This quote from Mike D’Antoni struck me pretty heavily following yet another loose and lackluster performance in front of a Sunday home crowd yesterday.
It was the same thing my former boss said to me when I got caught up in the numbers game…a result of 2008′s economic downturn.
It’s good advice.
What is happening to the Knicks is unexplainable. It’s not just one thing. It’s not just the coach, it’s not just the players. It’s not Isiah Thomas. There is this looming cloud of dread that seems to suck the life out the franchise and the fans alike.
There have been changes that media types allude to all the time. Lenny Wilkens being unceremoniously let go. Don Cheaney. We all remember Larry Brown. Herb Williams.
Hubie Brown re-set the table following the Holzman era. Rick Pitino got the Knicks rolling again with Ewing, but was here only 2 years. And what Pat Riley did, no matter how much you may dislike the man, brought an air of respectability that the franchise hadn’t seen in two decades. He lasted four seasons.
Riley knew he couldn’t stay here between the grind of the city combined with his style, and the fact that he had zero room for professional growth from an executive standpoint. Don Nelson had no chance and while most-all fans love the man, Jeff Van Gundy did all he could do in 5 years and couldn’t take any more. Donnie Walsh has aged rapidly in just a few short years.
Right now, the grind is taking it’s toll on this group of young players who are everything I thought they weren’t. They’re not playing hard for 4 quarters. Maybe they can’t. They simply can’t take the pressure of a city that wanted them to win 10 years ago.
Every time a team scores inside, 3 Knicks players look around dumbfounded. That is the problem with a coach who allows too much freedom. There has to be accountability, film sessions, lessons taught, minutes removed and that should come from the coaching staff.
When I look at Wilson Chandler and Danilo Gallinari I see plenty of talent, but I also see players thrust into a situation that they aren’t prepared for. The best young, role players are cultivated. They are brought into a healthy culture and groomed under great players who are comfortable in a proven, successful system. But even they are just a small part of the team until they can take over a veteran position. The Spurs haven’t drafted higher than 24th in the first round since taking Tim Duncan 1st overall.Van Gundy never played rookies and the lack of young development set the franchise back a long time because they were winning, but not cultivating young talent.
As we’ve said here time after time, coaches in the NBA rarely chew players out in front of the crowd. Riley never did it with Ewing. If he did it to a guy like Anthony Mason, Mase would leave the bench cursing and head to the locker room. But Riley never had to worry about Mason’s effort.
Talking about the past, while important, clouds the future even more. Riley is gone and other draft picks are in other uniforms.
It’s the same team with different players and it’s maddening. Ray Felton IS a better point guard than Chris Duhon. Anthony Randolph has far more skills than Jared Jeffries. Chandler and Gallinari are a year older and should jointly give you far more than Al Harrington’s production. Stoudemire is an all-league player, an all-star every year and an upgrade over David Lee.
Do they really miss Ronny Turiaf that much? My sense is absolutely yes, but can one player make this much difference? He does from an energy level.
Fans have the luxury of wanting people fired, and it’s a right of passage.
If you have a solution, I’m all ears.