In today’s edition of the New York Post, Marc Berman treats us to some choice words from Earl “the Pearl” Monroe. For someone who was an artist on the basketball court, it must be especially painful for him to watch these Knicks play on his court.
On the gap between the team’s talent and performance: "I still think they got a tremendous amount of talent on this team. It's really baffling to me the team's not performing the way I thought they would perform."
On Eddy Curry: "I think the way they played last year, I wouldn't have changed the whole scope of Eddy Curry as the No. 1 option." …"He might be a little fragile as far his psyche is concerned, but I still think he's a kind of guy you need." …"They had established Eddy Curry last year as a player, they come in this year and go away from it…” …"It doesn't make much sense. He's lost a lot of his confidence and that's why they're going away from him now. But I'm not making those types of decisions. They had the makings of a real good team going into the season."
To sum up: "There's bad karma," Monroe said. "They have to beat the bad karma down. It's the kind of season where everything's been strange. …"I think it's surprising to a lot of people [Thomas hasn't been fired], but he was a great player and has an eye for talent."
And, I guess it had to be Pearl who was going to say something. Or, at least say something that wouldn’t come off as petulant or piling on. Something that could be considered genuine tough-love. The players from the teams that I grew up watching in the 1980s and 1990s are likely too close to Isiah Thomas (in terms of both age and relationship) to say anything too critical. Moreover, they’ll always see the great player that he was rather than the lousy coach and executive that he has become. Anyone who shared the court with Isiah will likely still be in awe of him just the same way Dolan was/is.
And, really, after Patrick, who is trying to climb up the NBA coaching ladder, who is there with the stature to actually say anything from those years anyway? Starks? Nope. He works for the Knicks and probably needs the job. Oakley? Not likely to be taken seriously even if he speaks up and easily ignored as a loose cannon. Mark Jackson? He’s on television and concentrating on making his move in that arena.
So, yeah, it really had to be someone from the previous generation to say something. It had to be one of the guys who is not beholden to Isiah and who never looked up to him. And, it had to be Pearl. After all, Clyde is employed by the club and clearly wants to avoid the fate of Marv Albert, who was sacked for being too critical. Meanwhile, Willis Reed has worked for the Nets organization and the Hornets and may feel obliged not to criticize his peers. Likewise, Phil Jackson is coaching the Lakers and must be glad to have two easy games on the schedule. Dollar Bill has dropped from sight since his failed Presidential bid and only pops up for matters of politics, if it all. And, of course DeBusscherre passed away in 2003.
Well, thank you Pearl for not being afraid to speak your mind. Hopefully someone will listen.