murder someone.

    The baseball team did manage with a high degree of improbability to win the College World Series a few years ago, which gave the entire town a huge lift until the football season came around and they managed to bollocks everything up again.

    I remember going to watch the parade after that CWS win. The players were riding around campus on top of fire trucks, still wearing “what the hell just happened” expressions on their faces.