They were supposed to be battling for supremacy in the NBA’s Eastern Conference, a full-fledged Streets of New York donnybrook. The Knicks were poised to take a step up from the solid playoff run of a year ago. The Nets made the blockbuster trade of the offseason, getting two Hall of Fame players to go along with the Hall of Fame point guard selected to coach them.
In fact, most of the talk in the offseason centered on which New York team was better, the Knicks or the Nets? It was the hot topic for the tabloids and the sports talk radio stations. The debate went on and on.
Now, a month into the NBA season and the question is: Which team is worse?
It’s really hard to determine, because right now, they are both God-awful. The Knicks are 3-8 overall, 1-6 at the Garden. They’ve lost four straight and show no signs of improving anytime soon. The Nets are one loss worse at 3-9, also having lost four straight, including last night’s 111-81 embarrassing debacle against that world power known as the Minnesota Timberwolves.
It’s actually hard to believe that both teams are so bad.
I mean, the Knicks have Carmelo Anthony. I know he’s very limited as a player and he’s a shoot-first, take-names-later kind of player who does not make everyone around him better, but he’s still among the top 10 talents in the league.
Losing Tyson Chandler to a broken leg is a huge blow, but with Andrea Bargnani, they should have been able to recover, right? Hardly. They are a severely disjointed team right now with no true leadership. The Knick faithful are already calling for coach Mike Woodson’s head, even after he led them to 53 wins and a win over the Celtics in the playoffs last year.
The Nets are a total mess. As it looks right now, they’re the ones who got fleeced in that trade with the Celtics. Those draft picks are looking pretty good now.
Kevin Garnett aged faster than Shoeless Joe Hardy did at the end of “Damn Yankees.” I don’t remember a player disintegrating over one summer like he has. Willie Mays played centerfield for the Mets better in the 1973 World Series. KG is totally shot. He’s averaging 6.7 points per game. Hell, he used to get that in the first quarter.
Paul Pierce isn’t much better. That patented fade away jumper keeps clunking off the rim. He’s shooting 36 percent from the floor, averaging 12.5 points per game. He’s said and done all the right things, but if he can’t make a shot, he’s useless.
Speaking of useless, Deron Williams is supposed to be the floor general of this team, but once again, he can’t stay healthy. Ever since he came from Utah, he’s been injured in some capacity and he’s been a sullen, moody clod.
And as for the rookie head coach? Jason Kidd has looked totally lost at times, like not knowing the team’s rotation and who to substitute for whom. Sure, he has a capable Lawrence Frank on his bench to guide him along, but there are times that he just sits there, wide-eyed, not showing any fire, any emotion. As a coach, he’s not the same intense person he was as a player.
And to think, the Nets got rid of P.J. Carlesimo for this? The former Seton Hall coach, who was masterful turning the Nets around last year, was shown the door in favor of an unproven Kidd. How’s that working out right now?
Has there ever been a bigger train wreck than what’s going on at Rutgers now? I had a friend, a Rutgers alum, who said, “They can’t f*ck up enough.”
The school just can’t stay out of the headlines, no matter how hard it tries.
There was the entire Dave Cohen-Jevon Tyree bullying mess that came to a head last week. The beleaguered athletic director, Julie Hermann, tried to defuse the mess by holding a long overdue meeting with the kid’s parents last week, as a courtesy to a family friend and respected clergyman Rev. Dr. DeForest Soaries.
Hermann claimed that she spoke with Tyree’s father, then after the father said that he never received a phone call, Hermann said that she must have been duped by an imposter claiming to be Tyree’s father. Where is Capt. Jenks these days? Did Howard Stern put him up to call Hermann?
At least now, Hermann can say she actually spoke with them. The lying can finally cease.
My friend, Star-Ledger columnist Steve Politi, wrote yesterday that if Hermann truly lied about trying to contact the Tyree family, then she deserves to be fired. Hell, she didn’t deserve to be hired in the first place _ or at least shown the door before she entered the Hale Center, after it was proven she lied about her activity at the University of Tennessee years ago.
Hermann only became a candidate for the position as a favor to one of the people on the search committee, who was very friendly with Hermann. Just like that, she got the job _ and just like Carlesimo, Rutgers got rid of Tim Pernetti for this??
Pernetti got the school to build an extension to Rutgers Stadium, then got a sponsor to underwrite the thing, then pulled off the biggest coup since Dillinger by getting the Big Ten Conference to actually think Rutgers was a good fit and pried some of the Big Ten’s billions to go to the banks of the old Raritan. What has Hermann done, except for not f*cking up enough?
As for the football team, it’s really a sad, sad state. A month ago, the Scarlet Knights were 4-1 and talking about a possible bowl berth. Now, they’re 5-5 and have not been competitive one iota over the last four games, losing by more than 30 points three times. People now wonder if head coach Kyle Flood can keep his job and that’s a shame, because he’s a great guy and a good football coach. But he’s lost this team. They’re uninspired and listless. They don’t seem to care.
The basketball team just lost to Drexel in the preseason NIT. It was almost a given that the Scarlet Knights would head to the Big Apple. Nope. And this is a program that is going to the Big Ten? Who’s kidding whom? They’re not ready _ except ready to cash the paychecks.
Here’s to four high school football programs I know pretty well who punched their respective tickets to the NJSIAA state finals Friday night.
Parsippany Hills shocked previously undefeated West Essex to get to the North 2, Group III title game. That’s great news for Dave Albano and the Vikings. There isn’t a classier, nicer guy in the game than Albano. This is his fifth try at a state title and he deserves to get one.
Mendham upset sister school West Morris to get to the North 2, Group IV title game. The Minutemen won two games the last two years and now get back to the state title game for the first time since 2004. It’s a credit to head coach Bill Carpluk, who came back to coach the Minutemen this season after a seven-year hiatus. After this year, they should rename streets and buildings in Mendham after him.
Hoboken defeated New Providence to get to the North 2, Group I championship game for a second straight year. The Red Wings (or Redwings, the debate continues) have battled through injuries all season, including one to head coach Lou Taglieri, who came out of his hospital bed last week to coach the team. It’s amazing how they have managed to keep winning through the adversity.
And the alma mater, St. Peter’s Prep, will get another crack at winning the Non-Public Group 4 title after defeating St. Augustine Prep last night. The Marauders haven’t won the state title since 2005 and they’ll get a chance to rid some demons, facing either Don Bosco Prep or Paramus Catholic in the finals at MetLife Stadium in two weeks. The Marauders haven’t won a big game against the Bergen County powers since that win in 2005. Maybe this is the year.
You can read some of my other work at www.hudsonreporter.com, www.theobserver.com and www.dailyrecord.com