Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The Most Publicized Personal Day in the History of Work

So, according to every media outlet on the Earth, Steph is back with the team. He'll be at the Staples Center tonight for the game agains the Clippers. Will he play? Will he even be on the bench? Will he score 40? Nothing would surprise me.

Considering Steph's television escapades over the summer and the recent malaise, it is not a stretch to say he is going through a rough patch. He may be entirely in the wrong with all that has transpired over the past 36 hours. But, he may not. All we really have to go on is hearsay and speculation. Reports from numerous outlets are that he has indeed been fined by the team. However, regardless of how he came to leave the team it is ENTIRELY on Isiah Thomas that this affair became a circus.

I was asked earlier tonight if "the can Knicks can do anything in anything less than the most embarassing way possible." With Isiah in charge the answer is no. Whether he wants Steph back or not. Whether he sent him home or not, he could have put a lid (relatively speaking) on this whole thing by making one defenitive statement yesterday. If he would have acknowledge that this issue wasn't merely in-house and would have addressed this in the fashion that a head coach, a general manager or a team president should be expected than the Knicks could have gone one more week without being a punchline again. However, Thomas skirted the issue yesterday. He smiled and he acted like there was nothing to talk about. He let the anonymous sources and the beat reporters do all the talking and create the story themselves.

And, therefore we've been hearing for 36 hours about how dysfunctional the team is. We've been hearing about discord in the locker room. We've been hearing about blackmail. Everyone in the press has been given an excuse to dredge up all of the problems of the past few years. We've revisited the previous buy-outs and the sexual harrasment trial. Yet, if Isiah would have started his press conference yesterday by saying something, anything then perhaps yesterday would just have been another personal day for another member of the American work force.

If Isiah would have said that "Stephon has left the team for personal reasons. He has my consent and will join us in Los Angeles" then this would not have been the lead story in every paper this morning. If Isiah would have said that "Stephon has left the team for personal reasons. He did not recieve permission and he will be issued a fine. We expect him to be with the team tomorrow in Los Angeles" then this is still the lead story but there is some semblence of order. There is some mirage of control by the coach. Isiah had every chance to shape the perception of this and he took a pass. In doing so he brought more dishonor to a once noble franchise and perhaps has severed the last tie with this most important player.

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