Feb. 20, 2017
Mecca of Mediocrity
Ladies and gentlemen, you have been lied to. For 70 years, people in the media and fans in New York would have you believe that the New York Knicks are a marquee franchise in the NBA. They would have you believe that they belong in the same breath as franchises like the Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers. They even go so far as to call New York City the Mecca of Basketball. Nothing could be further from the truth. And no, this has nothing to do with Phil Jackson, Carmelo Anthony and James Dolan of today’s New York Knicks. This has been a running gag for the better part of 70 years. It’s time for someone to finally admit it; the Knicks don’t deserve their reputation. They are the Mecca of Mediocrity and have been for some time.
Now let’s look at why the Knicks have the reputation they have. They play in the world’s most famous city, home of the world’s most arrogant people and play in the world’s most famous arena. When you think of New York sports, you think of success mainly because the Yankees and their outstanding success. But when you pull back the curtain on the New York Knicks, you’ll find that their reputation is mostly about talk and stories of the distant past. Once upon a time the Knicks were everything they think they are. They won NBA Championships in 1970 and 1973, were perennial playoff contenders and even had a good run in the 1990s. But for the most part, the talk never really adds up to their actual success. Consider that the Miami Heat came into existence in 1988 and have more championships than the Knicks. In the last 17 years, teams like the Lakers and San Antonio Spurs have eclipsed the Knicks 70 year history. I’m not done. The Chicago Bulls, Detroit Pistons, Houston Rockets, Golden State Warriors and Boston Celtics have won just as many or more championships than the Knicks since 1973. Since 2001, the Knicks are 231 games under .500. Why do people allow them to be considered one of the glamour franchises in the NBA. There’s nothing glamorous about going 45 years between championships.
Now about this whole Mecca of Basketball business. Once upon of time this was certainly true. Legends like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Bernard King, Connie Hawkins, Bob Cousy, Nate Archibald, Chris Mullen and Julius Erving all emerged from New York. New York is also known for their playground legends. But now the game is global. There are cities coast to coast with playground legends and they’re producing more productive NBA players right now. The best player to come out of New York that’s in the NBA right now is Kemba Walker. The last Hall of Fame inductee to hail from New York is Chris Mullen. While New York basketball is still to be respected, the game doesn’t revolve around the city like it once did.
Now back to the Knicks. Having a legend like Charles Oakley thrown out of games is just the latest in a long line of head scratching Knicks moments. They’re the joke of the NBA and have embraced this by becoming the league’s most compelling three ring circus. More famous for their infighting than what’s happening on the court. They’re more known for the celebrities seated at court side than the number in their win column. Their days of being the Mecca of Basketball has long passed. So the next time someone tries to tell you the Knicks are one of the marquee franchises in basketball and that they’re a big deal, kindly remind them of their actual place. They’re just an ordinary franchise that happens to play in New York. Nothing more nothing less.