My Biggest Knicks Disappointment: Anthony Randolph

Mar. 12, 2012; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves forward Anthony Randolph (15) against the Phoenix Suns at the US Airways Center. The Timberwolves defeated the Suns 127-124. Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Stewart-US PRESSWIRE.

It's Disappointment Day at the SB Nation NBA blogs. Each Wednesday, we've been organizing these network-wide themed posts, and today's are meant to be about our teams' biggest disappointments. Recent Knicks history is, of course, riddled with disappointment. The whole Eddy Curry ordeal (the EZ Money tandem of Curry and Zach Randolph included) stands out as a product that fell well short of its billing, which is typical of of most things that happened between, like, 2000 and 2010. One could make the case for plenty more players the Knicks signed, drafted, or traded for as most disappointing, and I'm sure that goes all the way back to the beginning. There was probably someone named, like, Herbert Ahntoisht on the 1946 team who just didn't live up to expectations.

I'm looking forward to see who y'all come up with as your biggest disappointments. For me, there's no question.

When it came time for David Lee to leave the Knicks in 2010, we all pleaded for New York to sign-and-trade him instead of just letting him shimmy to another team without compensation. Donnie Walsh managed to orchestrate exactly that, dealing Lee to the Warriors for a package that thrilled me to no end: Ronny Turiaf, Kelenna Azubuike, and ANTHONY RANDOLPH. I shout ANTHONY RANDOLPH because that leaping, loping forward/center/sighthound was one of my favorite unproven players in the league and my favorite part of the trade by a long shot. In Golden State, Randolph had demonstrated a serious need for refinement, which evidently wasn't a task for which Don Nelson had the patience. Under Mike D'Antoni, though, the exceedingly young (roughly 11 years old) Randolph would blossom. I was certain of it. New York had just signed Amar'e Stoudemire, so they didn't have to rely on Randolph, but there would be minutes for him to spin and unfurl his wings. He'd be an ideal anchor for a D'Antastic second unit, whirring around at high speeds to swat folks, finish fast breaks with violence, and even step out for the occasional jumper. We knew the Knicks had to patient with Randolph, but that was easy to forget. We were enamored.

When Osborn and I arrived at training camp in Greenburgh and witnessed Randolph in person, shit got weird. We salivated while he drilled jumpers in practice, held each other and wept quiet tears of mirth when he blocked a few shots in scrimmage, then finally succumbed to the spectacle and thumped on the press table like savages when he dunked on someone in transition. I'm pretty sure Frank Isola made fun of Osborn and me for that, at which point we growled at him for doubting Randolph's potential, then resumed raising the roof in excitement. By the time Randolph finished an off-the-backboard alley-oop from Toney Douglas during preseason in Milan, I was certain he was poised for a breakout season with D'Antoni's fast-paced Knicks.

So, yeah, the bottom fell out of that expectation pretty quickly. Dealt some minutes after recovering from a sprained ankle, Randolph demonstrated with remarkable haste that he was a detriment to nearly any Knicks lineup that included him. He attempted too much with the ball and too little without it. He exhibited zero sense of rhythm and court sense. He negated his own defensive efforts with fouls that bordered on assault. The worst part, though, was that he just kept blowing dunks. Not only was the guy almost uniformly wrong and unproductive, but he couldn't even make up for it with the occasional highlight. Wait, actually, the worst part was that Randolph looked like he was crying the entire time. That's just how he looks, but the context made it seem like he was deeply upset with his own ineptitude. It was heartbreaking. By mid-November, Randolph was out of the regular rotation for good, and by mid-January, he'd requested a trade (oh man, that comment section). In February, he'd get his wish and head (along with Curry!) to Minnesota, where he spent the past season alternately thrilling and disappointing Wolves fans. Now he's in Denver, where he might very well break out and join the rest of the former Knicks in needling us from afar. My heart's still broken, but it's nothing we're not used to.

I don't blame Anthony Randolph for his disappointing stint as a Knick. He was (and is) a kid-- younger than I am, which was fascinating at the time-- and certainly not responsible for the outrageous expectations we'd heaped upon him. I mean, he could've dunked a LITTLE less sexily during training camp. That was kind of a tease. But yeah, it's not like the Knicks were paying him a bunch or depending on him for production. It's just that he had such a terrifically high ceiling for success and ample safety net for failure, but while we gazed in wonderment at all that open space above, he was busy tangling himself in the net below.

Anyway, I'm sorry it didn't work out, and I'm sorry I called you a disappointment, Anthony. It was mostly my fault. Still miss u.

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