No joke, all day I have been thinking about what the topic should be for my first post now that I am finished with the California Bar Exam. After a restful night of sleep I was ready and raring to go… and then I hit a wall. I basically spent most of today in a zombiefied state, sleep-walking through most of the day. And despite being extremely excited to be able to watch a Knicks game tonight, my eyelids felt like they might snap shut at any moment during the game.
So why am I telling you this? To help you understand why the Knicks lost this game tonight. Watching the game, they looked sluggish. Chauncey Billups got into foul trouble early and Toney Douglas wasn’t able to replicate his heroics from a couple of nights ago and J.J. Hickson and Ramon Sessions just took it to them. But honestly, to understand why the Knicks lost, you need to understand what this team, specifically Carmelo Anthony and Billups, have been through this week.
This week was the culmination of a months-long ordeal. Melo, Billups, and the rest of the Knicks were amped on Wednesday night. First game of the rest of the franchise’s life. The World’s Most Famous Arena was rocking. It didn’t matter that Melo and Billups barely slept in order to get cleared for the game. It didn’t matter that D’Antoni was explaining plays to Billups as he was walking the ball up court. It didn’t matter that they were playing the Bucks, a team with a very good center and a quick point guard, which would ordinarily spell disaster for a team that is weak in the middle and now slower at the point. But none of that mattered because the Garden was electric and there was no way Melo was losing his first game in front of the home fans.
Now, cut to tonight. There’s no home crowd to carry you. That adrenaline from being traded and playing in your first game that carried you through the fatigue is gone. What’s left? Pretty much nothing. And that’s how the Knicks played tonight. I know what you’re thinking – I’m making excuses for the Knicks. That I am nothing but a blind homer who will always find the bright side of the Knicks misery. You may think that, but you would be wrong.
Back to the bar exam for a minute. For three days I had to endure two 3 hour sessions of testing (6 hours per day.) It is absolutely grueling and the only way you can make it through those 3 days is with the help of lots of caffeine, energy bars, and water. Forget about sleep; you’re lucky if you get 3 good hours – 5 hours total. You’re basically wired for 72 straight hours. Funny thing is you don’t even crash once your complete that last day. That adrenaline (and caffeine) carries you through the rest of that 3rd day and night. Then, after getting a good night’s sleep, you expect to wake up feeling great on Friday morning. But you don’t. You feel terrible. Why is that?
The same reason why the Knicks played like crap tonight (well, other than the fact that this team has played a grand total of two games together.) And what’s that reason? Because once that adrenaline and emotion wear off, you’re toast. There’s nothing you can do to pull yourself together and power through the day. You don’t have anything left to give. Your reserves are spent and the adrenaline isn’t there anymore. Heck, the only reason why I’m even typing this right now is because I took a nap… and I’m still lethargic.
So I kind of understand how the team feels right now. There was a lot of stress leading up to the trade deadline. Guys didn’t know if they were staying or going. Then, once the moves were made and the deadline passed, there was lots of excitement and lots of adrenaline. But that’s all over now. All that’s left is the grind of the rest of the regular season and learning how to play together. What you saw tonight was the crash after weeks of stress combined with a very short and intense period of excitement and adrenaline. As someone who has recently gone through the stress-adrenaline-crash cycle, I’m confident that I can recognize it when I see it. In short, cut these guys some slack. They’ve been through a lot the past few weeks and it’s only natural that they would have a letdown tonight. That doesn’t make the loss OK, but it helps explain why it happened and it should help prevent you from overreacting to this defeat.
Anyway, you come here for basketball so here it is: this team will eventually be fine. No, “fine” doesn’t mean they will be title contenders. It’s too late in the season to expect these guys to jell into title contenders, but they will be damn fun to watch come playoff time and a dangerous team for the Eastern Conference contenders. But you need to take the long view here. The team’s energy to be more consistent from this point forward. They get a day to rest in the warm weather of Miami and the new players are starting to settle into their new routines. That doesn’t mean there won’t be bumps in the road along the way, because there should be plenty. But cheer up, you’ve got me back to blog about the comings and goings of our beloved Knickerbockers. Oh, and we also have two legitimate superstars and a great floor general.
Things are looking up, my friends.