Everyone’s favorite sitcoms are all based in New York, but New Yorkers have one that’s quite close to home: The New York Knicks.
For the Knicks, it’s been the same story for the last 25 years: Hire a new head coach who brings in some wins or even a postseason appearance until the city and team gets tired of him. The franchise then hires another coach willing to go through the blender once again. Along the way, a few protagonists are introduced, some of whom fill up the seats, while others become men of the streets.
The bigger picture, though, lies in the fact that an NBA championship has eluded the city of New York for almost 50 years, a feat not lost to a team that has seen two close calls and remains a more valuable franchise than the 17-time NBA champions Los Angeles Lakers and the Boston Celtics.
So why do the people keep coming back to see the Knicks?
Maybe it’s because of a thing called hope.
Hope that they’ll witness the long drought end. Hope that the narrative will finally change in their favor. Hope that simply put, things will be different.
As it stands, though, things are quite uncertain in New York.
At 2-3, the Knicks are teetering between a team that can win games and a squad led by three lefties (plus two more on the roster) trying to do something right. The recent split home-and-home series to the Cleveland Cavaliers was a tale of two teams as the Knicks had no qualms beating the Cavaliers on their home floor.
That’s why it was surprising when they couldn’t earn the same result when the short series returned to the Madison Square Garden.
Jalen Brunson led New York with 24 points, but Julius Randle only managed to finish with six points on 20 percent shooting from the field. Randle’s night was actually a microcosm of the Knicks’ night as they struggled offensively from the field and the free throw line. Given that, even a small deficit was an uphill climb.
Among the three, Brunson is the de facto leader given his dual-role as a scoring playmaker. Randle is a bulldozer looking to attack when he gets the ball, but as seen in these games against Cleveland, he can face bouts of cold shooting nights. Meanwhile, RJ Barrett continues to try living up to the moniker Maple Mamba. Hovering over these cast of characters is Tom Thibodeau, once viewed as a defensive wizard but now known as a coach who runs his players to the ground (e.g., Derrick Rose).
The talent is there and we’ve seen it in full display, but consistency will be their biggest opponent. Can New York maintain their effort on back-to-back nights? How flexible will Thibodeau be with his rotation? How will the Knicks navigate through a healthy crisis? These will be material questions to address before even acknowledging the other issues the season will bring.
There will be those that suggest that it’s still too early to give a definitive conclusion to New York’s 2023-2024 season, but an up-and-down start certainly won’t do the Knicks any favors. A brutal schedule in the coming weeks includes the rejigged Milwaukee Bucks, a potential James Harden debut for the Los Angeles Clippers, and the Celtics looking to play tormentor once again to New York.
Misery has been the New York Knicks’ company for the last half century and the start to their 2023-2024 season has done little to inspire otherwise. Adding reinforcements or implementing a system are well and good, but the root of any progress the Knicks hope to achieve will rest on consistency.