‘The Last Dance’ Reminds Us Why the Knicks Can’t Be Saved

If ESPN’s The Last Dance received any negative feedback from NBA fans, it wouldn’t be surprising if most of them were Knicks fans.

For many, The Last Dance is a masterpiece that truly captured Michael Jordan and the 1990s Bulls.

For Knicks fans, the documentary is just another reminder of how far the team has fallen — and what could have been, if not for James Dolan.

The Last Dance is when the Knicks were actually relevant

The New York Knicks made the postseason every year from 1987-2000. That isn’t a misprint.

Even if Patrick Ewing and the Knicks seemingly always had a date with Chicago in the middle of that stretch, the Knicks were at least relevant.

New York has made the playoffs just four times since that lengthy streak ended. The Knicks aren’t even New York’s main basketball team anymore; that honor could arguably go to Kyrie Irving’s Brooklyn Nets.

James Dolan became the Knicks’ primary owner in 1999. That was the beginning of the end not just for the Bulls, but their former New York rivals.

Hated Knicks figures like Isiah Thomas are prominent in the documentary

Detroit Pistons legend Isiah Thomas has been a prominent figure in ESPN's 'The Last Dance.' Knicks fans remember Thomas more for his time leading the Knicks.
Detroit Pistons legend Isiah Thomas has been a prominent figure in ESPN’s ‘The Last Dance.’ Knicks fans remember Thomas more for his time leading the Knicks. | Al Bello/Getty Images

Knicks fans old enough to remember the 1990s playoffs are always going to have nightmares about Michael Jordan’s magic. But The Last Dance includes other names capable of infuriating Knicks supporters.

The most recent and memorable-for-the-wrong-reasons name in Knicks name is then-Bulls head coach Phil Jackson. The Zen Master joined the Knicks in the spring of 2014 as an executive tasked with righting the ship.

Phil Jackson became the Jerry Krause of his time in New York. He fought with high-profile players and made several terrible acquisitions.

The Knicks parted ways with Phil Jackson in June 2017.

The sight of Detroit Pistons star guard Isiah Thomas made Knicks fans shudder. Thomas served as New York’s President of Basketball Operations from 2003-08 and, later, the head coach from 2006-08.

There weren’t many positives from Thomas’ tenure in New York. He won just 34.1% of games as head coach and destroyed the Knicks’ salary cap.

Even Bulls GM Jerry Krause deserved hate from Knicks fans. Krause drafted Eddy Curry, who later became one of the most hated Knicks in modern history.

The Knicks will never have what the ‘Last Dance’ Bulls had

Put kindly, it is unlikely the Knicks will be relevant so long as James Dolan is the owner. He has undermined management and players for over 20 years with no reward.

No one will ever compare Carmelo Anthony to Michael Jordan. But the Knicks wasted Anthony’s seven seasons in New York and turned him into a villain at the end.

The Last Dance showed the last time the Knicks weren’t a laughing stock. It was the last time the allure of wearing a Knicks uniform truly meant something.

Now, the Knicks are a disaster that have somehow managed to find irrelevancy in the country’s most iconic state. Even the Jets, of all teams, have stayed more relevant in the last decade.

The 1990s Bulls, especially at the end, were a Rubix cube nearing completion. The Knicks, under James Dolan, are a child’s puzzle that has been left on the living room counter for most of the Coronavirus shutdown.