By Jason Keidel
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This small slice of the internet has not been nice to the Knicks.
Nor should it. The Knicks have been historically incompetent for well over a decade and haven’t won an NBA title in 43 years.
And while eight of our nine pro sports teams are held to account, the Knicks get an eternal pass, and seem to have some hypnotic hold over the natives.
Even with that in mind, the Derrick Rose trade — while not nearly as important as the jaded masses think — does get the people talking about the Knicks at a time when they’re always an afterthought.
The good points are the Knicks are only on the hook for one season, and it gives Rose ample chance and motivation to prove he’s not one crossover dribble from knee surgery. In that limited regard, it’s win-win for the Knickerbockers.
It does not, however, make the Knicks a) title contenders or b) contenders for Kevin Durant.
The time of the big-market dominance is over. For decades, the monolithic media markets — led by New York City — had the jump on flyover country.
It’s Broadway. It’s the Post, Times and Daily News. It’s Madison Square Garden, the ancestral home of hoops. New York City produced the most important names in NBA history.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar? New York. Larry Brown? New York. The patron saint of the Boston Celtics, Red Auerbach? Brooklyn. (Even Michael Jordan was born in Brooklyn.)
But those bullet points and selling points are gone.
New York City can no longer sell itself as the ad or PR capital of the country. Because it doesn’t matter anymore. Madison Avenue is merely a mouse-click away.
Social media has shrunk the world. Our country has been condensed, making an athlete more accessible than ever and the perks of his stardom more attainable from any team and town in America.
For all the talk about big city prerogatives, look at the markets of the most successful NBA teams: San Antonio, Oakland, Oklahoma City. And now the epicenter of the sport is in Cleveland. Hardly a roll call of media magnates.
The Lakers are awful. The Celtics are on the rise, but are years from real contention. The 76ers have been cellar dwellers forever. And the Knicks are, well, the Knicks.
So why would Durant, who is in his prime and primed to take his shot at a world title, leave the eternal contention of OKC for NYC? The Thunder came within one game of vanquishing the Warriors. And many pundits think they would have defeated the Cavaliers in the NBA Finals.
He should leave Russell Westbrook for Carmelo Anthony? For Derrick Rose? Rose hasn’t played 30 minutes in 10 straight games in five years.
Even if Westbrook leaves in a year, Durant has way more appetizing options, from the Warriors to the Spurs, two teams that have their mail forwarded to late May and beyond.
Anthony has been a company man, a loyal employee who authentically wants to see this through. But he’s just too deep into the back nine of his career.
Rose is as modest as any superstar in any sport. In the increasingly self-centered world of pro sports, you won’t find anyone as hungry and humble as Rose.
But there’s too much scar tissue on his knees and too much torment from his endless turns under the knife to make him Durant’s wingman for the next five years.
Play with Melo and Rose or Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge? Play with Melo and Rose or the Splash Brothers (Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry)? If there ever were a rhetorical question …
Why not play for Pat Riley in Miami or any team in Texas, where the weather is better and he won’t be gouged by state taxes? While many of us would never leave New York, Durant has no ties here. Why suffer the snow, cost, taxes and losing just to say he played on Broadway?
The American map is freckled with newspapers — from USA Today to The New York Post to The Oklahoman — musing profoundly over the possibility. Even WFAN’s Boomer and Carton have waxed hopefully about Durant in orange and blue. But it’s little more than a fantasy.
Is it possible Durant will sign with the Knicks? Sure. It’s also possible you will get lit up by lightning, devoured by a shark or mauled by a bengal tiger, all while winning the lottery .
For those of us who dwell a bit more in reality, it’s impossible to ignore the Knicks’ past while pondering their future.
Durant will, most likely, stay in OKC for one more year, then cash in on the swollen salary cap and his place as a 10-year vet. He may not stay in OKC. He just won’t come to NYC. Start spreading the news.
Follow Jason on Twitter at @JasonKeidel