The world’s great religions teach us that gratitude is an important spiritual discipline. Feeling thankful, and furthermore acknowledging thanks, makes us better people. Much like exercise, gratitude probably does the most for us when we work hard at it and do it consistently. My wife has been posting one thing she’s grateful for everyday on Facebook during the Thanksgiving season. Although I’m not that disciplined, I’m trying to be better.
I wonder if I can list five things to be grateful for about these Knicks? Mind you, I started typing this without really having thought of them yet. I want to avoid a laundry list (I’m thankful for Toney Douglas, and Gallo, and Lee, and Nate…). I also want to avoid being Pollyanna about this God awful, frustrating team. So, without further procrastination, here we go. Here’s what I’m thankful for about the 2009-2010 Knicks.
1. The Journey — At my most optimistic I think of the current Knicks as the 2nd act of a three act drama. We are hopefully nearing the end of Act II, with Act III scheduled to start this summer. What we don’t know yet is whether the third act will turn out to be an American action flick, where the hero finally slays the monster, or a European drama where everyone just suffers until they run out of film. Although I don’t know how this is going to turn out, it’s going to be interesting to see what the summer brings–and that’s worthy of some gratitude. But being grateful for the journey is hard. I have to work at this when I see Wilson Chandler taking jumper after jumper, when I think about having no first round pick, and when I see Chris Duhon seemingly unable to play his way off the floor.
2. Passing — The Knicks have stretches where they really move themselves and move the ball very well. During those all-too-brief moments they can be a real joy to watch.
3. Mike D’Antoni — I have never been the biggest D’Antoni fan. I felt like he cried the “they don’t love me blues” a bit too hard on his way out of Phoenix. He’s also done some things so far this season that have left me scratching my head; for starters an almost slavish devotion the Chris friggin’ Duhon. But, I’m being grateful here so let me change my tone. Even D’Antoni’s worst detractors would acknowledge that the guy wins with decent talent, and he isn’t afraid to be unorthodox. If Walsh puts some players on this team next season D’Antoni will get 50+ wins out of them, almost guaranteed. (I still wish he’d hire a “defensive coordinator” though.)
4. Fiscal Responsibility — Ditto Donnie Walsh. I’ve never been the biggest fan. I’m not completely sold on his eye for young talent, and long-term that’s what keeps you from tanking. Nevertheless, Walsh was hired to cut up the credit cards and lock up the checkbook in order to give the franchise a shot to change its fate this summer. Well, that’s what he’s done. LeBron may or may not be on his way to make it all better, but either way the Knicks are almost out of salary cap hell. And that has taken some discipline that we haven’t seen from the front office for a long, long time.
5. Likability — These Knicks are fairly easy to cheer for even though they’re not very talented. If you have the misfortune of loving a team that isn’t very talented you at least want likable players. When Nate Robinson, who is just childish but hardly a bad guy, is the team’s biggest “character” problem things could be a whole lot worse.