It’s a Basketball Team, Not a TV Show

That title bears repeating but with more specifics.  The New York Knicks are a basketball team, not a season of The Wire.

I’d like to think that would be obvious; Amare Stoudemire is a lot taller than even Lt. Cedric Daniels, Carmelo Anthony is even more doe-eyed than Bubbles, and with Chauncey Billups gone there’s no parallel to Detective Lester Freamon.  Still people insist on interpreting events on the Knicks as if it was a drama.  We do it with most sports (perhaps sports were the precursor of reality television), but with the current moment of the Knicks the analogy is an especially bad fit.

This comes to mind with the speculation that Anthony’s return to the lineup in the coming days will destroy the transcendent chemistry that the team has found since installing Jeremy Lin as the starting point guard.  What’s worse is that ‘Melo has been vilified as the reason that the Knicks were a moribund losing team before Lin’s emergence, and that as a star player he’ll insist on doing things his way.    After all, if you have a hero, you have to have a villain.

That’s why it’s important to remind people that this isn’t a drama, it’s a basketball team.  Anthony and Lin will do fine together.  Anthony recommended Lin’s addition to the rotation 11 days ago against New Jersey, and during their one game together, ‘Melo took 15 shots, roughly his per game average this season.  Anthony has worked with top flight point guards on many occasions (Billups, Andre Miller and Ty Lawson), there’s no reason other than this kooky need to vilify, that he won’t this time.  Lastly it allows Anthony to return to his natural role on the team as a shooter, rather than a facilitator.

Sure, the Knicks may lose a few games after Anthony’s return (I suspect they’ll lose Sunday against the Mavericks for instance).  But expecting the Knicks to go undefeated for the rest of the season is unrealistic.  They should be a fine and dangerous team, and most of the “drama” will be invented by those incapable of covering a sports story.

Simply put, the Knicks struggled through the first third of the season because their roster was ill suited for their coach’s system–they lacked a true point guard.  They have one now and are thriving.  This has nothing to do with Anthony, and any attempt to vilify him on this count is ridiculous.

Martin Johnson wrote a weekly NBA column for the New York Sun from 2003-’08, and for from 2008-’10.  His sportswriting has also appeared in the NY Times, Wall St. Journal and the Atlantic Monthly.  


About jmartin437

I've worked in and around the world of high end cheese for 27 years. I've been everything from a department manager who hired and fired and trained staffs to a weekend warrior who shows up ties on an apron the middle of a rush and talks to customers and cleans up the place. I enjoy it all, and I especially like my current situation conducting informal seminars about cheese at area bars and in class at the 92nd St. Y. The current schedule is always up at In addition I conduct private events that are perfect to lead off birthday parties for foodies and sommeliers and also they make great entertainment for corporate team building events and associates meetings at law firms. In addition, I've been a freelance journalist for 27 years. Currently my profiles of leading musicians and filmmakers appear in the Wall Street Journal and I also wrote about sports for the Root, and for five loooong years, which included the entirety of the Isiah Thomas Knicks era, I wrote about the NBA for the New York Sun. I enjoyed writing about basketball so much that I now do it here at rotations for free.
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