Knicks owner James Dolan entered the 2013-14 season expecting a championship.
New York had just gone 54-28 and won a playoff series, its best season in more than a decade. The Knicks also just traded a first-round pick for Andrea Bargnani.
Predictably, the season went poorly. New York finished 37-45 and missed the playoffs (starting a six-year-running postseason drought).
Among the many problems that season: The Knicks hired a consulting firm, McKinsey & Company. Dave Hopla, an assistant coach on that team, detailed why “we got so fed up with them.”
Hopla said the consulting agency advised coaches to stop watching film with players at one point during the year.
“The players were like, ‘Why aren’t we watching film?’ (We said), ‘the McKinsey group told us,’ ” Hopla recalled.
Hopla said the consultants also told members of the coaching staff to fill out paperwork documenting how players performed in all workouts, a process Hopla felt was time-consuming (a second source confirms that coaches were asked to fill out the paperwork).
“I told them if we took all that time writing reports and we actually worked the players out, we would have made the playoffs,” Hopla said.
Members of the consulting firm attended practices and games at home and on the road, which, according to Hopla, led to concerns from the players.
“The players started asking who they were,” Hopla said. “…. They were worried about maybe they were writing reports about them. They were paranoid.”
That sounds so miserable.
Bureaucrats disrupting trusted processes. Extra paperwork. Suspicious onlookers.
No wonder the Knicks’ organizational culture looked so poor.
At least Dolan fixed that error and moved the franchise in a great new direction at the end of that season. Or not.