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Tuesday, November 26, 2013
Start spreading the snooze!

By Stephen A. Smith
ESPNNewYork.com

The Big Apple. Gotham City. The Media Capital of the World. The City That Never Sleeps.

Those are just a few of New York City's monikers, indicative of a place where winners reside, where dreams become reality. Yet, as the holiday season arrives, with football and basketball dancing in our heads, no one could be blamed for preferring to spend their time in a place like, say ... Boston. Or Dallas. Or Indianapolis for that matter.

"Any place but New York right now," one Knicks fan yelled from Madison Square Garden the other night. "We suck!"

Who can argue with that sentiment right now?

As of Monday afternoon, the Jets were nosediving, hinting Matt Simms could be inserted as their starting quarterback. The Giants, fresh off spending a week bloviating in ways that would put Rex Ryan to shame, crashed embarrassingly by losing to the Dallas Cowboys, all but flat-out eliminating any postseason aspirations.

Meanwhile, there's the continual, inexplicable downward spiral of the Brooklyn Nets (3-10) plagued by two aging stars (Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce) being asked to do too much primarily because their highly priced star (Deron Williams) has been doing entirely too little, albeit mostly due to injury. And we haven't even gotten to the Knicks yet.

Losers of six straight, saddled with a horrid 3-10 record following their loss in Portland on Monday night, rumors have swirled about everything from infighting among players to Iman Shumpert having problems with the treatment he's receiving from coach Mike Woodson to Carmelo Anthony -- who finished with 34 points and 12 rebounds in Monday's loss -- growing so frustrated he looks like he wants to skip town now instead of possibly this July when he opts out of his contract.

Amar'e Stoudemire summed it up best.

"When the ball doesn't move, you can't get into a rhythm," STAT explained following the loss. "[When the] ball's not moving around, that makes it tough for the rest of the team to have fun out there. Right now, we're not having fun.

"I've worked my butt off to get in tip-top shape and to be able to compete at the highest level. To work that hard and to be losing like we are, it's not a great feeling."

He ain't lying.

It's bad enough the Knicks are losing, but it is worse when there appears to be no end in sight. Point guard Raymond Felton has missed the last four games with a sore lower back and left hip injury. Center Tyson Chandler has been out with a broken leg. More importantly, in watching the Blazers' 102-91 win, the differences in the two teams appeared obvious:

The Blazers love playing with one another. The Knicks seem as if they hate it.

"We've got to get our act together," Woodson has said numerous times recently. "It's a tough ride right now with all the injuries, but we've got to find a way to work through this."

Sadly, Woodson might as well be talking about every team in New York -- the Rangers, Islanders and New Jersey Devils included -- considering the way things are going right now.

After starting the season 0-6, Tom Coughlin was on a high as his team entered Sunday's game against the Cowboys riding a four-game winning streak. That was before Terrell Thomas and Jason Pierre-Paul opened their mouths, provided little production and all but eradicated their playoff hopes, leaving us to ponder what might have been.

Despite all the bantering about the Jets' vaunted defense, their offense has been pathetic. So much so that the same defense that's been lauded ad nauseam in recent memory periodically finds itself appearing demoralized, as if its members believe what we've all suspected for a majority of this season:

The Jets, when all is said and done, will be home for the holidays, watching the playoffs with the rest of us.

Brooklyn "will get ourselves together," GM Billy King recently told me. "We've had a couple of injuries to deal with, plus some jelling to do, but we'll get there."

The question is, how?

Will it be with a coach who's too inexperienced to garner the respect of veterans on his squad -- as has been the speculation over the past 10 days? Will it be with a $98 million point guard (D-Will) who's been sandwiched with quality and skilled veterans shielding him from having to do anything else but his job -- and he's still struggling?

And, by the way, if the struggles continue, how much more of this will KG be able to take before deciding to retire? Or Pierce for that matter? And when will someone figure out that Brook Lopez is simply the team's best player and that the offense needs to revolve around him?

"We've talked enough," KG said. "We've just got to correct things and keep playing. The season is still young."

Actually, it isn't anymore. Not for the teams and not for the city they represent.

Since none of them seem to recognize it, it's time someone tells him.

If not from here, maybe someone from Boston (Patriots, Red Sox) can break the news.