Knicks Lay Green Egg In Opener

By Jerald LeVon Hoover
Updated: November 7, 2004

NEW YORK – Maybe it was the pressure of being picked first in very weak Atlantic Division. Maybe it was the long layoff after playing their first game on Wednesday, three days prior in Minnesota (a loss). Maybe it was the newness of having so many new faces in the starting line up. Maybe it was the anxiety to succeed in front of the home town fans.

Or maybe and this is a real stretch here, but just maybe the Knicks are suffering from New England’s Disease. What is that you say? Well, the Red Sox finally eradicated the “Curse of the Bambino” and dethroned the Yankees en route to their first World Championship since 1918 and the Jets were unable to beat the New England Patriots when both teams were undefeated and this was hailed as possibly the game of the season.

Whatever the reason or excuse was it certainly didn’t fly with the capacity crowd that cascaded “boos” and chants of “Paris Hilton” as the Knicks were blitzed by the Boston Celtics, 107-73 to give the Knicks their worst opening day defeat in franchise history. The previous was a 101-72 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers in 2000.

Wouldn’t you have just loved to have been a fly on the wall when or if GM/President Isiah Thomas addressed the team in the locker after the game? Well, it’s way too early to panic and fold in the tents, but a bell should be sounded in the way the Knicks showed no fire and no sense of urgency; and displayed a lot of passive resistance. Tri-captain Stephon Marbury said, “I would have booed too if I was a fan. We deserved to get booed by the way we played tonight.”

Coach Lenny Wilkens is a brilliant basketball mind. He didn’t become the NBA’s all time winner in coaching victories (1,315) for nothing. But, at the same time, he’s also the NBA’s all time loser (1,115) as well. Not to knock Coach Wilkens but sometimes the Knicks run into a danger zone when there’s no fire from the sidelines. The Knicks don’t need just a cheerleader of a “rah-rah” type of guy but, they do need someone to get in their faces and vehemently challenge them every now and then. And that person should not have to be Isiah Thomas. Because, if that were to happen on a regular basis, that further weakens the position of the head coach.

Either that or be a guy that can get inside the officials head when there is a tight game and one bad call without a “makeup one” can be the difference in winning and losing. He did say, “we have to defend people. We did not do a good job of talking on defense and defending.” Yes, that is the case but when the coach sees this and the fans realize this and they react negatively in kind, shouldn’t something be done?

It’s still extremely early in the season, very early but, if the Knicks appear to still be playing sluggishly and lethargic, the Phil Jackson watch will be in full effect.

GAME NOTES: Both Knick newcomers, Jamal Crawford and rookie Trevor Ariza who excelled in the preseason did not have stellar games as anticipated. Crawford had 11 points on 3 of 9 shooting and Ariza notched 7 points on 3 of 7 shooting. The lone bright spot was reserve and fan favorite, forward Michael Sweetney who had a team high 18 points. But, most of those came in extensive ‘garbage time’. Kurt Thomas (5,034) needs just 39 point to pass Walt Bellamy (5,072) for 24th place on the Knicks all-time scoring list.