At long last, the time has come for New York Knicks training camp. All praise be to the Zen Master! --makes the sign of the triangle--
Camp is being held in West Point this year -- the same place where that rat bastard Benedict Arnold plotted to surrender our Hudson River defensive fortifications to the hated redcoats. It should come as no surprise, then, that new head coach Derek Fisher chose to spend the entirety of New York's first practice on defense -- pretty much every player on the Knicks was on some serious Benedict Arnold ish on that side of the ball last season. Papa Jackson sat on the sidelines and merely watched as Fish laid out his defensive philosophy.
"Today we built our defensive foundation," Fisher said. "That's really where we have to anchor ourselves is on the defensive end.
"Starting out and through the season there will be a lot of talk about who we are offensively and what we're trying to do on the offensive end in terms of running the triangle. But defense is the anchor. That's the foundation to all good and great teams. So today we spent two and a half hours on defense. We didn't do one triangle specific drill of any kind today."
That's all well and good, but the Mike Woodson era has conditioned me to call bullshit any time a Knicks coach utters the word "defense." Also, I'm a little bit frightened by the implications of this important practice photo posted by Jason Smith:
Fish doesn't need to stare out at the road; he's not driving. He should be looking back at his charges, making sure there are no shenanigans! Sorry, coach, but if this is the way you're running your practices, you're already on the hot seat in my book.
For what it's worth, Carmelo Anthony praised the newly-installed defensive system:
There was some media-generated talk today about the confusion on defense last season. Carmelo said this year's scheme "makes sense already."— Ian Begley (@IanBegley) September 30, 2014
Hopefully "makes sense" translates to not switching the center onto point guards 30 feet from the basket.
Melo also made sure to pay his #RE2PECT2 to Derek Jeter:
Carmelo Anthony was at Derek Jeter's last game at Yankee Stadium. Said he got chills when Jeter had game-winning hit. #Knicks— Ian Begley (@IanBegley) September 30, 2014
Carmelo Anthony says he's leaned on Derek Jeter several times for advice about navigating New York as a high profile athlete. #Knicks— Ian Begley (@IanBegley) September 30, 2014
I bet Jeter's advice boiled down to, "Try to win four titles in your first five full seasons." #RE2PECT #RINGZZZZ
Amar'e Stoudemire was held out of a few drills at the end of practice, which was part of Fisher's plan to keep him healthy throughout the season:
"He was with us for the first two hours today," Fisher said. "We have a great plan that we have in place for how we want to manage Amar'e, so he's available to us every night this year. That's a goal of ours. We think that plan that we have will work. Part of it today was monitoring his level. We got to that point."
Amar'e: " "Right now, I feel great. There’s no limitations as far as games played at this point.... Lord willing, I'll play 82 games."— Ian Begley (@IanBegley) September 30, 2014
It's a nice sentiment, but the Knicks have been handling Amar'e with kid gloves for years now, particularly early in the season. It was a miracle that he played in 65 games in 2013-14, and now he's a year older. I think the whole "available every night" thing might be pushing it.
As for the team's post-practice quote MVP, the title undoubtedly goes to J.R. Smith, who deftly handled Phil Jackson comparing him to Dennis Rodman. He also had a few choice fish-out-of-water stories about his introduction to life in West Point:
JR Smith says he's not bothered by Phil comparing him to Dennis Rodman. Said he likes being compared to a Hall of Famer. #Knicks— Ian Begley (@IanBegley) September 30, 2014
JR said he saw the security guard w an AK-47 here at West Point. Jokingly said he tried to make nice w him. "Ay dawg, I come here in peace!"— Chris Herring (@HerringWSJ) September 30, 2014
J.R. Smith on West Point and the Cadets: "I want to see how the hell they are doing it. Because I don’t know if I can do it." #Knicks— Ian Begley (@IanBegley) September 30, 2014
More JR Smith West Point: "If I wake up at 5 am, go to sleep at 6, I don’t think that works w/my schedule. That is a different lifestyle."— Ian Begley (@IanBegley) September 30, 2014
On a more serious note, he also gave a bit of insight into the Knicks' new defensive scheme:
J.R. Smith says #Knicks will try to "push everything to the sideline" on defense now. "Last year, it was more forcing people to the middle."— Ian Begley (@IanBegley) September 30, 2014
Let me show you a classic example of the 2013-14 Knicks "forcing people to the middle."
And some photos from West Point:
Huddle pic.twitter.com/c0FziX6Y3M— NY_KnicksPR (@NY_KnicksPR) September 30, 2014
And that's all from Day 1. Apparently the Knicks will be holding another practice this evening -- J.R.'s time to shine! We'll provide updates when they become available.