Thursday, December 28, 2006

The Kardiak Knicks

First I apologize guys, I have been away some time. I haven't had much time these days to write. I had been thinking about writing a few times but never got around to it. But after another amazing game by the Knicks, I couldn't hold back any longer. Its probably too soon to get into what this triple overtime win over the East leading Pistons could mean for the Knicks, but it's an hour later while I write this and I still can't believe the Knicks pulled this win out. I know there are alot of Knick haters and Isiah haters out there and they don't want to hear me gush about how good the Knicks have looked lately. Whether you are a hater or just a pessimistic Knick fan, everyone should agree that this team is at least exciting to watch. Just that alone should give Knick fans hope as we haven't had a team to get behind really since they made that magical run in the playoffs in 1999. There are so many good things to like about this victory that I'm not sure where to begin.

In my 20 years as a Knick fan, I honestly can't remember feeling this way about a Knick team. Sure the teams of the 90's were great and will always be the teams that I became a die hard Knick fan with. But with those teams, after Pat Riley arrived, there was a certain expectation of the team for many years. While there was some great moments during that time, because they never won the championship, fans came away stilll a little disappointed. Knick fans have gone through a tough period these last 5 years as the team has slowly and painfully become the laughing stock of the league. There was momentary excitement when Isiah came aboard and traded for Stephon Marbury right away. That team rebounded after the trade to make the playoffs but never really stood a chance against a superior New Jersey team. Since that time, most fans and the media especially have aimed their frustration at IsiahThomas and 11 days ago that frustration boiled over.

With the Knicks reaching rock bottom with the brawl with the Nuggets, the NY media and other journalists bashed the Knicks and Isiah for becoming such a disgrace. It likely reached its pinnacle with the front page image on the Post of Isiah and his "donkey ears", in reference to George Karl's comments the day after the brawl in which he called Isiah among other things, a "jackass". Did Isiah resign or complain about the treatment he was receiving? Did the team fold or start pointing fingers? No, they did not. Instead they have taken Knick fans on a wild ride for a week and a half that has seen them beat 3 of the top teams in the league going 4-1 in 5 games. 3 of those 5 games went into overtime with the Knicks seemingly out of everyone of them, only to persevere and find the will and a way to win the game. The fact that this team has found a way to win these games should speak volumes about what kind of coach Isiah is for this team. Would they have won these type of games last year. Absolutely not. Isiah has molded this team into A TEAM. You can see it in these last few games. You can see it on the court, in the huddle, on the bench. Many times while watching the games, I have noticed little things about the players and their body language that suggests to me that this group is becoming a tight nit team. During timeouts, players are talking strategy to each other, players have their arms draped around each other often times around Isiah too. You see players laughing and cheering their fellow teammates on the floor.

Every time the media tries to divide the team with negative stories, the team seems to ignore it all and battle on. Just yesterday, a couple of articles spun Francis's absence from practice as a disinterested player trying to get out of practicing and trying to poison the team . That seems like a a reasonable assessment given Francis' past but if you watched the game Wednesday night, you saw a hobbled Francis giving it his all and cheering on his teammates while on the bench. Maybe Francis is more mature now or maybe Isiah has gotten Francis, along with everyone else, to buy into the team concept or maybe the public bashing Isiah has received lately has made this group of players really go with a "us against the world" mentality. Whatever it may be, it is clear to me that Isiah has already done more with this group of players then Larry Brown done all of last season. Stephon Marbury is playing great basketball now AND fitting in to the schemes that Isiah has put into place. Eddy Curry has become a lethal low post presence and the central focus of the Knicks offense. David Lee is an automatic double double every night. Channing Frye has gotten his stroke back and is becoming a valuable 3rd or 4th go to guy. Jamal Crawford has become equally important with his instant offense and knack to hit the big shot at the end of the game. The other players are all finding their places and meshing with the others to make a very nice rotation of solid players. I admit, optimism is high right now after this great win, but the Knicks these last 11 days have been showing New York City and the league that they are not as bad as many thought and may finally be on the right path.