The basketball community has become too immune to the New York Knicks moments of public dysfunction and yesterday’s interview was another unfortunate chapter
The New York Knicks are still seeking the opportunity to turn their franchise around in a positive direction. In an attempt to help revamp the team’s image, the Knicks recently hire top music executive Steve Stoute as an ambassador. He’s had past experiences working with the rebranding of the crosstown rival Brooklyn Nets and is known in the music industry as a marketing guru.
Stoute was hired a month ago and went straight to work in a media component on yesterday’s episode of First Take on ESPN. The 49-year-old compared his potential impact to the level of culture in which rapper Drake has influenced on the Toronto Raptors. Toronto known for being a hockey city, has fully embraced Raptors basketball and turned games into trendy events that got even more exposure during last year’s championship run.
An appearance on the popular sports talk show was supposed to enhance the Knicks’ new trendy mindset in the league but instead took an unnecessary turn. Stoute began speaking about the recent firing of Steve Mills as team president and plans to bring in a new coach. Mike Miller has done an admirable job in the interim after New York parted ways with David Fizdale in December. The comments nonetheless put an unexpected spotlight on his future much sooner than the front office had hoped to be public.
“There had to be a change in [firing team president Steve Mills]. That change will bring a new coach and new coaches that are going to help develop these younger players,” Stoute said. “And they got some young players — you see RJ Barrett, Mitch Robinson. They got something to work with. And getting a coach in there and ultimately getting a coach and a coaching staff that’s going to help develop a team. That’s what I expect to happen so that we can actually get to what you expect from a New York team. Having a coach like that who has the magnitude and gravitas so that the media would love to talk to him and believe him, I think that’s super important.”
The veteran record executive wasn’t done as he quickly moved his attention to the Knicks free agency issues. Stoute didn’t sugarcoat the opinion around the league that the team isn’t a hot spot for All-Star free agents.
“The biggest thing is getting free agents and players to know this is a place to show up, this is where they should be,” Stoute said. “I think that narrative has been lost. Players haven’t come, a free agent hasn’t come. And if we can solve that problem, which I know we will, we have a great chance. We’re the most iconic team in the league by far.”
The Knicks released their statement immediately after the show shooting down any notion that Stoute has any say in personnel decisions. The statement and television appearance, in general, is a reminder of all the work needed to be done for the franchise to have any sense of unity. The Knicks cannot win on the court if they aren’t succeeding in the front office and behind the scenes.