DISCLAIMER: this fanpost is long. Don’t complain about length since you’re being warned now. But this will be my only fan post. So it’s a one shot deal.
Don’t hate. Im not a professional writer, so don’t judge me. I just have something I would like to write as a knicks/basketball fan. That’s it. Don’t look for stats and numbers, those aren’t needed for this.
As im writing this, the NY knicks will be down 3-1 against the pacers. After watching two games against the pacers I was so confident that the knicks would not win this series that I started writing this end of season post. UPDATE: yep they lost. If only future lotto results were this clear.
Im a different fan from most knick fans in that I dont wear orange and blue colored glasses. My love is for the game of basketball and competition, If the knicks are not worthy then I will be the first to say they aren’t. This season, they had the most potential to be worthy, but due to injuries, stupidity, and immaturity, they are unworthy yet again.
My following words come from observation of the team this season, via different media outlets as well as their performance on the court. Some speculation is involved, but it doesn’t take a crystal ball to see the obvious.
The truth is that this knicks team was assembled to be a one trick pony. It was obvious what Mike Woodson’s plan was once you saw the roster. The veterans were brought in to keep the ship on an even keel, because the coach and GM knew that the young core of the knicks are very talented and emotional players. (Astute observation) Rahsheed Wallace was supposed to be the respected sage, Marcus Camby was supposed to spell chandler. Jason Kidd was supposed to be the crafty floor veteran, Kenyon martin was brought in out of desperation. Kurt Thomas was a tough throwback and Pablo Prigioni would be our tough back up point guard. Their ages were laughable, but their collected experience was to be respected.
And it worked.
The "THREE TO THE HEAD" celebration by ‘sheed was quickly picked up by the younger players. When he was ejected for saying "BALL DON'T LIE" the younger players began to say it in protest (until they were told to stop)
Melo praised Jason kidd as one of his best teammates. He even said he had never been surrounded by players this good. Players he could trust.
Kurt Thomas helped turn the season around with one game in Utah and then Pablo Prigioni kept the win streak alive.
Amare Stoudemire was trained by one of the best centers to ever play the game, and before injuries took Amare away from the team, he was showing a much improved post game (still has butter fingers though)
Camby helped train and haze chris copeland. He also did a great job of warming the chair.
Woodson’s plan was working, it truly was, however, he would repeat one line during post game interviews..
"We just gotta keep everyone healthy"
And THAT was impossible.
Out of 6 vets, only 3 remained in the post season: Pablo, Kidd and Kenyon Martin. Kidd, so effective in the regular season, was ineffective during the post season. Martin was struck with the flu and was not the player he was in healthier times, and Pablo, who was THE most effective of the three, was NOT given the proper playing time that he DESERVED.
So when the chips were down, there were no vets to help keep the mercurial core of the knicks on an even keel. The rest is history at this point. Woodson knew this was a one shot plan, he gambled and this team failed. In the end, there was no one to help Melo when he needed help and Woodson, inexplicably, would not allow certain bench players to provide that help. Why was Earl Barron brought in? We could have used a center with offense to space the floor, since Tyson doesn’t have a respectable offensive game. Quentin Richardson could have possibly been good defensively as well, we wont know. When the shit hits the fan, its all hands on deck, use some players as 5 fouls to slow the game down and get into some heads, the shit works.
Woodson is culpable in this TEAM failure.
Mike Woodson said that "Younger teams aren't winning championships"
Maybe not, but they damn sure look a lot hungrier than this knicks team. I will take hunger, energy, and defense any day. i wish i could say that this pacers VS knicks series is competitive but it just ISNT.
I'm gonna digress for a second:
Once stern came aboard and began to turn the NBA around, that was the beginning of the end of competition as I knew it. I just couldn't see it because defense was still tight for decades. However, slowly, certain defensive weapons were taken away from teams. In comes Stu Jackson who outright states that 90’s ball is a nightmare for him and so ends highly defensive teams. Competition became about who could score more. Points were scored faster and people felt that was entertaining. Mike dantoni will ALWAYS get a head coaching job. If this league was about defense, he would always be an offensive coordinator in the NBA.
There's a generational difference with these players and its because of the league itself. In my day and even before that, a "grit and grind" identity was not something that only a few teams were ALLOWED to have. These players are stronger and faster and yet the league will have them only use those two attributes for scoring and not stopping the opposing player. So don't you guys THINK that league wide, teams will develop a tendency to focus on more scoring and less stopping? Teams are being developed for entertainment purposes only (the regular season) and not for winning it all (the play offs) and yet WHO do you see in the end? The team that plays tougher defense and can find a way to score when needed. GREAT defense slows or stops scoring, which is why it wins the chip. Defense allows you to set that final 3-point play, good defense keeps the star player from getting off a winning shot by putting a hand in his face. This brings me back to the knicks. A very entertaining team when clicking but with no defensive identity. This is how teams are being built now. Hard-nosed defensive players seemed to only come around once in a blue in this league because that's not what gets you paid. You gotta score to get an owners money.
If you see yourself being a knicks fan for the foreseeable future, I would like to give you something to look out for, IF it happens: a knick team of 12 with 1 superstar scorer and 1 sixth man who can dependably score. Those two scorers will be backed by 10 PURELY defensive minded players who Average 10 points or less a game.
That team will be your championship team, if not the first year, then the second year, barring injury.
10 players on that team will know that they are NOT scorers and will give the ball to the person who can. In addition, they will TRY to make sure that no one else on the opposing team scores or gets rebounds because that's their defensive mentality. This means that the 1 superstar and his sixth man will try to make All those good shots, bad shots, and circus shots. While those defensive guys will do their damnedest to clean up after those two guys. The defensive guys will also only look to score when they see a shot they KNOW is going in, because when you're a defensive player, you naturally don't want to chance fucking up the game. You think twice about shooting a jump shot while instinctively trying to stop someone else. Shooters do not have that mentality, they can't afford to. This is why they have to be surrounded by a support system of defensive players. Basketball is played by human beings, so there are psychological aspects that must be taken into account when forming teams. Stats cannot measure chemistry. That’s for the eyes to decide.
With a roster of ten defensive minded players and 2 great shooters, that's a team built to defend for 48 minutes plus OT’s. They will also give a hard time to scoring teams (most of the league now and in the future) In crunch time, both the superstar and sixth man can be on the floor as decoys so someone else on the team can be "Robert Horry" (Kills me how that "Robert Horry for threeeeeee!!!" shit used to always work. I mean, goddamn.) This theoretical knicks team would be a true "throwback" team. Not a team full of old vets who crumble before the post season.
The coach is important, but as an ex-player I can tell you that he isn't on the floor. The players have to execute and have good to great judgment. A coach can only show you, its on you to actually DO that shit. Much has been said about Mike Woodson’s defensive schemes, the constant switching, and unneeded doubling. However not enough has been said about the players on his squad. Many fans have never played actual basketball for any significant time, so they don’t understand that while EVERY player can TRY to be a good defensive player, not every player can actual BE a good defensive player.
Look at it this way, would players need to switch if each could hold their defensive assignment?Or what if every player on the starting 5 were 6’ 8 and above? That’s a tall and long starting 5 right there. That team would annoy the opposition just by putting their bodies on their assignments and moving their arms to make passing difficult. Also, when you’re on the floor, if its plainly evident that your 5 can handle the other teams 5, then trust me, there isn’t any doubling the 5, fuck what the coach says. The same thing happens when a player gets hot. The coach may say swing the ball, but if you see that your 1 or 5 has the hot hand, you feed him, fuck what the coach says.
So looking at the roster that Woodson had LEFT to him after injuries, you can say that woodson did not have the squad he helped put together. There was no tall and long bench to go with, no experienced bigs to perhaps put out in tandem (‘sheed and camby perhaps) to fluster the shit out of Hibbert and aggressively grab rebounds. There could be no good man to man defense because using a 1-10 scale for defense, the starting five of melo, felton, Iman, chandler and kidd, would be a 5 on my team defense scale. Fuck stats right now, look at what’s on the goddamn floor. The knicks man to man defense is trash, So they switch a lot, because they aren’t good defensively. I don’t blame Woodson for that at all, because I watched enough of the Mike Woodson Show to see that these guys didn’t understand basic defensive principles. That is a HUGE problem at this level. The players in particular were Copeland, Amare, Melo, and Novak. Your shooters.
To show you how much of a liability that is, imagine if steve novak were a more dependable shooter, defender and rebounder during the playoffs (his usual time of disappearance). The Celtics would have been swept. The pacers would have been forced to spread their defense with just novak, melo, felton chandler and prigioni. You LAUGH at that lineup because of novak, but again, what IF he was a more capable defender and rebounder? With his height and range…the line up stops being funny.
The starting five work in tandem, it’s a human machine designed to score and defend,
1 defensive liability Fucks up the machine. Meanwhile, one complete player enhances the machine. Very few starting fives in the league are truly interchangeable; team chemistry is built during wars against other teams. Im telling you now, when a team goes through a season too easily on the first try, that team has a high chance of failure when faced with tough defense, because they aren’t used to adversity. Remember, its humans who play the game, and you only know who your buddy is during the worst of times. The knicks ran through the season with lots of hot shooting games, how many grind out games did they play? How many of those did they lose? Damn near all of ‘em. The playoffs weren’t going to change a goddamed thing.
Woodson can be blamed for fucking up a couple of playoff games, but he didn’t have most of his roster in the end. He knew he had scorers who sucked at defense, but if there were enough vets left to help out, then it could have made a difference on the floor. This shit wasn’t his plan at all.
I have zero faith in this team or any future incarnation of knicks teams that doesn't resemble my defensive roster blueprint I laid out, and sadly, Its a roster that may never be. However, i'm not angry at all because I've seen enough basketball by this current core team to know that they are not champion material because they do NOT take care of business. There were far too many times during the regular season and post season where they were lazy when it counted and played committed in a desperate situation. They did not fight for every possession. WORST of all, much of the core roster is mentally soft, becoming unglued too easily. They do not have a champion mentality. A professional mentality.There is no WAY this team could beat a great team WHEN its all on the line. When ice is needed in the veins. No sir.
When the knicks lost to the bulls, celtics, grizzlies, pacers, I can say they lost to teams that played TEAM DEFENSE, something that takes the knicks out of their shooting game. You don't outshoot the knicks, you get in their heads by making things hard for them. Since they are not a mentally tough team, and not used to adversity and grinding out games, they will FOLD. Every damn time it seems. However, when the knicks actually defended and trapped, they showed how much better they could be when committed. Those Chicago losses would have possibly been wins if the knicks had kept their cool and played committed ball for 48 minutes. It may sound like a cop out but its true; you can NEVER say that this knicks team in particular lost to another teams talent, because when the knicks lose, they lose due to so many boneheaded mistakes and mental breakdowns. You have to ask yourself "would the knicks have lost if they didn’t fuck up that game?" The answer will never be known, but ive seen the knicks on the rare instances that they are "on" and I gotta say, they can match up with any team in the league and beat them, even without all their players, as long as they are mentally competent.
Look, this is all one man’s opinion, but I think the BEST lesson to take from this entire series is that no matter how good this team or ANY team looks in the regular season, the playoffs are a different story. As a fan of basketball, I will always check on a game or two, but the NBA I feel is simply sports entertainment. The refs are given too much control, there are "super star calls" that swing games (which is illegal in an actual competitive sport mind you) certain teams are allowed to be physical while others aren't. The only competition I can see is when two defensive teams go at it. The league model of "run and gun" is not for me. After these last two seasons, I will now check in on basketball from time to time, much as I do professional wrestling. Sometimes you just want to see who the new star is and what makes them cool. The NBA is like that for me now. Every year it’s a new year, new hopes, stars are surrounded by new players and every year the team mantra is "this is a new year for us"
But if it’s the same league that focuses on entertainment instead of sport, and if they keep changing the rules for the players and NEVER for the refs, then no matter who the star is, it wont matter. Only a highly defensive team can throw a monkey wrench into this run and gun bullshit. With a team of 10 defensive players, even the refs can’t foul all of them out for playing tough defense on a "favored" team. Its not that the scoring has to come in waves its the DEFENSE that needs to come in waves. And the one thing a ref cant stop, the only thing the NBA has left when it comes to integrity on the floor, is a player with a sweet stroke. They can’t give you phantom calls for shooting. 10 defensive players, 2 great shooters, volume or efficient, will get you the chip, and put the conspiracy fact or fiction to rest.
God help the knicks, but FUCK the NBA.
peace to the Posting and Toasting community B.D. aka T.F.