Jeff Copion’s “Absolutely, Positively the Worst Team in the History of Professional Sports” in the latest issue of New York Magazine is one of the more thoughtful obituaries you’ll read for the 2008 New York Knicks (“Isiah’s tenure was so contemptible”so bereft of redeeming value, on court or off”that such tenderness is hard to muster. In the Knicks™ me-first self-regard, they™ve blasphemed the most gorgeously collaborative of games. Worse, they™ve severed the connection between players and fans, that idealized first-person plural that makes us part of something large and wondrous. It™s not so easy to love a pro sports team in the 21st century, yet we™re willing to lend our heart, and get hurt, and lend it again. The Knicks have made that impossible”), along with collecting some moments of abject desperation from a season that can’t end soon enough. Amongst them, the following tale about the Knicks’ lumbering man in the middle.
At six eleven, Eddy Curry is a true giant: leonine noggin, foghorn bass, derriÃ¨re the size of Rhode Island. But his rounded shoulders betray him. Here was the big kid who hated to be stared at, who liked gymnastics more than basketball”who wished to be smaller than life. œI™ve never really been that physical-enforcer kind of guy on the court, Curry said. œI think that now I™ve gotta kind of do that a little bit. For fans who cut their teeth on Charles Oakley and Anthony œMace in the Face Mason, this was less than reassuring.
Weight has long been an issue for Curry, even before Thomas lavished a $60 million annuity, payable over six years, on a guy who can dunk and not much else. (The 2005 deal also cost the Knicks a pair of draft-lottery picks that became LaMarcus Aldridge and Joakim Noah, and will haunt the franchise for a decade.) Curry reported to camp last fall at a svelte 280, but somehow”despite a private chef and the attentions of Tim Grover, personal trainer to the stars”packed it on through the season, till rolls of flab peeked through the armholes of his jersey. When asked where he tipped the scale, he begged off with an ingenue™s giggle.
œI like Eddy a lot, but he™s just too big, says Oakley, the soul of Pat Riley™s obdurate squads of the nineties. œYou can™t move when you™re like that. As the leviathan fatigues, he reaches and fouls, drops easy passes, clanks dunks off the rim. After the Clippers trimmed the Knicks by nine, I asked center Chris Kaman how he knew when Curry was tiring. Kaman smiled and said, œWhen you run down court and he™s 30, 40 feet behind you.