(no more questions from the man in the Nets jersey, please)
In the aftermath of being swept by the defending Eastern Conference champs, some are focusing on whether or not Chauncey Billups, Mike D’Antoni or Donnie Walsh are returning to the Knicks next season, or perhaps on Boston’s Rajon Rondo shaking off late season slump at a very opportune time. Others, however, would prefer to consider the single most important storyline to emerge from the Knicks’ underwhelming showing ; the acquisition of Deron Williams aside, it’s the highlight of the year for Nets fans in general, Nets Are Scorching’s Mark Ginocchio in particular. “It’s situations like these where the word schadenfreude is most appropriate,” sneers Ginocchio, conveniently forgetting that for all James D’ohlan’s many ill-advised public acts, he never promised a championship within the next half decade.
Let it be said after acquiring two super-duper-stars and one nice player (only in the year 2003 is Chauncy Billups part of any team’s “Big Three”) the Knicks have collected exactly as many playoff victories as the New Jersey Nets and precisely one less than the Indiana Pacers and Philadelphia 76ers, who didn’t spend the latter stages of the regular season telling anyone who would listen that they were going to be a “tough matchup” for their heavily favored and more experienced first-round competition.
Let it be said that despite his MVP-caliber season, when he was needed the most, Amare, who already has knees that are ticking time bombs, pulled up with a stiff back. The aging Billups, pulled up lame again. I’ve already hear the Meccah-naires saying that injuries happen, but this is part of the reason so many of us non-Knicks fans rolled our eyes at some of the roster moves your team made. Please keep in mind that every missed opportunity for the Knicks going forward inches the organization ever-so-closely to seeing their $20 million investment of Stoudemire spending more time in a suit on the sideline than in a jersey on the court. I will be stunned to see his NBA career survive the life of his contract, and the fact that he was already a physical liability in his first postseason in New York makes a prediction like that sound even more prophetic. As for Billups, let’s see if this guy even makes it half a season next year.
That brings us to Carmelo Anthony, whose prima-donna “I want to be wooed by the Russian but I ain’t gonna sign in Jersey” act has surely earned him the scorn of Nets fans going forward. There’s no reason for Nets fans to have to praise this guy, but in a show of kindness, I’ll say ‘Melo proved in this post-season that for every exhilarating game 2 performance, there’s an exasperating game 1 showing. ‘Melo has exited stage left in the first round for the seventh time in his eight playoff seasons. And yet I’m supposed to continue to treat this guy like he’s an elite NBA player who can single-handedly carry a team to victory.