148 days and $25 million dollars ago fans of the New York Knicks was unsure of what the future held for their promising franchise. The anxiety felt by the Madison Garden faithful was understandable due to the many questionable off-season moves the Knicks front office had made in the past. With those memories still fresh in the minds of many, the Knicks front office decision to part ways with Jeremy Lin a break star who had become a global icon and over-night sensation. But eighteen games into this season the decision to pass on Lin-sanity looks like a brilliant move that has not only saved the franchise millions but also gave them the flexibility to sign point guard Raymond Felton and Jason Kidd at bargain prices and also retain their two 3-pt marksmen, JR Smith and Steve ‘discount-double-check’ Novak.
After two convincing wins over the defending NBA Champion Miami Heat the Knicks are entering the unchartered territory of expectation. Projected to finish no better than fifth in the Eastern Conference the New York Knicks currently sit in first place. What makes the Knicks ascension so impressive is that the Knicks have yet to play a game with their full arsenal of players ( Shumpert out with knee & Stoudamire out with knee). Coach Mike Woodson has done a remarkable job of instilling a tough defensive mentality in players who used to be only concerned with scoring. Although Carmelo my never contend for defensive MVP the effort that he has begun to exert on the defense has set a tone of unselfishness and sacrifice required of a star if he wants to contend for a NBA title.
Once only known for scoring it appears that Carmelo has finally came into his own as the leader of this franchise. His growth as player may largely be attributed to future Hall-of-Fame point guard Jason Kidd who became a Knick this off-season. With Melo out due to a laceration on his shooting hand Coach Woodson continues to build depth and solidify a solid second unit that will become an asset during the playoffs.
At this point it appears that the entire Knicks franchise has bought into the Woodson philosophy but everyone will hold their breath to see if Amare Stoudamire and Imam Shumpert follow suit. As the season progresses the expectations for the New York Knicks will continue to mount. It has been nearly four years since Madison Garden was home to an NBA Champion. They have the star in Carmelo, the defensive stalwart in Tyson, the bench and defensive minded coach to contend for a title. As the season continues NY loyalist will prepare to be disappointed but hope to be proven wrong. Stay tuned… I know I will. – A. Denmark