I promised myself I was ready for this.
The best player on the New York Knicks, Carmelo Anthony, is likely to opt out of his contract, thus making him this summer's hottest unrestricted free agent. There's also a very good chance that he will take less money to sign with a contending team.
I've been of two minds on the Melo opt out. On one hand, it was his greed in looking for the highest possible contract in 2011 (combined with James Dolan's impatience and stupidity) which resulted in the Knicks giving up far too much for a guy who was clearly on his way out of Denver, including their first-round pick in this year's draft. But Melo played his heart out for the Knicks, and it makes some sense for him for him to move on to a better situation while the franchise rebuilds. I would ignore the oncoming avalanche of Melo rumors. Just this once, I would act like an adult.
And the Pat Riley stepped into the picture.
ESPN reporters Brian Windhorst and Marc Stein lit the Internet on fire Wednesday with the news that Riley's Heat are concocting a scheme to lure Anthony to Miami. This seems completely implausible to many -- how on Earth can he fit Melo's contract with the Big Three?
To my eyes, however, this instantly became the most likely scenario. I don't even need to see the cap figures -- Riley will get this done. Why? Because he is a goddamn dark wizard, that's why!
I'm thoroughly convinced that Pat Riley is a warg, and that he mind-controlled P.J. Brown during that infamous altercation with Charlie Ward in the '97 playoffs -- Brown is the Hodor to Riley's Bran Stark. Riley will somehow convince Dwyane Wade to sign for the veteran minimum, then swap his bum knee with that of Mario Chalmers. He will find some salary cap exemption buried deep within the Collective Bargaining Agreement for teams based in cities that share a name with a Will Smith song.
Honestly, I no longer feel that much antipathy toward the Heat. They play an exciting brand of basketball, and did the world a favor by finally ridding us of the 2013-14 Indiana Pacers. LeBron James is an absolute joy for any basketball fan to behold. And in my deranged, Knicks-addled mind, this seems like the perfect time for Pat the Rat to strike yet again...to steal our best player just for shits and giggles. Pat Riley is the danger.
But there is a new wrinkle in my long-running psychosis, for my team now employs a couple of dudes who are as hated by some segments of the basketball world as Riley is by New York fans. Recently-appointed czar (president is too small a word) Phil Jackson didn't win 11 titles as a head coach without making his fair share of enemies along the way. Not only did he have a talent for finding the right situation, he was also a master of getting into the heads of his opponents.
Just ask the good fans in Portland or Sacramento how they feel about the Zen Master. Better yet, ask former King Scot Pollard, who wasted little time after Jackson's final game as coach in 2011 to publicly rip him as "one of the most overrated coaches of all time."
Not often are surefire Hall of Famers lambasted like that, but Jackson has a way of bringing that out in people.
And let's be honest, Knicks fans -- did you foster any warm feelings for new head coach Derek Fisher during his playing days? Few outside the L.A. area did. Fisher was a magnificent troll in his career -- only a troll could pull off a shot like this:
The Knicks' future now (hopefully) rests in the hands of trolls -- guys who have won before, and fostered a generation of haters along the way. We need them to do it again -- this time in different roles.
Phil Jackson doesn't necessarily have to follow the Riley blueprint down to the slightest detail -- there is only one LeBron, after all, and he ain't leaving South Beach any time soon -- but the man is clearly the greatest coach-turned-executive in recent NBA history. His success, particularly in luring big-time free agents and getting them to sacrifice salary, is the standard upon which Jackson's Knicks tenure will be judged.
Please, Phil, become the new Pat Riley...and soon, because I'm pretty fucking sick of the old one.