The Week That Was: Knicks Ax Jax – NY Sports Day


NY Sports Day
Lloyd Carroll

The Week That Was: Knicks Ax Jax

      Normally in sports when someone gets fired or traded there are rumors days in advance. When the Knicks fired Phil Jackson as its team president last Wednesday morning the story broke at best hours earlier.

      It wasn’t that Jackson didn’t deserve his fate but  the timing was surprising. Madison Square Garden CEO James Dolan recently renewed Jackson’s option for another two years and he has long stated that he had given Jackson full autonomy in running the Knicks and that he trusted his five-year plan. The understandable question is “What changed?”   

    Phil Jackson has always less than enthused about Carmelo Anthony even though Dolan remained enamored of him. Perhaps it was a lack of available options, but Jackson, then new with the Knicks, signed Anthony in 2014 to a five-year maximum contract that had a crippling no-trade clause. Since that time he has not stopped badmouthing the Knicks’ marquee player.

     If that weren’t demoralizing enough, Jackson then threw a public temper tantrum when forward Kristaps Porzingis, blew off his end-of-season exit interview with him. Porzingis, was the Knicks’ first-round draft choice in 2015, and he has been one of the few success stories for the team over the last two years. I’m sure that James Dolan would have greatly preferred that Phil Jackson had handled the issue more discretely.

     Although this is merely conjecture on my part, I have a feeling that Phil Jackson’s grumpy, aloof personality rubbed Dolan the wrong way. Whereas former New York Rangers general manager Glen Sather knew how to shmooze at all times with JD, I have a feeling that Phil probably declined invitations to mingle socially with him and his buddies.

 

    Jarrett Allen, who was the Brooklyn Nets’ first-round pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, threw out a ceremonial first pitch before Friday’s Phillies-Mets game at Citi Field. The seven-footer admitted that he didn’t play baseball growing up and that showed when he made a high arcing toss to Mets catcher Travis d’Arnaud. The good news is that he looks like he knows how to shoot free throws.

     Allen attended the University of Texas but was unaware of Cardozo High School alum Royal Ivey who graduated from there and enjoyed a ten-year NBA career. Royal is now an assistant coach with the OKC Thunder. Hopefully they’ll introduce themselves when their teams meet.

     Mets manager Terry Collins was asked on Sunday about his team having to play the Nationals at 11 AM on July 4 in Washington. “Some of these guys haven’t played a game that early since they were in the Gulf Coast League!” he laughed.

     I was saddened to learn of the passing last week  of former Mets pitcher Anthony Young who lost 27 straight decisions from 1992-93 yet never lost his upbeat disposition. The Mets requested a moment of silence before Friday’s game.

     Mets infielder TJ Rivera was impressed with the snazzy stars and stripes design of the Major League Baseball uniforms that were worn by players for the long Independence Day weekend. Surprisingly the players themselves don’t get to keep the various promotional uniforms that they wear on the field according to Rivera. He chuckled when I told him that he should complain to the Players Association. He may have to go to a local Lids store where New Era is selling two lines of MLB-licensed patriotic caps.

      Mets outfielder Michael Conforto was named the Mets’ lone representative to the 2017 All-Star Game that will take place in Miami next Tuesday night. Most Mets fans were disappointed that Jacob deGrom was left off the squad but my guess is that he will wind up in Miami next week anyway. Many pitchers who have been selected  historically have had to miss the game because of injuries.

      The Big 3 basketball league, which was created by actor/hip-hop artist Ice Cube (real name: O’Shea Jackson) and veteran Hollywood entertainment agent/executive Jeff Kwatinetz and features recently retired NBA stars playing half-court basketball, got off to a great start last week at Barclays Center as it drew over 15,000 spectators.

      Big 3 is a barnstorming league that plays in different cities across the country every Sunday during the summer akin to a traveling rock band. It is to be seen whether the players can stay healthy for the duration. One also wonder in the second year whether fans will turn out in droves since they are used to rooting for and against teams that feature the names of cities.

     Major League Soccer’s New York City Football Club may be the best team playing in Yankee Stadium this summer. Captain David Villa is having a great season as are younger players as defender Alexander Callens and midfielder Jack Harrison. Goaltender Eirik Johansen appears to be an upgrade over his predecessor, Josh Saunders.

     Chicago has long been a terrific long weekend getaway (with the exception of the winter!) For New Yorkers as there is frequent air service between the two cities including many flights on Queens’ own JetBlue.

     The problem has been that the Windy City has never marketed itself as a leisure destination and there has long been this erroneous impression that you only went there for business or if you had family there.

     Things appear to be changing as Choose Chicago, the city’s convention and visitors bureau, came into New York last week to meet with media to promote a pair of fall festivals.

     Expo Chicago, which showcases all aspects of modern and contemporary art and will run from September 13-17. It takes place at the city’s most visited attraction, the Navy Pier, which recently observed its centennial.

     Chicago is renown for its magnificent architecture and the 2017 Chicago Architecture Biennial, which celebrates both the city’s past and speculates what design the future will be will run from September 16 through January 7, 2018 at the Chicago Cultural Center located in the downtown section.

    Queens was certainly had a strong presence at the annual Fancy Food Show held last week at the Javits Center which draws food and beverage producers from all sectors and all parts of the globe.

     Among the companies representing the world’s borough were Bagel Lites, which makes tasty mini-bagels for those who want taste and have the willpower for portion control; Mike’s Hot Honey, a company founded by Long Island City resident Mike Kurtz whose spicy honey will clear out your sinuses in a hurry; Mansi, a company that produces containers of juice from the Filipino citrus fruit, the calamansi, which tastes like an amalgam of lime. lemon, and orange and is high in both Vitamin C and antioxidants (drinkmansi.com); and Stivo, a Long Island City beverage company which bottles pomegranate, cherry, and orange juice from fruits grown in Greece. The word “stivo” is Greek for squeeze (stivojuice.com).



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