Welcome to a new feature here on TWMFBlog: I Strenuously Object! For those who don’t get the reference, it’s from A Few Good Men (click the link.) Basically, in this feature I will highlight recent conventional wisdom surrounding the Knicks or buzz/news involving the Knicks and I will strenuously object to the popular characterization. This is basically a ripoff of myself – something I used to do on my sparsely updated blog, Two Guys, a JD and a Blog, called Keith vs. the Meme.
On to the objecting…
Yesterday, Marc Berman of the NY Post penned a column titled: “Amar’e lowers expectations after Knicks preseason.” Here is the money quote from Amar’e:
“Last year wasn’t that good. Anything better than that would be a step in the right direction. But playoffs is something we’re looking forward to and we’re trying to get to that point. We’re not the biggest physical team. Some nights we will be outrebounded, but we have to stay together.”
This was then picked up by The Knicks Blog and Knicks Fanatics. Of course, all of the aforementioned sites view this as a negative development. Apparently none of these guys (nor Amar’e) ever heard of managing expectations or “under promising and over delivering.” From Money Smarts:
In my opinion, the best way to make a commitment to someone, is to honestly appraise (to yourself) what you’re willing to do for them, then pull back a bit to give yourself a “fudge factor” (quote a slightly longer delivery time, slightly higher cost, slightly lower quality, etc). If the project takes longer (or is more expensive), you’ll still be able to fit within your original estimate. If you’re able to complete it on the original estimate, you look like a hero.
Thus, Amar’e made a mistake by making bold proclamations upon arriving in New York. His quote from Berman’s article above is what he should have said from the beginning. Amar’e completely forgot to manage expectations.
Sure, it’s entirely possible that Amar’e has changed his tune because of a lackluster preseason or because he doesn’t believe in his supporting cast as much as he did upon arriving here. These are valid points and Amar’e may actually harbor such opinions. Having played on some really good Suns teams it wouldn’t be surprising if he is less than enthralled with his new teammates. However, that doesn’t mean this team can’t make the playoffs in a weaker (than the West) Eastern Conference. In fact, a lot of people who follow the NBA closely whose opinions I respect think the Knicks have a good shot at making the playoffs.
Personally, I think that Amar’e has been getting coached up by the Knicks PR staff. It was very early in his Knicks tenure when he made his bold playoff proclamations and after a preseason of Coach D’Antoni experimenting with different lineups and resting players with stable positions in the rotation, the local media has become a bit hostile towards the Knicks. My guess is the Knicks PR staff gave Amar’e (and his teammates) a lesson on NYC Media Relations 101 and informed them that it was in their best interests to not place any unnecessary pressure on their shoulders.
In my opinion, the Knicks organization is learning from their mistakes regarding the Summer of 2010 when they bar as high as possible (acquiring LeBron James.) Signing Amar’e Stoudemire was considered a “failure” by many simply because the franchise missed out on King James. The failure to sign James overshadowed the fact that the made over Knicks roster had more talent than the franchise has seen in years and, oh yeah, Knicks fans could now cheer for 5 time NBA All Star, Amar’e freaking Stoudemire. In fact, because the Knicks sold the promise of acquiring a franchise player, a potential Carmelo Anthony trade has dominated talk surrounding the Knicks franchise when the talk should have been about how the team’s current superstar was scoring at will all preseason.
Now do you see the pitfalls of failing to manage expectations? Amar’e is a smart dude and I bet he has quickly learned how to play the NYC media game. That’s why I am not sounding the alarm after reading Amar’e's comments about the prospects of this team. It’s for the best that expectations are being lowered – it should allow the team to find its identity on its own terms. Now that Amar’e has under promised he can get to work, with less pressure, on over delivering.