(With the Knicks up by five in San Antonio with mere minutes remaining on the clock, I texted MAMBINO’s two resident Knicks
masochists fanatics, asking if they could handle what was happening to their beloved ‘Bockers. I got a number of responses, but mostly in the vein of “AAAHHHHHHHH”. Very verbose.
The New York Knicks have the best record in the league, standing at a very respectable 6-0 record, with quality wins against Miami, Dallas and at San Antonio. Gotham is, to the surprise of no one, reacting with hyperbolic headlines and unbridled excitement at the extraordinary start that Carmelo, Kidd and company have raced out to. As a mere Knicks sympathizer, I had many questions for two rabid fans, who, by their own admittance, have their emotions on the team vacillate on a minute-by-minute basis. This is the e-mail string that followed.)
KOBEsh: El Miz–BockerKnocker, brace yourselves. YOUR…New York Knickerbockers are, I daresay, a juggernaut. At 6-0, this is the best start for the franchise since their Ewing-led heyday in the 90s. Let’s start with the most basic question: what’s the number one reason they’re doing this?
El Miz: Mike Woodson. Coach Woody has gotten a group that features Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith to buy into things like holding the opposing team under 25 points per quarter, under 40 points in the second half, and caring about what the other team shot from the field percentage-wise. Carmelo has bought in, and it is pivotal to have the alpha dog buy in–last year, Carmelo wasn’t buying anything that Mike D’Antoni was selling…and that was it for the Gentleman Thief.
The absence of Amare Stoudemire has helped as well — it has allowed Melo to get into a groove at the 4, a position where he excelled last year and won Player of the Month in April, a month where he averaged 30 points and 7 rebounds per game on 50% shooting from the field (including 46% from downtown). It is clear now that Melo is better suited in this post-Seven Seconds or Less NBA to be a stretch 4, and without Stoudemire, there is no controversy in getting the best player in his most optimal position. But this team is not undefeated without the emphasis on defense, and that has started with Woodson.
KOBEsh: I completely agree. I’ve been absolutely taken aback not by NYK’s ability to defend; they’ve always had the requisite athleticism and strength to lock down any team in the league. I’ve been astonished by their willingness and more importantly enthusiasm to do so. It’s been a breath of fresh air considering how apathetic they’ve been under D’Antoni. Lakers fans have gotta feel great right now.
You mentioned Stoudemire in your last response–but I’m not going to delve into the negative. It’s too hard to predict how he’ll affect the team on his return, and I don’t want to sully the positive vibes that you only get to experience once…a decade.
Besides the defense, what’s been the most surprising part of this unreal start?
El Miz: The most surprising thing has definitely been the ball movement. With “ball stoppers” like Carmelo, J.R., and Tyson Chandler, it has been remarkable to see the ball moving so well. The arrival of the ageless Jason Kidd is the primary reason, as he has been drilling into Anthony’s head that moving the ball is harder to defend than one guy just taking it to the hoop. Again, it is one of those things where once
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