As most basketball fans know by now, the New York Knicks have been the laughing stock of the NBA for the better part of two decades. Sure, they’ve made the playoffs here and there, but they haven’t had any sustained success. The last time they made the playoffs was in 2013, and few times a few seasons prior to that, but they never really had a chance to advance even when they did make the playoffs. Are the Knicks just stuck with a bad owner?
It’s tough to answer that question. What constitutes a bad owner of a sports team? Some owners only care about the bottom line of their investment – how much money the team makes. Not all owners are willing to spend money the way a George Steinbrenner or Jerry Jones have. That’s what makes this such a tough question. One thing you can’t say about James Dolan is that he’s cheap. That man is not afraid to invest money into his team. The problem is, does he spend his money smartly?
That’s where this question gets a bit murky. Over the years, James Dolan has paid his players millions upon millions of dollars. If anything, he probably spends too much money on players that aren’t worth the money they get signed for.
So what about front office positions? He wasn’t afraid to spend money on Donnie Walsh, who actually was responsible for bringing in Amare` Stoudamire to New York which led to a small window of respectability and sustained success. It wasn’t until Dolan strong-armed Walsh into making the trade to acquire Carmelo Anthony mid season (when he was going to be a free agent at the end of the season and actually wanted to sign with the Knicks) that the relationship with Walsh quickly crumbled, eventually leading to a prolonged slump. Then Dolan tried his luck with Phil Jackson, who was hired not as a coach but as team president. And who knows how that would have worked out if players actually bought into Phil’s philosophies? It seemed like he was picking players (Porzingis, Ntilikina) to fit Jackson’s infamous “triangle offense.” But then Phil was strong-armed by Dolan to sign Carmelo Anthony long term, who never bought in, eventually became disgruntled and probably paved the way for some of Porzingis’s bad habits, causing him to become disgruntled and want out. We won’t even get into the Isaiah Thomas days.
How about coaches? Dolan paid plenty of money to guys like Larry Brown, Lenny Wilkens, Mike D’antoni, Mike Woodson just to name a few. The bottom line is, Dolan is at least willing to spend whatever it takes to put a winning product on the court. The problem is, he usually ends up spending money on the wrong players, the wrong coaches, the wrong GM’s, and the wrong Presidents. But maybe… just maybe… there’s finally some hope. He just recently hired Steve Stoute to help improve the Knicks brand to the younger stars. He just recently hired Leon Rose, an agent, as team President, similar to what the Lakers did with Rob Pelinka. Knick fans just have to… wait for it… be patient. AGAIN. But, at least there’s some hope this time. RJ Barrett seems like he has some potential to be a quality NBA player, and there’s a chance the people in the front office (provided they hire the right coach) can actually figure things out and restore some winning basketball back to Madison Square Garden, which the NBA would love. Will Knick fans continue chanting, “SELL THE TEAM!”? Or will Jim Dolan emerge as a hero? Stay tuned, Knick fans.
Ahh, New York City. The Big Apple. The city that never sleeps. The Empire State. Is New York the ‘Empire State’ when it comes to sports? Not anymore. Sure, the evil empire Yankees are still around and winning at a high level, but even they haven’t won a championship since 2009 (2000, 1999, 1998, 1996 & many more before that). Although, who knows what might have happened if the Astros or Red Sox weren’t cheating in 2017, 2018 (and possibly 2019), but let’s stick to what we do know. Even an organization as prestigious as the Yankees haven’t added to their 27 championships in over a decade. What’s going on, New York? I thought you were supposed to be ‘the greatest city in the world?’
It would appear that every New York sports team is rebuilding – and has been for quite some time. The last NY team to win a championship was the New York Giants in 2011 (2007, 1990 & 1986 before that). Which other team was even close? Well, the Mets made it to the World Series back in 2015, but lost. They haven’t won since 1986 (1969 before that). What about the ‘mecca of basketball,’ Madison Square Garden? How about those Knickerbockers? Maybe we shouldn’t go there. It’s been a rough go of it lately for the Knicks, who have basically become the laughing stock of the NBA. They made the playoffs back in 2013, and a few other times a few years prior, but never were really much of a threat in the East. The Knicks haven’t been to the NBA Finals since 2000, and haven’t won the Finals since 1973 (1970 before that). What about the other team that plays in that building, the New York Rangers? They had a nice run of sustained success with Henrik Lundqvist in goal, reaching the Finals once in 2014 and making deep playoff runs during that span, but haven’t hoisted the Stanley Cup since 1994 (1940, 1933 & 1928 before that). What about the other NHL team that plays in New York? The Islanders have made the playoffs here and there (made it to the 2nd round just last season), but haven’t won the Stanley Cup Finals since they won it four consecutive years (1980, 1981, 1982 & 1983). Then of course there’s the New York Jets, who also have sporadically made the playoffs, but have only won the Super Bowl once, back in 1969.
So what’s going on with New York sports? Sure, they’ve had their share of championships, which not every organization gets to claim. But it really does seem like all New York teams are in a constant cycle of rebuilding as of late. So where do these mighty Empire State teams stand now? Well, the Yankees are favorites to go to the World Series this season, and finally got their hands on the pitching ace they’ve been missing in Gerrit Cole (although the news about Severino was certainly troubling, but they already showed they can be great without his services). The Mets fell just short of making the playoffs in 2019, but seem to have the talent to get there this year, and a pitching staff that can certainly make noise if they do in fact get there, led by back-to-back Cy Young winner Jacob DeGrom. The hockey teams both seem to be in good hands. The Islanders finally have great organizational structure, with GM Lou Lamoriello and Coach Barry Trotz, and a young star in Mat Barzal. The Rangers have a very talented young team, with a great young goalie and they just inked their star Chris Kreider to a 7 year extension (to go along with recently signed star Artemi Panarin), and the Rangers have been a notoriously well-run organization for a long time. The football teams leave a little to be desired, but at least both seem to be set for a long time at the quarterback position, with the Jets led by Sam Darnold and Giants led by Daniel Jones.
As for basketball, New York has only the Brooklyn Nets to look forward to. This team has a good core of young players, they just really are waiting to get a full season with free agent star signings Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. As for the Knicks? To quote the great Dr. Evil, “rrrrriiiiiiiiight…” Let’s hope for their sake the recent front office hires pan out, so they can finally convince some stars to sign with the struggling organization. Will New York return to glory in this new decade? Only one way to find out, folks. You’re just going to have to wait and see!
Football fans and WWE fans – remember the XFL? Shockingly, it debuted 19 years ago, back in February 2001. The NFL is king of football, as we know. There have been somewhat successful alternative football leagues before. We currently have leagues like the CFL (Canadian Football League), and the AFL (Arena Football League); and other failed leagues like the USFL (United States Football League), the AAF (Alliance of American Football), and even NFL Europe. Then of course, we had the colossal failure that was the XFL. I can still recall Vince McMahon’s voice screaming, “THIS…IS…THE XFL!” Vince McMahon failed miserably in his first attempt to create an alternative football league for many reasons.
For starters, McMahon only gave himself one year to prepare for the launch of the league. Another problem was the way people could consume the product; some games were on NBC, others were on networks most football fans hadn’t heard of. Let’s face it – the league was way too gimmicky. It had too much of a WWE feel, from the presentation of the games to the announcers calling them. Whether it was the “He Hate Me” jerseys, the radical rule changes, or simply the lack of a quality product, the league quickly lost viewers and ultimately failed after just one season.
But all hope was not lost. We know Vince McMahon is a very driven, successful businessman. The WWE was founded in the 1950s, and is currently as popular as it has ever been. The WWE is responsible for stars like Hulk Hogan, Andre the Giant, Jesse Ventura, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and John Cena, to name a few. Amazingly, the company has a net worth of $3.2 BILLION! He obviously knows how to operate and grow an entertainment product. This time, he’ll learn from his mistakes, right?
After watching the first week of the XFL reboot, I think it has potential to be around for a very long time. The one thing the NFL is lacking is a place to develop their talent. Sure, I guess that’s what the NCAA is for… but is that really enough? These kids are entering into the NFL not even old enough to legally drink alcohol, and going up against grown men on the biggest stage with hardly enough time to prepare, both mentally and physically. There are only 32 NFL teams, with only 53 roster spots. But there are far more than 1,696 football players and coaches. Wouldn’t it make sense for there to be a developmental league for the NFL?
Since there are so few roster spots and coaching openings, it makes perfect sense to have a league for fringe level NFL talent. The possibilities are endless. If every NFL team had an XFL team, players and coaches can get actual game experience to work diligently to improve their skills. Theoretically, a team could install a minor league program, where potential players and coaches could learn a team’s system, and be ready to jump onto the pro team fully prepared to run the team’s schemes. Think about the depth that would create for teams, and how ultimately the quality of play could increase with all this extra preparation! Not to mention, the XFL could be used to experiment with rule changes, safety features and camera angles.
Week 1 definitely showed potential. It actually resembled real football. The production was top notch, there were compelling stories, familiar names (players, coaches, even announcers), and there was genuine excitement surrounding the games. For the sake of the NFL, we should all hope that the XFL takes off for the reasons mentioned above. The NFL needs a minor league system, and Vince McMahon seems to have created just that. Enjoy a few more weeks of grid-iron battles, football fans!
An era of the NFL is coming to a close before our very eyes. We’ve already said goodbye to the Manning brothers. Andrew Luck was forced to retire at far too young of an age because of injury. And we can see the writing on the wall for guys like Drew Brees, Ben Roethlisberger, Philip Rivers, and of course, the G.O.A.T, Tom Brady. But many of these aging quarterbacks aren’t ready to hang it up. Heck, Brady even said he’d like to play until he’s 45. These aging stars still believe they have a little something left in the tank. Something more to prove. But, what else could a guy with 6 Super Bowl rings have to prove? Most of us mortals will never understand the mentality of the professional athlete, especially guys like Tom Brady who most people consider to be the best to ever do it.
There looks to be an unprecedented number of free agent quarterbacks heading into the 2020/2021 NFL season, and many teams will have difficult decisions to make at the position. It appears that the Chargers are prepared to move on from Philip Rivers after 15 seasons. Drew Brees might retire, forcing the Saints to scramble to find a quarterback. The Cowboys still haven’t signed Dak Prescott. There’s uncertainty in Detroit surrounding the health and future of Matthew Stafford. There have been rumors of the Panthers potentially moving on from Cam Newton. What will the Buccaneers do with Jameis Winston? What will the Titans do with Marcus Mariota or Ryan Tannehill? Are the Jaguars sold on either Nick Foles or Gardner Minshew? How about the Dolphins with Fitzmagic or Josh Rosen? Is Jon Gruden sold on Derek Carr? What are the Vikings plans with Kirk Cousins after this season? As you can see, there is a lot of uncertainty around the league at the quarterback position. But for the sake of this article, we’ll focus on one glaring team’s decision. Who will be playing QB for the Patriots next season?
For the last 19 seasons, the answer to that question has more often than not been Tom Brady. But for the first time ever, Brady is not signed by the Patriots, and claims to still want to play. Does this mean the two will finally part ways? I’m not sure. Tom Brady has started 283 games for the Patriots, with an astonishing record of 219-64. He’s
won 6 Super Bowls with the Pats, and 3 MVP awards. Why would either side want to part ways?
Well, there are a few things at play here. For starters, he’s 42 years old, and Lord knows Father Time is undefeated. Eventually, the Pats will need a new QB to replace Brady when he can no longer do the job effectively. But Brady has notoriously taken less money over the years to allow Bill Belichick to build great teams around Brady. Could this be Brady finally trying to cash in and get what he thinks he’s worth from the team? Belichick is notorious for moving on from players too soon, rather than too late. Maybe there is internal feuding between Pats owner Robert Kraft and Belichick over whether or not to invest that kind of money into Brady.
Another thing that gets called into question is: Who is more important to the success of the Patriots, Tom Brady or Bill Belichick? Maybe this is a driving force here. The two have already achieved so much together – that has to be the only thing left to prove. So, let’s have some fun with this. If Tom Brady were to play for another team, where could he go? Tennessee, to be reunited with former teammate Mike Vrabel? You could make a case, but I don’t think he goes there. How about the Chargers, setting up shop in LA for his post playing career endeavors? I’m sure the NFL would appreciate the buzz that would generate for the team, since they’ve been struggling to create a fan base. Or, along those lines, what about Las Vegas with the Raiders? How about the Colts? They have a good offensive line, and are definitely in the market for a QB.
Here’s what I would like to see. Check this out – Dak Prescott still hasn’t signed an extension with the Cowboys, right? There’s been an ongoing debate over whether or not the Cowboys should give Dak the money he’s going to command as a free agent. Well, wouldn’t this be a fun turn of events… what if Jerry Jones makes Tom Brady an offer he can’t refuse? I can see it now – Tom Brady, our beloved Patriot – now set to play for America’s Team. We’ve seen new Cowboy coach Mike McCarthy have great success with Aaron Rodgers, but Rodgers seems like he could be a little difficult to work with. Imagine what he could do with Brady! They have a great offensive line, a great running
back, some good wide receivers… maybe all they’re missing…is Tom Brady. Boy, that would be fun. Then I’d be anxiously awaiting to see who Belichick brings in as the new QB of the Pats. What will Brady decide? Who knows. But it sure is fun to speculate!
Major League Baseball gave its best effort to dominate the headlines this week as Commissioner Robert Manfred attempts to deal with the fallout from the Houston Astros historic cheating scandal. Three managers are out, including Carlos Beltran of the New York Mets who was let go before he ever managed a game! Twitter has essentially become the wild west of tattletales, as many players have taken to the social media outlet to speak out against the wrongdoers of the league. But make no mistake, this weekend will not be about the trash can banging, wire wearing cheaters. This weekend WILL be the NFL’s time to shine. So for now, you can rest assured that this article will be focused on what’s on tap for this weekend – PLAYOFF FOOTBALL!
Here we are, in the 100th season of the NFL, on the eve of yet another Championship Sunday. Four teams will be fighting for a chance to represent their respective conferences in Super Bowl LIV. Seems like just yesterday we witnessed the “non-pass interference” debacle at the Superdome, followed by Patrick Mahomes stuck on the sidelines in Overtime as he watched Tom Brady orchestrate a game-winning drive to propel the Patriots to yet another Super Bowl. Once again, here are coach Andy Reid and Mahomes, one win away from their first Super Bowl appearance together. Only this time – there is no Belichick on the other side of the field to intimidate Reid.
Andy Reid is one of the most accomplished, brightest offensive-minded coaches in the NFL. Over a span of 21 seasons, he has a career record of 207-128, and a record of 13-14 in the playoffs. He took the Philadelphia Eagles to the Super Bowl once with Donovan McNabb, only to lose to – you guessed it – Bill Belichick and Tom Brady’s Patriots. Now in his seventh season with the Kansas City Chiefs, Reid is paired with an exciting young quarterback who, through his first three seasons, seems like he has the tools to be one of the best to ever play the position.
There’s only one thing is missing in this Hall of Fame coach’s career – a Super Bowl victory. And even if he doesn’t get there this year, or never gets there again, he’ll still be recognized as one of the game’s best coaches. But boy, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t pulling for him. Aren’t you? He’s so close, yet again. The Belichick dragon has already been slain, but by one of his former players, an impressive young Coach Mike Vrabel. To compare the situation to the great 1998 Adam Sandler comedy “The Waterboy,” let’s say Bill Belichick, or in this case Mike Vrabel, is rival Coach Red Beaulieu. Let’s assume Andy Reid is Coach Klein, enjoying current success thanks to his new star player. Will coach Reid be able to channel his inner Waterboy, and “visualize and attack” coach Vrabel? And after that, can he do it again against whomever he would be matched up against in the Super Bowl? I sure hope so. Imagine how fun it would be to see a Mahomes/Rodgers Super Bowl… arguably the two most gifted passers the NFL has ever seen. That’s what I’ll be rooting for!