Nine years ago Allan Houston and Latrell Sprewell took the floor with the New York Knicks in the All-Star Game. Tonight, David Lee will become the first Knick since Houston and Sprewell to make an All-Star appearance. In those intervening nine years, the franchise has plunged to the depths of the NBA and become a laughingstock. Let’s look back at all the “fun”.
To be fair, the Knicks's decline started a bit before that All-Star Game in 2001; it began with the insane decision to ship Patrick Ewing to Seattle for a collection of players. Instead of letting Ewing play the final year of his contract out and then using the resulting cap money in free agency, they elected to trade for, and give contract extensions to players like Glen Rice. It was a bad precedent for the rest of the decade.
The Knicks won two playoff games in April 2001 before bowing out of the first round to the Raptors. That was the high point of the decade as the Knicks have not finished above .500 or won a playoff game since then. Jeff Van Gundy resigned a little way into the 2001-2002 season, which set off a stretch of six coaches in the next eight seasons.
Isiah came on board and traded for Stephon Marbury, which actually got the Knicks to the playoffs again. But, the final payoff for that trade comes due this June when Utah uses the Knicks first round pick, probably a lottery selection, to improve their team. Some other “highlights” from that era include the Jerome James signing, the trade for Eddy Curry, the Larry Brown-Isiah Thomas marriage, and the subsequent divorce and sexual harassment trial.
And that brings us to today when the Knicks have an All-Star again; but do they have a future? They are 19-32, four games out of the playoffs. They have bet the franchise on one roll of the dice, landing an impact free agent after this season concludes. It may be a better plan than they had under Isiah, but what if it doesn’t work? Knicks’ fans have lived through one miserable decade; they can’t be expected to do it again.