Ayo, what the heck's up, you ducky, ducky soups? Is it big ludicrous analogy time? Of course it is! I can already tell by the way you huffed and glazed over, that you completely agree. If you got that crud in the corners of your mouth, it's wiping time, kids. Lets make analogies and impracticalities. I think the Knicks are easily compared to a flock of sheep, and furthermore, a little internal focus could help get this herd going in the right direction.
Pray tell, Stingy, what on earth are you talking about? Well, just look:
See? They're a bunch of sheepies. As with all flocks, you have the Shepherd, a sheepdog (maybe even a few) and a variety of ewes and/or wethers. They create a little self contained ecosystem that starts at the farm and extends to all sizes and varieties of wool spinners. Sometimes they are led directly to a slaughter house. You have to hold out hope that we're just going to make beautiful coats and socks with our flocks.
Our Shepherd is, of course, Phil Jackson. The flock might not understand the Shepherd's strange ways but if all goes according to plan, everyone has work, and everyone eats. Jackson has penned the team into a Triangle offense, which castrated some of the individual freedoms most everyone has spent their entire basketball lives enjoying. Playing within a system requires the players to abandon their freelance ways for the betterment of the team's cohesion. This is born out of a necessity to instinctively know what you're looking for when time, score, pressure and opportunity are in their cacophonous symphony.
Our sheepdog is the friendly pack of coaches. Of course there's Derek Fisher, the lead dog. The illustrious assistant: Jim Cleamons, a certified droopy. How can you not love our good old buddy, Kurtis Rambis? In this increasingly bizarre analogy, I would be quite remiss not to mention someone with a name like Joshua Longstaff. Nor should I neglect that we have a Rasheed Hazzard. In any case, the coaches are an extension of the Shepherd, making certain all the sheep stick together and insuring we get to where we're going without being singled out by the wolves and dragged to an imminent slaughter. Of course, one must also be ever cautious of the perilous wolf in sheep's clothing!
The sheep, of course, are the players. You can't make those hideous holiday sweaters without them. Sheep are a little trickier to figure than you think they are, though. For instance, Jose Calderon can be shorn every day at five o'clock, but it takes a solid month of real growth, and one should only use a stud comb or risk exposing him to the elements of defense. Many people consider JR Smith to be the black sheep, but that couldn't be further from the truth. As evidenced in the above photograph, JR is just eternally facing the wrong direction. Amar'e Stoudemire is a big wooly sheep that is easy to fleece. There are many other sheep in the flock and they all play their respective parts.
Two guys that deserve special treatment are the actual black sheep of our troupe and the bellwether. The black sheep is a divisive figure in the community. Some feel he deserves the same amount of attention as any, and should be lauded for his propensity to deliver the goods. Whereas some look at the black sheep as the obvious choice to be removed from the group like a painful cyst. However much wool the black sheep provides, its value is perpetually in question. That is most certainly Carmelo Anthony. The overarching narrative for Carmelo (whether rightly or wrongly) is that he should be castigated for not being better than he is.
That brings us to the bellwether. In previous seasons, the team was held together by the towering bison, Tyson Chandler. In the 2012-13 season, Tyson and the many heady veterans were able to funnel a mediocre defense toward averageness by flowing around Chandler's immense physical and emotional gravity. Now in a tailspin, the team needs a player to have the bell around his neck, leading the way, and it doesn't seem natural for the black sheep. Does anyone remember this?
These Knicks are not talented enough as a team to win strictly with finesse. It will absolutely come down to the determined hustle play. This team simply isn't cohesive enough to not dive on every single loose ball, heat seek every rebound, body up full court on defense, chase down every shooter in space. It will come down to maniacal effort. Even in losing singular plays, wearing down your opponent is an unheralded part of winning basketball.
Iman Shumpert is this bellwether. Regardless of his talent level, he'll need to start holding teammates accountable for going balls to the wall. He will probably never be the third best player on a championship team. He can certainly spearhead their sense of identity into a desperate bunch of relentless bullies and pests. The Triangle offense will eventually become instinctual, and singular wins and losses may come down to a given night's execution. Settling on our identity to never stop punishing the other team may be the only answer. The team would fall in line. New Yorkers would fall in love.