Monday, November 26, 2012
People in New York are breathless, and not just because of the recently-arrived cold snap that has accompanied the thicker crowds and gridlock that can only mean the holiday season (for my gift, I'd like another half-hour each day to make sure I get to work on time).
The reason for a lot of this self-induced asphyxiation is the smoking start of New York's favorite winter sons, the New York Knicks. And a lot of the noise coming out of the Garden isn't just coming from the fans.
They are off to a 9-3 start, and 5-0 on their home floor. Carmelo Anthony already has been touted as the NBA's MVP. Mike Woodson and Glen Grunwald are in the discussion to be named Coach and Executive of the Year, respectively. Next thing you know, the Knicks City Dancers will replace the Rockettes at Radio City. We might as well cancel the rest of the season and reserve the Canyon of Heroes right now.
EVERYONE. PLEASE. STOP.
Did I mention the Knicks began play Monday morning 9-3? As in 12 games? As in 12 games of an 82-game NBA schedule? Sure, the Knicks have impressed, and for a team that has not shown much in the way of postseason chops since Pat Riley (and to a lesser extent, Jeff Van Gundy) stalked the sidelines, I'm here to tell you to take it down a notch. Or several.
I'll take it a step further, for the record: The Knicks are a mirage, an apparition, a fraud. You heard it here first: The Nets will finish the regular season with a better record; the Knicks will be hard-pressed to wheeze to the end of the regular season above .500.
Why? The reasons are many. You want to say the Knicks have plenty of veteran experience? That's a diplomatic way of saying they're old -- the oldest team in NBA history on opening night of the season, according to Stats, LLC (32 years, 240 days). Half their roster is comprised of players with 10 or more years in the league (not including Pablo Prigioni, who is classified as a rookie despite being 35 years old). They have eight players 30 or older, five 35 or older, and one -- Kurt Thomas, who is 40.
Rasheed Wallace has already missed two games with a sore foot that won't get any better as the schedule intensifies. Ronnie Brewer already is hobbled with a bad knee. This team is a Jason Kidd rolled ankle and a Tyson Chandler knee sprain away from tumbling to oblivion.
But wait, you say -- the Knicks are getting back Amar'e Stoudemire and Iman Shumpert, who surely will add to the depth of this team.
Well and good, sort of. For one, Stoudemire's best days are long behind him, and you have to wonder how much he'll actually be able to contribute when he does get back on the floor. It's more likely he'll just line up as another casualty in a list that's sure to grow as the season progresses. And by the time Shumpert is cleared to play, there's a good chance the Knicks' season will be in as much ruin as the ancient, creaky guys who wear their uniforms.
It would be impossible for any team -- much less one with as much mileage as this one -- to maintain the torrid pace they've set. A case can be made they've played their best basketball of the season. And the Christmas decorations just went up in midtown. You have to wonder how much love there will be for the Knicks once Valentine's Day rolls around, which should be more than enough time for everyone around here to catch their breath.