An Open Letter To James Dolan
New York Times
Dear Mr. Dolan,
I can’t imagine how many “open letters” you’ve received from fans during your 20-year tenure as majority shareholder of the New York Knicks, so I’ll try my best to message this as succinctly as possible. Be patient and stay the course.
I’ve witnessed some peculiar displays as a Knick fan in my day but, few were as jarring or as disappointing as the post-game press conference after the 87-108 loss the Cleveland Cavaliers. Scott Perry and Steve Mills spoke ad nauseam for 7 minutes immediately after the game condemning the team’s lack of consistency and effort through the first 10-games of the season. I couldn’t interpret the scene as anything other than an organizational “about-face,” which contradicts everything the Knicks front office has been telling fans all summer long about developing a culture of consistency and development in New York.
I refuse to “shoot the messenger” on this one, you may not have delivered the quasi-ultimatum, but it was done under your orders. I find it incredibly difficult to believe that Scott Perry and Steve Mills, two basketball aficionados with forty plus years of experience between them, would suggest something so reactionary a mere 10 games into the season. The presser completely shattered any notion I had of a unified front behind the scenes, and in turn, dampened any confidence I have in the organization’s long term plans.
If you're having trouble understanding why so many fans were so disheartened with the post-game press conference, you need to acknowledge everything that preceded it. For the first time in a very long time, I’ve been encouraged by the moves the team has made(or most importantly didn’t make) in the offseason. The Knicks missed out Zion in the draft, but R.J. Barrett is far from a consolation prize, the young swingman has all the physical tools and professional polish to thrive as a two-way wing in New York.
Though the organization may have had its heart set on pairing two marquee players in Madison Square Garden, the team didn’t overspend and settle on 2nd tier free agents. The organization pushed forward with it’s “Plan B” that emphasized short-term signings, focused on developing reclamation projects, and made cap flexibility a priority.
The team still possesses an intriguing assortment of talented, albeit unproven commodities in Dennis Smith Jr., Kevin Knox, Frank Ntilikina, and Mitchell Robinson, who flash tantalizing athleticism but have yet to realize their NBA potential. The Knicks have a bevy of 2nd round picks, not to mention two additional 1st round picks in the pipeline. All things considered, Knick fans HAD every right to be encouraged about the direction of the franchise, even if the national media led us to believe otherwise.
Whether you are ready to admit this or not, the Knicks at present aren’t built to compete on a nightly basis with the NBA’s best. This isn’t an indictment of ownership, coaching, or the front office, it’s merely a reflection of where the Knicks stand. Rebuilding is never easy, the process requires patience, transparency, and accountability. Uneven starts and finishes are par for the course for a team with so many young faces and new pieces. Let’s also not forget how injuries have hampered the start of the season for Dennis Smith Jr and Mitchell Robinson.
There will come a time when the team will sit down and re-evaluate whether Fizdale is the man for the job, but that does not happen 10-games into the season. For the most part, the Knicks are an entirely different group than last season, which means Fizdale is essentially starting from scratch all over again. I’m not saying that Fizdale is beyond reproach, or that his detractors should be satisfied with his overall performance, but like Brett Brown’s early run with the 76er’s, I just don’t think you can adequately evaluate Fizdale’s performance/potential based off of such a relatively small sample size.