Every time I get a rash, or the radiator's making a weird noise, or the leftovers in the fridge smell weird, I head to Google. And more often than not, I end up on WebMD or Yahoo Answers or some sketchy message board trying to cobble together a solution to a dumbshit query like "hurts to pee after eat tostitos normal?" from the garbled, conflicting opinions of strangers. Ultimately, I settle on whatever source confirms my instinct to do nothing, then fret over whether I should get that thing checked out, then forget and move on. Someday, this will kill me!
I half know and half suspect this to be one of life's fundamental terrors. Being in a relationship, raising a kid, aging, and just feeling feelings present endless novelty for which there is never a satisfying explanation. The only way to define signal from noise, feature from bug, is through experience. The uncertainty of learning through experience triggers worrying, then worrying about worrying. Will I kick myself in the future for having ignored warning signs? Or will I kick myself for having agonized over trifles?
Watching a rookie coach is not life, but it also lacks satisfying answers. There is no salve for the bumps in this 2-7 start, no way to tell signal from noise. We can't Google "derek fisher bench tim hardaway whole first half then start him second half normal?" or "derek fisher match lineups to opponent said he wouldn't do that normal?" and find confirmation. We don't know if piling up mid-range jumpers instead of getting to the line is a feature or a bug.
When the Mikes D'Antoni or Woodson puzzled us, we often heard fans of their old teams muttering, like "oh yeah, that's one of his things." We have no such examples with Fisher the rookie coach, or, for that matter, with Phil Jackson the rookie team president. They have few established traits.
And so our conversations after a couple rocky weeks take the form of dueling confirmation biases. If you expect Fisher to fail, here are your red flags. If you expect even the best coaches to wobble out of the gate, here's that. If you question the Triangle's fitness, who can deny you? If you think the Triangle's hard and the short-handed Knicks were bound to sputter early, that's fair. If you envision a grand building plan better served by awkwardness at the outset than by straining to win each game, that's plausible. If you think the Knicks are full-on tanking, that's plausible, too. If you believe the Knicks are so essentially awful that none of this matters and we're all fools doomed to eternal torment, fine, but please shut up and get out of my kitchen, like how did you even get in here.
Last year's Knicks frustrated because they lacked a plan and made obvious, grave errors. These Knicks-- so far, but probably for some time ahead -- frustrate because we can't yet grasp the plan, and so struggle to weigh the errors. One cannot distinguish the throes of the process from the flaws in its result.
Pieces of what Derek Fisher and Phil Jackson's Knicks have shown us will attain meaning in the long run. Some of this matters, a lot of it surely doesn't. Nobody knows which is which, so we are each other's Yahoo Answers for now. I'm doing my best to just relax and enjoy myself.