New Yorkers are always lamenting the Knicks’ lack of a great point guard, bemoaning the franchise’s inability to find an orchestrator worthy of their high basketball standards.
I’ll never forget the one game I went to at Madison Square Garden when a couple of guys who clearly don’t watch a ton of Knicks basketball, but enjoy sports, bitched about how much Tim Thomas loves to shoot. I know Thomas wasn’t a point guard. It’s just the fact that they immediately, and correctly, labeled him a chucker.
That’s why it’s hysterical that Leon Rose and the Knicks just gave Jalen Brunson $104 million to bring in his skill set that’s so crafty that it disappears for stretches of playoff games. Those fans are so used to frauds that they can spot one within 20 minutes of action. That said, I challenge them to find a fault in Sabrina Ionescu’s abilities.
Only one real transcendent point guard is playing in New York right now, and if she keeps ho0ping like this, her seafoam green No. 20 is going to become as synonymous with New York as LT’s No. 56 or Jeter’s No. 2. I wouldn’t be shocked if the knee-high socks catch on either. (Sorry, Kyrie, but your walking stick made more appearances than your handle last year, so you don’t qualify as a New York point guard. Also, she has already recorded more on-court appearances at Barclays in 21 games than you managed over 86 contests.)
Ionescu tied Candace Parker’s record for career triple-doubles (three) on Wednesday, and it only took three seasons to do it. Her 31-13-10 line also was historic as she became the first WNBA player ever to have a 30-point triple-double. And it wasn’t a Russell Westbrook usage fest either. She made seven of eight 3s, didn’t turn the ball over, and finished above 75 percent from the field.
There’s only ever been one NBA player in the past 40 years to have a 30-point, zero turnover, 75 percent-plus shooting triple-double, and it was two-time MVP Nikola Jokic, according to ESPN. It’s too bad the Liberty are relegated to the Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn because the cost of playing at MSG is too high.
Calling the Garden your home court should be a privilege, not a right, and the Knicks are more worthy of playing in Westchester County — as the Liberty did for a couple of seasons — than a team that features Ionescu. I don’t want to go too far off-topic here, because this is a celebration of the former Duck’s tremendous talent, not a redux of former Deadspin writer Jesse Spector’s piece on America’s apathetic appetite for the WNBA.
Ionescu’s big night came during an upset of the Las Vegas Aces in the highest-scoring regular-season game (223 points combined over 40 minutes) in WNBA history that also featured the record for total 3-pointers made in a single game (31 between the two squads). The Liberty started this season sluggishly, beginning the year 1-8, but are 8-6 since June 1, with the point guard averaging 20 points, eight rebounds, and seven assists on 46-40-98 shooting split over that stretch.
They’re a half-game out of the last playoff spot in the East, with the All-Star Break coming up in Chicago. If they can do what the Knicks couldn’t this year —make the postseason — they’ll also have a shot at doing something the Nets couldn’t do this season either — win a playoff game.
So when the “This fucking guy” cries begin after Brunson inevitably fails to justify his contract — how long before the Garden faithful start booing him — and New Yorkers are pleading with the basketball gods for a maestro who meets their lofty expectations, they should keep in mind that the city area has one. And she’s a helluva lot more entertaining than watching the Knicks.