From where I sit, part of the reason we have no #1 draft pick -- which Donnie Walsh traded away -- lies with the cruel and idiotic reign of you know who. Walsh had to do it thanks to all the bad deals and signings. And so, on the eve of the draft I will share with you a poem I wrote back in the dark ages that made it all the way to the final editorial meeting of the New Yorker, only to be shelved for being too "city-centric."
The Other Book of Isiah (sic)
(By the Prophet as told to Seth Kaufman)
Thus saith the LORD,
It shall come to pass that
in the greatest arena in the greatest city west of Jerusalem
there will be a mighty team.
And the mighty team will wander in the darkness
of the standings for many years.
This is how the team and the great arena and the City of the Apple suffered:
Holtzman ceded rulership to Brown who was replaced by Hill,
who was booted for Pittino, who fled for bluegrass pasture
and was replaced by Jackson who begat McLeod,
who was replaced by the wise man Riley,
who almost led the team to gates of perfection,
only to be turned away by the Jordan.
Dejected, Riley fled to a southern kingdom where he would covet
and then lie with the Shaq, and together celebrate a heavenly championship.
Management begat Nelson, then begat Van Gundy, a son of Riley,
who also launched the team upward
only to suddenly bolt to a red state -- Sin! Vile Sin! --
where he would falter, crying out in pain: Yao!
For nigh 30 years, the team flirted up and then fizzled down.
Yessss! Even the oracle of the team, Marvelous Marv,
was rejected for sinful, wigflipping ways.
And then the LORD, still testing His servants,
turned up the flames, cooking up a true and brutal decline.
From Chaney to Williams to Wilkens to a different Brown,
each presiding over loses, losers, lamesters.
Let me sing of my beloved team,
Of Clyde and Pearl, of the kingly Bernard and the gangly Jackson,
Of the future Senator and the future Commissioner, of the memorable Lucas.
Of McGuire and Bellamy. Of Willis and Wingo!
Of Dick Barnett and his Rockette's jump shot.
Of Mason, whose head bore graven images,
Of Starks, whose head bore no fear or coaching,
Of Ewing, whose head bore no self-doubt.
Of Oakley! Yes, loudly for Oakley, the Apple's true Maccabi.
Of Krazy Eyes Thomas who carried the torch lit by Oakley.
Of Van Gundy, a veritable David, bravely riding on the leg of the giant Alonzo.
These are the servants of the team, the game, the arena, the city.
Woe, the City of the Apple was suffering and was tired.
A former champion from the mid-west arrived.
He was called Isiah Lord Thomas III.
At first many in the city celebrated, prepared to lie with him forever
after he acquired a native son named Marbury, who was as flashy as he was miserable.
But the wise men of the rafters advised alarm.
Do not trust Isaiah, heed us, they saith, Marbury is not the answer.
And then, from the rafters of the Arena they watched bone-headed passes,
ill-advised shots, and defense as porous as Pakistani security.
They realized the LORD was testing them.
These are the crimes of Isiah:
Hubris, insincerity, judgment so poor – or perhaps ego so large –
that he cannot even judge previous poor judgment as poor judgment.
Woe is he! Harassment, lies, backstabbing, protecting the guilty (starting with himself),
Coveting physical prowess over smarts, coveting speed over fundamentals.
No perimeter defense, no interior defense.
Desirous of quick fixes that lead to longer deterioration.
Failing to realize that leadership requires accountability.
Hear me, cried Isiah,
To the team, to the city and to the arena.
I will lead you to glory. To victory. Nobody wants it more
than me. I will lead to greatness. I am from Chicago!
But there were many warriors who Isaiah banished to the
who could not hear.
McDyss, who became a premier sixth man in the City of Cars
and vied for the elusive championship.
Krazy Eyes Thomas, who almost went all the way with the Suns
Steve Francis, who Isaiah courted and then paid to go away.
Isiah assembled a team of coaches and their names were Aguirre,
Glymph, Hanners, Suhr, and Williams
These are some of the players who Isaiah brought forth
to be fruitful and compete. Or try to.
They are the Miserable Marbury, the unheated Curry,
a man named Q, and Robinson, a cute, point-obsessed guard
who maketh Marbury looketh like Steve Nash,
and Jerome James, more cipher than center.
And with each loss, Isaiah greweth more faithful,
Greweth more impassioned, greweth more embarrassing.
I am a Bad Boy. From Detroit and Chicago, he saith.
My mother is tough, too.
Woe to the G.M. who barters in dreams, not skills.
Woe to the owner who buys these dreams.
For these dreams, like airballs, touch nothing
and land with a thud.
The last quarter. The last time out.
The final seconds before time expires.
When the rotations turn with precision of the planets,
not a knock-off Rolex purchased on 8th avenue,
and all is movement in search of the open man,
then the scantily clad dancers will bow their heads
and the crowd will hush after one last rousing chorus of Usher's "Yeah!"
and then and only then shall the LORD descend
to the great arena in the City of the Apple
And the LORD will reach out his mighty and compassionate hand
and pull the whistle from Isiah's neck.
Thus saith the LORD:
This is the house you build unto me?
This is how you treat the faithful?
With Nate Robinson at point guard?
Doth your soul delighteth in abomination.
And it shall come to pass,
from one moon to another,
that you will wander for remaining years in a land of sports memorablia shows,
sad banquets, and lonely hotel rooms watching episodes of ESPN Legends,
And it shall come to pass that the team shall rise together,
12 Dr. J’s, launching themselves toward the heavens, toward competition,
stretching, straining, pure, true, in perfect alignment,
aware of the infinite flow, the give-and-go, the perpetual permutations,
the stations of the cross-over. Bliss.
And the arena, the city, the world shall rejoice.