When I went on the New York Knicks' Web site to refresh my memory about everything that has happened to the franchise over the past few years, I found it rather appropriate that the "History" section of the site only covers through the 2000-01 season.
That was the Knicks' last winning season. And as a Knicks fan, I've tried to forget basically everything that has transpired since.
But it's not that easy. In fact, I can't decide what's been worse.
The Scott Layden era? Highlights include: trading Patrick Ewing for a package including Glen Rice, Luc Longley and Travis Knight -- instead of letting Ewing's enormous contract expire; attempting to acquire every overpriced bad player from the Utah Jazz (see Howard Eisley, Shandon Anderson).
Or the Isiah Thomas regime? Highlights include: bringing in big-talent players (like Stephon Marbury, Jamal Crawford and Steve Francis) who collectively have perhaps the least amount of chemistry in NBA history; acquiring his own fair share of overpriced (Maurice Taylor, Malik Rose, Jalen Rose) and overpriced and just plain awful (Jerome James) players.
Too (achingly) close to call.
|Knicks: Past Five Years|
Last winning season: '00-'01
Last playoff season: '03-'04
All I know is, Jeff Van Gundy looks like a genius for jumping ship on Dec. 8, 2001, when the Knicks had a record of 10-9. They haven't had a winning season since. They qualified for the playoffs once, with a record of 39-43 in 2003-04. But they were swept by the Nets in the first round.
Don Chaney, Lenny Wilkens and Herb Williams all got a crack at turning things around -- with little success. So Isiah threw $50 million at Larry Brown, hoping the master of the turnaround could work his magic one more time. And in Season 1, all Brown has done is lead the Knicks to a 22-56 record, second-worst in the NBA, and one of the worst seasons in team history.
The Knicks do have some very good history. A couple of NBA titles. (Although those are a distant memory.) And a run of 14 consecutive playoff appearances from 1987-88 to 2000-01. Although the Knicks were never quite able to get over the hump during that stretch, stymied either by Michael Jordan's Bulls in the Eastern Conference playoffs or the Rockets and Spurs in the NBA Finals, it was a heck of a (mostly) fun ride.
So why are the Knicks the worst franchise in sports?
|And the nominees are ...|
The Clippers have escaped purgatory. We need a new team to mock. Check out the Page 2 essays on why the following teams may be the new Worst Franchise in Sports.
Because there is so little reason for hope. The Knicks can't just break the roster down and rebuild. There's no way they'll ever get under the salary cap and be able to sign a big-time free agent independently -- they're locked into several ridiculously expensive, untradeable contracts over the next few years. Their big-time coach thinks the team has quit on him. And he'll probably quit on them pretty soon, too.
And what makes it even worse for Knicks fans is that this team plays in New York City. In the World's Most Famous Arena. The spotlight always will shine on them -- for better, or worse. And the fact that they have the highest payroll in the NBA -- by more than $25 million -- and have the second-worst record in the league is an absolute embarrassment.
The biggest insult of all? The Knicks -- the franchise that was once reborn by having Patrick Ewing placed in their laps in the first NBA draft lottery -- would have had a ton of ping-pong balls in this year's lottery. They would have had a pretty good chance at snagging the No. 1 pick again.
But instead, they traded that pick -- to the Chicago Bulls, ironically -- for an overrated center with a heart condition who's currently spending most of his time on the pine.
I think it's about time I took "Go New York, Go New York, Go" off my iPod.
Kieran Darcy is an editor at ESPN.com and a contributor to ESPN The Magazine. You can e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.