On Feb. 10, 2006, the New York Knicks made their Oklahoma City debut.
It was totally cool.
Those regal blue uniforms with orange trim. That great name: Knickerbockers. Best team name in American sport. Walt Frazier sitting courtside for the MSG broadcasts.
We barely noticed that those Knicks stunk.
They came to the Ford Center with a 14-34 record, and a mediocre Hornets team missing Chris Paul spanked the New Yorkers 111-100.
Sunday, the Knicks are back. Same great uniforms. Same great name. Same Walt Frazier calling games.
Only thing is, this time, we absolutely know that the Knickerbockers stink.
They are 20-30 and floundering, despite a name-brand roster and more financial resources than the Northwest Division combined.
These mismatched Knicks of Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire, Tyson Chandler and J.R. Smith, Andrea Bargnani and Metta World Chaos, are a monument to mismanagement.
But at least the Knicks have company.
Don't look now, but the NBA's blue bloods are out of breath.
The Lakers have gotten old and bad. The Celtics have started over. The Bulls' future has been compromised by injury and finances.
More and more, the NBA has become a league defined by quality decision-making as much as money.
You still have to pay big money to compete, but you can't buy your way to title contention. The Nets are proving that. The Lakers proved it last year. The Knicks have been proving it for decades.
The Knicks haven't won an NBA title since 1973. They've won just one playoff series since 2000.
Three years ago, the Knicks traded Carmelo Anthony for half a quality rotation (Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler, Timofey Mozgov and Raymond Felton).
Now New York has the superstar it craves and an old, expensive roster that is getting older and more costly by the minute.