What we all knew was coming has finally arrived. The Knicks are bad once again. Despite starting 16-13, the Knicks dropped six straight games, pulling them back down to their perennial sub-.500 record. Despite Derrick Rose’s promise of an undefeated season; despite being the most valuable franchise in the entire NBA; despite playing in the largest sports market in the world. The. Knicks. Stink.
I have been a Boston Celtics fan my entire life and while the C’s success has been up and down, one thing has been consistent: the Knicks have always been an irrelevant blip on the NBA radar. Since 2000, the Knicks have won 43% of their games and have only made it past the first round in the playoffs twice. Other than a fun three year run from 2011-2013, the Knicks have been nothing more than a laughing stock.
Even with all the failure, Knicks fans desperately find ways to be excited for their team. They’ve put their hopes in Stephon Marbury, who never gave them a winning season. They hail Carmelo Anthony as their lord and savior. They pretend that Derrick Rose is something other than a pile of damaged ligaments. Their most exciting recent memory is a three week period fondly referred to as “Linsanity.” No one has delivered. Sure, Carmelo has scored some points, but it’s it’s safe to say his collection of L’s far outweighs his one scoring title.
What about historically? A team that big must’ve been great in the past! Nope! They’ve always been terrible. In the 1960’s the Knicks managed to pull off a grand total of two winning seasons. The early 70’s brought New York a collection of winning seasons and two NBA Championships, led by an electric Walt Frazier. In the time between their 1973 championship and the beginning of the Patrick Ewing era in 1985, the Knicks scraped by with a sub par 48.5% winning percentage.
Then came the Patrick Ewing era—every Knicks fan’s favorite talking point. The Knicks were pretty good. They had mostly winning seasons and consecutive playoff appearances. Even then, when the Knicks had arguably their best team in franchise history, they couldn’t hang a banner. The Knicks haven’t won a championship since 1973, when Walt Frazier dazzled in short shorts.
Overall, the Knicks have a .493 winning percentage, a figure worse than that of the Bucks, Pacers, and Hawks.
How would I sum up the the history of the New York Knicks? They were bad. Then Walt Frazier came and made them good for a few years Then they bad again. Then Patrick Ewing came and made them good—but not good enough. Then they were bad once again. After nearly 20 years, the Knicks are still in the “bad once again” era.
So the Knicks are terrible, but there are worse teams in the NBA, right? Milwaukee, Sacramento, and Utah have all been around for about as long as the Knicks and have never won a championship. But here’s the catch: all three of those franchises combined aren’t worth as much as the Knicks—$2.475 billion compared to the Knicks’ $3 billion price tag. None of those teams make half the revenue the Knicks make in a year. It would be absurd to expect tremendous success from the poorest teams in the league. But to expect success from the richest team? Not so absurd.
The Knicks play in the metropolis of the World. They have the largest fanbase pumping in the most money in the entire NBA. And they still fail to do anything noteworthy—they’ve failed to do so for years.
The fact that the Knicks are the richest team in the league and are from the largest and most basketball-crazy market gives fans every reason to have high expectations. Logically, the Knicks should have the highest expectations in the league.
But what about other sports? Other historical losers include the Chicago Cubs, Arizona Cardinals, Cleveland Indians, and Detroit Lions. But the Cubs just won the World Series this past year and the Cardinals, Indians, and Lions values ($2 billion, $825 million, and $1.65 billion respectively) don’t come anywhere near the Knicks’ $3 billion net worth. On top of that, the Cardinals and Indians have enjoyed recent success.
Here’s another sabermetric for ya. The only professional sports teams in the world worth more than the Knickerbockers are the Dallas Cowboys, New England Patriots, and New York Yankees—all of which have been exponentially more successful than the Knicks.
It’s quite simple: when considering success, money, and expectations, no team compares to the failure of the New York Knicks. They’ve been consistently rich, consistently loved, and consistently terrible. It’s really quite a phenomenon.
As much as I love trolling Knicks fans, I feel bad for them. They’re a fiery bunch. Maybe one day their beloved franchise will stop the revolving door of head coaches and stop making boneheaded signings like Amare Stoudemire for $100 million. Maybe one day they’ll reward their fans with the championships they deserve. But probably not.