If you scan the headlines of the NYC tabloids on any given day, you can read that the Knicks’ coach, Mike D’Antoni, is on the outs with either his team or the owner. On alternate days, you can read that he has the support of his team but that no one can predict what the owner might do from minute to minute. I will not pretend to know the inner workings of the Knicks as a team or as an organization; but taking a dispassionate view, there are plenty of levels of dysfunctionality on the court that should concern fans.
As a general rule, NY fans tend to be “star-struck”; they love big names and big reputations to the point where they hope for acquisitions that just do not work. In a sense, those fans have a kindred spirit in Knicks’ owner, James Dolan, who seems similarly “star-struck”. Such was the case with the Carmelo Anthony trade. The Knicks gave up 4 players of “starter quality” but not necessarily “star quality” – - plus a draft pick – - to get Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups. Then, they “amnestied” Billups as soon as they were allowed to do that. The problem for the Knicks in that trade is that they gave up guys who might defend once in a while and do some non-glorious rebounding and screen-setting to obtain a prodigious scorer. From watching parts of several Knicks’ games this year, here is what their offense looks like on far too many possessions:
1. Someone brings the ball over half-court and passes the ball to Carmelo Anthony.
2. If the ball cannot go directly to Anthony, the pass goes to Amare Stoudamire who then passes the ball to Anthony.
3. Anthony dribbles around for a few seconds until a double team comes at him because the shot clock is winding down.
4. Anthony hoists up a shot from wherever he happens to be at that moment.
Just a tad of clarification here … that is not a winning offensive system.
By all reports, Mike D’Antoni did not favor making that trade last year and neither did the previous GM/Team President/Basketball Guru Donnie Walsh. Reports say that deal went down because James Dolan wanted Carmelo Anthony and so he went out and got him.
I am not a huge fan of Mike D’Antoni’s system because his teams play only marginal levels of defense. But that is just me… In one sense, Anthony and D’Antoni are a match made in Heaven because Anthony plays defense only by accident. However, Knicks’ fans can take heart; help is on the way. Baron Davis is working his way into shape; that will solve everything…
Meanwhile, about 200 miles south of NYC, the Washington Wizards continue to play poorly. I know that their 3-7 record in their last 10 games is an improvement over the 1-9 record in the previous 10 games; but still… Here is what Sir Charles Barkley had to say about the Wizards in his normal direct fashion:
“The worst team in the NBA, the Washington Bullets …I call ‘em the Bullets, ’cause I want to shoot ‘em … I’ll never call them the Wizards. They should be called the Generals. They already got … Flip Saunders got fired. Let me tell you something, Phil Jackson, Red Auerbach, Lenny Wilkens, coaching together couldn’t make them bums winners.”
Here is a frightening thought. Imagine if Sir Charles ever made a New Year’s resolution to be more candid in the upcoming year…
The Minnesota Vikings and the politicos in Minnesota are having constructive talks about a new stadium for the Vikes. The current focus calls for the Metrodome to be torn down and for the new stadium to be on the same site. Given the location and the infrastructure in the area, that makes sense. The potential new stadium – - call it Metrodome II for the moment – - will not have a roof; it will be an outdoor stadium. However, it will contain the “modern amenities” that are lacking in Metrodome I.
[Aside #1: I am not an advocate for spending a lot of tax money to build sports facilities. At the same time, the folks making those decisions are the ones elected by the people of Minnesota - - and the Twin Cities - - so that is a matter for them to resolve.]
[Aside #2: If I were at an outdoor stadium in Minnesota in December when the wind-chill was around minus-15, the “modern amenity” I would immediately seek would be “warmth”.]
The interim plan would be for the Vikings to play their games at the new University of Minnesota stadium, TCF Bank Park. That is where the Vikes played one of their games a couple of years ago because the roof on the Metrodome collapsed under the weight of a massive snowfall. That was one game and that was an “emergency situation”; I wonder how that facility would work as a host for Vikings’ games for two or three seasons.
TCF Bank Park seats only 51,000 folks – - with standing room for 3,000. That is a minuscule capacity for an NFL facility.
Metrodome I seats about 64,000 and the Vikings played to an average attendance last year of 62,816. Some current fans will be “displaced”.
TCF Bank Park has fewer luxury suites than does Metrodome I meaning some of the “heavy hitters” in the local area will have to forego their “amenities”.
The University of Minnesota bans the sale or the possession of alcohol within their facility. My understanding is that ban extends to the parking areas too. That would definitely be a “problem”.
The final chapter in this opera is not yet complete. However, if the idea is to tear down the existing Metrodome to make way for the new facility, there are some logistical hurdles to consider…
Finally, here is a comment form Steve Simmons in the Toronto Sun regarding outdoor hockey games:
“This outdoor game craze is out of control. The NHL does it. The AHL does it. College hockey does it. Now the OHL is talking about cashing in. And I can you tell you quite honestly that I’m not paying good money to sit outside, too far away from the ice and freeze in the middle of winter to watch the Erie Otters play the Plymouth Whalers or whoever is involved.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………