Newsday's Al Iannazzone takes you inside the Knicks.
Two Week Notice: Knicks Games Canceled
When David Stern stepped onto the sidewalk in front of a posh Upper East Side hotel on Monday night and announced the first two weeks of the NBA season have been canceled, it immediately slashed the first seven games from the Knicks' schedule.
Gone is the season opener, Nov. 2 before a national television audience on ESPN, in the sparkling, newly-renovated -- wait, make that "transformed" -- lower bowl of Madison Square Garden, against the renewed rival Miami Heat and their star-studded triumverate. The season series between the Knicks and Heat could have an added competitive edge: Winner Take Paul. As in free agent-to-be Chris. But with a hard cap system (or a soft cap with a hard shell), the Heat may be dealing with another Chris next summer: Who wants Bosh?
Gone also is the only visit of the season by one of the league's newest superstars, Kevin Durant, when the Oklahoma City Thunder were scheduled to come to New York on Nov. 8. So much for hounding him with questions about becoming a Knick in 2016. But good news Knicks fans: if the lockout isn't over by then, he instantly becomes a free agent!
And, yes, gone is one home-away-from-home game for the Knicks, Nov. 9 in the always friendly confines of Philips Arena in Atlanta. It is always fun when the Knicks come to town and the crowd chants "De-FENSE!" when the Hawks have the ball. I think Josh Smith is afflicted most by this on the free throw line, because whenever it occurs, he gets a curious case of jock itch and makes sure all of the Atlanta fans wearing orange-and-blue are aware of it.
[Joe Johnson, of course, doesn't care about it because, quite frankly, Joe Johnson doesn't care about anything with $125 million in his pocket. Would you?]
Out of the seven lost games, only three were at the Garden (the third was a Saturday night special against the Indiana Pacers on Nov. 12, when Donnie Walsh could have made a return and rooted openly for both teams). Season ticket holders were mailed letters from the team with instructions on refunds for those lost games, with options to bank their investment, with interest, for 2012 playoff games or 2012-13 season tickets, or getting their money back, with interest....and a great deal of disinterest, which should be a concern for everyone.
In the unlikely event that a deal is struck over the next week or so, the league could attempt to avoid the logistical nightmare of re-scheduling an entire 82-game season and stick to the schedule in its current form and sprinkle in the lost seven games during breaks in the schedule or at the end of the season. This would be a nightmare scenario for the Knicks.
As it stands right now, if schedule is left intact, the season would open in Carmelo Anthony's old neighborhood, against the Nuggets, on Nov. 16. Excuse Melo if he's not emotional, since it seems all of his ex-teammates are playing in China and can't come back. Even one of the main pieces the Knicks traded for him, Wilson Chandler, bolted the Rockies for the Great Wall. Still, you know George Karl believes he can win with his son Coby, two ballboys, team mascot Rocky and GM Masai Ujiri (who, you should know, had a solid career in Europe).
For the Knicks, that would be the first of six straight road games to start the season, with a stop in Kobewood against the Lakers the very next night. In fact, there are three back-to-backs in that six game spread. It is about this time we'll be writing about the need for a center, because Ronny Turiaf's cranky knee will start howling like Jerome James at the dinner bell.
So, really, fans, you're not missing much. A brutal schedule to start the season for a team that is still relatively new to each other with little to no time to prepare only means a bad start and a built-in excuse for Mike D'Antoni. At this point, you don't want a deal to happen quickly because you want the league to avoid even considering the idea of picking up the current schedule as it is.
And once that is scrapped, you will enjoy reading the outrage that the NBA planned it this way. They purposely torched the start of the season once they saw what the schedule-maker did to the Knicks. When you're attempting a comeback from the PR-nightmare that is a work stoppage, you need your No. 1 market to generate instant energy.