And so it begins…

I see the New York Post’s Marc Berman has won the race to the bottom with his latest article, “No more ‘later’ for Knicks.” Upon my first read through Mr. Berman’s hyperbolic riff, my blood pressure rose and I was confounded. It was a mere two days ago when I pleaded with Knicks nation to relax, and already a beat writer from the team is sounding the proverbial alarm. But what else should we expect from a publication like the Post? After all, the mainstream media makes its money by riling up the masses over nebulous “controversies.” So with a tip of my cap to the late, great blog, FJM, let’s take a look at what Mr. Berman has to say, shall we?

Amid the pasta and prosciutto in Milan and the crepes and croissants in Paris, the media was also fed too many excuses. With 10 new faces, it’s going to take some time. If only I had one Euro for every time someone in the organization had that excuse on the trip . . .

Now I’ve never covered a basketball team nor have I ever attended a news conference, but I have seen a few on television. From what I gather, a group of journalists stand in front of various members of a basketball team and ask questions, presumably to gain some insight as to what just happened in the previous 48 minutes. The reporters ask questions and the coach and players give answers. Then, when a reporter sits down to write his story, and it is a story in every sense of the word, he or she must decide whether to characterize the answers as “reasons” or “excuses.” Here, Mr. Berman has decided to characterize the organizations answers to his questions as “excuses.” After the whopping sample size of TWO (meaningless) preseason games that I doubt Coach D’Antoni is trying to win or cares about winning, Mr. Berman has come to the conclusion that the explanation that the team is still learning how to play together is an “excuse” rather than a valid explanation. As I’m sure you’ve gathered, I wholeheartedly disagree.

This isn’t Major League Baseball, folks. You can’t simply throw nine individuals out on a field and expect a team to hit the ground running. Players need to get a feel for one another. You need to know how your teammate likes to receive an entry pace. You need to work on spacing and communication on the defensive end. You need to learn the plays and be able to anticipate and trust where your teammate will be. Stuff like this takes time. Look at a team like the Thunder. They didn’t come out of the gates on fire last year, but they played great in the 2nd half and nearly took down the eventual champs in the first round. Therefore, “[w]ith 10 new faces, it’s going to take some time” isn’t merely an “excuse;” it’s a legitimate explanation for the Knicks’ performance in the first two preseason games. One more time, with feeling, since I cannot stress this enough: PRE-SEASON GAMES. As in, they don’t count.

Moving on…

The Knicks missed David Lee’s rebounding vs. Minnesota. Remember him? It’s difficult because the Knicks coaching staff never brings up his name — as if he never existed.

Other than the fact that the Knicks struggled on the boards, which is not exactly breaking news – most Knicks fans expected the team to struggle on the boards, I’m not sure what Mr. Berman is getting at here. I urge Mr. Berman to shoot me tweet so he can explain to me why on earth the Knicks coaching staff would talk about a player who is no longer on the roster. Sure doesn’t seem like a prudent thing to do when the organization is attempting to build camaraderie, rather than a roster of expiring contracts.

To date, the Knicks may not have a legitimate starter out of the Lee sign-and-trade.

This is true, but there are a few significant reasons why this is the case. As Berman notes, Ronny Turiaf is not starter quality. Again, no surprises here. This is something that was evident when the trade was made. Berman also notes that Kelenna Azubuike is recovering from surgery and “may never be the same.” We were also aware of Azubuike’s surgery and yes, he may never be the same. He may also be perfectly fine. Only time can answer this riddle. Finally, we have young Anthony Randolph, rescued from the chaos that was Don Nelson’s tenure with the Warriors. While I concur with Berman’s opinion on Randolph’s shooting prowess (although this problem is largely attributed to shot selection) there are two reasons why Randolph is not starting. Their names are burgeoning All Star, Danilo Gallinari and 5 time All Star, Amar’e Stoudemire. While I can’t speak for Mr. Berman, I’m confident in saying those are two pretty good reasons why Randolph isn’t starting.

Knicks fans, still hoping for a long shot Carmelo Anthony trade,

This is somewhat true. Yes, many Knicks fans hope for a Carmelo Anthony trade. However, there are also many who know the world will not end if the Knicks don’t acquire Melo because they believe Donnie Walsh has the franchise headed in the right direction.

have become the most patient lot in sports. After the two-year purge for cap space, after nine straight losing seasons, the patience will wear thin if this becomes another season of excuses.

This all depends on what you consider an “excuse.” Look, I’m on record believing the team will make the playoffs. A lot of people I respect think this team will make the playoffs. This means we all believe in the talent on this roster. Additionally, we believe that the process that went into constructing this team was sound. After dealing with Scott Layden and Isaiah Thomas, two men whose processes were difficult to discern, having a GM follow a logical and sound process when constructing a team is a plus in my book. Donnie Walsh has assembled some impressive young talent with enough cap room to “make a big splash,” as the NY tabloids like to say. That’s pretty damn impressive, considering where this team was when Walsh took over.

I came back from Europe talking about all the good food, good wine and good women of Milan and Paris. I wish I could be talking about the good Knicks basketball.

Well, Mr. Berman, as the Rolling Stones once sang: you can’t always get what you want. But if you take my word for it, I’m pretty confident the Knicks will grant that wish of yours by seasons end.

POSTSCRIPT

If you’ve been following this blog I hope you’ve noticed that I like to keep it positive around these parts. I take no enjoyment in writing blog posts like the one you’ve just read, however, I believe it must be done. I’m sure Marc Berman is a lovely writer and a good journalist. It’s really not his fault that he has to give his editors what they ask for. I’m just sick and tired of irresponsible journalism, both in sports and other fields, whose sole aim is to create controversy where there is none. And I firmly believe that it is irresponsible to pen such an article after the absurdly small sample size of two preseason games. It is nearly impossible to come to any reasonable conclusions after two games of any sort, never mind two meaningless ones. Finally, I take issue with Mr. Berman tapping into the “same old Knicks” meme. As mentioned above, these are not the “same old Knicks.” This should be apparent to anyone who is casually following the organization. It is perplexing why the media insists on perpetuating this notion that the Knicks are incompetent and doomed to fail when Donnie Walsh has done a good job of cleaning house, acquiring talent, and creating cap flexibility going forward. Such accomplishments should be celebrated and the dawn of a new era should be recognized.

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One Response to And so it begins…

  1. Pingback: Berman Defends Himself, Still Lacks Bite For His Bark « The World's Most Famous Blog

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