A few months ago I promised never again to write an article trashing Andrea Bargnani as a basketball player. It's a tired theme -- one that's been beat to death, exhumed from the grave, and beat some more.
But what I saw during Monday night's loss to the Miami Heat, and the epiphany that followed, has compelled me to stretch my own rules to the breaking point. This is not an article about Bargnani, per se, but rather the unfortunate and disturbing events that always seem to pop up in his wake.
In short, Andrea Bargnani is cursed.
It's one thing to be a bad basketball player -- the NBA has had tons of those, and roughly 75 percent of them have played for the Knicks. Remember Mardy Collins? But this deal with Bargnani goes way beyond that. Consider the events of Monday's first quarter. The Knicks are rolling. Carmelo Anthony has hit his first five shots. Chris Bosh is ice cold.
And then Bargnani checks in. Bosh (Bargnani's old teammate) remembers how to hit shots...and doesn't forget until the game is decided in Miami's favor. Not only did Melo immediately forget how to shoot, he ends up re-injuring that damn knee in the fourth quarter. Following close behind him to the locker room is an injured Lance Thomas.
In the meantime, I can't help but notice this tweet from Yahoo's Dan Devine:
In just one evening of Bargnani basketball:
- One teammate aggravates an old injury.
- Another teammate winds up with a fresh injury.
- The guy Bargs was traded for resurrects his career for one game.
When we traditionally think of an athlete as being "cursed," we're talking about guys like Greg Oden, who simply cannot stay healthy. But that is a purely physiological thing. Bargnani doesn't merely injury himself -- though he's quite good at that -- he pulls everyone around him into the void. Franchises rise and fall with his presence and absence.
Andrea Bargnani is more than just a basketball player; he is the monkey's paw of the NBA. The Raptors were ready to cast him into the fire, and the the Knicks rescued him. They wished for a secondary scorer to compliment Melo; a player who could neutralize Roy Hibbert, who dominated them in the 2013 playoffs; a stretch-4 who could space the floor. What they got in return was ruin.
Again, I don't blame Bargnani for this; he didn't asked to be a cursed basketball player. He didn't choose to get himself traded to my team. You don't blame the monkey's paw; you blame the poor dumb bastard who ignores the warnings and uses it anyway.
With the Knicks creeping steadily toward the draft lottery -- a franchise-altering event that boils down solely to chance -- I try to convince people to trust in the mathematics. The team with the worst record has the best odds of getting the No. 1 overall pick, regardless of what has happened in the past. There's no magic formula for improving your chances, other than losing the most games.
But then I come back to Bargnani, and a shiver runs down my spine. His contract expires at the end of June, which is after the lottery. He will still technically be on the roster! Buy him out! Release him! We need that post-Bargs bump.
On the other hand, if you simply release him without another team taking him on, would that be like throwing away a chain letter? One result is just as likely as the other.
This is the world of Andrea Bargnani -- a world of magic and chain letters and the cruel hand of fate slapping you upside the head. I bear the guy no ill will, but I sincerely hopes he catches on with another franchise as soon as possible. I'd like to believe he can do no more damage to the Knicks, but he continues to test my faith in logic and reason.