Throughout her renowned novel The Outsiders, S.E. Hinton repeatedly references Robert Frost's immortal poem "Nothing Gold Can Stay":
Nature's first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf's a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.
Once we cut through all the literary mumbo-jumbo (I know I'll get hanged by the poetry fanatics for that comment, but I couldn't resist), the message remains: All good things eventually come to an end.
Thus, perhaps no work other than Frost's better expresses my sentiments regarding Frank Isola's report in the New York Daily News on Saturday:
Garden chairman James Dolan recently told confidants that he knows a coaching change must be made and that he is preparing to do just that, according to a source close to Dolan. No timetable was given, but the source indicated that Dolan is leaning toward making a change before the end of the season.
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Now, this just isn't cool. For all the happiness that Zeke has brought into the lives of non-Knicks fans over the last four years, it just wouldn't be right to have to see him go. To think about a possible end to an era of salary cap purgatory, asinine and imminently unlikable players, inexplicable acquisitions, downright silly soundbites and endless losing is nearly painful.
Certainly, no replacement for Zeke will immediately bail this team out of trouble -- the fact of the matter is that it is a long-term process no matter who is at the helm -- but a replacement at least would bring about the possibility of the end of this glorious era for Knicks-haters at some unknown point down the road. As of now, we simply don't have to live with that fear, and it would be a blow to have that threat return to our reality.
While we will save a more passionate tribute to Zeke for the day he is finally canned, it is worth remembering that this Knicks team is exactly 127-208 since he took over in late December 2003, a simply unbelievable run of atrocity. It would be a shame to see him go.
Fortunately, there is a silver lining. James Dolan can't be fired as owner, which means that there is still hope that one Isiah canning might not be enough for the Knicks. From Isola's piece:
It is not clear whether Dolan would allow Thomas to continue in his role as the team's highest-ranking decision-maker once he is removed from the bench. Such a scenario would seem unlikely, but Thomas' survival skills should never be underestimated. He has outlasted three coaches since coming to New York, including a pair of Hall of Famers, Lenny Wilkens and Larry Brown.
Unreal. You can't make this stuff up. Not to champion Zeke's coaching exploits, but at what it point did it not become common knowledge that this guy is exponentially more tolerable as a coach than as a general manager? Again, that has nothing to do with his coaching abilities or lack thereof. Aside from his playing ability, I'm no fan of anything about Thomas, and I wouldn't want him coaching my team. That said, he didn't destroy this Knicks team with his coaching. He destroyed it by putting together a roster of players that quite possibly no coach on the planet could coax to success.
Sure, this team should be a few wins better than 9-26, and it is entirely likely that with a more capable coach, the record would indeed be a couple of games better than the aforementioned 9-26 mark. But let's not kid ourselves: This group of players isn't turning into a group of world-beaters no matter who is at the helm. Teams with players who don't think and don't care don't beat people. Isiah Thomas has done an incredibly effective job of bringing in high-paid players who don't think and don't care. Hence, his team doesn't beat too many other teams. That's how it works, regardless of who the coach is.
So, yes it is time to begin bracing ourselves mentally for the fact that the Zeke regime may be nearing its end in the Sizable Apple, and it seemed only fair to get the warning out such that those who sentimize with me on this issue are not broadsided if and when this becomes reality. But there is still hope that the man could remain in charge upstairs. Should that be the case, we're all set.