As you all know, the New York Knicks recently were a part of a blockbuster trade that sent perennial all-star Carmelo Anthony and former NBA Finals MVP Chauncey Billups to New York. The trade, the biggest in the history of the NBA, was of immense magnitude and with one fell swoop managed to bring the storied Knickerbockers franchise back into mainstream media consciousness.
Like any other sport, the key to success is to be a well-rounded player or team. If a team merely focuses on one aspect of the game and is delinquent in its responsibilities of another aspect, the team will not flourish. Such is unfortunately the case with the Knicks at this current juncture of the 2010-2011 NBA season. Right now the Knicks mirror the traffic flow of the city, featuring one-way streets heading towards their opponent’s basket. Unfortunately, their success rests upon becoming two-way players and becoming a defensive-minded team as well.
However, the benefit of the trade, at least in these early stages, can only be seen on the offensive of the ball. Plainly stated, the now suddenly star-studded core of the New York Knicks are not two-way players. As a lifelong fan of the game and of the New York Knicks, it is hard for me to grow accustomed to this reckless and purely offensive style of basketball. Growing up both playing the game and watching my beloved Knicks, I grew to appreciate the hard-nosed, gritty basketball that emanated from the mecca of the game, Madison Square Garden.
Unfortunately, the current version of the team lacks any semblance of defensive fundamentals, lessons I was taught as a young kid. Some of the most basic tenets of defensive basketball, such as not allowing an opposing team member to get behind you, have been completely forgotten by D’Antoni’s’ Knicks. When these basic breakdowns occur, it allows for the opposing team to be guaranteed an easy two points via lay-up or dunk. Yes, that’s right; a professional basketball team with immense talent such as the Knicks is allowing these easy points. Last Friday Night, I was on hand at the Garden to watch the Knicks take on the putrid Cavaliers. Time after time I saw Cavaliers get behind Amare for easy layups. As the anointed leader of this new version of the Knicks, it is imperative that Amare not give up such easy points. I appreciate Amare’s emotion and believe he truly wants to return the Knicks to glory, I just wish he would both recognize and preach the need to defend, not simply to score.
We New York fans, for generations, have been of the belief that an opponent should be forced to earn every inch when playing against any of our sports teams. Therefore, it is time for the Knicks roster, particularly there most recent acquisitions to focus on becoming more well-rounded players and play defense in a manner consistent with former greats of the franchise, from Patrick Ewing to Dave DeBusschere.
The only way this team will thrive is if our new “Big 3” are able to ignite the passions of the rest of the roster to spread like a wild forest fire. While New York City may be a concrete jungle, Amare, Chauncey and Carmelo need to realize unlike every other sports franchise in the metropolitan area, there is only one basketball team: the New York Knicks. Their success, more than any can truly ignite the flames of the entire region. Hopefully when the fire is put out, they will rebuild the city with two way streets, the same way basketball players are supposed to play: on both sides of the court!