After three weeks on Cloud Nine, injuries to Jeremy Lin and Amar'e Stoudemire have sent the Knicks crashing back to Earth. However, it seems as if for the past 40 years a higher power has cast misfortune upon the franchise and extended their long title drought.
Fate has a unique way of tempering the New York Knicks. The day after Tebow-mania arrived in New York, the discomfort in Jeremy Lin’s allegedly sore left knee became painful enough that he was pulled from the Detroit Pistons game midway through the third quarter.
At the time, nobody knew that would be the last time he’d be seen on the court this season. Initially, Lin thought the injury would only keep him out a few more days. However, it became apparent that the injury was more serious than the optimistic spin the Knicks were putting on Lin’s absence as the days went by and the point guard stopped speaking to the media. On Saturday, Lin revealed that the torn meniscus in his left knee would force him to miss the next six weeks. The Knicks regular season ends on Apr. 26.
This is just the latest example of bad karma imposed by the basketball gods, who sacrificed the Knicks newest point god's left knee for a left-handed football savior. Lin's injury news would have made a perfect April Fools joke if the Knicks hadn’t delivered it on March 31.
"We were optimistic thinking it would be okay. Got the MRI just in case and then the swelling kept going down but it didn’t feel any better," said Lin after announcing that he’d elected to undergo surgery.
Once the Knicks began playing the league’s best defense statistically under Woodson during an 8-1 run it appeared the basketball gods were casting fortune upon the Knicks fan base. However, in the past eight days, the Knicks lost Amar'e Stoudemire and Lin for the rest of the season.
"We still control our destiny and we have to understand that," Woodson said following the victory over Cleveland.
Judging by the franchise’s twists of fate over the last four decades, you’ve got to wonder if that statement is completely accurate. Despite playing in the basketball mecca of Madison Square Garden, the Knicks seem to be at the mercy of the basketball gods more often then the heroes of Greek mythology. The Knicks don’t have star-crossed superstars, they’re a star-crossed franchise.
Don’t blame James Dolan or Isiah Thomas. It’s been 39 years since the Knicks last hoisted a championship trophy, while the Knicks contemporaries the Bulls, Pistons, Lakers and Celtics have won 24 championships in that span. For four decades this franchise has seen its share of ups and downs. However, the ups have usually been the set up for a mighty fall.
In a cosmic slap in the face, a backup power forward from the Knicks' last world championship team has since won 11 championships as a head coach.
In 1985, just months after his historic 60-point game on Christmas Day, Bernard King was robbed of his explosive athleticism after tearing his ACL.
As the clock ticked down in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals, Charles Smith was blocked under the rim on four putback attempts in six seconds. One basket or even a foul would have beaten the Bulls and given the Knicks a 3-2 series lead over the then two-time defending champions.
During the Jordan-less years of the 90s, everyone remembers the Knicks' seven-game loss to the Houston Rockets. After scoring 16 points in the fourth quarter, John Starks’ potential championship-winning three-pointer was blocked in Game 6 of the 1994 NBA Finals and sent the series to a seventh game.
Ewing’s Achilles tendon injury also kept him from playing in the Knicks 1999 NBA Finals defeat against the Spurs.
The last week of March was just a microcosm of the Knicks' title drought. The Heat are reeling, Derrick Rose hasn’t played in three weeks and the Atlantic Division crown is within reach. Every time the Knicks reach .500, lightning strikes. Now it appears the Knicks are headed for a first-round exit and another off-season of questions. Challenging the Philadelphia 76ers for the Atlantic Division will be near impossible with eight playoff opponents on the Knicks' schedule over the next 13 games.
Without Lin, Baron Davis and his perennially sore hamstring have slowed the offensive pace dramatically and will force the team to further bunker down defensively for the rest of the season. However, this team can’t go far without Amar'e and Lin. Based on the franchise’s history, they’d be better served Tebowing towards the basketball gods. They are not happy with the Knicks.