I’m heading out to Seattle tomorrow to catch my beloved Seahawks versus the Ray-duhs on Monday night. [Dave sticks his fingers in his ears.] La la la la la la. I can’t hear anything about Super Bowl losers’ curse. La la la la la la la. So I figured I’d weigh in with the rare Friday afternoon post on the opening game of the 2006-2007 Knick season. Without having seen much more than about 5 minutes of said game I don’t know that I can offer much insight on the actual contest–certainly nothing beyond what KB has already posted. However, I do want to add a comment or two on what I have read so far in the papers.
Embattled Knick Czar, Isiah Thomas, managed to eek out a 3OT victory over the “Czar of Telestrator” in Memphis despite what was apparently a dizzying array of bumbles, fumbles, and stumbles. In his post game comments Thomas may have given us some real insight into what life will be like now that he is both Lord and Janitor of the Manor. It appears that Mr. Accentuate the Positive would rather light a candle than curse the darkness. Instead of declaring that the basketball apocalypse is nigh and chastising the team for its 20+ turnover near grasp of defeat from the jaws of victory, as Larry Brown would no doubt have done, he is voicing his pleasure with the team’s effort and–at times–execution of The Quick(TM). If you’ve seen the paper’s at all Thomas is apparently all but refusing to acknowledge that the Knicks frittered away a 19 point lead, instead crediting Memphis with a spirited comeback, and is making a point of stroking his guys for building the big lead and finding a way to win.
After Larry Brown’s stint as the impossible-to-please father figure last season I suppose this is something of a welcome change. The part I have been most curious about since Isiah was named coach is to see how he would try to coax better play out of the same players. Anticipating that the roster would only change at the margins, I wondered about his approach. Isiah has been promiscuous–from an Xs and Os standpoint that is–at Indiana. So I kinda figured that whatever he ran it would be a hybrid. Philosophically though I didn’t know what to expect. If the opening game is a clear indication–always a dangerous assumption–then Isiah seems to be channeling Chuck Daley. Daley always maintained that the most important part of the job as coach by far is to get players to play.
For the little I’ve read and even less I’ve seen Isiah appears to be implementing two major changes:
1. On Xs and Os he’s upping the pace and keeping it high, which is interesting in that it is not an immediate concession to Marbury (or Frye), whose strength is the screen-roll.
2. He’s working hard to build trust with his players, at least in part by being clear with the media that he is not going to savage them in public after a poor showing.
In principle, these changes seem wise. However, the line between accentuating the positive and enabling dysfunctional behavior is a fine one. Isiah’s penchant for hiring coaches (prior to Brown) who enabled the worst in Marbury makes me cautious about his ability to straddle that line successfully. It’s easy to forget that along with accentuating the positive one must eliminate the negative. At the same time, all things considered, I thought Isiah played the aftermath of game one reasonably. In an 82 game season there’s absolutely no reason to be anything other than all smiles in public after going 1-0.