CHICAGO - When New York Knicks owner James Dolan was infected with coronavirus last March, a smart aleck said on Twitter that it was the only "positive" news for the franchise in recent years.
The snide remark was tasteless, cruel. But you gotta admit, it's kind of funny, too.
And that's sadly what the Knicks are these days, a laughing stock in the NBA. Which is what happens when there is a 47-year championship drought and your team hadn't made the playoffs since 2013.
While rivals across the league have joyously retooled and painfully rebuilt, the Knicks seemed to have only perfected maintaining mediocrity over time. The blame, however, isn't exclusively on the players.
From Mike Woodson to Derek Fisher to Kurt Rambis to Jeff Hornacek to David Fizdale, the team's last five head coaches have been a bridge from one enormous letdown to another.
It's about to change, though.
Per The Athletic, Tom Thibodeau heads the list to become the new sheriff in town. The other two candidates are interim Knicks head coach Mike Miller and former Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson.
Obviously, all three are extremely qualified. But only Thibodeau can best goad the perennially listless Knicks into coming up with something that resembles hard work and effort.
Not only is Thibs extra large in stature and reputation, he also wears a triple D.
Defense. Discipline. Desire.
Those are the three sacred words that every man who put on a Knicks uniform worshipped during the glorious 90s when Pat Riley was king of the Big Apple.
The last five aforementioned Knicks head coaches had a combined record of 239-381, a tepid 38.1 percent winning clip. In his five seasons in Chicago, Thibs won 62 percent of his games with a 255-139 slate.
Thibodeau, 62 and occasionally cranky, led the Bulls to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2011. He oversaw Derrick Rose's rise to MVP, turned Jimmy Butler into an All-Star, and made Joakim Noah the NBA's Best Defensive Player in 2014.
Thibs has also resurrected the careers of Nate Robinson, Aaron Brooks and a few other members of the fan beloved Bench Mob during his reign as top Bull.
Like any other alpha male, Thibs can be caustic and annoyingly demanding. His most redeeming trait can also be a fatal flaw. He reminds me of the acerbic Col. Nathan R. Jessep played by Jack Nicholson in the movie A Few Good Men.
The Knicks want him on that wall. The Knicks need him on that wall.
Thiboeau will come with a fashion designer price, beginning with at least $6 million a year. As value goes, that's ashtray money for Dolan who had previously thrown a boatload of cash to Phil Jackson and Isiah Thomas, both of whom left town with boxes full of undelivered promises.
Bought for $300 million in 1997, the Knicks are now worth $4.6 billion according to Forbes. As of February this year, their gate receipts alone ($132 million) were nearly as much as their player expenses.
Stuck in the intersection of hopeless and desperate. the Knicks need a push.
But the tow truck with Thibodeau behind the wheel is just around the corner of 5th and 7th avenues, meandering its way to the iconic Madison Square Garden.
Oh, what a fun ride this will be.