Isiah and the Knicks Torn Apart During Skid
The losing streak stands at eight with no relief in sight. With the Knicks' last defeat on Wednesday night in Detroit, it has been over two weeks since they last won a basketball game. With all the controversy surrounding Isiah Thomas and Stephon Marbury, it is no wonder that things have gone so bad this season.
After playing the defending Eastern Conference champion Cavaliers close on opening night in Cleveland, the Knicks actually put together a modest two-game winning streak before matching that on the losing side. On the flight to Phoenix, things came to a head between the head coach and starting point guard. Everything from threats, strong words and actual physical contact between the two has been reported, but the Knicks have tried to keep things in-house and not make it worse by publicly airing their dirty laundry.
Marbury bolted from the team and missed the 113-102 loss to the Suns, but returned a day later for another defeat, this time a 84-81 decision in Los Angeles to the Clippers.
The problem was that Thomas had Quentin Richardson take a vote in the locker room prior to the game in LA if Marbury should be benched the entire game. The team voted to leave him on the bench, but Thomas not only brought him in the game after starting Mardy Collins, but gave him over 33 minutes of playing time.
The Brooklyn native had his starting job back following two more defeats at Sacramento and Denver, and the crowd at Madison Square Garden let both Marbury and Thomas hear their disappointment all throughout the 108-82 crushing at the hands of the Golden State Warriors.
It didn't take long for the fans to be heard. During pre-game introductions, both Thomas and Marbury received a loud chorus of boos, and each time the point guard touched the ball it continued. The Knicks fell behind early in the game and played sloppy, giving the crowd more ammunition. With 4:19 left in the first period and the Warriors ahead by double-digits, the first 'Fire Isiah' chant began.
"I didn't necessarily understand what they were chanting," Thomas said in his post-game press conference. "You try to focus on the game. You know it wasn't nice. When you are watching a game we played tonight, the venom comes out, you deserve it. That's what comes with the territory and the place we live in.
"That is on Isiah" the head coach continued. "That's not the player's fault, this was on me."
Marbury looked at the stats for the blame, not the bench. "We had too many turnovers (27). Boos or no boos, we didn't play well. You can never control how somebody feels."
The Garden hierarchy was front and center and heard all the venom that Thomas spoke of. Both James Dolan and Steve Mills were in their customary seats right by the Knicks bench and could not hide their feelings. Dolan slumped in his chair while Mills had a blank look on his face as the boos and chants grew louder.
This is a team that may be putting on a charade that things are better and they have worked out their differences. But the proof is on the court.