RTU: #253 – The Window is open…

RTU: #253 – Jets v. Giants, Isles v. Rangers, Sanpete v. English…

We Are the New Look Knicks

Posted by | November 6, 2012

Look out for new-look Knicks

By Joe Tomaschik

November 6, 2012 – If you follow basketball in the New York metro area, you know what the storylines have been leading up to the start of the 2012-13 NBA season.

Brooklyn Nets.  Brand new Barclays Center.  The spare yet visually arresting, simple black-and-white color scheme and team logo.  Part owner and native son Jay-Z hyping his borough’s new franchise, giving them that fresh ‘cool’ factor that’s going to help drum interest and spike jersey/merchandising/ticket sales.  Offseason acquisitions Joe Johnson and Gerald Wallace joining a nice nucleus featuring Deron Williams, one of the top point guards in the game when he’s at his peak, along with the likes of Brook Lopez and Kris Humphries.

This is New York basketball.  The Knicks have some real local competition now, and you don’t even need to cross the state line to see it.

But time out.  Have you been paying attention to the start of the NBA regular season seven days ago, in the midst of another week of all-important NFL and college football games, and further NHL lockout drama?

If you really are an NBA junkie, or just a true Knick-head, then the New York Knickerbockers’ first 3-0 start since the 1999 season hasn’t been lost on you.  Oh by the way Knick fans – you remember what happened in the ’99-’00 season?  Yep, that’s right.  The last time the Knicks made it as far as the Eastern Conference Finals.

I know, it’s early.  Still a lot of roundball to be played.  Getting too jazzed about New York’s 3-0 start is as premature as ditching out on the Lakers because they started out 0-3 with their own dream team, all while trying to implement a new offensive philosophy and playbook.

Sheed… a Knick at last…

But a consensus can probably be reached on at least this much – these Knicks are going hard.  Did you see any of their first three games?  Beating the defending world champion Miami Heat to open the season?  Not too shabby at all.  That was followed by a home-and-home two-game series with the Sixers, and the Knicks were impressive in both outings.

In Sunday’s noon tip-off game at the Garden, there was a moment in the first quarter when the Knicks, holding a 19-12 lead, were playing the kind of defense usually only reserved for crucial playoff games.  Carmelo Anthony, certainly not known for his defensive prowess, dove headfirst into the stands to save a loose ball, attempting to maintain the turnover and help his team build on that seven-point first-quarter lead.

As someone who watches a lot of basketball, I found myself needing to gather my thoughts to process what was happening in front of me.

What Knicks are these exactly?  Is this the same team that casually let Lin-sanity sign a max offer sheet with Houston, cutting the cord with a player who became a legitimate cultural phenomenon before our very eyes over the course of a couple magical weeks last season?

Is this the same organization that’s managed by Jim Dolan, who is essentially kryptonite to the franchise’s potential success?

Are these the same guys who expect Amare Stoudemire’s creaky, broken down knees to hold down the front court defensively with the likes of Tyson Chandler?

Nope.  These are new-look Knicks.

I, like a lot of people, chuckled at offseason signings such as Jason Kidd and Rasheed Wallace, making the usual jokes.  Hey, the only record the Knicks are going to set this year will be for oldest average age among all active 15-man rosters.  Hey, practice is starting, where’s half the team at, guys?  Oh they’re just paying the bill at the early-bird dinner special, they’ll be right over to the arena in a minute.  Okay, you get the idea.

Jokes aside.  These Knicks have hit on a winning formula, if only for the moment.  In Monday night’s win over the Sixers at the Wells Fargo Center in South Philly, they were a perfect 19-of-19 on free throw attempts.  Rasheed Wallace was raining threes!  And judging from the apparent reaction of the crowd in Philly, Wallace, hometown favorite that he is, could have just as easily signed with the Sixers this year instead of the Knicks.

They do seem to have perhaps just the right blend of talent and personalities, even if it is just temporarily.  Veterans like Kidd, Stoudemire, Chandler, Anthony and even Wallace will certainly bring a sense of leadership to the table.  Ray Felton is back in the fold at point guard, in many ways a better fit in the starting lineup at that position than Lin (J-Lin would have been the most exciting bench guy in the league though).

Add in players like Steve Novak, Iman Shumpert and J.R. Smith who, while not exactly wet behind the ears, have something to prove before becoming household names like Kidd and Carmelo, and you can see why optimism might be on the rise for Knicks basketball this season.

It’s been a fun first week.  Bust out the AARP membership cards and enjoy the ride, kids.