Knicks Display Insanity On Linsanity

By: Akiem Balium- Host of 10 Minutes on the Clock on The Real Sports Talk Network, and Blogger for TRST’s the Sports Realist. Follow Akiem on Twitter @Li495Akiem

Houston, New York has a problem.

And it’s not just the all of a sudden old roster that the Knicks are featuring.

The media loves to give added attention to anything related to the New York Knicks because of the fact that they play in America’s flagship media market of Gotham. It’s also one of the worst kept secrets in sporting circles that the NBA loves it when teams in major markets (NYC, Los Angeles, Chicago, etc.) are in contention for the postseason. Those big teams are the ones with not only national following, but international following as well.

But whether they be in New York or New Zealand, backers of the Knicks have had little (if any thing) to be excited about ever since being swept in the 1999 NBA Finals to the San Antonio Spurs.

The Isiah Thomas/James Dolan era (more like er-ror) involved (among other things) a sexual harassment case and the paying of players long past their contracts had expired. It didn’t matter if you could barely make the practice squad on the Lakers or Miami. If you were old, injured, and had aged knees, you’ll make at least $15 million playing for the Knicks.

Just ask Eddy Curry.

But even with all of that, the Knicks had been a relatively boring team until this past year. Sure, they had Amare Stoudemire, Carmelo Anthony, and made a push for Chris Paul before he was eventually traded to the Los Angeles Clippers, but it still looked like an old team full of veterans that had no chance against Miami, Chicago, Indiana, or even Boston.

Then came the craze known as “Linsanity”.

When Jeremy Lin was featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated for two straight weeks that was an honor. But once Lin was featured on the cover of Time Magazine, that is when the world knew Jeremy Lin had become bigger than basketball.

Jeremy Lin’s meteoric rise to NBA stardom, ironically, was a result of Carmelo beingsidelined earlier this year. It seemed like a fairy tale story of someone who went to Harvard (not exactly Duke when it comes to basketball) and was sleeping overon couches at his teammates’ houses/apartments.

Jeremy Lin seemed to be the catalyst that energized the Knicks this season and propelledthem into the playoffs. Knicks all of a sudden had a reason to pay those astronomically high Manhattan-priced tickets at Madison Square Garden. It waseven enough to end a cable dispute between MSG Network and Time Warner, one  of many cable and satellite operators that serve the Tri-State area.

But, in this case as many others, Lin’s contract dispute with James Dolan and the Knicks didn’t come down to his basketball value—it came down to money.

Culprit #1 as to why the Knickerbockers didn’t match Houston’s offer was because the price tag for Lin would’ve been too high. The Knicks apparently wanted nothing to do with going over the $70 million luxury tax threshold. This luxury tax that wasnegotiated via the collective bargaining agreement is designed specifically to big-market teams like the Knicks from being able to outbid those in smallercities like the Kings, Bucks, Cavaliers, and Bobcats.

This had to be the only reason why the Knicks didn’t make an offer because from abasketball sense, it makes no sense. We saw how electric MSG was before Lin went down with his injury that rendered him basically out of commission for thepostseason.

Yeah, he only played 35 games, but the press is missing the point. If Lin continues to sustain injury after injury after injury, then we’ll look back at this in a few years and say that James Dolan actually made a smart move. But, it’s not like Lin has become Greg Oden or Derrick Rose yet—they’re both injury prone.

You had to know that the Knicks’ chances of being able to resign Lin took a huge hit when they made the deal for Raymond Felton. Even though Felton is a former Knick, he’solder at this point and has been in the league for almost 10 years. There are those who remember Felton more for his days lacing it up for the Carolina Tar Heels than his days as an NBA player.

And don’t even get me started on the potential marketing aspect of this non-deal. Good luck seeing Raymond Felton in a commercial or billboard outside of the Tri-State area.

Now, it’s possible that the Knicks’ loss could turn into the Houston Rockets’ gain. Ofcourse, this isn’t the first time that Space City USA has attempted to gain in both basketball and financial value from overseas talent.

It’s likely that if not for injuries (and the rigorous schedule of playing for the Chinese national team) that Yao Ming would’ve developed into the NBA’s next premier center along with Dwight Howard. The Rockets are once again trying to market to the Asian-American population by bringing Jeremy Lin to the Toyota Center. Them using Hakeem Olajuwon to pitch the Rockets’ case didn’t hurt either.

A majority of the Asian population that followed the NBA became Rockets fans when Yao Ming joined the team in the early 2000’s. After the signing of Jeremy Lin it is safe to say the Asian population will rally behind the Rockets once again.

Lin even admitted that he preferred New York over Houston, but that’s the harsh reality(unfortunately) of business in the NBA. This league has the potential to be extremely cut-throat. Just ask Stan Van Gundy.

It’s one thing for fans to preach loyalty out of players. When it comes down to it, fans subsidize team salaries. It’s another thing for teams to preach loyalty when they’re nothing more than objects to team ownership.

The book has yet to be written on how the Knicks and Rockets emerge from this deal, but Houston looks like a team that’s building for the future. The Knicks look likethe same old Knicks with a bunch of aged (and aging) legs that shouldn’t be expected to win any championships as long as that team from South Beach is still in their conference.

Sure, “Linsanity”was buoyed in many ways by ESPN’s proximity to the New York market. But what Dolan can’t dispute is the overall value Lin had (and potentially could still have) as a player (and a business asset) to this team. In case you missed it, MSG stock plummeted 8% after it was known that Lin would not be returning to the World’s Most Famous Arena. And what will the Knicks do—what they’ve continued to do for years: raise prices for individual and season ticket price sat the Garden.

All of these issues, of course, can be fixed with winning. In NYC, nothing less than winningis accepted with those diehard fans. Even without Lin, the team did seem to respond well to Mike Woodson’s coaching style which was why they went on alate-season run into the postseason. They still do have many good players and some continue to call Stoudemire and Carmelo great players. The ceiling for the Knicks at this point is still a 5 seed in an Eastern Conference that seems to be getting stronger, but still weaker than the West.

But, if the Knicks fail to deliver after this debacle & Lin propels the Rockets, the attendance at MSG will go in the same direction as the stock price of MSG.

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Posted on July 20, 2012, in NBA and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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