Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Conspiracy Theory


In analyzing the business-laden world of professional sports, I find it difficult to disregard my skepticism over certain matters. For instance, if you’ve ever made sports gambling a hobby (not recommended), then I’m almost certain you’ve entertained the notion that certain lines may be “fixed”. For about a year of my college life, I honestly believed that Vegas was paying off certain NFL teams to make me lose. I pictured some guy named Ronnie calling Bill Cowher and saying, “Hey pal, that Peretore kid threw another fifty down on you guys, so try not to cover 10, ok?” I was absolutely convinced this was happening (don’t do drugs). But after a while, I realized that it’s damn near impossible to predict who’s going to win week in and week out when betting on human beings. How many guys were out partying the night before, who has diarrhea, who is in the middle of a divorce, etc. And while it took me a while to logically conclude that Vegas and the pro sports leagues were not conspiring against me, my cynicism regarding other issues still remains.

Besides Vegas scheming to make millions off of college students’ Olive Garden tips, what else am I skeptical about? Well, I can’t help but wonder if the NHL (after a yearlong lockout) would go out of their way to assure that a big market team hoists the Stanley Cup this June (Rangers?). Wouldn’t that be the best way to get the league back on track? And what about the NBA? Was that whole Shaq and Kobe subplot a ploy to get more fans to tune in? Also, did Stan Van Gundy really have the urge to go from the NBA sidelines to dealing with his daughter’s first bout with PMS? And what about Phil Jackson, ten rings and all the pot he could smoke wasn’t enough? He really wanted to come back for round 25 with Kobe? See what I mean? The list goes on and on.

And while for the most part those topics remain insignificant in the grand scheme of things, there are a few subjects out there that might not be. Foremost, I wonder how long this saddening destruction of the New York Knicks can continue. Once regarded as one of the most respected teams in all of sports, the Knicks have emerged as the laughing stock of the NBA. In addition, I also question when Michael Jordan expects to make his return to the league. Can a man of his stature (and ego) really sit on the sidelines for that much longer? Is designing sweat suits and sneakers really keeping him that busy? Thus, in an effort to get your brains churning and your imaginations running wild, I present to you my conspiracy theory regarding MJ and the New York Knicks.

Not a day goes by without some NBA website or blog making a crack at Isiah Thomas and/or the Knicks franchise. And while we continue to make these two the butt of our NBA jokes, haven’t any of us stopped to think what is really going on here? How can a league that continues to makes successful strides towards gaining global popularity let the team from its capital city just crumble? When the New York Rangers were employing similar financial habits, few of us blinked an eye; but this is different. This is the NBA, a league run by one of the most powerful men in sports, who makes it his duty to eliminate any corrosion from his 30 NBA courts (just ask Ron Artest). And that’s a perfect example. How can the commish have no toleration for those misbehaved players, yet at the same time allow his most prized franchise to rot away right under his nose? It just doesn’t make sense. That’s like Hugh Heffner letting his Playmate of the Year announce that she’s a heroin addict and partaking in an avid sexual relationship with Puck from The Real World. Would he ever allow such a thing?

And what about MJ? Here’s a guy so competitive that he’d bet his college roomates at UNC who could complete a full load of laundry faster. And yet today, at 43 years of age, he’s content with just swinging 9 irons, playing poker with Bo Kimble, and shortening the gap between him and Wilt Chamberlain? I seriously doubt it. Jordan desperately needs competition in his life and analyzing TPS reports that show he sold more ankle socks than Reebok just isn’t enough. So what will his next move be? We all know that his failure in Washington cannot be his final stamp on the NBA, no way. Thus, perhaps Michael could put on his Good Samaritan hat and help resurrect the city of New Orleans? Or what about getting Stern to award him an expansion team in Las Vegas? Wouldn’t any of those two projects fulfill Jordan’s competitive cravings? C’mon now, that’s like giving your dog one of those morsel treats when he knows damn well there’s a 2 lb. rawhide sitting in the cabinet with his name on it. So for Michael, what represents that mouth-watering bone? Very simply, it has to be the challenge of resurrecting the New York Knicks.

I can picture it now. The 2006-07 season ends with the Knicks owning the worst record in the league. Francis and Marbury will have had more spats than Al and Peg Bundy. Jerome James will end the season tallying more weight (50 lbs.) than points (20). Jamal Crawford will start showing up to games high. Larry Brown will go through more of Sally Jesse Raphael’s frames than Sally herself. And watching the Bulls use consecutive #1 draft picks of theirs while Eddy Curry fouls out every other night will be icing on the cake. Translation: New York will hit absolute rock bottom as an NBA franchise (if they haven’t already). But wait a minute. Just when you think Stern has become as careless as an abusive stepfather to his redheaded stepson, he shocks us all by presenting his initial step in fixing the Knicks and further popularizing the NBA. And if you’re thinking of this as a mere flipping of the keys to MJ, trust me, the plan goes far deeper than that.

Ever since I got my braces off, the media has been making relentless attempts at anointing the “next Air Jordan” (of course to no avail). Harold Minor, Isaiah Rider, Kobe Bryant, Vince Carter, I think even Jud Buechler was mentioned at one point. Essentially, once that sixth title was won, the urgency to find the next #23 became unyielding. One of these days, we as NBA fans need to realize that finding the next MJ may never come to fruition. Unless of course, Jordan himself somehow gets involved. Confused? Read on. Right now, the chances of LeBron James coming to New York are about as good as Tim Allen’s shot at winning an Oscar for The Shaggy Dog. With all of the dead weight currently on the Knicks roster, why would a player of James’ stature ever want to jeopardize his career? Obviously, he wouldn’t. However, luckily for the Knicks they have over two years before LBJ comes off the books in Cleveland. That should give them plenty of time to clean house and clear out the master bedroom for Mr. James’ extended stay.

Here’s a quick sketch of the plan. Sometime in 2007, Dolan hires Jordan to come and clean Isiah’s mess. By that time, Jalen Rose and Mo Taylor will be gone, as will the never-ending contract of Allan Houston. Crawford and Richardson should be fairly easy to deal and getting rid of either Marbury or Francis won’t be impossible. Okay, now where do they go from there? Well, obviously Jordan would have to bring in some reputable names to fill in the holes around Starbury/Francis, Channing Frye and Eddy Curry (assuming they remain). Off the top of my head, perhaps a Rashard Lewis or Al Harrington (this summer) along with a few role players should serve as a nice fit. Thus, when the summer of 2008 rolls around and LeBron takes a look at an ever-improving Knicks roster, headed by the man he one day hopes to emulate (not to mention the biggest stage in sports and probably double the endorsement money), could he really re-sign with Cleveland? Could he really pass up the chance to become Jordan’s heir apparent, return the Knicks to glory, and subsequently carry the NBA to the pinnacle of the sporting world?

Somewhere under that shag of gray hair, David Stern is asking himself these very same questions, with an obvious “no” pending for each of them. A clever smile creases his lips as he gazes down at his Rolodex with the page turned to ‘J’. He reaches for the phone to make the call, but decides to wait. He’ll wait until this thing in the Big Apple gets a little worse, perhaps this summer or the next. In the meantime, he can spend the majority of his free time endorsing all of those checks from Ronnie.

10 Comments:

At 4:38 PM, Blogger Nat said...

Anthony... i am surprised to see you have nothing posted today about the hiring of Bryan Colangelo today

 
At 4:56 PM, Blogger Anthony Peretore said...

Nat, I'm not going to really do things like that anymore. I find it pretty useless seeing that most people (if not all) are going to read a story like that on an ESPN or CNNSI rather than here. I want to focus exclusively on putting things up that readers can't find anywhere else. Sorry for the bad news...

 
At 12:15 AM, Anonymous Srikanth said...

Strangely, I was just talking about this with a friend 2 nights ago. The possibility of Jordan taking over a Vegas team. Hmm, LeBron to NY! I think Dolan would agree to a 200 Mil roster too then. I read this, and to top it off, I see the commercial with His Airness smiling and nodding his head at some kids playing street ball (although that kid's jump shot is way better than 'Bron's). Well, Maybe Mikey can entice KG too? Imagine a staring 5 of Starbury, (insert insignificant 2-guard here), Bron, KG, Curry........and The Man stading on the sidelines and nodding. I can almost feel it..

 
At 12:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I dunno. Actually, the first thing I thought the other night when the Cleveland fans were booing LeBron was Orlando.

What? The Magic?

But it makes sense.

No state income tax. Year-round sunshine and girls in bikinis. Live in Orlando with all the other boys. A city that loves its celebrities and protects them -- and their privacy -- fiercely.

And then think about it.

LeBron & Dwight Howard. Jameer Nelson, if he gets it together, running the point. Put a couple role players in there and what do you have? A young, uber-talented nucleus. No brutal, prying sports media. Also, no automatic hatred (some people will always hate the Knicks, the Lakers, the Celtics on principle alone; not so the Magic).

It may not fit the conspiracy theory, but if I were LeBron, I'd head for the sun.

 
At 12:23 PM, Blogger Anthony Peretore said...

As would I. I'd avoid the bright lights and never-ending publicity altogether. But it's really hard for a player of LeBron's caliber not to want to go to a big market team. Guys like him love the spotlight and even more, to perform under pressure. Plus, in Orlando he can still be the face of the NBA, but in New York he HAS to be. It will be great for the sport, great for him, and especially great for the NBA.

 
At 2:09 PM, Anonymous wiZo said...

Anthony... i am surprised to see you have nothing posted today about how over 100 WNBA players are playing overseas this offseason...which includes all 10 members of last season's WNBA first and second teams -- Lisa Leslie, Sheryl Swoopes, Diana Taurasi, Sue Bird, Tamika Catchings, Michelle Snow, Tammy Sutton-Brown, Nykesha Sales, DeLisha Milton-Jones, Nikki Teasley, Alana Beard, Kedra Holland-Corn, Tina Thompson, Ticha Penicheiro and Yolanda Griffith.

As a Laker fan, I have to hope for lebron to come to LA and form the greatest backcourt of all time. However, if not LA, then bron landing in NY would be great for the NBA. Lebron and Kobe could revive the east/west, Magic/Bird-like rivalry.

 
At 3:01 PM, Blogger Anthony Peretore said...

WiZo-
I won't even entertain the thought that your WNBA comments posed any seriousness. The NBA Source rule is to only use those names when cracking jokes. Period.

As far as LeBron to the Lakers, there's nothing I'd rather see less. (Sorry I'm a Celtics fan) He's going to NY, no doubt about it.

 
At 1:27 PM, Anonymous wiZo said...

doh! youre a celtics fan??? you must love Bill Simmon's articles on espn huh?

and yeah, the WNBA comment was a joke in response to the first comment. (after re-reading it, i guess that wasnt clear. i didnt think anyone would possibly think i was serious. how embarrassing. )
but i wanna give you props on your site tho. i probably browse thru all the sports sites throughout the day for sports news. but your site is different cuz of the unique and interesting topics. (and also hilarious brokeback pics of nba players) keep up the good work!

 
At 3:47 PM, Blogger Anthony Peretore said...

Haha, I knew you were kidding. Maybe I should change this site to The WNBA Source and just rip that league all day long. Could it ever get old? Anyway, thanks for the kind words, glad you enjoy the content. Take care

 
At 4:26 AM, Anonymous indi@nba247.net said...

'How can a league that continues to makes successful strides towards gaining global popularity let the team from its capital city just crumble?'

?!?

Last time I checked Washington was the capital city and not New York...

You sure you're still not using drugs...?

 

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