It’s been a long time since the New York Knicks were playing meaningful basketball game. The last time they made the playoffs were 2012, and since 2000, they’ve only advanced past the first round of the playoffs once. Along the way, New York has gone through multiple front offices, coaches, nominal faces of the franchise, and the result has usually been losing. The low point may have came when the franchise, soon after the free agent window opened last summer, put out an apology to their fans about not signing any stars.
Beloved ex-big man Charles Oakley has never been afraid to criticize the Knicks, which is a large part of why James Dolan doesn’t like him. In an interview with Stefan Bondy of New York Daily News, Oakley laid into the Knicks’ players for not fighting to change the franchise’s reputation.
“Guys weren’t disrespecting the city like that when we were playing. They wouldn’t have said that,” Oakley said in an interview with the Daily News. “My thing is, if somebody said that when we were playing, they got problems. No doubt. They’re not going to disrespect me and come in and I can do something about it on the floor.
“If somebody disrespected me in the press or a sit-down interview and I’m on the team, I’m going to have to see him.”
Oakley isn’t entirely wrong that the Knicks’ rosters over the last few seasons haven’t done much to change the perception of the team. However, putting that all on the players seems unfair when you look at how the rosters have been constructed. This season’s team, in particular, is filled to the brim with forwards that need the ball in their hands or have overlapping skill sets.
There is one area where Oakley is right, though. The biggest thing that has lent itself to New York’s struggles has been, simply enough, losing. If the Knicks are ever going to return to form, then they will need to actually win games again.
“My thing was, if somebody talks about you this and that, you got to go prove them wrong,” he said. “That’s when guys on the floor have to say, ‘Hey, this is the place to be.’ By winning. And being consistent. You can’t shut somebody up by losing.”
The Knicks continue to kick the can down the road as they try to bring a star to New York. The problem is that when cap space opens up, they never appear to be an attractive destination, and as Oakley laid out, there’s only one way to change that.