Wall Street vs. Main Street

Amar'e chatting up Tommy Hilfiger

Kevin Durant dresses like Urkel, if Urkel were a point-scoring domination automaton

Tonight the Knicks and their bloated, misspent payroll come stumbling into Oklahoma City one gave above mediocrity, despite having played one of the league’s easiest schedules thus far. They will face a young, sleek Oklahoma City squad that has burst out to a 10-2 record, despite the media-created drama surrounding their star players, Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant. However, in many ways this game feels like an allegory for the Main Street vs. Wall Street/Red State vs. Blue State/’Muurka v. America/Live within your means vs. Get Rich Quick divide that has been going on over the past few years. A player-by-player look at how these rosters were constructed paints a clear picture of the philosophies of each front office and their relative success. Unfortunately, it looks like the Bockers will stagnate, having been locked into their current mediocre roster, while the Thunder will continue to grow and compete at the highest level.

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What About Jerome Jordan?

Will Jared Jeffries' Return Fasten Jerome Jordan's Cheeks to the Bench?

If everything goes according to plan, the Knicks will have Jared Jeffries back on the active roster at some point this week. Knicks fans were reminded painfully that Jeffries is a limited player during Game 2 of the Boston series last year. However, a limited player is not necessarily a useless player. Jeffries can passably guard every position on the floor, which is a particularly useful skill on a Knicks team that occasionally seems pathologically committed to switching on ball screens. With the 6’11” Jeffries returning to the rotation, the Bockers’ front court rotation will consist of Tyson Chandler, Amar’e Stoudemire, Jorts, and Jeffries, with Carmelo Anthony capable of playing the 4 in small ball lineups. The odd man out will be rookie center and former Serbian sensation Jerome Jordan,* which begs the question: what should the Knicks do with Jordan?

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Week In Review

Before the season began, if you asked me to guess which five teams have the best chance of finishing with the worst record in the league, there is a good chance that my list would have been Sacramento, Toronto, Charlotte, Washington, and Detroit. The Cavs and Nyets would have also gotten strong consideration. Coming off a blowout win in Sacramento, it wasn’t foolish to look ahead and imagine that the Knicks would end this week on a five game winning streak. Instead the Knicks split their games, losing both at home and winning both on the road, but easily could have been 1-3 for the week if the undisciplined and still winless Wizards pulled out the victory. How did it all go down? Let’s review.

Against the Raptors on Monday, the offense looked terrible and the Knicks went into halftime down a painful 51-34 at the Garden. Stoudemire was still out with his ankle injury, and we were still a game away from the beginning of Shumpamania. Tyson Chandler miraculously managed to play 43 minutes without fouling out, and Volume Scorer Carmelo Anthony had 35 points on 31 shots making up 40% of the team’s 78 FG attempts. Normally I’d say that is too many shots for one player, but Anthony shot a relatively robust 41% from the floor (13 for 31), while the rest of the team was 15 for 47 for a less than sizzling 32%. Former cult hero Josh Harrellson scored two points in 33 minutes and Mike Bibby was scoreless in an ineffective 15 minutes of action. As Mike pointed out in his recap, this was a bad loss to a team that is largely comprised of players who won 22 games last year, but it was an understandable loss as the Knicks were looking ahead to playing the ’86 Celtics at the Boston Garden. Read more of this post

Shump-Shump: Typical Rookie Hype?

“You guys are the most irrational, delusional people on the planet,” says a co-worker of mine, a Sixers fan, as he plays a video of MSG’s chants “We Want Shumpert!” from Wednesday night’s abomination. “Serious question,” he asks, “who do you think will win an MVP award first, Landry Fields or Iman Shumpert?”

The reputation that Knicks fans have garnered over the years as being a bit too excited about their rookies is well-deserved. John Wallace, Trevor Ariza, Channing Frye. It speaks volumes about how badly Knicks fans want a  homegrown star and how Knicks fans will convince themselves that some unassuming rookie is the missing link. We were saved once before – Ewing – Why not again? 

As AC pointed out last night, Knicks fans are ridin’ with Iman Shumpert this year.

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A Machiavellian Look at NBA Fandom

“It’s not about about East or West. It’s about power and money. Riders and punks. Which side are you on?”
-Tupac Shakur
Whether you think Pac is the GOAT or overrated lyrically, no will deny that he used his talent and charisma to be one of the, if not the, most influential rapper of all time. If you need proof go listen to “Brendas Got a Baby” and think about what you could write at 19. 2pac inspired countless with his rhymes, and at the same time he was an enigmatic and crazy mofo. No matter, fans ate up everything he did. In 1994, he released the mysogynistic “I Get Around” and the touching “Keep ‘Ya Head” as back to back singles, but no one really cared about the contradiction. When he slept with Biggie’s wife and bragged about in “Hit em’ Up,” he somehow gained more fans even though you would side with Biggie if the same thing happened with two of your friends (none of my friends are rappers, so it would have to be cheating caught on Facebook or something). Like most things in life, TuPac was complex, but he worked damn hard to earn the privilege of being embraced for that complexity.

A couple of months prior to his death he changed his name to Makaveli to make the very raw 7 Day Theory. As the legend goes, Pac recorded his verses in less than a week of late night sessions. During the day he was filming the movie Gang Related, so he was operating on fumes and still managed to make a classic rap album. The album opens with a fake news cast poking fun at other rappers who took shots at Pac in rhyme (poor Prodigy) and some rappers who had no idea they earned Tupac’s wrath (see Jay-Z). Then the fake newscast cuts to Tupac reading a press release and the quote at the top. Brilliantly he removes the geography from his feud with Biggie and makes it more polarizing. To him, it’s clear that there is something innately off about his rivals and most of them just happen to be from New York. He didn’t hate them because they were New Yorkers, after all, he could kick it with Boot Camp. Instead, he hated them because they weren’t riders; you couldn’t count on them when ish got thick. And in Tupac’s dichotomous world, if you weren’t riding with him you were his enemy, and therefore you were a punk. It was crazy and probably rooted in paranoia, but it was an oddly familiar perspective.
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Defending D’Antoni

I grew up pushin snowflake to [cats] who were pro-base. The stress’ll take a young [cat] and give him an old face.
-Shawn Carter

The current consensus is that Mike D’Antoni’s days as a coach of the Knickerbockers are numbered. From the beginning, D’Antoni has been facing an uphill battle because he was pushing offense in a city that appreciates defense and toughness. If the Knicks lose to the Kings on Saturday night, the cries for D’Antoni’s head will be the loudest they have ever been, and rightfully so, because for the first time in four years the Knicks are actually expected to be good.

Last year the Knicks finished over .500 for the first time since the 2000-2001 season. Let that sink in. A decade of losing records, a ten year span in which every team in the NBA except the Knicks finished with a winning record at least once. Look it up. The Clippers had 47 wins in 2005-2006. The Bobcats, believe it or not, had 44 wins two years ago. That Game 5 loss against the Raptors was a long time ago. Back then Shaggy was cranking out number one hits, William Peterson wasn’t really famous yet for CSI (well, he still isn’t famous because I had to look up his name on IMDB), and we still had a year before knowing that you could get red tops from an industrious youth named Bodie. So what does Mike D’Antoni get for ending a decade of futility? It certainly didn’t get him a contract extension. Instead it gives him the wonderful opportunity to read about how he doesn’t know how to coach defense, or that he is just keeping the seat warm for Phil Jackson.
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Offensively Offensive

Let me preface this entire post by saying it is extremely early and I am not typically an alarmist. We are a baby step into the marathon of the season, but what I have seen so far is so disturbing I can’t help but voice my concerns. Still, plenty of time to right the ship.

I am sure in the coming days/weeks, we’ll have a piece on our individual feelings on Mike D’Antoni and the current state of his tenure and future here as the Knicks coach. Personally, I don’t fall into the devout followers of either camp; I don’t think he has earned an extension thus far, but I also don’t want to see him axed tomorrow. He finally has a full complement of players that he believes can contend at a championship level, so I think we should give him the opportunity to excel with this cast.

However, I do have some very strong opinions on what I see as major systemic issues with our identity right now and, even crazier for a commentary on the man commonly referred to as Mike _’Antoni, I am not nearly as (relatively) concerned about the defense as I am the offense.
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