The Knicks play the Nuggets tonight and it's probably going to be miserable. One can't rule out the possibility that the Knicks' ball movement will suddenly come alive, or that they'll start hitting open shots and defending consistently as a unit. Based on everything that's happened up to this point, though, it seems infinitely more likely that the Knicks will crumble over the course of the game. Ty Lawson should carve the Knicks up off the dribble and Danilo Gallinari should torch the Knicks from inside and out, maybe even breaking his Garden career-high of 30. (And Al Harrington could kill them too, but whatever.) Because that's how things have been going lately: as badly as they can possibly go.
And it'll hurt! It'll hurt because the Knicks keep losing. It'll hurt because the Nuggets' bench could probably beat New York's starting five right now. And of course, it'll hurt because those Nuggets cleverly built a winning team in the void of the piece the Knicks are currently trying to make their foundation, and they did it with a number of players and assets taken from New York in last year's trade.
I, like many of you, miss that team. I liked those guys better than I like these guys, even when they were losing. Perhaps that'll change when and if this team starts rolling, but for the time being, I pine for last year's team and its "lower ceiling" and "lack of true superstars" and whatnot.
But I'm trying really hard to put that out of my mind. What's done cannot be undone. What I want is for this team to become good and fun to follow, and I don't think that can be achieved by ripping it to shreds. Indulging restlessness and coveting the assets of another are what got the Knicks to this point; perpetuating that cycle could just make things worse. Firing the coach or GM and trading stars when their value has bottomed out are short-term solutions to short-term problems, and either is likely to create more problems. Basketball teams are made up of players and coaches with finite contracts and thus come with built-in expiration dates. You don't have to "blow up" a struggling team. If you let it sit, it'll fall apart on its own, and you can start from scratch. It just requires waiting. If you've built something and parts of it are sagging, doesn't it make sense to exhaust every rehabilitative measure before tearing it down?
And hey, you know what else might happen while everyone waits and works? The team might get good. Because these are talented basketball players and talented coaches who, with time to develop relationships and a sense of accountability for one another, tend to improve. Losing is miserable for them, too, and they want to remedy it.
This team has problems-- problems that are likely to get further exposed and rubbed in our faces tonight against Denver-- and if you see those problems as correctable with sudden, massive changes, that's fine. And if your view of things is obscured by a longing for some facet of the past and the certainty that you told us so way back when, well, that's fine too. But neither mindset (nor the thorny hybrid of the two) is bound to be fulfilling, and I say that from experience. Most of us here are predisposed to stick with these Knicks no matter what, so why not do what we can to be patient, get comfortable, and hold each other tenderly when times get tough?
I'm rambling now, but my point (if I have one) is this: The Knicks will probably lose tonight, and they will do so because they are either 1. A good team playing badly or 2. A bad team. If it's the former, I think the team ought to be given time to grow. If it's the latter, I think the team ought to be given time to die. And in the meantime, I think those of us stuck with this good/bad team for the long term ought to be more patient and less sour than everybody thinks we are.
(Of course, now that I've said all that, the first comment on this post will probably be "FIRE DUMBTONI" and the Knicks will probably beat the Nuggets, but it felt good to put it out there. No Pre-Game Recon today, by the way. I think I was too late getting in touch with the Denver Stiffs guys, and I just need a little break to play with my dogs and enjoy the snow. See you at game time!)