Changing of the Guard

Military ceremonies are filled with great pomp and circumstance. Regardless of the country, every military has a “Changing of the Guard” ceremony, and they all share a common flair for the dramatic. But yesterday, another “Changing of the Guard” ceremony took place, not at a military venue or a government installation, but in New York City, as the basketball hierarchy changed to reflect the new superior team within the five boroughs.

For decades, the incumbent team in the Big Apple has been the New York Knicks. Unfortunately, that hasn’t been a great object of pride, thanks to the Knicks’ abject failures throughout the first 19 years of the 21st Century and perhaps the sports world’s most hated owner, James Dolan. However, New York basketball fans have had to deal with the fact that the hometown team was awful until seven years ago, when the Nets moved across the East River to Brooklyn from New Jersey. They weren’t seen as a competitor to the title of “New York’s team,” especially not after a few egregious missteps within their first few years in Brooklyn. However, that all changed yesterday.

Marquee free agents Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving both decided to eschew the Knicks in favor of signing with the Nets, which has several meanings. First, it takes the Nets, who made some considerable noise in the playoffs last year, to a new level; one where they could be championship contenders upon Durant’s return from an Achilles tear in Fall 2020. Second, it takes the focus away from the horrific and embarrassing basketball played in Madison Square Garden and shifts it towards the good play being showcased at the Barclays Center. However, the third point is the killing blow: by having star free agents choose their crosstown rivals over them, the Knicks have officially lost the ability to call themselves “New York’s team.”

There are many different points to be made about where the Knicks go from here, but one thing’s for sure: James Dolan, a man who’s already hated in this city, has not only hit rock bottom, but has crashed through it.

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