Knicks fans can be forgiven if they are a bit queasy whenever they see their team linked to a big-time, big-ticket player who plays for someone else. Across the better part of a half-century, none of these dalliances has borne championship fruit. In truth, an amazing amount of them never happened at all — and those that did didn’t exactly have happily-ever-after endings.
So if you see a lot of facial tics among the truest and longest believers as the Knicks ponder what to do about Donovan Mitchell … well, there’s a backstory.
The Lakers, for instance, have reinvented themselves multiple times in the 49 years since they ended their NBA Finals trilogy with the Knicks in 1973. Los Angeles, like New York, is supposed to be an attractive lure for stars of all stripes, but especially for elite athletes. And yet while the Lakers have kept themselves flush in banners — 11 of them since Knicks 102, Lakers 93, on May 10, 1973, clinching Game 5 of the Finals — the Knicks have stayed stuck on two.
The Lakers have drafted well, sure. That’s how they got Magic Johnson, James Worthy and Kobe Bryant (though even those picks were deft thefts taking advantage of the ill-advised Jazz — for Magic — and Cavaliers — for Worthy — and Hornets — for Kobe). But they’ve also managed to acquire the likes of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Shaquille O’Neal and LeBron James — three of the top 20 players of all time — plus stars Anthony Davis and (maddeningly for the Knicks, as we’ll see) Bob McAdoo, among many others.