Jeremy LinÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s done some amazing things the past two weeks, including making me not hate the Knicks quite so much. Make no mistake, IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m a Knicks fan, have been since I was a kid. But IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve also spent the past year largely detesting the team because there was so little to like.
The narrative after Charles OakleyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s tour de force at the K1X store in Soho on Saturday was that heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a loose cannon, not afraid to speak his mind because, well, who messes with Oak? I was there for Dime Magazine, and that was the angle we took. It pretty much had to be.
If you paid close attention, though, there was one topic Oak wouldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t talk about even when prodded: the NBA lockout. Logically, thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s because itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s the one thing he thought he might actually get fined for speaking his mind about.
But there was also a hint of underlying sadness Ã¢â‚¬â€œ perhaps Oakley couldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t talk about the lockout, but it also seemed as if he simply didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t want to, since it didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t come close to representing the ideals he always applied to his chosen profession.
A lot of people are sending out images of Jimmy Dolan, the idiot owner of the Knicks, and Isiah Thomas today, and thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a logical way to go. But right now, one image sticks with me.
I held on to the Daily News from the day of Carmelo AnthonyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s debut against the Bucks at the Garden. The picture on the back cover featured Carmelo just kind of looking around, while Dolan claps moronically like one of those clapping monkey toys with the cymbals. Jimmy is sitting next to his wife, Kristin, a Cablevision executive who as usual looks somewhat embarrassed to be pictured with him.
It was perfect.
Anyone who had watched the disgraceful press conference earlier knew that in JimmyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s head, he alone had brought Melo to the Garden! — as if that was some sort of endgame.
Meanwhile, it was president Donnie WalshÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s stellar ability to do his job that allowed the Knicks to collect the quality assets that not only had them competitive for once, but gave them the ability to make deals for upper-level talent. Walsh also knew he had leverage in negotiations for Carmelo Anthony, as it was pretty clear he was only going to play for the Knicks.
In one horrible All-Star Weekend, Dolan shot it all to hell. When I heard Jimmy had made the trip out to Los Angeles while Walsh sat at home, my heart sank. And Dolan proceeded to tear down several years of patience, hard work, progress and competence.
ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s unbelievable that I canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t enjoy a night in which the Knicks acquired a superstar ballplayer who IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve always liked, but tonightÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s events crystallize why I havenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t been fully able to embrace their climb back to respectability the past few years.
And itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a perfect example of the flawed nature of being a fan: You simply canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t control who owns the team, and thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s the single most important component of a winning franchise.