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The ‘Don’ Has Arrived; Isiah Needs To Go

4/2/08

donnie-zeke.jpg

(photo taken from ESPN.com)

Attention Fellow Knicks Fans:

We’re halfway there!

The New York Knicks today introduced Donnie Walsh as their new President of basketball operations, taking over for current head coach and now former President Isiah Thomas.

Walsh, 67, spent the last 22 years in the Indiana Pacers organization, helping them capture 6 division crowns and a conference title in 2000.

A New York native, Walsh brings experience and much needed credibility to an organization that has managed to plummet itself into the depths of not just the basketball world, but the sports world.

It has also been reported that Walsh has shown interest in bringing in former Sixers exec. Billy King, to run the day to day General Manager operations.

To think that the New York Knicks, as recognizable a franchise as the Lakers in their own sport, or the Yankees and Cowboys in other sports, have become remarkably irrelevant.

While most Knicks fans probably don’t miss the Stephon Marbury’s and Eddy Curry’s of the world (both of whom had injury plagued, disappointing years), it’s an embarrassment that the team recently struggled to beat a Miami Heat team with a lousy 13 wins all season (while the Knicks aren’t all the more impressive with only 20 wins of their own).

Then again, logic says that the more the Knicks lose, the higher a draft pack they’ll have come June.

On that topic, you might as well stop the presses because that first round lottery pick wasn’t traded or left unprotected for the first time in what seems like ages, meaning that the chances are pretty good the Knicks may land somebody Knicks fan have heard of, as opposed to names like Weiss, Williams and Balkman (even though Renaldo hasn’t been awful).

With Walsh officially on board, the biggest issue which needs to be immediately addressed is the fate of Thomas.

The number of potential replacements for Thomas on the coaching front has had names like Mark Jackson, Rick Carlisle and even Herb Williams.

Of course the one name Knicks fans had to lamented hearing late last week was none other than Isiah Thomas himself.

The news of Walsh’s hire probably set off cheers and celebrations among Knicks fan no seen since Willis Reed limped onto the Garden floor before the start of game 7 in 1970.

Finally, Isiah Thomas’ name would no loner be associated to the once proud Knicks franchise.

Or so it was thought.

The idea of owner James Dolan keeping Zeke around as coach shouldn’t come as all that big a surprise.

Thomas is still under contract for another three years, with somewhere around 21 million dollars being owed to him.

While Dolan has never been shy to pay off an outgoing coach (Larry Brown?), he has acted as Thomas’ guardian angel since his arrivial in 2003.

The head coaching revolving door seemed to stop with Thomas last season, as he was awarded a contract extension with the Knicks flirting the 8th seed in March.

After a full season’s worth of games since his extension, the Knicks featured a pathetic record of 20-62.

Yet time after time, Dolan defended his President and head coach, leading experts to believe that not only will Isiah survive the Walsh hire, but Isiah may have actually been part of the process in bringing Walsh on board.

Let us not forget that it was Donnie Walsh who injected new life into the post-playing career of Thomas in 2000, when he was hired to coach the Indiana Pacers for three seasons, until Larry Bird was brought back as GM and subsequently fired him.

It wouldn’t be far fetched to believe that Thomas suggested Walsh fill his own post as GM, knowing Walsh was the only potential replacement who would consider retaining his services as coach.

Should that be the case, it would be the equivalent of taking one step forward and two steps back.

The Knicks franchise will not take the necessary steps towards until it rids itself of Isiah Thomas, in all capacities.

Until that happens, it won’t matter who is brought in to run the team, as the man drawing up the X’s and O’s, whom many of the players have verbally expressed their displeasure with, will continue to hold them back from returning to prominence.

With a new President of the franchise now in place, Isiah now moves that much closer to being shown the door once and for all.

We hope.

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April 2, 2008 - Posted by | Sports | , , , ,

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