The Secret: Why the Knicks Ownership and the Media Just Don't Get It
Since I graduated from Law School, took and passed the Bar, I now have commutes free and clear to actually read for pleasure (as opposed to reading for school) and I finally have gotten around the starting The Book of Basketball by Bill Simmons.
I am only 150 pages or so in but the first chapter gave me flashes and revelations about the Knicks.
The story starts with Simmons at a pool with a few friends in Vegas, when Gus Johnson saw the Sports Guy and asked to introduce him to none other than our good friend Isiah Thomas. Simmons had spent thousands of words eviscerating Isiah Thomas, and Simmons was understandably nervous to meet Isiah, who actually threatened Simmons in the media.
But one thing stood out about Isiah, his mention of "The Secret" when he was a player in the 1989 Finals. Isiah Thomas said to the media, on the secret to winning basketball: "It's not about physical skills. Goes far beyond that...The art of winning is complicated by statistics, which for us becomes money. Well you gotta find away around that...We got 12 guys who are totally committed to winning basketball...Lots of times, on our team, you can't tell who the best player in the game was. Because everyone did something good. That's what makes us good. The other team has to worry about stopping eight or nine people instead of two or three. It's the only way to win...That's the way the game was invented."
Notice, however, that Isiah never says what the secret is. In that long quote (and it's much longer in the book) - it's never clear what the secret is. So Simmons asked Isiah what the secret is.
Isiah smirks and responds: The secret of basketball is that it's not about basketball.
Read that again. The secret of basketball is that it's not about basketball.
Isiah went on to explain that Dennis Rodman needed more minutes, only Adrian Dantley refused to give it to him. When his minutes were threatened, Dantley got in a tiff. Dantley was traded midseason for Mark Aguirre, and the minutes were split in a much better and efficient manner. And the Pistons won the title in 1989.
Further, Simmons recalled a time when Isiah watched 1988 NBA Finals on an old NBA Show on ESPN where Dan Patrick would interview key players. As the minutes ticked down and a hobbled Isiah tried to will his team to victory on one leg to no avail, the show went back live to Isiah and Patrick...and Isiah was crying. He had never seen the video, never watched his team. And 11 years later it brought tears to his eyes.
And this is where I started thinking.
I met Charles Smith not long ago - I told him he got fouled in 1993. It was one of my first memories as a Knicks fan, as a 6 year old crying because the Knicks lost to the Bulls. Smith looked up at me with a half-forced smile and said "I know. I'm sorry." I'm sorry.
Would Carmelo ever cry after watching a close loss so close to glory? Would Amare apologize to a fan 16 years after a pivotal play didn't go his way, through no fault of his own?
This game isn't about basketball - sure talent often wins out - but it's about having guys committed to playing. And that's where the Carmelo trade and the constant turnover hurts. And that's why these ridiculous trades that are bantered about on this board make me want to lose my lunch as a fan.
Being a team, being committed to one another, that's what this game is about. Not about jersey sales. Not about "star power". Not about expecting teams with insane turnover to gel immediately.
Having 12 guys committed to the game, but more importanly committed and caring about EACH OTHER, is most important. I've seen trades looking for turnover AGAIN. To me, this just starts the process over again - and to me this makes us fans look like we are more out of touch with what is winning basketball.
What we need might be a coaching change, but what we need more is for the roster to stay closer to the same than to different. If we have 12 guys on the roster, as opposed to having 1 team, we are doomed as a team no matter who is the coach. And if we have turnover again, we are doomed to repeat and look back on these days with a lack of fondness similar to the way we look at the Curry-Marbury years.
It's not about basketball. It's about everyone buying in and wanting to win not for themselves or their brand. But for each other. Trading guys all over again makes this impossible.
Look at a team like Denver - no "star" so to speak but a solid 12-man team that grinds you out. They have 12 guys committed to playing winning basketball, 12 guys that love to play the game, love to practice, love to work hard. On paper, the Nuggets are nowhere near as talented as many teams out west. But the game isn't played on paper. It isn't played with names. It isn't a fantasy league.
It's a team game. And the only way to win is as a team. It's not about basketball, it's about the guys. It's about getting them to care so much that 11 years later footage of a loss brings tears to their eyes. It's about getting them to care so much that 15 years later they still feel regret for a 15-second span in a game.
Dolan's constant meddling, constant desire to blow up the team over the head of Donnie Walsh who actually built a squad that was competitive and gelling, and what is likely to be a disaster of a trade.
But "fixing" that trade by blowing this team up again really fixes nothing. It only leaves us further in a quagmire. It leaves us where Isiah as a GM differed so markedly from Isiah as a player (which, as pointed out, is not uncommon - guys who get the secret as a player do not often get the secret as a GM).
It's not about basketball.
Very nice post, KBLACK25 and congratulations to a fellow member of the Bar.
I am a steadfast Knicks fan who is currently jealous of the Denver fans. Our play is dismal and other than Shumpert and perhaps Fields and Harrelson -- and excluding Baron -- there is not a lot of upside beyond our expensive front line. I am afraid that we have positioned ourselves back into cap hell without even close to a truly title contendng team.
Perhaps we can turn things around. I see a loss in Houston tonight but then, hopefully, a new start against Detroit on Tuesday with Baron, a humbled but healthy Carmelo and the Amare of last year.
Nice thread! And a refreshing one....
Simmons' always extolled the Celtics' excellence -- championship excellence -- as being propelled by their "ubunto" (spelling), or team unity and collective trust and heart.
This is also what leads to profound defensive team efforts.
Book of Basketball is epic; I started it on a whim, and read every free moment I had till it was finished.
And even at 1000+ pages, I'd love to re-read it all over.
- Rep Power
Wow, you should post this in every stupid trade thread on this forum.Iv'e kinda been saying this all along, no more trades, give them some time to gel, and learn to care for one another.I still hate this coach though, post of the day.
True that. Stat the 10th best NBA player, Melo the 7th best player, Chandler a top 10 Center is not supposed to equal the big fat 0 they've been this season.
Question is, like in that movie "Moneyball" could you have predicted this team would be this bad and dysfunctional.
But there's a surprisingly lack of Chuck Daly references.
A winning team does need that camaraderie, passion, commitment, and group focus on that one goal.
But if anyone else in here was fortunate enough to play for "that" coach, the one that you would have run thru a wall for, you had coach's back and you knew he had yours, everything he told you was for your benefit, he never bull****ted you, he was strict but loyal at the same time, he spoke -- you shut the hell up and listened. When that man has the players who are teammates above all else, it's dangerous.
So my question is, do the Knicks have that man?
I'm not sure about the roster. I get the feeling Melo cares, when the team is under performing, you can see it on his face on the court, in his body language, and in the frustration in his voice after the games; same with Chandler. STAT recites the same PC lines, but when he's on the court he looks aloof, until he makes a nice dunk, pounds his chest, pops out his mouth piece, and gets down the court. I don't recall STAT looking aloof last year, even during the struggles.
How often do we hear, in football, about coaches "reaching and relating" to their players? Is it so different in basketball? Look at the 49ers who've had minimal roster turnover the last 3 years, had various head coaches....18 wins; one move at the top, the players have a voice to listen to, a voice they trust, a voice who they're confident in....13 wins, a first round by, and a trip to the NFC Championship game....virtually the same roster as last year, save for a few complimentary moves.
I have no doubt that we have players who want to and can be coached. Players on a team do not have to like each other, it doesn't have to be a family, everyone has to respect that one person and listen to his word. His word is all that matters, his respect is all that matters, if you have to play for anyone...play for him. If he's as good a strategist as he is a leader, he'll lead you to some victories.
The organization has the pieces, do they have that man to assemble them in the proper fashion?
Last edited by nuckles2k2; Jan 28, 2012 at 15:06.
Great post bro. I'm sick of seeing all these trade threads already...it's ridiculous. I do feel we need a coaching change, but I know many of us feel this way. Here's to keeping our core in tact and giving them some time to win together.
- Rep Power
Very good article, the best I've read on this board in quite a while - kudos to you KBlack!
The message comes across and I agree with it.
That's also why I have been so critical of STAT's 'off-court duties', because winning championships and beeing a true superstar 'top 10 player' or whatever is not only about basketball, in fact Kobe's succes is only partially explained by his talent, talent is nothing without sacrifice, dedication, ultimate commitment, focus, the strength to go through pain without quitting and even obsession with what you do.
There are too many very talented and good basketball players in the league, you can't just win by beeing talented or good, you have to make sacrifices and only care about winning, you need to want it so bad that you don't care about no party, no rap video, no dinner, no date, no Maybach, no mansion and no commercial - all you want is winning and all you care about are those 15 men on the roster. You might not like everyone of them, but you will step up for each and everyone of them and make them better and they will go out on the court and fight for you and make you better.
That's winning. I wish we had Al Pacino as head coach, his speech in Any Given Sunday still gives me chills every time I watch it, despite beeing from '99
Or the Knicks should just hire me, I'm good at emotional speeches
D'Antoni and the others can discuss tactics, I do the pep talk.
Exellent Post....5 Star post
It takes me back to the reason why "Pat Riley" quit on the conference FINALS Knicks.
Coach Pat Riley built a contender team around "Ewing & Oakley", he even picked up two great players from the CBA-League (D.League) in Anthony Mason & John Starks.
All Coach Pat Riley to do was call all the shots on who get traded and who dont get traded....he wanted to build committed-players.
Owner Dolan being a multi-bussiness owner has always luv to make one or two transaction using his million dollar contract players on the Knicks or Rangers. Over the years alot of Knicks and Rangers transaction had owner Dolan written all on it. Players coming and going so much upset coach JVG into quitting the Knicks.
One of the most well thought out and written posts on here contender for Post of the Year! Kudos KBlack.
This post shows why the Melo deal will haunt us...