Here’s something that did not change at the NBA Draft, which is supposed to be a night of new possibilities and new beginnings, just never around here:
The Knicks did not change.
The Knicks didn’t change, nor did their possibilities such as they are, at least before they make their run at Jalen Brunson, who apparently is the second coming of Clyde Frazier. There was no new beginning in Brooklyn. There was just the Knicks once again acting like the lumps of their league. We occasionally hear that the only way to build something that truly lasts in the modern NBA is through the draft. Except now, basically, the Knicks don’t even draft.
So what really did not change was that in the history of New York sports and New York fans, there has never been anything worse than being a fan of the Knicks of the 21st century. At least the Knicks can win that.
The Jets at least went to two AFC championships in the last two decades, before anybody in green wants to raise a hand, or ask somebody to hold their beer. The Nets, when they were still in Jersey, went to two NBA Finals in this century. The Knicks have won one playoff series since 2000. One. They have had losing seasons in 17 out of the last 21.
Even when there seemed to be hope under Tom Thibodeau — before you wondered if Thibodeau will even last here past this season — and the Knicks got to 41-31 and the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference, they couldn’t get out of the first round. When they did get back to the playoffs, they got exactly one game off Trae Young and the Hawks.
Now they are clearing cap space again, for Brunson or maybe even Kyrie Irving, who seems to think that after his un-vaccinated triumph with the Nets that teams are suddenly lining up to have him come play for him. Kevin Durant must continue to be so darn proud he picked Dr. Irving as a wingman. If the Knicks go for him, we will see how desperate they really are.
You needed to be your own capologist after what the Knicks boss, and invisible man, Leon Rose, did during the draft, turning one pick into three down the road while clearing the aforementioned cap space. Rose did this while talented kids were finding new homes all over the NBA map. Of course, they couldn’t move up to take Jaden Ivey of Purdue before he went to the Pistons. Kids like Ivey always go somewhere else.
You know how this has gone for the Knicks in the draft, not counting the ones run by Phil (The Thrill) Jackson, whose management skills reminded everybody of a blindfolded kid swinging at a pinata on his birthday. Again: They never get the guy they want. Or need. Phil looked as if he might have found somebody in Kristaps Porzingis. You know how that worked out. The Knicks were, famously, one pick away from Steph Curry. Even when they had the No. 3 pick and took RJ Barrett, the No. 2 pick on that draft night was Ja Morant, one of the most exciting players to come into the league since, well, Curry.
So their new plan is stockpiling first-round picks down the road. And their new plan apparently involves Brunson, a nice player who was the second-best player on a Mavericks team that went to the Western Conference finals. That sounds very impressive, until you remember that the best player on that team is Luka Doncic, who is one of the best players on the planet.
The Knicks, and that means Rose, who is seen around here as often as Punxsutawney Phil on Groundhog Day — in the Groundhog Day production that actually is the New York Knicks — better not make Brunson out to be more than he is as a basketball player if they do get him, make him out to be some kind of savior, because the landscape of New York sports is littered with guys being sold to fans as being more than they are.
But Rose is a former agent. Selling is what they do. He sold himself to James L. Dolan. Rose will try to sell his program, and soon, to Brunson or Kyrie. He will try to see one of them to his long-suffering fan base, trapped in one of the worst relationships in all of professional sports.
The Knicks thought that they could hire a former agent to run the team the way Warriors once hired Bob Myers, who has become one of the great front-office men of all time. At least Myers played the game once.
You know who Leon Rose’s big acquisition has been so far for the Knicks? William (World Wide Wes) Wesley. Another guy whose relationships were going to put the Knicks over the top, the way Steve Mills’ relationships were going to do that once. How’s that working out for the Knicks so far? All this time later, no one is even sure what Wesley does except have his picture taken.
So the long season of pain for Knicks fans continues. Some of the hard-core Knick fans actually get angry with you if you criticize management, and its blueprint of the moment. They cling to the belief that Rose actually has a vision for the Knicks going forward, other than the familiar and predictable plan for all who came before them in Dolan’s front office, the ones whose real plan, and real end game, was remaining part of the permanent government at Madison Square Garden.
It has been 23 years since the Knicks last played in the NBA Finals, one of the four times that has happened in the three-quarters of a century that the Knicks have been in existence. The last time they won a division title was nine years ago. That was the year they did win a playoff series, against the Celtics. They couldn’t even get that right. They should have swept the Celtics, didn’t, had to play a Friday night Game 6 before clinching, came home and lost Game 1 to the Pacers and never recovered from that.
Then Jackson came to town to get paid and set the franchise back five years. Or maybe it was 500 years. Now the Knicks have their own former agent, the former agent who isn’t Bob Myers of the Warriors. Their two best players are Barrett and Julius Randle, who wouldn’t be the very best players on any contending team anywhere. And here the Knicks are in a division with the Bucks and Celtics and Heat and, Lord help and protect us, the Nets.
They are the Knicks. Another draft has come and gone. But the rallying cry remains the same: Wait ‘Till Which Year?
ALL-ABOARD FOR THE SUBWAY SERIES, YANKEES NEED TO THINK BIGGER & NHL REFS CAN’T COUNT …
Take the real Subway Series of 2000 out of play because that was something different, because it was the kind of World Series we used to get in New York in the ‘50s.
And take away the first in-season Subway Series, and the luster it had because of the novelty of it all.
And then know this:
The games this summer between these Yankees and the Mets will be the most anticipated we’ve ever had.
Buck Showalter is right.
Imagine what the air will be like when both teams are on the field together.
There haven’t been more important pitching stories in baseball this season than Clay Holmes.
Even though the Yankees have had some big innings this season — like, every 20 minutes or so — there wasn’t one that felt bigger than the bottom of the 9th on Thursday night against the Astros.
Still not quite sure what the point of the Yankees still negotiating with Aaron Judge over a couple of million dollars was at arbitration.
What point were they trying to make by getting him to come down even a little, in this season when he keeps hitting balls that don’t come down.
This may be one of the biggest regular seasons in the history of the Yankees.
The owner needs to start thinking a little bigger.
The Jan. 6 hearings are starting to make Watergate look like traffic court.
And while we’re on the subject of American politics:
America was shamed this week, on Roe v. Wade and on guns, by the worst and weakest and most dangerous Supreme Court in this country’s history.
One more thing that has come out of these Jan. 6 hearings?
The bindlestiffs trying to overthrow the government — and with all respect to Mr. Breslin — really were The Gang That Couldn’t Coup Straight.
While a few, brave honorable men at the Department of Justice stood strong against these enemies of the state and saved us all.
My friend Stanton says that Arch Manning will not just make Steve Sarkisian look smart again, but save his job at Texas, all because of what he learned from Nick Saban:
Get the best players and everything will take care of itself.
We often talk about once-a-generation players.
Ohtani is a once-a-century player.
If golf’s majors are going to do nothing to prevent the Blood Money Tour guys from playing them, then the PGA Tour is going to be defenseless about the sports-washing that tries to wash away the blood of Jamal Khashoggi.
The big lie here, and it is really a tremendous lie, is that grifters like Greg Norman and Phil Mickelson are doing this to grow the sport.
They’re doing it to grow their bank accounts.
If the refs couldn’t spot too many men on the ice in what was the most important moment of the NHL season — the end of Game 4, Avalanche vs. Lightning — then ask yourself a question:
What are they doing there?
All this time later, Giuliani is still the Yankee mascot.