- Last Updated: 9:26 AM, May 6, 2012
- Posted: 12:45 AM, May 6, 2012
It shouldn’t be asking too much of Carmelo Anthony’s Knicks to rise up, even higher than ticket prices have risen, and refuse to be swept into next season today by LeBron James’ Heat.
Anthony and the Knicks owe their fans that much.
Fans who deserve better than this.
Fans who deserve to watch every Knick play every day, especially today, with John Starks’ heart.
Fans who must take their fathers and grandfathers at their word whenever they reminisce about how the Red Holzman Knicks played the right way and hit the open man from the first quarter to the last.
Fans who exhibited admirable patience across the two years Donnie Walsh and Mike D’Antoni endured Isiah Thomas’ salary cap hell.
Fans who can’t help but feel they have been sold another bill of goods.
The fleeting Linsanity phenomenon made their hearts race, but all it got them in the end was a 4.9 percent ticket increase for next season and an interim coach. Not much bang for their bucks.
These are the same fans whose improbable dreams were shattered and extinguished by Amare Stoudemire’s mindless judgment following Game 2 that leaves him a game-time decision for Game 4, too little too late for him and for them, even if the doctors clear him to play.
These are the same fans who hung on Anthony’s every word when he arrived 15 months ago and announced: “I think New York needed a moment like this. When they got Amar’e, it brought some excitement back to the city. Now, as Amar’e said, New York basketball is back. Will we win a championship this year? Who knows? That takes time. But this team is headed in the right direction. ... It’s a dream come true for me, and I’m ready to rock.”
It is painfully obvious to fans at the Garden that the Heat have a championship obsession and the Knicks do not, that the Heat have LeBron and the Knicks do not.
We all know how this season will end for the Knicks. It will end the same way every season has ended since 1973: without a championship. In truth, last season and this season and very probably next season ended on the night of July 8, 2010, when The Decision came tumbling out of the mouth of The King that he didn’t care to take his talents to Broadway.
“I feel like it’s going to give me the best opportunity to win and to win for multiple years, and not only just to win in the regular season or just to win five games in a row or three games in a row, I want to be able to win championships,” James told us that night.
Today he will have a chance to validate The Decision with an emphatic exclamation point, a chance to bury the Knicks at the place that has been nothing more than a basketball graveyard in the playoffs since April 29, 2001. A chance to dance on that NYK graveyard.
Anthony? Sure, he has supplied plenty of “Aha!” moments, because he is a pathological scorer. But he doesn’t make his teammates better the way James makes his teammates better. Interim coach Mike Woodson, who deserves to come back, wants Anthony in better shape next season. Even if Anthony is in the best shape of his life, it is not good enough. Because it is not James’ shape.
The smart money says this will be the last basketball game of the season at the Garden, because the Heat will not let the Knicks out of Miami alive if there is a Game 5. The Knicks weren’t even desperate enough or prideful enough to avoid the ignominy of a league-record 13 consecutive playoff defeats.
“It’s been fun, it’s been up and down, but for the most part, I don’t regret my decision to want to come here,” said Anthony, Brooklyn-born and all that, remember. “It’s been a year-and-a-half, and things haven’t gone the way we want it to go, but we still have time. I’m not worried about that. I love my decision, I stick with my decision, I’m in New York, I’m a New York Knick. I’m gonna be here.”
He will have a Gotham monkey on his back for as long as he is here. James has the eye of the tiger as he drives relentlessly and remorselessly to shake the monkey off his back.
The 2011 New York Knicks hardly are the 2004 Red Sox. They won’t be coming back from 3-0 down. But it would be nice if they show some fight today, if Anthony can find a way through the suffocating double-teams and carry his team, and offer these fans the tiniest glimmer of hope as they walk out of the Garden and into next season. A season that, when it begins, will be 40 years removed from the last championship.Follow @NYPostsports