The Worst Knick Ever?

Brian DiMenna

This was sparked by a little Twitter back and forth with Tommy Dee about the somewhat oversized venom reserved for Toney Douglas last season. We might recall that amid all the interest in the return of Jeremy Lin, there’s another former Knick guard making a less celebrated return to the Garden tonight, as well.

Perhaps it’s because Douglas had been something of a nice find in previous seasons, only to fail so spectacularly with an expanded role a year ago, but for whatever reason Toney’s struggles seemed particularly galling to a large portion of Knicks fandom. Which isn’t to say he wasn’t terrible last year, he was, but the poor play of Douglas is hardly the worst calamity thrust upon these Knicks over the years.

My personal least favorite Knick happens to be Luc Longley. The 2000 Knicks didn’t have Patrick Ewing, but they did have Longley, as though we’d all conclude that was just as good, “Oh hey, it’s that dopey Australian I’ve spent all these years despising! He’s on our team now? Sweet!” In fairness, the Longley signing came in lieu of the nixed “Rik Smits Day” at the Garden.

But really you don’t have to look to much further than Jerome James to nab perhaps the worst Knickerbocker of them all. Off the strength of one playoff series against Sacramento in which he averaged 17.2 and 9.4 rebounds, Isiah Thomas, in his infinite wisdom, decided that was all he needed to see, and inked James to a 5-year, $30 million contract in defiance of the fact that in that same season he’d posted the more pedestrian totals of 4.9 points and 3 rebounds per contest.

James spent most of his days in New York eating, loafing, nursing his various ailments and injuries and occupying what one imagines was just an enormous pair of shorts, before finally being asked to please leave as the Knicks tried to dig out from salary cap hell under Donnie Walsh. James’ 2007 season does stand as something of a beacon, with his gaudy per 36 numbers of 28.8 points and 21.6 rebounds serving as a shining light of his tenure, though one could point out that those impressive statistics are skewed ever so slightly by the fact he played only five minutes on the year. But oh, what a glorious five minutes they were indeed!

In all, the Knicks paid $30 million for 694 minutes of Jerome James, or $43,227.67 per minute. Worth every penny, I’d say, or at least makes the above one pretty damn expensive YouTube clip.

So maybe you can spare a clap or two for young Toney D, after all, who only tried to do what he do, whatever exactly that was.

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