By Tony Paige
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When the news hit that Donnie Walsh, the president of the Knicks, was stepping down because he couldn’t reach a contract extension agreement with James Dolan, his boss, I was shocked and saddened to say the least.
After watching the Knicks stumble under the leadership of Scott Layden and Isiah Thomas, Walsh was able to right the ship his way.
Sure, it took a while as expiring contacts and trades to clean out the roster took time, but the Knicks were put back on track for success by Walsh.
Now the light at the end of the tunnel has been snuffed out.
Whoever the new head man is for the Knicks, he is going to do it with Walsh’s players and hopefully, will continue Walsh’s vision.
The 70-year-old Walsh will be a consultant for the Knicks for the next year.
Is that like being a limited partner under the late George Steinbrenner?
I’m sure Dolan will be in contact with Walsh just as much as he is with former head man and friend Thomas.
It wasn’t all smooth sailing for Walsh. Who can forget trading two first-round draft choices for Tracy McGrady’s expiring contract.
He should’ve have kept the draft choices, but his plan worked as the Knicks finished 42-40 and made the playoffs.
The addition of Amar’e Stoudemire and the mid-season trade for Carmelo Anthony made the team a playoff contender and restored the “buzz” to the long struggling franchise.
As someone old enough to actually have watched the Knicks win their two championships under coach Red Holzman, it was satisfying to have the Knicks relevant again.
Now what happens?
There is laundry list of candidates for the president/general manager position.
While those positions are being considered, you have to wonder if head coach Mike D’Antoni will be around if and when the 2011-12 season begins.
You can only hope that Dolan will do the right thing with the new head of the Knicks.
When the stories started to come out the Walsh’s contract was going to be cut by 40 percent, it tells you something is wrong with the management blueprint at Madison Square Garden.
If an executive is doing something right, but still has his salary and responsibilities reduced, maybe the best way to survive any type of purge is to be less than mediocre.
Just ask Isiah.
Finally, we tend to neglect to give a shout out to a player or executive when he leaves or is forced out of the job for any number of reasons.
I remember Rangers’ goalie Eddie Giacomin coming back to New York in a Detroit Red Wings jersey and the crowd chanting “Eddie …Eddie” in salute.
Walt “Clyde” Frazier came back to the Garden in a Cleveland Cavaliers uniform and received a wonderful ovation.
So for Donnie Walsh, I’d like to say thank you for all the work you’ve done in putting the Knicks back on track.
I have a feeling you’ll be behind the desk running another NBA team in the not-too-distant future.
Even though you didn’t get the chance to finish your plan to make the Knicks a champion again, I just wanted to say goodbye and thanks again for a job well done.
What are you thoughts on Walsh? Leave a comment below.