Opinion: Even amid tragedy, the Knicks still manage to ruin everything

Jae Crowder, Elfrid Payton
Jan 29, 2020; New York, New York, USA; Memphis Grizzlies forward Jae Crowder (99) and New York Knicks guard Elfrid Payton (6) push and shove during an altercation during the second half at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports

Things got very ugly for the Knicks Wednesday night just a few days after the NBA suffered one of its most tragic losses with the death of Kobe Bryant.

Since last Sunday, players banded together in solemn showings of solidarity to mourn the loss of one of the sport’s greatest legends. But the camaraderie came to an embarrassing end Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden, with players coming to blows and fans chanting for new ownership following another humiliating Knicks performance.

It was a reminder — not that one was actually needed — of the Knicks’ two decades of de-evolution from one of the NBA’s proudest franchises to the league’s laughing stock. 

The Knicks are 22 games under .500 following an upset victory over the Indiana Pacers on Saturday night. Their 14-36 record is somehow just third-worst in the NBA. (Shoutout to the Hawks and Warriors for somehow managing to be even more pathetic.)

That’s bad enough, but the final minutes of last week’s 127-106 blowout loss to the Memphis Grizzlies was cringe-worthy. 

Inside the final minute, Grizzlies forward Jae Crowder hoisted up a three-pointer in an attempt to pile on what was already an insurmountable Knicks deficit. 

That’s a no-no when it comes to the unwritten rules of basketball — a real bush-league move. 

Yet that doesn’t excuse the actions of Elfrid Payton. 

The Knicks’ point guard shoved Crowder while he was taking the shot — a dangerous move that could have resulted in an injury. 

Had Payton waited until Crowder’s feet were securely back on the floor to take exception, that’s fine. Heck, if this was the 1990s, this move wouldn’t have been as scrutinized as it is being right now. 

The ensuing scuffle was just the start.

Knicks fans saddled with more humiliation were fed up on Wednesday night and they let The Owner Who Must Not Be Named — a la Lord Voldemort — know it with boisterous chants of “Sell The Team,” reverberating from the rafters. 

How did The Owner Who Must Not Be Named respond? He tried to kick a teenager out of the arena that was chanting near him, according to the New York Post’s Marc Berman. Classy!

After the game, the humiliation continued — with a side of chauvinism.

Knicks forward Marcus Morris made ridiculous comments about Crowder being “lady-like,” in an attempt to call him weak. Guys, we’re not strong enough to be women. But that’s another conversation for another day.

But wait, there’s more. 

After the game, Grizzlies star rookie Ja Morant let reporters know that there was no hot water or water pressure in the locker rooms at the recently refurbished multi-billion-dollar facility that is Madison Square Garden. 

The World’s Most Famous Arena is more than five decades old, so it’s not beyond reason that there was some kind of mystifying malfunction. We hope the Knicks weren’t that petty to purposely reduce the shower pressure on the visiting team.

The hodgepodge of events destroyed any goodwill that might have been present at Madison Square Garden and provided a big old blemish on an evening around the NBA that featured so many beautiful moments honoring Bryant. 

Only the Knicks.

There’s no light at the end of this tunnel and no marquee free agents will want to come to MSG until He Who Must Not Be Named relinquishes his stranglehold on the organization. You, the readers, already knew that, though.

Until then, expect this same song and dance for another 20 years.

Yikes, it’s already been that long. 

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