Remember being forced to read Dante’s Inferno in High School? Don’t be surprised if Jim “Guitar Hero” Dolan is a fan of the epic tale himself. In a long overdue S.R.M. column, we take a look at the torment Dolan is allowing Isaiah to endure during this grueling hell…err we mean season.
-One of the most biblically charged names there is.
-One of the most biblically influenced works of literature ever produced.
Don’t laugh at the obscure parallel. Dolan is certainly a moron, but don’t think for a second he is immune to spite. Larry Brown tasted it, and now with talk of Knicks lining up a virtual open house to invite anyone and everyone to clean up the mess Thomas has made, it’s become pretty clear that Zeke is being punished for his sins.
Ladies and Gent’s welcome to Dolan’s Inferno.
For those not familiar with Dante’s Inferno, it’s a sub-section of Dante Aligheri’s epic poem “The Divine Comedy”. In the poem, Dante goes on a journey through the 3 realms of the afterlife (Hell, Purgatory, and Paradise) Dante’s Inferno, the chapter name for Hell, is perhaps the most widely read portion of the work. Dante lists 9 grueling stages of Hell in that chapter, and using that as model; let’s do the same for our poor pariah.
I present to you “Dolan’s Inferno: 9 circles of Hoops Hell”:
[Note under each stage in parenthesis is Dante Aligheri’s actual description of each. Credit goes to 4degreez.com for the translation…So I guess just skip the parenthesis if you don’t need the history lesson)
FIRST STAGE: LIMBO
(Dante says: Charon ushers you across the river Acheron, and you find yourself upon the brink of grief's abysmal valley. You are in Limbo, a place of sorrow without torment. You encounter a seven-walled castle, and within those walls you find rolling fresh meadows illuminated by the light of reason, where about many shades dwell. These are the virtuous pagans, the great philosophers and authors, unbaptised children, and others unfit to enter the kingdom of heaven. You share company with Caesar, Homer, Virgil, Socrates, and Aristotle. There is no punishment here, and the atmosphere is peaceful, yet sad.)
-Isiah begins his journey in one of the most recognizable stages we all know him for: Limbo. He’s been left in a perpetual stage of limbo for the last 25 months actually. The infamous “Significant Progress” stipulation Dolan put on him has placed Isiah’s reign of terror in a constant state of uncertainty. We all know its bound to end, including Thomas, but not knowing when he is finally put to sleep has not only damaged Zeke’s psyche, but it has inadvertently brought the fans and media along for the ride.
SECOND STAGE: LUST
(Dante says: You have come to a place mute of all light, where the wind bellows as the sea does in a tempest. This is the realm where the lustful spend eternity. Here, sinners are blown around endlessly by the unforgiving winds of unquenchable desire as punishment for their transgressions. The infernal hurricane that never rests hurtles the spirits onward in its rapine, whirling them round, and smiting, it molests them. You have betrayed reason at the behest of your appetite for pleasure, and so here you are doomed to remain. Cleopatra and Helen of Troy are two that share in your fate.)
-Isiah moves on to pay for his next sin: lust. This is an easy one. The sexual harassment defeat is said to have been the most damaging blow to Thomas. Visibly shaken in the closing weeks of the trial, Thomas’ magnetic media image was forever tarnished. In one trial, he became public enemy number 1 in New York. It was as if he knew his entire background from his NBA playing days had been washed away and forever replaced by not only a deplorable executive history, but also sealed as bona fide villain to women, fans, and his own culture.
THIRD STAGE: GLUTTONY
(Dante says: In the third circle, you find yourself amidst eternal rain, maledict, cold, and heavy. The gluttons are punished here, lying in the filthy mixture of shadows and of putrid water. Because you consumed in excess, you meet your fate beneath the cold, dirty rain, amidst the other souls that there lay unhappily in the stinking mud. Cerebus, a canine monster cruel and uncouth with his three heads and red eyes, dwells in this level. He growls and tears at the damned with his teeth and claws.)
-I’ll let him off the hook on this one and just leave you with this stat; the combined weight of Curry, Zachy, and Burger King James: 830lbs.
An average midnight snack for these 3 disgusting pigs is probably enough to feed the population of Sierra Lione.
FOURTH STAGE: GREED
(Dante says: Just before the river Styx is the Fourth Level of Hell. Here, the prodigal and the avaricious suffer their punishment, as they roll weights back and forth against one another. You will share eternal damnation with others who either wasted and lived greedily and insatiably, or who stockpiled their fortunes, hoarding everything and sharing nothing. Plutus, the wolf-like demon of wealth, dwells here.)
-One of the biggest sins Thomas is known for is his reckless disregard for finances. Over the last 4 seasons and counting, we are seeing first hand why he sent the CBA into bankruptcy.
His constant need to attain “stars” has been one of the single most detriments to the state of the Knicks. One questionable acquisition after the other saw NBA outcasts from misfit island such as Vin Baker, Tim Thomas, Maurice Taylor, Jalen Rose, Jarred Jeffries, Jerome James, Eddy Curry, Steve Francis, Zach Randolph, and of course Stephon Marbury has been arguably one of the most controversial and toxic collection of players ever brought onto one team. This is not even including the close call signings such as Darius Miles and Vince Carter.
Not even one single playoff victory has been accomplished by his laughable quest to acquire every fallen star. Instead, an encyclopedic collection of bad press was attained. His business model will probably forever be used by business schools as examples of how not to run a company, in textbooks for the next 20 years or until someone else screws up a franchise or company as bad as he did with the Knicks.
FIFTH STAGE: CONFLICT
(Dante says: the river Styx runs through this level of Hell, and in it are punished the wrathful and the gloomy. The former are forever lashing out at each other in anger, furious and naked, tearing each other piecemeal with their teeth. The latter are gurgling in the black mud, slothful and sullen, withdrawn from the world. Their lamentations bubble to the surface as they try to repeat a doleful hymn, though with unbroken words they cannot say it. Because you lived a cruel, vindictive and hateful life, you meet your fate in the Styx.)
-Where should we start? How about exactly where it begins? Stephon Marbury.
I am no fan of Marbury at all. God No. But even I can admit that Marbury has been an easy target for Thomas to use a scapegoat (or “Escape Goat” as Stephon literally says). A player who fans suddenly became quick to jeer. A player who’s image has always been poor through the media and around the league. A player who’s past weird summer immediately embarrassed the Knicks organization. A player who’s numbers was dropping fast. Marbury became an ideal target for Thomas to hint blame to.
It all boiled over on a plane ride a handful of months ago. Isiah saw the Knicks losing ways forming and quickly juggled Steph in and out of the rotation, suggesting he was the root of the Knicks problems. When informed of his reduced role, Marbury and Thomas feud quickly went public after Marbs bailed out on the team.
As players saw Thomas throw his favorite player under a bus, trust is something that became a foreign concept in the lockeroom. With feuds between players being reported, and players getting in Thomas face, like Q-Rich and Zach, it’s clear that the environment the Knicks exist in is as adversarial as Middle East. Thomas snake like behavior is responsible for this environment more than anyone.
SIXTH STAGE: FLAMING TOMBS
(Dante Says: you approach Satan's wretched city where you behold a wide plain surrounded by iron walls. Before you are fields full of distress and torment terrible. Burning tombs are littered about the landscape. Inside these flaming sepulchers suffer the heretics, failing to believe in God and the afterlife, who make themselves audible by doleful sighs. You will join the wicked that lie here, and will be offered no respite. The three infernal Furies stained with blood, with limbs of women and hair of serpents, dwell in this circle of Hell.)
- Much like Dante’s flaming tombs, Isiah is left to burn in a tomb that is the Knicks season. With each embarrassing loss and back story, he is incinerated a bit more. And much like the tombs, Dolan will not let Thomas out of this season forcing him to burn to a crisp. Eventually the tombs will open, but what will be left of Thomas will probably not be enough ashes to piece together for another job in the NBA. Ever the despot, Dolan will show no mercy on this front and allow Thomas to fry until this long season comes to an end.
SEVENTH STAGE: HOUSES OF THE VIOLENT
(Dante says: guarded by the Minotaur, who snarls in fury, and encircled within the river Phlegethon, filled with boiling blood, is the Seventh Level of Hell. The violent, the assassins, the tyrants, and the war-mongers lament their pitiless mischiefs in the river, while centaurs armed with bows and arrows shoot those who try to escape their punishment. The stench here is overpowering. This level is also home to the wood of the suicides- stunted and gnarled trees with twisting branches and poisoned fruit. At the time of final judgment, their bodies will hang from their branches. In those branches the Harpies, foul birdlike creatures with human faces, make their nests. Beyond the wood is scorching sand where those who committed violence against God and nature are showered with flakes of fire that rain down against their naked bodies. Blasphemers and sodomites writhe in pain, their tongues more loosed to lamentation, and out of their eyes gushes forth their woe. Usurers, who followed neither nature nor art, also share company in the Seventh Level.)
-Along with the so called “burning tombs”, Dante speaks of another horror in assassins, ghouls, and other war-mongers. We still have them today; we just call them the Media.
Uncovering every blemish and misfortune Isiah brings to the table, the media enthusiastically promulgates them all, leaving Thomas at their mercy. We even learned about Thomas’s illegitimate homosexual son thanks to the keen work of these modern “assassins” who seek to destroy Thomas with sharp words.
The NY media’s sole goal to run Thomas out of town, and not once have they gotten less relentless through the months.
EIGHT STAGE: FRAUDULENCE
(Dante says: Many and varied sinners suffer eternally in the multi-leveled Malebolge, an ampitheatre-shapped pit of despair Wholly of stone and of an iron colour: Those guilty of fraudulence and malice; the seducers and pimps, who are whipped by horned demons; the hypocrites, who struggle to walk in lead-lined cloaks; the barraters, who are ducked in boiling pitch by demons known as the Malebranche. The simonists, wedged into stone holes, and whose feet are licked by flames, kick and writhe desperately. The magicians, diviners, fortune tellers, and panderers are all here, as are the thieves. Some wallow in human excrement. Serpents writhe and wrap around men, sometimes fusing into each other. Bodies are torn apart. When you arrive, you will want to put your hands over your ears because of the lamentations of the sinners here, who are afflicted with scabs like leprosy, and lay sick on the ground, furiously scratching their skin off with their nails. Indeed, justice divine doth smite them with its hammer.)
-Thomas claimed to have a plan when he first got here, and maybe he did. However, it’s become quite obvious he simply has no idea what he is doing. Reassuring the media he has a plan, reassuring he hasn’t looked for trades, and telling fans the team is getting better; the man has got to be the biggest fraud in the NBA next to Tim Donaghy.
Thomas’s constant rotation changes, his bizarre signing and then buying out of contracts only suggest he has lost control of his vision a long time ago. No one believes he’s got a plan anymore so maybe he isn’t as guilty of this sin as he should be.
FINAL STAGE: Meeting with the Devil
(Dante says: This is the deepest level of hell, where the fallen angel Satan himself resides. His wings flap eternally, producing chilling cold winds that freeze the thick ice found in Cocytus. The three faces of Satan, black, red, and yellow, can be seen with mouths gushing bloody foam and eyes forever weeping, as they chew on the three traitors, Judas, Brutus, and Cassius. This place is furthest removed from the source of all light and warmth. Sinners here are frozen deep in the ice, faces out, eyes and mouths frozen shut. Traitors against God, country, family, and benefactors lament their sins in this frigid pit of despair.)
-This is it. The final stage.
In Dante’s last stage, he comes face to face with Satan himself to learn of his fate. For Isiah, this meeting has yet to take place as he is only mid way through his wretched journey.
Eventually, the devil in all his horror, will call Thomas into his office. I’m talking about Dolan himself of course. I can only imagine what the exchange will be.
Dolan: “Have you learned your lesson yet?”
Thomas (on his knees pleading/crying): “MERCY! MERCY! I CAN’T BEAR THIS ANYMORE! MERCY”
Dolan: (long pause) Now, get the %$@* out of my building.
What a journey it is for Thomas.
May the Lord have no mercy on his soul!
Thank you for reading. Now go do some real reading and borrow the real book: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/039304341X/4degreezcom