I'm afraid you're exhibiting signs of Stockholm Syndrome. Understandably so. As a Knicks fan, you've been subject to unsightly, inept, and just plain bad basketball for so long—Pat Riley's ugly, grab-and-clutch "Force Basketball," which nearly ruined the NBA the way the neutral zone trap nearly ruined the NHL; the entire Isiah Thomas era; all things Stephon Marbury; Anthony's current reign of ball-stopping, hold-jab-step/hold-feint/hold-pivot/hold-shoot terror—that you've lost the ability to tell up from down, black from white, and a shrewd roster move from a petty, deflating, short-sighted one.
Also: James Dolan, better, and bandleader in the same sentence? To quote esteemed late-20th century philosopher John McEnroe: You cannot be serious.
I hate to break this to you, Jake, the Knicks have no shot at an NBA title in the next five years. None. Not if LeBron James quits basketball to play minor league baseball. Not if the Oklahoma City Thunder hire Thomas to run their team. Not if NBA commissioner David Stern rigs—allegedly—another draft lottery. The Knicks, I'm afraid, have become the Washington Redskins of professional basketball: offseason champs, in-season chumps, forever teasing their abused, desperate fans with the promise of a better tomorrow, tomorrow. Stoudamire is halfway to having Brandon Roy's knees. Chandler isn't getting any younger. New additions Jason Kidd, Kurt Thomas and Marcus Camby—really, Thomas and Camby? Are Spree and Allan Houston not available to party like it's 1999?—are definitely getting older. And Anthony? Does any contemporary basketball superstar elicit a bigger yawn? Sure, he can score. His playoff record is slightly more impressive than Tracy McGrady's. He's also the worst kind of pickup teammate, the guy who would rather pass to an orange traffic cone.
Trust me: as a Washington Wizards follower, I know a hopeless outfit when I see one. And the Knicks—excuse me, The Incredible Non-Shrinking Ray Felton's Knicks!—will be lucky to beat the new-look Brooklyn Nets.
As such, of course the club should have held onto Lin. Who cares if his contract seems a bit steep? Or if he's a mediocre defender? Or if he's a player that "needs the ball?" (Um, hello? He's a point guard. All point guards need the ball, unless the Knicks really are going to hire Phil Jackson and run the triangle offense). Lin is fun. A pleasure to watch. Sure, Lin can pass (7.6 assists per game as a Knicks starter) and shoot (18.5 points per game as a starter). What made him special, though, was the unexpected, utterly spontaneous vibe he brought out in fans and teammates alike. For the first time in forever, Madison Square Garden wasn't a psychodramatic haunted house of thwarted aspirations and dashed expectations, forever mourning the Bill Bradley-era Knicks, a place defined by the next morning's taunting tabloid headlines. It was just a place to watch basketball, have a great time, maybe leave with smile on your face.
And now that's gone. The Knicks blew it. You can't put a price tag on joy. Hampton, what's your take?