New York, I Love You

by Irv Soonachan

I’m leery of the Knicks and their fans’ ongoing courtship of LeBron, because it feels like Groundhog Day. As long as I’ve been alive, the Knicks have been the kings of dashed hopes and near misses.

I first felt it as a youngster when the Knicks made the Eastern Conference Semis. Bernard King nearly took out the Celtics with maybe six fingers that weren’t broken. He might as well have worn boxing gloves. High expectations the next season were severed with his ACL.

So many tortuously unanswered questions. What if King were healthy? Would the Warriors really trade Chris Mullin for Kenny “Sky” Walker? How could Charles Smith miss that layup? What about Hubert Davis, sitting right there on the bench? He can shoot, can’t he? Can we at least give Hubert a try before it’s…? What if Ewing’s knees hold up? What if Allan Houston’s knees hold up? What if they fire Isiah Thomas and hire a rational person before Isiah goes and…?

Gifted Child grew up near the Cleveland Indians; he’s read this script already. Why would he come to New York to Save the Knicks, when there are so many better options? He says his two goals are to become an NBA Champion and a billionaire – is Madison Square Garden the best place to do that?

I recently ran into Aaron Goodwin, the mega-agent who brought LeBron into the league. He was at a Cavaliers game to visit with his former protégé. Goodwin’s current clients include Dwight Howard, Kevin Durant, Jamal Crawford and Nate Robinson.

“Madison Square Garden was synonymous with Madison Avenue, but that time is gone,” he said ominously, as he waited to go inside the locker room. “If you’re LeBron James or Dwight Howard, the market will go to where you are. It doesn’t matter, it’s a global economy.”

“For players like that, what matters is the opportunity to win. If you win, everything else will follow.”

Goodwin isn’t the only agent to think so. The New York Times recently ran a piece quoting other agents and marketing types (none of whom have LeBron’s ear, as Goodwin might) saying the exact same thing.

Bearing in mind his two goals (championships and $$), there are definitely better fits.

How about Miami, with Pat Riley running things and Dwyane Wade possibly there? In Florida (or Texas, for that matter) LeBron wouldn’t have to pay state income taxes. New York’s is 6.85 percent, which is steep when you plan on making out like Dr. Evil.

Or New Jersey/Brooklyn, who can sign a couple of max players and already have a point guard and a center? Their new majority owner, the hard-partying “billionaire bachelor,” and minority owner Jay-Z could probably make a compelling pitch.

Maybe a sign and trade with Portland or Houston, where there would be tremendous talent around even after compensating Cleveland. Or for that matter, what about the Cavs, who will have cap room this offseason to find LeBron a sidekick? Plus, they’re allowed to pay LeBron a little more than everyone else. There are probably three or four other teams worth mentioning, too.

People make imperfect career choices all the time, just because they want to be somewhere. Manhattan has been that somewhere for a lot of people. But when you take off the rose-tinted, 1973 vintage glasses, the odds aren’t good for the Knicks.

That said, don’t feel too sorry for Knicks fans if their summer is a let down. They’re used to it.


— Warriors coach Don Nelson on Monta Ellis’ spotty attendance record at pregame shootarounds: “He’s not a morning person. He gets some stomach aches or something and it’s usually not very serious.”

— Corey Maggette’s stellar play for the Warriors is not a fluke and not just hot shooting. He’s using his size more effectively than he ever has, and is getting more touches without Stephen Jackson around. It doesn’t seem as though he’s on a streak, but that he’s reaching his potential.

— The Nets might have a bright future with a new, charismatic billionaire owner, but their present is dim. They’re not getting a high level of effort from their players and word is they’re hardly even bothering to scout opponents anymore. Don’t be surprised when they break the record for the worst finish ever. (Which currently stands at 9-73.)

— Thanks to LCD Soundsystem for the title of this post.