Analysis: The “Fat Lady” Sings Goodbye To Knicks

By Jerald LeVon Hoover
Updated: April 20, 2007

NEW YORK — “Me-me-me-me-me!…me-me-me-me-me!”… “Testing, testing…one, two, three. Testing…testing.” I can hear the fat lady saying as she checks also with the pianist to make sure he’s in the right key.

The Grammy Award winning Fat Lady has just picked up her third consecutive award in a row. Thank goodness for Isiah that making the playoffs wasn’t a criteria for him keeping his J-O-B(s) in Gotham.

The Knicks finished their subpar season with a 33-49 record. They beat the Charlotte Bobcats, 94-93 (to avoid losing another 50-spot) courtesy of a tip-in by center Eddy Curry with 0.06 seconds left on the clock.

The Knicks played as if there was a playoff berth at stake. If only the team would have played with the same fire all season long the outcome might have been much different.

Sure, there are a lot of factors that played out to which why the Knicks fell short. For one, three of their top four scorers have missed significant time: Jamal Crawford went down for the season February 27th. Quentin Richardson has missed a great deal of time before he had season-ending back surgery on March 30th.

Stephon Marbury has been banged up for much the entire season and was out with turf toe. Steve Francis has had an injury riddled season and, last but not least, David Lee went down with a severe high ankle sprain right after his All-star weekend exploits (30 points, 14-of-14 shooting) to which he was named MVP of the Rookie-Sophmore Challenge.

The Knicks and scores of their faithful fans believe that if those injuries had not occurred the “fat lady’ would be singing a playoff tune (perhaps the National Anthem for Game Three?) as opposed to a lullaby.

The progress that Garden chairman James Dolan looked for was evidenced enough in the team’s overall grit most of the season. Even in games that the Knicks lost, they played extremely hard.

The main problems (which can be corrected with more concentration and hard work over the summer) are turnovers (the need for a better pure point man coming off the bench), free throws and overall defense.

There is talent on this Knicks squad despite what some critics say. There are some issues that need to be resolved, like what to do with Francis and his mammoth contract?

And is there a trade in the works for a deadeye shooter to make life easier for center Eddy Curry? Can the Knicks find a small forward with size other than Richardson that shoot?

The season overall wasn’t a bust for the Knicks. Sure, they should have or could have won more games. Before the rash of injuries, some of the close games they lost were due to shotty (pun intended) foul shooting at the close of games.

That’s an Achilles heel for a team that goes to the line as much as the Knicks do. One this that’s for certain about head coach Isiah Thomas is if there is a weakness that he sees within his team he’ll do anything and everything in his power to correct it and make it a strong-suit.

There was a time when the Knicks never went to the line and were also the worse rebounding team in the league. Now, they stand at or near the top in both categories as far as attempted free throws.

GAME NOTES: Look for the Bulls – a team New York just feuded with in Chicago over free hamburgers – to have their fingers crossed for the Knicks to win the Lottery. Due to Isiah’s insistence in getting Curry, he had to pony up a switch of first round draft picks.

Just imagine the Knicks winning the Lottery with either Greg Oden or Kevin Durant available and Chicago gets the pick. It will not be a pretty scene around the Garden on draft day. And there doesn’t seem to be another Renaldo Balkman in this year’s draft to compensate.