It is obvious that Knicks president Phil Jackson has not had the same level of success running his current team that he enjoyed with either the Chicago Bulls or Los Angeles Lakers. The one decision he made that even the angriest Knicks fan would concede was a good one was drafting Kristaps Porzingis with the fourth pick in the 2015 NBA Draft.
The thinking was that Porzingis would be a player in the mold of the Dallas Mavericks’ longtime all-star, Dirk Nowitzki. While it’s way too soon to predict that he will become one of the NBA’s all-time greats, Porzingis, who is only 21, has shown enough promise to make even the most jaded Knicks fan an optimist.
The first couple of weeks of 2017 have not been kind to the blue and orange as losses have mounted. The fans and media understandably focused in on point guard Derrick Rose’s one-game AWOL from the Knicks last week as evidence as to why the ship appears to be sinking this season. The fact that Rose did not notify Knicks management of why he had to miss the game with the New Orleans Pelicans is inexcusable but in fairness it must be pointed out that he has played well for the most part in his first year in a Knicks uniform.
Derrick Rose’s contract is up at the end of the season so if he proves to be an albatross he will not be part of the team’s future.
Rose’ s headline-making disappearance last week masked what could be a far more pressing long-term problem for the Knicks–namely that Kristaps Porzingis has missed a number of games with a sore Achilles heel. He did not appear to be himself in the one game that he did play as he launched an air ball in the final seconds against the 76ers in Philadelphia last week. That miss quickly led to unheralded Sixers guard TJ McConnell hitting an outside jumper at the buzzer that gave the underdog home team a dramatic and unexpected 98-97 win.
Considering that the Knicks were up by 10 points with less than three minutes to go in the game it was arguably the most painful defeat of the season. Carmelo Anthony, who like most superstars tends to forget about a game almost as soon as it’s over, reportedly lashed into his teammates following the game at the Wells Fargo Center.
From a long-term standpoint this season is insignificant. I think that it’s safe to say that elite NBA teams such as the Cavaliers and the Warriors don’t have the Knicks on their radar screens. On the other hand, if Kristaps Porzingis’s foot woes prove to be chronic then the Knicks will suffer a major setback for years in their attempt to join the ranks of the NBA’s best teams.
With all that was written and said about Odell Beckham, Jr. and a number of his teammates enjoying their off day in Miami at the end of the regular season, no one that I can recall pointed out that spending a say in a tropical paradise is not the best way to acclimate yourself for the early January frozen tundra of Green Bay Wisconsin where the most important game of season for the Giants would be taking place.
While I think that the Packers would have beaten the Giants even if Beckham and his friends had stayed in the New York metro area, this now becomes a negative part of Big Blue folklore.
With the Green Bay Packers players themselves I don’t think that anyone was more ecstatic about Packers kicker Mason Crosby nailing that 51-yard field goal with three seconds left in regulation to give the Pack a 34-31 victory over the Cowboys in Dallas than NBC Sports president Mark Lazarus.
NBC was scheduled to have the Chiefs-Steelers playoff game from Kansas City at 8:30 PM. If the Packers-Cowboys game had gone into overtime hardly anyone would have been watching the first quarter of the Steelers-Chiefs game. NBC might have had to give advertisers a rebate if that had happened.
Former Jets offensive guard Willie Colon, who grew up in the Bronx and attended Hofstra University, served as Jon Hein’s debating partner last week on SNY’s late afternoon debate program, “Loudmouths.” Colon was well-spoken, witty, and made many salient points. SNY executives should consider adding him to their various Jets shows.
ESPN will shortly be breaking up their popular morning radio duo, Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic, better known simply as “Mike & Mike,” after working together for 18 years. Mike Greenberg will be moving to television as he will be co-hosting a new morning show for the Worldwide Leader in Sports while Mike Golic will remain on radio with a new yet unnamed partner.
If you want a fun coffee table-size book to read while you await the next NCAA gridiron season, check out “College Football’s Greatest” from Sports Illustrated. In addition to covering as expected memorable games and top-echelon players there is also some fun trivia such as a listing of the best walk-on players who did not initially receive scholarships. Among the surprising names on that list are Houston Texans defensive end JJ Watt (University of Wisconsin) and Green Bay Packers wide receiver Jordy Nelson (Kansas State University).
Great Britain’s James Degale and Sweden’s Badou Jack fought to a draw in their middleweight championship fight at Barclays Center Saturday. The fight was a good one but the real story is whenever a boxing match takes place anytime in New York State these days it’s news.
Last year Governor Cuomo and the state legislature enacted a bill requiring boxing promoters to purchase insurance policies with a face value of $1,000,000 on any fighter in case of a serious injury or worse. Boxing promoter Lou DiBella told me that the new requirements won’t affect big fights where there is a cable TV partner such as Showtime and HBO but it does effectively end small cards like the ones that were popular at Times Square’s BB King’s.
The Association of Performing Arts Presenters (APAP) held their annual trade show and showcase last week in New York. APAP brings together bands, singers, comedians, magicians, and even ventriloquists who are looking for bookings for either corporate or public shows across the globe. Among the entertainers vying for attention was Astoria resident Randy Noojin who has performed one-man tribute shows to folk legends Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger.
While Bruce Springsteen, Billy Joel, Justin Bieber, and Beyonce reap millions with their concerts most of the APAP performers are happy to make a decent living in a very competitive leisure-time entertainment marketplace, where thanks to the Internet, cable television, Netflix and other steaming services, there are more home entertainment options than ever before while ironically leisure time for many is getting to be more and more of a premium.
That was my first thought when I heard the news that the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus will be figuratively and literally folding its tent this May after 146 years of entertaining the public. While many have cited the fact that elephants no longer perform in the circus as a cause for its demise, that change just occurred a year ago. The beloved Big Apple Circus never had elephants and they also had to close. In my opinion the truth is that changing tastes and a plethora of other options has killed the circus. And that’s a shame.