Part 1. THE ACHILLES KNEE
“[S]uch is Achilles’ deathly earnest, so absolute is his fire . . . .” (Cedric H. Whitman)
It is peculiar that the most recent flare up of the Knicks’ “Achilles Knee” (more on that term later) involved a collision with Brandon Rush. That collision resulted when Rush rolled over Danillo Gallinari’s knee to brace himself for a fall. The outcome, an injury to Gallinari’s left knee that will keep the Knicks forward out of the Knicks rotation for a period of 2-3 weeks.
Hmmm… That Brandon Rush of the Knicks recruiting scandal that surfaced several months back in October. Brandon Rush whose own knee injury (an anterior cruciate tear to his right knee) eventually resulted in statements from Rush that revealed the Knicks recruiting scandal. That same Brandon Rush who had to forgo the 2007 NBA draft -due to his knee injury- and entered the draft the same year as the Knicks own Danillo Gallinari. Irony anyone?
The injury to Gallinari’s knee that will sideline him for 2-3 weeks could pale in comparison to the damage that may be meted out to the Knicks by way of the recruiting scandal. Some speculate that the discipline may cause the Knicks a draft pick or several such picks. A draft pick that may inhibit the Knicks ability to play all their chips in a potential trade for coveted free agent Carmelo Anthony.
We should all know by now that the New York Knicks have an Achilles’ problem, except it’s in the organization’s knees. They have an Achilles’ Knee. A joint so shoddy, questionable and tricky that it’s effected the organizations prospects, stability and aspirations for as long as I can remember. Probably as long as you can remember also.
Think about it the knee has always been a cause of frustration for the Knicks. A union of Patrick Ewing and Bernard King fell through due to the tear of the anterior cruciate ligament to King’s right knee. Then there were the worn knees of franchise player Patrick Ewing. Recall the Knee sprain that cost the Knicks John Starks for the 2003-04. A season in which Starks presence on the court might have helped secure the Knicks home court advantage. There was also the fractured knee cap of Antonio McDyess and the failed recovery of Allen Houston from micro-fracture surgery. Injuries that botched an attempted pairing of the then two gifted scorers as the Knicks entered the 21st century.
Recently there’s the attempted recovery of reserve guard Kelenna Azubuike’s from patella surgery. There’s the health and dependability of the knees of Knicks front court enforcer Ronny Turiaf. Then there’s the durability of Amar’e Stoudemire’s knees. And this week off course there was the strain of Danillo Gallinari’s left knee. The ill fortune of the Achilles’ knee has not been lost on those that cover and report on the Knicks. Even leading one reporter to lament:
It’s always something with the Knicks, isn’t it? Bernard King’s knees, Patrick Ewing’s knees, Antonio McDyess’ knees, . . . [a]nd now Stoudemire is a walking medical hazard?
The literal misfortunes affecting the knees of key Knicks players has its figurative equivalent when it comes to the franchise’s own misadventures. An equivalent found in the questionable soundness of decisions. Decisions that reflected the organization’s quest for a quick fix.
The figurative Achilles’ Knee might go as far back to when the franchise got weak in the knees and acceded to Patrick Ewing’s demands to be traded out of New York. A decision that many believe began a downward spiral. A spiral paced by the questionable acquisition of overpriced yet mediocre talent. Knee jerk decisions to overpay for talented players with questionable characters continued the spiral as it spun towards cap space hell.
The Knicks also lived on their knees for the last several years in servility to a cap space cult in hopes of luring a false god. Genuflecting to trade scenarios where the organizations adversaries tugged at and manipulated the Knicks desperation. Obsequious gestures unheeded left the franchise to scramble and salvage a semblance of forward momentum.
What does this have to do with the current Knicks? The Knicks will be at another cross roads as the NBA’s trade deadline and 2011 Free Agency loom on the horizon. With the web or rumors, misdirection and grandstanding by rival General Managers in the back drop, the organization must move cautiously less it revisits the miscues of the past. It is the figurative Knicks Achilles’ Knee that should be kept in mind as the organization approaches that cross road.