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Knicks could be biggest joke in sports history

Knicks could be biggest joke in sports history

Knicks could be biggest joke in sports history

The. Worst. Professional. Sports. Franchise. Ever?

The evidence is rolling in, and it's looking overwhelming, powerful, convincing and almost undeniable. The Knicks, these Knicks, your Knicks, the entire organization from A (Anucha Browne Sanders lawsuit) to Z (Zach Randolph) is an embarrassment approaching epic proportions.

And now, this must be asked: Are the Knicks dangerously becoming the biggest joke of all time?

They are badly owned, managed and priced. Given the talent and salaries, they've been massive underperformers the last three-plus years. They're a public relations disaster in the largest, most demanding and important market in the country. Oh, and they're losing. Those are six rather strong signs suggesting the Knicks have no peer when it comes to lunacy, and it's certainly no stretch to conclude that no team in any sport at any time has been this horrible across the board.

There have been teams that lost more games. There have been owners who didn't care. And some teams were bigger blights to the local sports community.

But when it comes to being bad, the Knicks are filling up the boxscore. They're getting poor marks for everything, and it's tarnishing a once-proud franchise and tuning out a once-happening arena. It's torturing loyal fans who are watching their heavy emotional investment being thrown away like another careless bounce pass, or more to the point, an $11.5-million settlement to a former high-ranking woman who wasn't treated like one, according to a jury.

The Knicks are running away from the competition going the wrong way, and starting to put distance between themselves and the runner-up. As long as Jim Dolan owns them and Isiah Thomas runs them, there's a serious chance the Knicks may lap the field, which, upon closer inspection, was never this bad.

Only a few NBA teams can even be placed in the same company, including the Cavaliers under Ted Stepien, a more notorious owner than Dolan. In three years, Stepien had five coaches, never had a winning season and mortgaged the Cavs' future by dumping first-rounders for mediocrities, including trading the No. 1 pick that eventually became All-Star James Worthy. The league had to save the Cavs from their own owner and create the Stepien Rule, which prevents teams from trading consecutive No. 1 picks and committing basketball suicide. Might the league create the Dolan Rule, which prevents teams from hiring Isiah?

The Clippers in the early going under Donald Sterling had no direction, either, having gone 15 straight years with no playoffs. But the difference is the Clippers and Sterling hardly spent the kind of money being wasted by the Knicks. Sterling got the results he paid for. The Jail Blazers had their legal problems in Portland a few years back but did win every now and then as a consolation.

Who else? The Bengals were bad throughout the 1990s but at least they waited until the recent rash of lawlessness to become threats to society. The current Dolphins are just hapless on the field, nothing more. Victor Kiam was a wreck of an owner with the Patriots but did have the good sense to sell; don't hold your breath on Dolan, who doesn't need the money, doing the same. The Cubs? Lovable. Maybe the Blackhawks have made hockey irrelevant in Chicago, but they just lose games. The losses of the Knicks amount to more than that.

Two years ago they hired Larry Brown and delivered the least satisfying season in sports history, all things considered, given the pedigree of the coach, the payroll and the realistic expectations of a team that choked out just 23 wins. Sadly, things haven't taken a turn for the better since. Your hunch says the Knicks haven't hit rock bottom just yet. That's the scary part.

In his reign, Dolan has fired Marv Albert, hired Isiah, dumped Brown, refused to settle out of court initially in the image-damaging Browne Sanders lawsuit and gives the impression, by not firing Isiah, that he cares more about playing the blues on his beloved guitar than resolving them at the Garden. The Knicks' record under Isiah is 123-196 and his record as a personnel man is mixed at best.

"I'm confident we have the right players, I'm confident we have the right people," Thomas insisted the other day.

Why, then, is nothing quite right?

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