From the frying pan into the fire – I. Thomas replaces Larry Brown as Knicks Coach

I wrote on my blog before how frustrated I was on how things were going so badly with my beloved New York Knicks (Basketball Exchange wasn’t around then yet for me to post it here). Today, news has arrived that things have finally come to a head.

The Knicks have finally fired Brown, and put General Manager Isiah Thomas in his place.

Several issues here:

First, Larry Brown is one of the most successful coaches in NBA history. Previous to going to New York he said that coaching the Knicks was his “dream job”, probably because he is a Brooklyn native. The problem was, he said that while he was still coaching the Pistons. So, after an eventual disagreement with them – whom he led to a championship, btw, he now leaves the Knicks in disgrace after only one season.

Inspite of this, Larry Brown is coming out a very rich man. The reason why this drama has gone this far according to Steve Kerr’s article, is that both were waiting for whom to give in. The Knicks, hoping to get a discount off paying his salary – or Brown, who has no intention of giving any. The amount in contest? $40 million dollars. Wow. It makes me dizzy just typing that.

Isiah Thomas on the other hand is also one of the NBA’s legends. He is a Hall Of Famer with two championship rings, and took over General Management of the Knicks in 2003. He previously coached the Indiana Pacers before that, in 2000 to 2003.

Although he is successful in almost everything he does, his attitude and general behaviour has been under contest in many cases, including a widely publicized sexual assault case, and allegations of improper behaviour even back in the Indiana days.

Hiring Steve Francis, although an All-Star, didn’t help his already questionable management skills. Many people couldn’t believe it, especially considering the $48.5 million the Knicks have to pay to get him, and that they already had Stephon Marbury in their lineup.

So what now of my Knicks?

Inasmuch as changes are a good thing, especially to a team that almost ranked last the last season, I seriously doubt that Isiah will turn things around as coach. In fact, if at all possible, Knicks owner Jim Dolan is probably (and should) get rid of Isiah asap as well.

The truth is, I am completely bewildered at how this thing has transpired, both as a basketball fan and as a business person, looking at the management decisions and at how a multi-million dollar company such as the Knicks franchise is being run.

Sometimes (and I’m sure other managers / business people feel the same way), you see how badly an organization is doing, and you think, ok, even top executives in global organizations are human, and you’re entitled to make mistakes along the way. How could you have known anyway? You hire a top NBA coach and an NBA legend, and that should’ve worked right? But it didn’t work out, so you just take your hits and move on.

But for both that NBA coach and that NBA legend to become duds? Both at the same time? Losing many multimillion dollars in the process, and tainting a famous, much-celebrated sports team as well? That’s not just bad luck. That’s a snafu of a monumental scale, almost as if you’re working to hurt yourself and the Gods of basketball are working against you at the same time.

I think it’s gonna be a long time before the Knicks are going to be in anyone’s radar for a while. Sure they’ll be in the news for coaching changes, hopefully some General Manager changes, and even some personnel and player movement as well. But getting in the news purely because of basketball? Not in many years to come.

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