It wasn’t too long ago that Jason Kidd and Mike Woodson were the Laurel and Hardy of the NY coaching scene.
If you let media reports and sports radio heads tell it, both coaches barely made it out of 2013. Horror themes and worst case scenarios were thrown around like free condoms at an Amsterdam brothel. First assistant coach Lawrence Frank tried to usurp Kidd’s power and job before he even got a chance to get his feet wet on the sidelines. The Nets early-season woes, injuries and chemistry problems surely didn't help Brooklyn fans feel confident that ownership made the right choice in hiring the inexperienced Kidd to lead a group of veterans. Paul Pierce and KG appeared to have legs of rubber and retirement in their eyes. D Will was in and out of the lineup and Tyshawn Taylor was not ready to play point in The League. Kidd and the Nets limped into the New Year with a 10-21 record, but still breathing in the pitiful Atlantic Division.
The Knicks were in a similar quandary as 2013 came to a close. They finished December at 9-21 following a 115-100 loss to the division-leading Toronto Raptors and the Melo trade talks and “Woodson must go” banter was in full swing. In typical Knicks fashion, the team managed to provide fans with some false hope and kicked off January winning 6 of 7 games, including five in a row to creep back into the playoff picture as a possible 8th seed. To no one’s surprise, just as things were looking up, J.R. Smith starts wilding out and gets on his Trinidad James sh*t. The New Jeru nut starts with that strange behavior that makes you think he huffs glue and pops a Molly before, during and after games.
The wheels fall off the whip again and after the winning streak, Woodson’s squad has dropped four straight games by an average of 18.7 points. The latest abysmal performance came against the Nets at Madison Square Garden on MLK Day as BK stormed the Garden, ripped the Knicks down 103-80 and by the fourth-quarter had the crowd rocking with chants of “BROOK-LYN.”
Two teams couldn’t be moving in more opposite directions. Kidd’s squad is only two games better in the win column, but the Nets (17-22) are surging, having won seven of their past eight games. The Knicks (15-26) are plunging and not even Mr. Potato Head can save them.
While the Knicks haven’t been able to consistently find players to step up in times of adversity, players like Shaun Livingston (who has returned from a devastating knee injury suffered in 2007 to be a solid NBA point guard again) and journeyman Alan Anderson (who has played in Croatia, Spain, Israel, China, Russia and the D-League) have provided the Nets with a spark and allowed them to rest aging veterans. Livingston’s dope play at point guard in D Will’s absence has benefitted the Nets tremendously. The fact that Kidd understands the position as well as anyone obviously helps Livingston and it appears that Kidd knows how to optimize his talents.
The influence and potential greatness of BK’s young coach is now showing. Kidd will make mistakes, because he is a new jack. But his demeanor during this recent Nets streak, which has seen BK climb to within 2.5 games of first, suggests he’s getting the hang of this coaching thing.
The Knicks have been a head-shaking-shame this season. So much that Knicks fans are wearing neck braces. There are few positive stories and even less reasons to think that they will make the playoffs despite being in third-place and sitting just 5.5 games out of first. The energy is waning and unless Knicks fans are blinder than Ray Charles in a Memphis blackout, they can see the white flag is up and cats are going through the motions. The selfishness of Smith has weakened Woodson’s stature in the eyes of his players. Amare’s inability to stay healthy, the ugly play of Felton and the mediocre impact of Tyson Chandler has also butchered the Knicks.
The team is a cesspool of nonsense from ownership on down. Who can blame nine-year veteran point guard Beno Udrih for requesting a trade on MLK Day ? Playing for the Knicks has been a bad dream. No upstanding professional like Udrih would want to be a part of this circus.
In a game where Carmelo Anthony does his best Moses Malone impersonation by scoring 26 points and grabbing 20 rebounds, the Knicks can’t even make it competitive.
Melo says, “We didn’t fight.”
I can’t even respond to these post game press conferences anymore. With every monster game Melo has that’s rendered irrelevant by the ineptitude of his supporting cast and the sideline mismanagement of his equally frustrated coach - the inevitability of his departure looms larger and hovers over MSG like a dark cloud.
The street lights are out along Broadway but the Fort Greene and Williamsburgh areas of Brooklyn are illuminating like sunshine.
Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov is sitting back with a cigar and some Russian Vodka, feeling like Nostradamus mixed with the puppet master. He shocked the basketball world with his boldness when he scoured the Celtics’ championship cupboard for KG and Pierce and got AK-47 (Andrei Kirilenko) for loose change. His daring and questionable pick of Kidd as coach is panning out as Kidd has gone from a young, uncomposed rookie to a calm, basketball technician in training. It just took him a while to translate his abundant court intelligence to the coaching profession. When the Russian billionaire purchased the organization and moved the franchise across the water into the hood, he had several goals. He wanted to win a c’hip, but thats every owners goal and he’s working towards that. He also said he wanted “to turn Knicks fans into Nets fans” and take over the city. Even though Jay Z’s not a part owner of the Nets anymore the NY Takeover has already begun.