Larry Brown lasted just one tumultuous season with the Knicks. Isiah Thomas, one of the all-time greats as a Detroit player, was a failure as a coach and executive.
In New York City, the Motor City and beyond, the Knicks had become a punch line.
"Anything that goes on in New York is everywhere. It's not just in y'alls' papers, it's kind of everywhere," Billups said Monday, a day after the Knicks clinched their first playoff berth since 2004. "So I followed that, man, and it was, it was kind of unpleasant to see that."
On the court, though, the Knicks were even worse. From the start of the 2004-05 season to the end of 2009-10, only the Minnesota Timberwolves were worse -- by three wins -- than New York, which compiled a .352 winning percentage, according to STATS, LLC.
The Knicks won't be an inexperienced club when they return to the big stage in less than two weeks. Billups, Amare Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony have all played deep into the postseason.
"We have three guys who expected to be there," coach Mike D'Antoni said. "So it's not like, 'look we did.' This is a normal day for them."
Anthony was too busy with his own career in Denver to pay much attention to what was happening in New York. But he could tell how much it meant that playoff basketball back was coming back to New York from the excitement of the fans following Sunday's 123-107 victory over Cleveland.
"As fans and as students of the game, we know how hard it was for the New York Knicks, the franchise, and for the city to have to go through that, not making the playoffs year in and year out, not having nothing to look forward to in the postseason,' Anthony said. "So now we want to change that."