The Knicks were a flat out disaster on the court last season.
New York fans are not renown for their patience so rebuilding there would always lead to cries of pain, but the Knicks being terrible on the court was to be expected last season. The real question in Phil Jackson’s first season was not wins and losses but rather something more intangible:
Could he change the culture of the organization and start to lay a foundation for future success?
Jackson thinks he did, as he told Charlie Rosen for ESPN.
“I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with the Knicks since I left here. Love, because playing here was such a joy. Hate, because the Bulls always had to get past the Knicks in some very contentious series to advance in the playoffs. But I had to break up the team for us to move forward in the right direction. That means getting talented players that fit with each other on and off the court. Also getting players who understand that while playing basketball is fun, this is also a business. So we need guys who will ice after practice, watch what they eat, avoid having those three extra beers when they party, and get the rest they need. I think we succeeded in getting this particular cultural change.”
Guys such as Andrea Bargnani certainly did not get how to be professional, and they are gone. In their place come solid pros such as Robin Lopez and Arron Afflalo. Those players should lead the way and set the example for Kristaps Porzingis, Jerian Grant, and Langston Galloway.
Throw in a healthy Carmelo Anthony and the Knicks should be improved on the court and better off it. Is that enough to make the playoffs in the East? If everything comes together they may be in the mix for a spot.
Is that enough to make the New York media and some fans happy? Certainly not.
But I’ve said this before: If Phil Jackson can keep owner James Dolan out of the decision-making process and guide/let the basketball people just do their thing, he’s worth $12 million a year. It still will take years to build the Knicks back up (and we can debate if Jackson is capable of that, I think the jury is still out) but if he can keep the Knicks on one path rather than the constantly changing it will let them build a foundation.
Some countries, like the United States, don’t really care about the World Cup. The 2019 FIBA World Cup in China was perhaps evidence of that, with Team USA not even bothering to medal.
For countries like France and players like Rudy Gobert, the World Cup is a chance to show that their nation is one that is coming forth as a place to be reckoned with when it comes to basketball development.
France recently took home third place in the 2019 Cup, and for that the Utah Jazz center was grateful. Speaking to reporters after their win over Australia, Gobert said that grabbing the bronze “means everything” to him and to France.
That’s some pretty moving stuff from a guy in Gobert who we know is someone who wears his emotions on his sleeve.
Everyone has an opinion about who is the greatest player of all time between Michael Jordan and LeBron James. Most folks still seem to pick Jordan, although it’s been hard to argue with the type of player that James is in a vacuum outside of measurements like championship rings.
In any case, we now have one more person who has tossed their opinion into the ring of public consciousness. Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders has now said that he believes that LeBron is the GOAT thanks to his public service.
“I think LeBron has been willing to do what a lot of athletes are not and get involved in the political process, put money into education, and I respect that.”
James has certainly done a lot politically, socially, and as an activist. He’s supported things like entire schools, and he’s been on the bleeding edge of NBA activism against things like police brutality.
Jordan has also done his part, including a recent pledge for $1 million in funds to aid Bahamanian hurricane relief. Folks like to bag on MJ for his purported “Republicans buy sneakers, too” comment, but it’s unclear whether he actually ever said or felt that.
In either case, it appears that we know who Sanders thinks is the GOAT. Next someone should ask Elizabeth Warren if she would have taken Kobe or Shaq in 2004.
As any good golfer can tell you, the key to getting a pure ball flight is figuring out the idea of compression. Instead of scooping the ball off the ground, the idea is to hit the ball first and use the ground to compress the dimpled object between the earth and the clubface.
And while New Orleans Pelicans rookie Zion Williamson probably isn’t concentrating on his golf game heading into his first NBA season, it looks like the idea of compression isn’t lost on him.
As the Pelicans held a golf event this week, Williamson was filmed snapping the head off of an iron while taking a shot off the tee box.
It’s hard to tell from this angle, but it looks like Williamson has a pretty solid swing. I’m extremely jealous of the amount of lag he has at the return parallel position on the downswing.
Someone get this guy a stiffer shaft or something. I can only imagine the kind of havoc Williamson is going to inflict on NBA rims this year if this is how the man golfs.
There has been some doubt that James Harden and Russell Westbrook will be able to fit together with the Houston Rockets this season. Both players have matured quite a bit since their time together in Oklahoma City with the Thunder, and now there are real questions about Westbrook’s ability to fit next to just about anyone.
Like Westbrook, Harden is a ball-dominant guard, and we still don’t know the long-term plan for Coach Mike D’Antoni. Houston has real championship hopes, but they could also look much different in a year or two.
Still, Harden and Westbrook have known each other since they were 10 years old. They grew up together in Los Angeles, and are at least very good friends. To that end, Harden says that he believes they will be able to figure it out even if the first year together has bumps along the way.
It’s like, yo, we’ll figure it out. Everything isn’t necessarily going to be smooth at first, there are going to be ups and downs, and that’s part of an 82-game season. Hopefully by the end of the season, we’ve caught a rhythm and everybody is on the same page going into the playoffs. That’s all you can ask for.
That’s a pretty reasonable outlook to have at this juncture. The NBA is constantly changing, and it’s possible that these two guys could have such a personal connection that their on-court conflicts end up being negligible.
It’s another new era in Houston as they try to capitalize on the Golden State Warriors’ injury issues.