Certain sports franchises are iconic due to their rich history: the New York Yankees, the Los Angeles Lakers, the Montreal Canadiens. You could also make a case that the New York Knicks belong in that pantheon, despite their recent lack of on-court success.
Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant, however, had some harsh words for the franchise across the East River. In his eyes, the Knicks are relying on the past and not doing enough to speak to today’s players.
Kevin Durant spurns the New York Knicks
During the 2019 NBA Finals, Kevin Durant tore his Achilles. But, even with that injury, he was still one of the summer’s marquee free agents. The New York Knicks, based on their history and current roster, felt like they could make a strong pitch; Durant clearly thought otherwise and joined the Brooklyn Nets with Kyrie Irving.
While the forward will miss the entire season, his choice still stung Knicks fans. Seemingly every summer, the team tries to attract a marquee free agent, only to fail. By choosing the Nets, who have historically been New York’s less attractive club, Durant and Irving added insult to injury. The Big Apple is still an attractive spot for NBA players, but the Knicks are not.
Kevin Durant’s Diagnosis
On Tuesday, Durant did a radio interview on New York City’s Hot 97. During the conversation, the forward revealed that, despite the Knicks’ best efforts during the summer, he didn’t consider the team as one of his final destinations. “I thought about it, yeah, just a thought. But I didn’t really do any full analysis on the Knicks,” he explained.
The forward also explained why the Knicks have struggled to recruit big-name free agents in recent years: they’re too reliant on the successes of their past. “I think a lot of fans look at the Knicks as a brand and expect these younger players in their lifetime don’t remember the Knicks being good,” Durant said.
“I’ve seen the Knicks in the Finals, but kids coming up after me didn’t see that. So that whole brand of the Knicks is not as cool as let’s say the Golden State Warriors, or even the Lakers or the Nets now,” he continued. “You know what I’m saying; the cool thing now is not the Knicks.”
How the far have the New York Knicks have fallen?
New York Knicks’ history has been a series of ups and downs and close calls. The franchise captured two NBA titles in the early 1970s with stars like Walt Frazier and Willis Reed; the 1980s were a decade of mixed success, however. The 1990s brought Patrick Ewing to the Garden, but he famously failed to win a championship in two trips to the Finals.
Since then, the Knicks have been a mess. Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire brought some excitement to the team, but couldn’t produce anything in the playoffs. Madison Square Garden might be sold out every night, but the New York Knicks are currently more associated with free agency failures and James Dolan’s poor ownership than anything else.
Right now, the Knicks biggest asset isn’t their brand, but their financial flexibility. In theory, they can spring into action and snap up any player who wants to come to Broadway. But, as Kevin Durant pointed out, all the cap space in the world is useless if no one wants to accept your offer.