So the Knicks have a new head coach, Derek Fisher, and it appears to be a pretty good hire, on paper. How do you ultimately think Fisher will unfold?
Robert: No idea. The whole “hiring a coach with zero actual experience” is a relatively recent trend. It worked out just fine for Hornacek and Kidd (after a few TPS-based bumps in the road) and Mark Jackson (clash of personalities with an Ayn Rand-loving dude like Lacob notwithstanding). I think Fish could certainly make for a fine clipboard-holder, but his success is going to largely depend on what the Zen Daddy does as a first-time Team Prez.
Look at Doc Rivers, another guy that went straight from the TV booth (or in this case, court) to the bench. He had a dandy first season with the Magic in ’99, dragging a team that was openly tanking, and whose best player was Darryl Armstrong to within inches of of a playoff berth.
He was considered nothing more than a pedestrian coach for years after that until Ubuntu showed up, and now he’s one of the best in the league. (I agree, he is a great coach now, but it took a lot of on-the-job training). If the Suns/Nets come crashing back to Earth next season, is Kidd/Hornacek still held in such high regard? Probably not. It’s a hoary cliche, but it is a player’s league, y’all.
Mike: Hiring a coach in the NBA is a crap shoot. D’Antoni was thought to be a good hire, but he didn’t work out here (or in L.A.). Larry Brown was thought to be a shoe-in, but that turned into a disaster. A few years back Thibodeau was the most desired “never-head-coached-before”, but now some Chicagoans are starting to sour on his lack of offensive production.
It seems that even established coaches have their ups and downs. Warren Spahn once said that he pitched for Casey Stengal “both before and after he was a genius.” So unless you’re getting the very best (Jackson, Popovich) roll the dice and hold on. It’s more likely that a team will be ruined by a bad coach, than over-produce due to a good coach, and it’s highly unlikely to come across a great coach. So if Fischer isn’t harmful to the team, I’ll take it.
Woj dropped another bomb Saturday morning, reporting that Carmelo Anthony is leaning towards leaving the Knicks. Chicago and Houston are considered to be the favorites to sign him. If you’re Melo, which route do you take? Should the fans be upset with him if he decides to leave?
Robert: I wrote a few things about that here. It really depends on what Melo wants. If New York really is the apple of his eye, he may be willing to wait out a rocky couple of seasons as the team retools (They never rebuild. Such a dirty word). If he wants to compete for a title now, then yeah. He’s packing his bags and looking at real estate listings in Texas and Illinois. The “What would I do if I was Melo” question is one I’m not remotely equipped to answer that question. I’m not a great, well-paid athlete. I don’t know what his priorities are in life outside the court, or if he’s just tired of dealing with traffic on the FDR/Holland Tunnel.
Should fans be upset? Again, I think yes, they certainly can feel that way. If I was 12 and Melo was my favorite player, seeing him leave would be heartbreaking. To be clear, I’m not suggesting that you have to be in grade school to react as such. But as a purely emotional response, if Melo’s a player you love–or even if you coldly/logically think retaining him is the Knicks best path to sustainable success–you’re gonna get mad. That’s a wholly understandable, justifiable thing.
“Should” implies that Carmelo Anthony owes fans something beyond playing as hard as he can for the Knicks while he is a Knick. Say what you will about his game, but there’s zero question in my mind that Melo busted his hump the last two seasons.
Saying fans “should” be upset smacks of ownership, as if rooting for/loving a player means that the player is obligated to repay that love in kind. or that they should make life decisions based on that love, and if they fail to do so, well then they’ve betrayed the fans, and are a person of low character. Greedy. Selfish. Egotistical. Another Spoiled Athlete. And on and on.
That’s a pantload of Angry Facebook Dad grumpery. Carmelo (shocker) is a human being. And like you and me, he’s got a job and he will do things to maximize his own personal happiness and/or profit at that job. Sometimes those decisions make us sad. Deal with it.Mike: Wow, if I were ‘Melo? That’s tough. Because yes I’d love to be remembered as a guy who won a championship. And so as Robert suggested, packing his backs for Chicago or Texas is the right move.
But there are millions of reasons to stay in New York, and they’re all the same reason. Money. If I’m ‘Melo adding an extra 8 figures to my bank account for post-retirement enjoyment is completely rational. And basketball is just a game anyway. Am I really supposed to care about winning a championship vs. the benefit of my family? Oh and if I stay in New York, I’ll be seen as a hero. A noble knight in quest of bringing that highly desired championship to Gotham. A guy that didn’t turn his back on New York. And if I actually win one, and I’ll be in bronze in front of Penn Station.
Also who the heck wants to live in the Mid-West during the winter, or Texas at any time of year?
So if I stay in New York, it’s win-win, right?
Onto a happier a subject, the NBA Finals! The San Antonio Spurs are up 3-1 on the Miami Heat, which most, like myself, didn’t see coming. Let’s say the Spurs finish this at home in Game 5, who is your Finals MVP? Also, are you surprised with how this series has gone?
Robert: Can you give the MVP to an entire team? Or a coach? No? Poop.
Well, then my vote goes to Kawhi Leonard, who just turned twenty freaking two, by the way. It’s going to be fascinating to see if Leonard can continue to grow to a point where he’s carrying the offense a la Parker and Duncan before him, but he’s right there with Paul George in the “Who will be the next Scottie Pippen?” sweepstakes.
I said “Spurs in Six/Seven” before the series started, so winning in five isn’t that much of a shocker. Watching their Tiki-taka offense morph into something resembling the Godhead of basketball? Yeah, against this Heat defense…that’s not something I saw coming. But boy oh boy, has it been a mind-meltingly glorious spectacle to watch.
Mike: I’m with Robert, Popovich. Oh wait you said Poop?
Kawhi Leonard is a good choice. Sure this way we can keep forgetting that Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili are on this team. Are they they greatest players in NBA history that everyone just overlooks? Is this the most overlooked team in history? Liking the Spurs must be like being Haley Joel Osment in the 6th sense. I can see things that no one else does.
Want to prove my point? Go to a bar and ask someone to name the best NBA teams of all time. They’ll undoubtedly say the Jordan Bulls, the Lakers (Magic or Shaq), the Celtics (Bird or Garnett), and the Heat (LeBron or Wade). You’ll probably get the Pistons or even the Rockets. No one ever says the Spurs. No one ever wonders if the one of the Spurs 5 championship teams could overtake Jordan, Magic, or Bird in their prime in seven games. No child has ever lost sleep over that.
This will be Duncan’s 5th championship, but for some reason his name sticks out like a sore thumb against Jordan’s swagger, Shaq’s brute strength, Magic’s smile, or Bird’s determination. How bad is it that I couldn’t even remember if Duncan/Robinson’s commercial was about lawn products or lemonade? [Hint: It's neither.]