Knicks Praying for a King James Swoop but LeBron Has Unfinished Business; SPORTS USA

The Mail on Sunday (London, England), April 18, 2010 | Go to article overview

Knicks Praying for a King James Swoop but LeBron Has Unfinished Business; SPORTS USA


Byline: Simon Lewis

NEW YORK Knicks fans, that most beleaguered faction of basketball supporters, will be offering prayers this week for the unlikely demise of the Cleveland Cavaliers as they embark on their NBA play-off campaign.

With their own team already out of the postseason shake-up after yet another miserable campaign, they will beg the god of hoops to let the Chicago Bulls inflict a first-round series defeat on the Eastern Conference top-seeded Cavaliers and that that will then hasten the arrival of NBA superstar LeBron James at Madison Square Garden for next season.

Where the Knicks are concerned, this July 1 is the date that has been at the top of its agenda for a very long time.

That is the day when 25-year-old forward James, the 2009 and putative 2010 NBA Most Valuable Player, becomes a free agent after six seasons with his home-state team Cleveland. And after nine consecutive losing seasons, the Knicks are gearing up for a new era with King James at the centre of their plans.

For two years now, Knicks owner James Dolan has been preparing for July 1, 2010.

Dolan first brought in a new general manager in Donnie Walsh to wield the axe on the Knicks' wage bill in order to free up space under the league's salary cap to mount a blockbuster bid for James and as well as doing that, Walsh hired former Phoenix head coach Mike D'Antoni to steer what was left through the interim period.

The inevitable on-court disaster happened as a demotivated team grew steadily worse. In 2008-09, New York turned in 32 wins and 50 losses. This time around their season ended with a 131-113 loss to Toronto that left the Knicks at 29-53.

It was a campaign described by the New York Post as 'putrid' and the same tabloid on Thursday launched a 'Countdown To LeBron' graphic, marking 77 days until July 1. Which, while James endeavours to carry the Cavaliers on his back to the NBA finals and a shot at the first championship of his career, will mean the speculation as to his future can only intensify.

This week, the New York media even turned to former Cleveland Indians baseball pitcher CC Sabathia for guidance. …

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