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Legacy of Patheticity

"I want to leave something that's going to stand for a long time. I want to leave a legacy."
-- Isiah Thomas prior to another humiliating Knicks defeat.

Isiah may have forgotten. His legacy has already been left in Madison Square Garden.

The last shreds of the Evil Empire that was the Bad Boys Pistons were actually buried in that building on May 3, 1992 when they were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs by a Knicks team that had both hope and heart, two things that the current squad is pathetically lacking.

The Knicks implemented a one-year program to win young fans back that year, bringing back the G.O. cards that my dad used to use to get into the cheap seats when he was a kid. They allowed you to get 2-for-1 deals on selected nosebleed seats if you were a high school student, so my friend Dan Gordon and I took advantage for that game.

The record shows that the Knicks won the game 94-87 behind 31 points and 19 rebounds from Patrick Ewing, but that's not what I remember today. What I recall is the fight that Isiah Thomas showed in the fourth quarter. It wasn't quite his legendary 16-points-in-94-seconds performance from the first round match between these two teams in 1984, but it was something similar.

Thomas scored 31 points and though the stories I read don't detail it, I'm guessing he had at least 20 in the final 12 minutes, when the Pistons rallied before faltering. I remember that Dan and I were quite wowed by Thomas' efforts. It was basically his last moment of glory. Chuck Daly resigned as Pistons coach and the team went into rebuilding mode. Thomas lasted two seasons before injury did in the end of his career, at age 33.

The problem with Thomas the Knicks coach, GM and president, is that we haven't seen anything close to what he showed on the floor that day, or for that matter, what the Knicks showed ("The Knicks wanted this game badly. And they took it with passion" wrote Clifton Brown in the New York Times). Instead we get treated to false bravado, pathetic excuses, and horrendous play. Thomas, the loser on that 1992 day, walked off the Garden floor with a crowd's admiration. The Thomas that walks off the floor at the Garden these days is a pathetic wretch. The legacy he's leaving behind is that of a team I now refer to as the Skunks.


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