In the latest edition of the Player’s Tribune, Immanuel Quickley penned a letter titled, “Goodbye New York.” Recently traded to the Toronto Raptors, he poignantly reflects on the trade, which clearly came out of left field, and the emotional impact of parting with the New York Knicks. This quote hits in the gut:
Obviously this is a business, but when you literally have no idea this is coming…. I mean, there were no rumors, no nothing. Just woke up from a nap on a road trip, in a random hotel room in Indiana, to a text from my agent Raymond Brothers saying, “Call me. You’re getting traded.” Direct, quick, no warning. You get a text like that, and your heart just sinks. It didn’t even feel real. It was like I was in a dream or something. Before I can even hit him back, my phone starts ringing. It’s the Knicks front office. But it wasn’t just anybody. It was one of my guys, World Wide Wes. I call him Unc. I picked up, and man…... as soon as he got on the call, he just started crying. And just like that, my career with the New York Knicks was over. I knew it was forreal.
He provides a clear-eyed remembrance of his early days with the Knicks, starting with being drafted 25th in 2020 and the humbling experiences that followed—like the time he lit up Cleveland in a preseason game and expected become a starter the next day. Early on, Immanuel learned that opportunities do not come easy in the NBA. “We played in Portland, and I put up 31 points, against Dame. In 25 minutes, too. [...] That’s when I was like, O.K., so I can really be good if I just continue to keep working. I stopped looking at every opportunity as my one and only shot and just played.”
A good lesson for us all.
The effervescent guard shares memorable moments and lessons learned from teammates, particularly Julius Randle. The Randle stuff stands out because, given his occasional emotional outbursts (thumbs down) or play on the court (slow-footed closeouts), we often make assumptions about how he affects the locker room. According to Quickley, Julius is a positive role model and mentor to his young teammates. Consider this food for thought:
Julius was a big one for me. I remember I got a text from him the night I got traded. He said, “It don’t matter where you at. I got you, man. Anything you need.” With all the craziness of the night, that was really reassuring, but it especially meant something coming from him. He’s another guy that’s been like a brother to me. [...] Sometimes in the gym, anybody can vouch, I’ll just watch him — how he prepares, how he goes about his work and his daily habits. How he goes through his workouts. From time to time, I’d just text him to pick his brain like, “What’s your mindset before a game?” When you’ve been around the best, you know what it takes in a different way, and he’s always willing to share any knowledge he has. That’s my guy, always.
Clearly, the city, fans, and the team culture have all had a lasting impact on I.Q., and he expreses his gratitude to all in the piece. The business of professional sports is tough, loyalty is fleeting, and few players plant their roots for long. Recently I remarked to my wife—who might have tuned me out—that it must be difficult for Ish Smith to maintain a healthy family life while bouncing through 13 different teams. Sometimes a player leaves in a trade because they’re considered merely a commodity; more rarely, they are moved for mutual benefit. So it was in this case. We were sad to see Quickley go, but he had to leave in order to reach his goal of being a starter. He is now the lead point guard for the Toronto Raptors, and we celebrate him for it.
As a parent, I can draw parallels to my own life. I’m sure you can, too, with examples from yours.
Towards the end of his letter, Quickley shares a favorite memory from a game against the Boston Celtics in March 2023. I recall that game clearly because I kept the evidence. For months, the wallpaper on my phone showed him jumping like Super Mario while the dejected Celts’ fans moped behind him. It was one of my happiest moments as a basketball fan.
Thanks for all you did here, Quick. IQ:OAKAAK. Read the letter here.