Andrea Bargnani, before an adoring throng. (Getty Images)
Throughout his last two seasons in Toronto, disappointing forward Andrea Bargnani was subject to a chorus of boos from his home crowd just about any time the shots stopped falling. And for a shooter that slunked to under 40 percent shooting in his final year with the Raptors, while making eight figures a year along the way, those boo birds had ample opportunity to let Bargs know how they felt.
So much so that, upon Andrea’s preseason return to Toronto as a new member of the New York Knicks, Raptors coach Dwane Casey advised the top pick in the 2006 draft to “put on ear plugs” in anticipation of boo after boo. Happy Halloween.
Tucked away in New York on Wednesday, working in front of his new home crowd and allowed to come off the bench in a pressure-less role, Bargnani should have been allowed to ease into his new all-around scoring role with his second team? Especially with the Knicks riding high and ostensibly on their way to blowing out the visiting Milwaukee Bucks. Right?
Right? Right? Nah, the fans got to booing Bargs just four shots – all misses – into his Knick career. Newsday’s Barbara Barker was at the game, and filed this report:
It took a little more than one quarter as a Knick for Bargnani to hear his first boos at the Garden as fans began to jeer after he missed his fourth consecutive field goal in the second quarter of Wednesday night's 90-83 win over the Milwaukee Bucks. Bargnani, whom the Knicks were hoping would be a secondary scoring option behind Carmelo Anthony, picked up his game somewhat in the second half, finishing with six points and shooting 3-for-9 in 17 minutes of play.
Bargnani's teammates and coach, however, believe that it's only a matter of time before he gets comfortable with their offense and his new surroundings and becomes the scorer they need him to be.
"This is New York. It's the Garden. And it's the show," center Tyson Chandler said. "Once he gets past all of that he'll be fine. All of his teammates love him and we think he's going to be the key. He's going to be huge for us."
“Huge” is definitely an overstatement, as the less raucous of Knicks fans will probably happily settle for “competent.”
It’s true that Bargs does have gifts on the offensive end, good shooting touch for a big man and solid mid-post moves. When you factor in his bad defense and even worse rebounding, though, Andrea has to work extra hard on the offensive end just to turn into an average player. That’s what the headier Knicks fans want – just someone to sop up the minutes, as the “huge” can come later.
It’s remarkable to note, though, that these boos came down while the Knicks were in the middle of a run that would leave Bargnani’s team with a 25-point lead heading into halftime. The only thing that wasn’t going right at that particular time was Bargs’ ohfer four start, and some Knick fans couldn’t help themselves.
Perhaps it was a secluded few, maybe booing the man with a sense of humor in the wake of the years’ worth of boos that came down on Andrea during his frustrating run with the Raptors? Most mindful Knick fans disliked the Bargnani trade to begin with, even if it didn’t cost the Knicks any big minute players. Those mindful fans, possibly giddy during a big Knicks run, may have just been having fun with Bargnani’s infamous boo-bird past.
Maybe the fans weren’t just booing Bargnani, but the state of the Knicks’ offseason in general. One that saw the former general manager Glen Grunwald needlessly package picks and a lights-out shooter in Steve Novak for Bargnani’s massive contract. Grunwald was eventually replaced just before training camp with former MSG executive Steve Mills, he of the limited scouting experience; and perhaps the swirl of those transactions (along with the misguided idea that the Bargnani trade alone inspired the rising Knick ticket prices) was enough to bust out the boos in a game that saw the Knicks with a 20-point advantage?
Or maybe these fans were just huge jerks?
Either way, it didn’t take long for Bargnani to wear out his welcome. In basketball terms, a “New York Minute” must mean a 0-4 shooting start.
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