For six months our lives were held hostage by Carmelo Anthony and the Denver Nuggets. And now we can all move on, as can the New York Knicks. But in reality, the soap opera will most likely continue, and we have numerous questions to ask about the past, present and future of the team. Though the Knicks' owner crawled out of his cave to deny any Isiah Thomas involvement in the Anthony deal, did The Dolan Whisperer really not have any say in things? Did James Dolan ignore Donnie Walsh's (and Mike D'Antoni's) wishes not to give up everybody on the roster for the former Nugget? What does this mean for poor Walsh's future? How can he stand to stick around working for a guy like Dolan? Especially since he's the hero who cleaned up Thomas' mess. The team was completely gutted, so how many steps back will they take in the short term? Who will play defense? Who will play center? Who will rebound? Will Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire ever find any chemistry together? Will Stoudemire have to move back to center? How long will they just be the Big Two until the trio is complete? Is Chauncey Billups their point guard for next season also? Is there a cooler name than "Chauncey Billups"? Deron Williams was stolen by the New Jersey Nets, so what if he or Chris Paul never make it to New York? Is Anthony really that good? Was he worth tearing apart a team? Can he do anything other than score? Were all those hours spent learning how to spell Danilo Gallinari's name all for naught? What are we going to do without Eddy Curry to pick on anymore? But does any of that matter when the Garden's rocking the way it was on Wednesday?
And now on to the other top stories of the week in the world of New York sports.
The Debut: For one night anyway, the new Knicks were successful. At times, they looked like a team that hadn't practiced together, which, of course, they hadn't. But one thing we saw is that Anthony and Billups are big-time players who can come through when the game is on the line. Of course, that was the Milwaukee Bucks the Knicks were facing and next is Cleveland--but on Sunday is the Miami Heat, which will be all kinds of fun to watch. Carmelo's introduction was probably one of the greatest introductions in the history of introductions. The only thing that could have topped it was if he roared into the Garden on a motorcycle and jumped over the Knick City Dancers, a la Evel Knievel. Anthony picked the perfect night to make his Madison Square Garden debut, as it was Legends Night, with Harry Gallatin, Dick Barnett, Earl Monroe, Mark Jackson (who couldn't attend), John Starks and Allan Houston all being honored. Not to mention Walt Frazier and his usual outlandish suit, which became an instant legend in and of itself. All Anthony and Stoudemire had to do on Wednesday night was to look across the floor at Clyde and Earl the Pearl to see how two superstars could not only coexist but thrive.
The Coup: The Nets were shut out of the Anthony sweepstakes, after putting themselves back in the running after pulling themselves out of the running. Plan B was to acquire a smattering of ex-Knicks from the Nuggets, but that didn't work out either. But they surprised everybody with Plan C, a don't-forget-about-us deal, acquiring Williams from the Jazz. Mikhail Prokhorov forced his archrival, the Knicks, to upgrade their package and he improved his team at the same time. Will Williams stick around with the Nets long enough to go to Brooklyn, though? At any rate, it was a risk worth taking. But does this mean Jerry Sloan can go back to coaching the Jazz now?
Fasten Your Seatbelts: After losing to the New Jersey Devils and the Philadelphia Flyers this week, not to mention losing Marian Gaborik (and Marc Staal during Tuesday's game), the New York Rangers looked like their season was spiraling out of control. They looked as if they were following the formula of the New York Giants, with a late-season collapse and the piling up of injuries. But on Tuesday, they followed their own old, first-half-of-the-season formula: Fall behind, don't panic, tie the game in the third period, win it in a shootout. Wojtek Wolski was the hero in the must-win over Carolina, while Henrik Lundqvist was perfect as usual in the skills competition. Without Gaborik (though he wasn't producing much in the first place), they're going to need a different hero every night. And it looks like it's going to be a bumpy ride for the last 20 games of the season.
Ya Gotta Believe: The Devils are taking a page out of the 1973 New York Mets instruction manual, trying for a last-place-to-first-place, improbable run to glory. Well, in New Jersey's case, it's a last-place-to-eighth-place run. They beat the Rangers on Friday, they beat the Thrashers on Saturday and they beat the Stars on Tuesday. It doesn't matter who they play, when they play or where they play--all they do is win. Everyone from Ilya Kovalchuk to Johan Hedberg to Mark Fayne is chipping in. But the real question is: Who is the Tug McGraw of the Devils?
Ya Gotta Believe II: The New York Islanders went 2-1-1 this week, continuing their solid play, and they almost pulled off a stunning, come-from-behind victory over the Flyers on Thursday. Jacques Lemaire is getting all the accolades around here, but what about the job Jack Capuano is doing? Let's give him a little credit. The Devils were supposed to be an elite team and are just now playing up to their potential, but the Isles are a young, learning work-in-progress, not to mention having gone through more goalies than there were Carmelo Anthony trade rumors. So let's give Capuano some props for how he's transformed his team as well.
The World According to Hank: Hank Steinbrenner's on the loose, which means it's time to kick back, open an adult beverage and take in the show. Apparently the problem with the New York Yankees last year wasn't an aging team or spending outrageous amounts of money on a guy like A.J. Burnett, but they were too busy celebrating their 2009 World Series win while building mansions. While Derek Jeter's mansion is nicknamed St. Jetersburg, the ostentatious-less Steinbrenner rents a studio apartment, which the locals call HankLand. He also stated his team didn't win because they were too distracted by the LeBron James Decision and the rampant Carmelo Anthony rumors that began last summer. Going forward, he wants his players to lay off the mansions in the offseason and stick to building a nice, manageable birdhouse or maybe a go-cart for the kids.
I Got Smarts Real Good: Meanwhile in Port St. Lucie, the ownership of the Mets could only dream of having a loose cannon like Big Hank as being their biggest embarrassment. But lost in the team's disaster of a winter, the Mets suddenly have an intelligent, well-spoken front office, an intelligent, passionate, clear-speaking manager and even a group of highly intelligent players, with the likes of R.A. Dickey, Chris Young and Chris Capuano coming to mind. Now if they can just make the Wilpons, Oliver Perez and Luis Castillo disappear, and get Johan Santana back as quickly as possible, maybe they can briefly take the spotlight away from their owners by being a competent team on the field and keeping the humiliation that surrounds the team to a dull roar.
And Oh Yeah: Rex Ryan predicted the New York Jets will win the Super Bowl yet again.