Rough Year for the Knicks

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Tonight the Knicks go for their 20th win -- this in their 68th game of the season. To say it's been a rough year would be a giant understatement. The team came into the season with high hopes and a coach with a proven record of turning around struggling teams. But Larry Brown's homecoming has been spoiled by a rocky relationship - turned all out feud -- with Knicks star Stephon Marbury. Add to that turmoil in the Knicks front office and the tabloids pointing out every misstep and… well you've got the picture.

REPORTER: But the team is still a top draw. The Knicks have the 8th highest attendance in the league - bringing in an average of nearly 19,000 fans each home game. WNYC's Dan Blumberg tried to figure out why fans are still packing the Garden by asking some of them how come they bothered to show up for the Knicks - Pistons game last week.

How bad are this year’s Knicks? Sameer Shah and some of his Wall Street buddies recently made 300 T-Shirts that read “Fire Isiah.”

SHAH: The goal here isn’t to make money. The goal is to get the Knicks to make something out of this team.

REPORTER: Proudly wearing one of his blue on white T-Shirts as he waited for a friend in the entryway to Madison Square Garden, Shah said this is the worst Knicks team he’s ever seen… and he’s decided Knicks President and Hall of fame player Isiah Thomas is to blame.

SHAH: Let’s drum up support and get the guy out of here. He’s making bad trade after bad trade, adding salary, you know this team is never going to get better if it keeps taking on contracts and giving up picks.

REPORTER: But not everyone was there to jeer the Knicks.

TATE: I’m a diehard Knicks fan, so even if they’re having an off year I still like to come and support them.

REPORTER: Marcel Tate is an optimist.

TATE: I actually don’t think they’re that bad. // I think the parts are there; it’s just a matter of them jelling.

REPORTER: Elizabeth Kennedy had her own reasons for coming to the game.

KENNEDY: My fiancée had tickets to the game REPORTER: Does it matter to you that this is not the best team they’ve ever had? KENNEDY: Oh no, we not here to see the Knicks, we’re here to see the pistons….

REPORTER: No, Elizabeth is not from Detroit. Neither is her friend Sheila Badar.

BADAR: It’s a New York team. They’re supposed to perform. It’s embarrassing for New York.

REPORTER: And you don’t have to tell that to Sid and Julie Trubowitz.

JULIE TRUBOWITZ: What are you doing here tonight? These guys aren’t so good. You’re right. I’m expecting a blowout tonight actually. I think the Knicks are in terrible shape, the team is in dissension, you’ve got players challenging the coach. So I’m really distressed.

REPORTER: Julie and his brother have been coming to the Garden for more than 50 years.

JULIE TRUBOWITZ: The old days where the Knicks were really a top flight team seem to be gone. REPORTER: And is this the worst Knicks team you’ve seen yet? JULIE TRUBOWITZ: I think pretty much. I don’t think any team since I’ve been coming is this bad or is in this great dissension.

REPORTER: But Sid – who played in the NCAA Basketball Tournament with one of the great City College teams of the 40’s – sees an even bigger problem than the Larry Brown – Stephon Marbury power struggle.

SID TRUBOWITZ: Guys don’t play defense. They wave as guys go by. We were playing ball as kids even – a guy scored a basket on you and it hurt. You took it personally almost. These guys wave and they go back and try another one. So it’s … and there’s not a lot of good teamwork.

AMBIENT SOUND: Tickets, you need tickets? How many you need?

REPORTER: The Knicks uninspiring play has also had a direct impact on the ticket scalpers outside the Garden.

RICH: My name’s Rich, how you doing? REPORTER: Good, good. How bad are sales this year? RICH: Ticket sales are really bad. The Knicks don’t win, no one wants to come out. If we win the whole New York wants to come out and everyone rides the bandwagon. That’s how New York is.

REPORTER: Rich says the Knicks are usually the most profitable team in town. He normally sells club seats for $240, but now drops his price to $150. And when it comes to the nosebleed seats?

RICH: 400 Levels are $44 in the window. People want to come out here and spend $20. That’s how bad it is.

REPORTER: Rich can’t wait for baseball to come back.

For WNYC, I’m Dan Blumberg.

By the way… the Knicks stunned everybody by actually beating the Pistons last Friday. Since then, however, they’ve lost three straight and star rookie Channing Frye [fry] suffered a season-ending knee injury.