I write this while dealing with Covid. It hit me Wednesday, coincidentally the day between the Knicks’ heart-wrenching defeat in Dallas and whatever the hell went down in San Antonio. More than any illness I’ve ever had, Covid is like a viral Mad Libs: every day, my symptoms are new and seemingly random. One day my head felt hot — I was sweating like Patrick Ewing — but the rest of my body was freezing. Another day my left foot felt like it’d swollen to thrice its normal size, though it looked normal. All food tastes weird, as if translated into a language that can’t catch its magic.
Covid fog is also a thing. I feel slower, cognitively, mos def. But that doesn’t necessarily mean dumber. Sometimes slowing or ceasing activity can clarify truths you’d never normally note. The past few days I’ve been quarantined and alone in one room. I can’t talk much to anyone without dissolving into coughing fits. So I’ve mostly just sat around existing, without the usual external stimuli. I find the silence to be jarringly new. I like having less noise and more silence.
Not having the energy for recaps or Knicks Twitter debates has helped me find a simple, greater appreciation for these Knicks. Everything doesn’t have to be a referendum on their past moves or future ambitions. They’re just a team in a moment that I’m generally happy to be stuck in with them. Imagine someone telling you before this season began that:
- Julius Randle, who was less popular last year than your average NYC mayor, is shooting a Knick career-high from the field while setting full-career highs in 3s and free throws made per game; there’s a better-than-fine shot he could make his second All-Star game as a Knick. I’m too sick to look this up, but other than Allan Houston I don’t think any Knick free agent signing has done that.
- This past offseason’s free agent prize, Jalen Brunson, is also deserving of All-Star consideration. He’s taken on a bigger role than he’s ever had in the pros and been more than capable of that responsibility, all the while making his teammates’ jobs easier thanks to the Knicks finally having a doubleplus-good point guard for the first time in nearly 20 years.
- RJ Barrett is shooting career-bests on 2s and free throws.
- Mitchell Robinson is a consistent and meaningful presence on both ends of the floor, arguably the league’s best offensive rebounder while setting career-highs on the offensive and defensive glass. National broadcasters must be working off their memories from three years ago because they still always bring up Mitch and foul woes, which hasn’t been a thing in a looong time.
- Five Knicks are averaging double-figures. All are younger than 30. Three of them are 22-23 years old. Two of those precocious neophytes have emerged as exceptional two-way threats with surprising wrinkles to their skill sets: Quentin Grimes has shown more off-the-dribble creativity than we saw all of last year, while Immanuel Quickley, whose early years were chock full of Lou Williams comparisons, has been one of the premier defenders in the NBA this season.
There’s more I could share, but I’m starting to cough up a storm and suffer a headache, so I’m ending this here. Just remember that it is not only fair to enjoy this developmental period in Knick history, it’s probably wise. Five years ago the Knicks’ big three in games played were Courtney Lee, Frank Ntilikina and Kyle O’Quinn. Three years prior to that, their two leading minutemen were Shane Larkin and Jason Smith. Five years earlier paints an interesting contrast: New York went a lousy 29-53, but their three leading minutemen were David Lee, Danilo Gallinari and Wilson Chandler. There was a framework in place for the future, and the next three years were the Knicks’ best in over a decade.
There will pro’ly be more low points, like the losses vs. Dallas and San Antonio. But there’s so much going on that’s good and fun, if you slow down, quiet the noise and just enjoy it. I hope you don’t need to get Covid to find that for yourself. Thanks for continuing to allow us here at P&T to be a part of your life. Love and light to you all, friends.