SULLIVAN: In 1954 a brilliant film came out titled The Caine Mutiny. It was about a lieutenant commander of a U.S. warship that slowly loses his mind at sea, and his sailors take the ship over from him. When the ship dry docks, the sailors are brought up on mutiny charges.
Well, Coach Larry Brown of the Knicks has become Commander Queeg. Queeg was so brilliantly played by Humphrey Bogart that when Richard Nixon was going though his Watergate crisis he began to look like Queeg-Bogart.
Brown is biting on towels. When he is thrown out of a game his players laugh and whisper to each other that now they can finally play the game they want, which is no better than Brown’s version.
Brown sees the mutiny and goes to the press on his players. He looks like he is suffering from clinical depression. He can’t pick a line-up and stick with it. I even saw him in a supermarket out on Long Island obsessing over strawberries.
Brown and the Knicks are doomed. They have an evil little man, Isaiah Thomas, in charge of trades and he is about to be run out of town on a rail with lawsuits attached. He ruined the CBA and now he has decimated the Knicks. The Garden—when the Knicks play—has become a tomb.
I have followed the Knicks for a long time and I have never seen this team so lost—like a dinghy out on sea. I truly think Brown will leave for health reasons sooner rather than later. And the real sad part is that at least The Caine Mutiny had some heroes. All the Knicks have are selfish one-way players, with the exception of the rookies Frey, Robinson and Lee.
Now it looks as though Robinson and Lee are being given up on, and we get a knucklehead like Jalen Rose to save the day. This franchise is as cursed as the Kennedys. Larry Brown is in serious trouble and is breaking down daily. It is getting more nad more painful to watch.
HOLLANDER: There’s a mutiny brewing, all right. But I think it’s more along the lines of Mutiny on the Bounty—not the 1935 film version starring Charles Laughton and Clark Gabel based on the Charles Nordhoff/James Norman Hall novel but the 1984 version The Bounty starring Anthony Hopkins and Mel Gibson based strictly on Richard Hough’s compelling history book, Captain Bligh & Mister Christian. Here’s what I mean.
Marbury is Fletcher Christian. He’s been living in his false paradise of New York celebrity, a loaded SUV and adulation from hometown sycophants. “You can lead us, Stephon,” they whisper in his ear. “Let’s go back to padding your stats and hanging at Justin’s.” They miss their ignorant bliss.
They long for the lazy safety of sub-mediocrity. They remind him how simple life was before Brown demanded hustle, defense and selflessness. And he demands it every night, all game long!
Yet Marbury knows Brown will never see it his way.
Brown is Captain Bligh. Despite being on an island of indolent crewmen lapping up New York City’s babes and bling, he still believes he can impose his inflexible policy of “no rookies” and the “right way.”
These Knicks take the court to perform their required duties with the same pain in their faces as Mel Gibson and first mates showed when Anthony Hopkins required them to report to dinner in full military dress, despite the intense pain it caused the crew from their freshly inked Tahitian tattoos.
As it was between Captain Bligh and Fletcher Christian, the mutual disgust and intolerance between the team and Brown is coming to a boiling point. One side must be jettisoned in a lifeboat off the island.
If Brown would get over his outdated, dogmatic insistence on playing veterans, he would find a loyal and seaworthy crew in his three rookies. From there, he could transfer, Section 8, medically discharge, court-martial and otherwise remake his crew and restore his command.
In any case, Isaiah Thomas will soon be publicly hoisted on his own petard.
SULLIVAN: For once we are in agreement. Growing up in the Bronx, I always wanted to be a pirate. I say we take over the Good Ship Knick, and make Isaiah walk the plank. Right into a school of hungry sharks.
As Brown and Marbury look on in horror we then tell them do it our way or you are next. First Brown will pick a line up and stick with it. The rookies shall and must be given ample playing time.
Marbury will act his age, 30, and take responsibility—for once in his life—and become a leader and own the team on the floor.
The Dolans will be tied to their corporate chairs and beaten—ah, hell—just for the fun of it. Charles Oakley will be brought back as locker room enforcer and will administer severe beat downs for any goof-ball mistakes, attitudes or general Knick foolishness.
The whole team will be forced to watch videos of former Knick teams that actually played defense, never gave up and passed the rock.
Hollander, the future of this franchise depends upon our derring-do.
HOLLANDER: The franchise makeover starts at the top. Looking to the silver screen for guidance might not be a bad idea. To wit, the petulant James Dolan reminds one of the continually enraged Jose Ferrer in The Caine Mutiny who, like Dolan, must adjudicate between the skipper and the mutineers. (How Jose Ferrer ever got with Audrey Hepburn is beyond me. So frosty was his affection that he drove her to arms of gravelly womanizer Ben Gazzara.) The only responsible position at the Garden I ever liked for Dolan was his being on the receiving end of Latrell Sprewell’s stream of invective.
Perhaps the Knicks power struggle is best seen as one between Dolan and Isiah, similar to the one between Gene Hackman and Denzel Washington in Crimson Tide (1995). While egos clashed, mutiny ensued and control of a nuclear submarine determined the fate of the world, the two main characters engaged in petty verbal jousting over the origin of the “Lippizzaner Stallions.”
As the Knicks descend irretrievably deeper into the abyss, the Knicks “brain trust” likely spends an hour a day e-mailing back and forth about where to get lunch.
Or could the Knicks front office scenario more closely resemble the sexual harassment thriller Disclosure (1994), casting Dolan as the self-centered, morally vacant CEO played by Donald Sutherland, Isaiah as incompetent, power hungry upper-management sex terrorist played by Demi Moore, and Anucha Browne Sanders as the victimized middle-manager played by Michael Douglas?
It’s bad, C.J. Very bad. I love the idea of bringing back Charles Oakley—in any capacity—to right the ship. It’s certainly not enough, at this point, to quote ex-Knick Michael Ray Richardson who said, “This ship be sinking,” because, buddy, it’s almost sunk. The sad part, I fear, is that James Dolan’s reaction might be most accurately summed up in quote from ex-NBAer Derrick Coleman: “Whoop-de-damn-doo!”
From the owners, to the designers, to the shipbuilder, to the captain to the crew, these Knicks can only end one way: an incredibly expensive disaster full of carnage and failure, like Titanic (1997).