Not too long ago the New York Knicks were hailed as the team to dethrone the Miami Heat and contend for a NBA title. Jason Kidd had discovered the fountain of youth, Steve ‘discount-double check‘ Novak couldn’t miss a three pointer , Carmelo Antony was actually playing defense, and Coach Mike Woodson was considered a front-runner for NBA Coach of the Year. Many presumed that the return of Amare Stoudamire and Imam Shumpert from injuries would add depth and the needed scoring punch to continue their impressive play.
But my oh my how things have changed, the Knicks limped into the All-Star break with little resemblance of the team that had blown out the defending NBA Champion Heat by 20 points in their two regular season match-ups. Kidd had to assume more minutes due to the Raymond Felton missing 6 weeks because of an injured finger and he now looks every bit of 37 years old on the court: slow and exhausted. Anthony has resorted to playing 1-on-5 Melo ball and despite his impressive scoring performances the Knicks record has suffered as a consequence.
Although the injuries of Felton and Rasheed Wallace is an understandable reason for the Knicks decline in play the selfishness of Anthony and JR Smith is inexcusable. These two former Denver Nuggets continually to launch up prayers failing to play within the offense frequently settling for 1-on-5 ball and not involving their teammates.
Teams who contend for titles buy into the team concept if they truly wish to hoist the Larry O’Brien Trophy and be considered a NBA Championship. If you doubt this check the San Antonio Spurs and the Chicago Bulls NBA Championship banner count, these franchises won multiple championships due to their stars embracing the team concept. Until Anthony and Smith resist their urge shoot and make a highlight-reel shot or dunk the Knicks as a team will continue to suffer.
The Knicks have nearly 30 games to rediscover the magic that warranted the talk of them contending for a NBA Title. Felton has returned from injury and Woodson has wisely slashed Kidd’s minute to prepare for a playoff run. Many wondered whether Stoudamire would embrace his new role? And to the surprise of many he has thrived in his new role. However the fate of the Knicks now rest in the hands of Smith and Anthony, will they embrace their roles and buy into the team concept? Or will they return to their selfish me-first ways that led to early playoff exits in Denver? Have the scorers finally learned their lessons, will they shoot or will they pass? Stay tuned. I know I will – A. Denmark