By Steve Kallas
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It’s hard to believe what’s recently happened to the Knicks and the NBA in New York City. Let’s break it down:
Whether you think Carmelo Anthony is a selfish athlete or not, this All-Star weekend took the cake. After decades of athletes deciding to skip All-Star games to get healthy or rest, Anthony went the opposite way. He decided to play in the All-Star game, and then decided it would be best to have knee surgery and miss the rest of the season.
To say that decision is inexplicable is to be kind. What’s also inexplicable is the fact that Phil Jackson — you never really thought that he would coach this team, did you? — seems to be fine with the decision.
To add insult to injury, Anthony had a horrific All-Star game. Is it really possible to shoot 6-for-20 in a 163-158 game where defense wasn’t even optional? It’s hard to believe that this actually happened.
But it did. The silver lining in all of this, of course, is the Knicks now have an even better chance to get the top draft pick in the next NBA draft. Even if they get that pick, however, the Knicks are still incredibly far away from even thinking about a championship.
Thankfully, “1973” can’t be chanted in visiting arenas like “1940” once was. Having said that, there seems to be a good chance that Knicks fans will have to wait 54 years, as Rangers fans did. The Knicks are at 42 and counting.
Down is up, up is down. Which brings us to …
It’s hard to believe, sometimes, the lack of intelligence that some owners show when it comes to dealing with fans. Irving Bierman, a 73-year-old frustrated Knicks fan, sent a complaining email to the Knicks’ owner. He probably never thought that Dolan would read it. Bierman’s thought that Dolan should sell the team is a good one.
But the gazillionaire Knicks owner, in his infinite wisdom, inexplicably decided to reply to a man that he knew nothing about. He typed gems like “You are a sad person” and “You most likely have made your family miserable. Alcoholic maybe.”
The stupidity level in that reply email is hard to quantify. But suffice it to say that one might expect the fan to write the unintelligent stuff and the owner to brush it off.
No such luck at MSG.
Down is up, up is down. Which brings us to …
The latest NBA commissioner became a hero of sorts when he dropped an anvil on former Clippers owner Donald Sterling after a quick investigation. While virtually everybody agrees that Sterling shouldn’t own an NBA team, in the sick world of NBA team ownership he was paid $2 billion to just go away. Whatever you think of free speech, Silver was anointed the new sheriff in town.
But then came his ill-timed comments when New Jersey was trying to have limited sports betting at Monmouth Park. Silver essentially said that he, too, thought it was time for legal sports betting across the country. But he said he didn’t agree with the way that New Jersey was going about it.
So while he was arguing in court — through NBA lawyers in New Jersey — against New Jersey for its attempt to institute limited sports betting, he was writing an op-ed in the New York Times supporting what he was arguing against in court.
So certainly the new commissioner of the NBA would punish Dolan, right? Fine him $50,000 and applaud how passionate NBA fans — and especially Knick fans — are.
Well, not exactly.
Inexplicably (there’s that word again), Silver came to Dolan’s rescue, actually stating that, “Jim is a consummate New Yorker. Jim got an unkind email and responded with an unkind email.”
Silver grew up in the beautiful Westchester town of Rye, N.Y, but he seemingly doesn’t quite understand what a “consummate New Yorker” is. Indeed, Dolan plays into a national stereotype of what a New Yorker is. Maybe it’s different if you grew up in the suburbs, but the consummate New Yorker has a clue, is passionate about the teams he roots for and expresses his or her opinion in an intelligent way. In no way, shape or form is Dolan a consummate New Yorker.
Down is up, up is down.
One would hope that the owner of a professional sports franchise would take the high road, or at least say nothing at all.
One would hope that the commissioner of a major sports league would see the obvious and reprimand the owner, all the while sticking up for a 60-year Knicks fan who vented his frustrations.
One would hope that the star of the local NBA team would skip the All-Star (meaningless exhibition) game and try to get healthy to help his team win games that, you know, count.
But when down is up and up is down, there’s no such luck in New York City.