Everybody who lives and dies with the Knicks can recall Amar’e Stoudemire smiling his new $100 million smile and proclaiming: “The Knicks are again.”
The Knicks weren’t again then, and 11 years later, they’re not again now.
However after so many quick breaks to heartbreak throughout the years, after Derek Fisher and Phil Jackson and the triangle offense, after David Fizdale, after the Kristaps Porzingis flameout, Tom Thibodeau has referred to as timeout on distress, and on the eve of the All-Star break, Knicks followers this time are usually not relieved that the season is half over.
They will begin to imagine once more.
Their Knicks, 114-104 winners over the Pistons, are on the best way again. Their Knicks are 19-18, the most recent they’ve been over .500 in eight years. Their Knicks are a crew once more.
“It simply looks like one thing good is occurring,” Julius Randle wrote within the Gamers’ Tribune.
One thing good occurs when a star coach like Thibodeau arrives and will get his star participant to purchase in and everybody else follows.
The multifaceted, indefatigable Randle (27 factors, 16 rebounds, seven assists) is the primary Knicks All-Star since Porzingis and Thibodeau’s prime locker-room lieutenant. “M-V-P,” the mini-Backyard crowd chanted throughout and after the sport.
Randle has grown to like New York and New York has grown to like him.
“He’s a terrific employee and units a terrific instance for the crew,” Thibodeau mentioned, “and the impression on successful, it’s been enormous. It’s not his particular person statistics, it’s what he’s doing for the crew, and that turns into contagious.”
One thing good occurs when Barrett (21 factors), a Rising Star in his sophomore 12 months, is a menace from downtown when he isn’t slashing downhill to the ring and has regained the swagger he displayed at Duke.
“His preparation is giving him numerous confidence,” Thibodeau mentioned.
One thing good occurs when Elfrid Payton (20 factors), again from a balky hamstring that price him 4 video games, was one of the best level guard on the ground even when Frank Ntilikina drilled three 3s within the second quarter.
Thibodeau is one of the best factor that has occurred.
Greatest Knicks coach since Jeff Van Gundy.
“Tradition is the way you do all the pieces,” Thibodeau mentioned. “It’s not anyone explicit factor, it’s the way you do all the pieces.”
Thibodeau can’t flip the Knicks into heavyweight contenders in a single day, however the indicators of a burgeoning professionalism and a dedication to D-FENSE are unmistakable.
“It looks like we’ve got a collective goal,” Randle wrote.
And a starvation. “We’re not glad in any respect,” Barrett mentioned.
Thibodeau has satisfied gamers who had been crying out for a pacesetter and a instructor that it’s a must to earn the correct to win. He loves teaching these gamers. They love getting higher collectively at some point at a time.
“I feel we’re all engaged,” Barrett mentioned. “All of us have our mindset on the identical purpose, and we’re all working in direction of that.”
The Knicks are laughingstocks no extra.
“We’re flipping the script on the popularity of our whole franchise,” Randle wrote.
The legendary Marv Albert, son of Brooklyn and Basket No. 1 at Manhattan Seashore, was the voice of the Knicks after they received their NBA championships in 1970 and ’73. Pink Holzman’s Willis Reed-Clyde Frazier groups stay the gold customary. That’s the best way it’s when Knicks followers discover themselves making an attempt to scratch a 48-year itch.
“They respect good protection, and so they respect good passing,” Albert mentioned. “That period was so common due to the best way they’d swing the ball, which is what Golden State did via their championship years. Steve Kerr believed in that, and so did [Spurs coach Gregg] Popovich. These Knick groups had been very good. Pink had 5 coaches on the ground, mainly.”
The Pat Riley-Van Gundy Knicks had been good as properly, however their identification was toughness and tenacity.
“Which is also appreciated by Knick followers,” Albert mentioned. “It’s humorous, if one other crew comes into the Backyard and beats up the Knicks, followers complain. However when the Knicks had [Anthony] Mason and [Charles] Oakley and that group, they might simply kill guys — the sport was so completely different — and naturally that was applauded.”
Mike Woodson is the final Knicks coach to win a playoff recreation. Thibodeau would be the subsequent one. It might not occur this season. The second-half schedule is brutal.
“There’s some good issues we did, clearly some issues that we’ve got to enhance upon,” Thibodeau mentioned.
In fact there are. Always remember, the man’s not completely happy except he’s depressing.
“The problem might be nice,” Thibodeau mentioned, “so it ought to carry one of the best out in us, however simply don’t change our strategy, consider enchancment every day.”
As soon as Leon Rose and World Extensive Wes and Scott Perry get him extra horses, there may be each cause to imagine that Thibodeau will cause them to water and make them drink. Our Marc Berman requested what he would do throughout the break and Thibodeau cracked: “Turks and Caicos.” Even there, with no crew to teach, he wouldn’t be completely happy except he was depressing.