The Knicks play their home games at the “Mecca of Basketball” in the heart of Manhattan, Madison Square Garden. It’s one of the NBA’s great arenas.
However, the Knicks practice facility is 30 miles to the north, in Westchester County.
That’s a real problem for the Knicks, according to NBA veteran — and former Brooklyn Net — Jared Dudley. In an honest and wide-ranging Q&A with Bill Oram of The Athletic, Dudley says the Westchester practice facility was a factor in the decisions of Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving last summer. Dudley also says it’s the first thing he’d change about the Knicks.
The first thing I would be doing? I’d be getting rid of that practice facility in Westchester. Nobody wants to live there, no one wants to commute there. You have to get as close to the city as possible. That’s why Brooklyn got Kevin Durant. I told DeAndre Jordan who told Kevin Durant: The practice facility is two minutes from (Barclays Center). They didn’t even know that. I lived in the city. It took me 12 minutes to get to the practice facility. That’s a huge bonus. People bash the Knicks, but I definitely wouldn’t bash the Knicks.
Dudley is far from the first player to say this about the Knicks’ facility, both on and off the record. It is a legitimate issue. It’s not the only reason a player like Durant or Irving make a decision, but it’s a factor.
There has been a practice facilities arms race around the league, using the perks of a new building as one tool to help entice free agents. Those facilities are located close to the arena where the games are played, or close to where the players on the team tend to live. Westchester is neither of those.
It’s just one of many issues for the Knicks, but it is clearly one that bothers players.