Peace Detects You
Admittedly, my plan was to live-blog Heat/Knicks last night, and the Obama infomercial, at the same time. I have a bunch of notes from the whole thing. But then I got bummed out at Beasley's errancy—in part because it's not like he was helpless, just off—and then got lost in a sea of League Pass and fantasy moves that had me thoroughly exhausted by around 10 my time. So instead, some brief thoughts on the Knicks.
Let's be honest here: A lot of us, even (or especially) Knicks fans, hate a lot of these current players. It could just be the stain of those last few years, or maybe the fact that some of them need only the slightest shove to inspire disgust. Marbury and Curry are beyond rescue, but I remember the young Zach Randolph, and Jamal Crawford is unfairly crucified by us all, at every opportunity, just because he happens to have shared a backcourt with Steph. Nate Robinson is equal parts lovable and detestable. Quentin Richardson is, as I've said before, someone a lot of us once jocked, though unlike Z-Bo, Q just kind of disappeared. It's embarassing to fall out of love with a player like that.
So that leaves what, David Lee and Wilson Chandler as unspoilt? Neither of them could be a figurehead for goodness. Which is why I was worried that the Knicks, no matter how D'Antoni-y they got, would still be a fundamentally gross team. And pleasantly surprised to find how easy it was to get excited about them during that first half, when they really seem to have taken that (Obama rip-off?) meme of newness, change and freedom to heart. Maybe it was the fact that Q-Tip gave them an original song to hammer home that meta-point.
This left me with one, possibly disturbing, conclusion: Mike D'Antoni makes players easier to root for. It's top-down identity, which violates everything I stand for, but I like to think it's a little more subtle than his system imposing character. More that, in the same way that certain borderline players could be trasnformed into mucky pariahs by the Isiah Knicks, playing for D'Antoni, coming into his sphere of influence, brings out their potential to be both more exciting and less retarded. What's more, he transmutes the imperative of style; when the team's goal is to get up and down fast as possible, move the ball three steps ahead of the defense, and dribble only if you get a note from teach, you have to use your imagination.
From this site's perspective, D'Antoni brings out the best in players. This would be disturbing if he didn't offer such open-ended directives; I also don't know if I like saying, "oh, those Spurs, they keep Manu from being a player I would totally love." Giving players a framework in which they have to think for themselves can have snazzy results; a team where discipline is less abstract (admittedly, San Antonio's looser than it was four years ago) isn't going to give a ton of minutes to someone whose game has no predilection toward this within it. Remember, Argentina is a part of Europe, genetically speaking.
The third quarter didn't have quite the same feel to it, and I felt myself seeing the Knicks through more jaundiced eyes again, even as they failed to throw away the game. Skipped the fourth; maybe they took a good, long stare at D'Antoni during a timeout and returned to the first half's sense of purpose. You could hear this in the announcing, too, which always seemed on the verge of going back to the same old griping. One night is a crappy sample, but if I stay interested in this team, and Wilson Chandler starts to warrant repeated consideration, we'll have found an important role for the coach in facilitating style—at least this particular madman in charge.
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