In New York we have multiples of everything – exquisite Indian restaurants or places where the roti is as heavy as a discus. The same applies to our sports teams – eight of them overlapping in the early spring.
The Devils vanished early, the Nets could not sustain; and the Islanders taught their doomed constituency to care again. The Red Bulls are in first place under my man Mike Petke. The Rangers won a seventh game on the road. And the Yankees are doing amazingly with replacements, showing that Brian Cashman is indeed a dandy general manager when he is not rappelling or sky-diving. Or maybe because he does.
That brings us to the Mets, who are reaching the nether level that was preordained once the budget was shrunk. The Mets are squabbling over the temper tantrums of Jordany Valdespin. Rick Ankiel as the great center-field hope -- the ball clanking off his borrowed glove? Oy.
Then there are the Knicks, who managed to win a playoff series against Boston, but are the dysfunctional playoff team they always were going to become.
The great Harvey Araton – once labeled The Rebbe of Roundball – dissects the imperfections of Carmelo Anthony in the Wednesday New York Times.
Anthony is a point machine, which is fine for the regular season, when every night is Garbage Time. But he is not a player for pollen season, when defenses tighten up, when the Hibberts of the world assert themselves.
Anthony is the softest superstar you will ever see. The Knicks brain trust surrounded him with ancient guardians with the mobility of the Xi’an terracotta warriors. I could have sworn I spotted Wally Osterkorn, Bob Brannum and Al McGuire from the old elbow-wielding days of the N.B.A. But none of the imported tough guys could give Anthony the imagination of a true superstar.
Can I drop a name on you? I know Jeremy Lin did not have a great playoff round with Houston, but I still have the memory of him penetrating defenses and finding the open man in his wonderful Linsanity flurry a year ago. He made his teammates better – even Steve Novak – but Anthony demanded the ball early and often. This was always going to happen once the Knick ownership broke up a very decent developing team two years ago, to bring in Anthony for a sugar rush of points.
Now the Xi’an warriors are calcified; Anthony and J.R. Smith keep chucking away. It is mid-May and they are exposed. This was always going to happen in the playoffs. But it could be worse. The Knicks could be the Mets.
“They may hate the cultural context they now find themselves teaching in, but they love their work. The Achilles’ heel of schoolteachers, one all too easily exploited by politicians, is that they love their students.”
(One of the best reads in the NYT these days is Margaret Renkl, in Nashville. In her latest post, Renkl describes the dedicated core of “born teachers” – the majority, she submits.)
(From Madeleine Albright in one of her final interviews in February):
“Putin is small and pale,” I wrote, “so cold as to be almost reptilian.” He claimed to understand why the Berlin Wall had to fall but had not expected the whole Soviet Union to collapse. “Putin is embarrassed by what happened to his country and determined to restore its greatness.” – Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, recalling her first meeting with the relatively unknown Vladimir Putin in 2000. – The New York Times, Feb. 23, 2022.