Saturday, April 19, 2008

Knicks Finally Fire Isiah Thomas


QUESTION: How do you make eight million New York sports fans happy?
ANSWER: Blow up Boston.

Okay, that was unfair. The real answer is: fire Isiah Thomas. That’s exactly what the Knicks have just done, leading many to wonder – “What the hell took so long?” The Knicks are in bad shape and the person to blame is Thomas. He is the worst executive/coach in the history of basketball and that’s not an exaggeration, it’s solid supposition. Let’s look at the awful and damaging reign of terror Thomas unleashed upon the New York Knicks:

- The Knicks have had an endless supply of cash to get the players that would fix their problems, but Thomas never acquired even one player that would make them a better team or offer any trade value. His eye for talent was just horrendous and now they have a roster full of bad and expensive players that no other team will trade for.

- He committed more than fifty million dollars to acquire a few players that never deserved more than the league minimum. It wasn’t as though Jerome James was dominating the league before he got a $30 million dollar contract from Thomas in 2005. James was, of course a big, fat, expensive bust and Thomas was never made accountable for that enormous mistake.

- As team president, he blamed legendary coach Larry Brown for the Knicks woes, insisting that Brown wasn’t “player-friendly” and that the team had turned on him. Thomas then named himself coach, assuming that he’d look like a hero for turning the team around. Instead, the bumbling players that Thomas acquired or drafted (the same players Brown couldn’t win with) failed to produce for Thomas. And, in a fitting act of karma, the players hated Thomas and weren’t shy about announcing that. His ego battle with Stephon Marbury was ugly and hilariously immature.

- Thomas was also a public relations nightmare. In 2007, a former Knicks team executive named Anucha Browne Sanders sued the franchise, claiming that Thomas had sexually harassed her. The details were sordid and embarrassing, and in the end, the Knicks had to pay her $11.6 million in damages. Somehow, miraculously, Thomas wasn’t fired.

- The Knicks payroll was $88.8 million dollars this season. They won 23 games. That’s $3.8 million per victory. By comparison, the Charlotte Bobcats had the lowest payroll in the NBA at $57.7 million and they won 32 games for an average of $1.8 million per victory. The Knicks spent $31.1 million dollars more but still lost 9 more games. That’s just terrible value.

- Thomas was unfriendly and uncooperative with the media, curious behavior from a man that controlled the team in the largest market in sports. For a popular former player, who had failed at two previous NBA jobs (Toronto and Indiana) and was struggling with his current job, you’d think he’d be polite to the media, but he wasn’t. He was rude and unlikable, but the worst part was how he would attack his own players through the media.

The Knicks are essentially the “home team” of the NBA, sharing real estate with commissioner David Stern and the league’s executives. They wanted nothing more than for the Knicks to become respectable once again, but they couldn’t force Madison Square Garden chairman James Dolan, a slightly retarded trust fund baby, to replace Thomas. He finally did, but now the Knicks are in a ridiculously deep hole. They have already committed $90.9 million in salary for next season, the roster will still be awful, and it will take a great stroke of luck (or another draft lottery conspiracy by David Stern) for them to land one of the two potential franchise players (Michael Beasley and Derrick Rose) this summer. Things are going to be bad for a few years in New Tork, but it will get better, if for no other reason than because Isiah Thomas will be long gone.

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