.. since isiah thomas took over the new york knicks. and ny times has a nice 2 pages article on this:
Originally Posted by New York TimesIt was not long ago that the Knicks were measured by an unflattering scale, one that weighed millions of dollars spent against losses endured. It was their own personal misery index.
And miserable they were.
Fans watched in anguish as the payroll climbed and the product declined, and by the time Isiah Thomas's flight touched down in New York last December, the misery index had spiked, zooming to hopelessness.
The Knicks were 10-18. Their payroll was $88 million.
A year ago Sunday, Steve Mills, the president of Madison Square Garden, called Thomas, a Hall of Fame guard. Three days later, Thomas was introduced as the new team president.
Everything since has been a blur, a tornado of trades and dollar signs and headlines, all tied together by one smiling man assuring everyone that better days are ahead.
Tomorrow is one year since Thomas became the Knicks' overseer. He will not grade his first year, but by most objective measures, it has been a modest success.
The Knicks are 13-11 and leading the Atlantic Division, despite a roster largely thrown together over the course of eight months and despite only a cameo appearance by Allan Houston.
There are stars on the court - Stephon Marbury and Jamal Crawford joining Houston - and stars along the baselines and sideline. And if the payroll is swelling, to $103 million, well, so are expectations and satisfaction in the Garden boardroom.
"He's clearly moving us in the right direction," Mills, now the president of MSG Sports, said of Thomas. "They clearly are a younger team than the day he walked in the door. Clearly we're a more athletic team than the day he walked in the door. We have a team you can look at and see there's a future to build around."
This universally rosy view can be heard in the corridors of the Knicks offices, although it is not necessarily shared across the league, or even across Manhattan. His critics say that Thomas's whirlwind of activity has not made the Knicks better, just more interesting and more expensive.
"My feeling is, they're still in the mud of mediocrity," George Karl, a former longtime N.B.A. coach and a commentator for ESPN, said. "This is a team that on certain nights is pretty good. On other nights it looks like they can't play. And they go up and down. And the highest you could expect from them would maybe be a first-round win.
"I don't see an upside to the talent level of their team. Could they get by a first-round opponent? If they get the right team, the right matchup. They're not strong enough or consistent enough to be a factor in the playoffs. I would point the arrow up, but bringing this much change to a team and then constantly talking about more change, it's tiring."
So the criticism goes. Some fans echo it. Thomas hears it. He just doesn't understand it.
Since Thomas took the reins last Dec. 22, the Knicks have gone 42-36. They are not only more competitive, but they are infinitely more watchable, as television ratings attest. In the 73 games shown by the MSG Network, Fox Sports New York and the Metro Channel since Thomas took over, the average ratings have soared by 40 percent, to a 1.72. The 73 games before his arrival averaged a 1.23.
Yet Thomas still hears the carping: that the Knicks are going nowhere, that they are just barely over .500 in a weak division, that they are still loaded down with overpaid players.
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