May 24 - Isiah’s Dilemma
How would you like to be Isiah Thomas this week, parking spot, paycheck and perks aside?
You’re trying to hit a home run with your choice of the Knicks’ next head coach, but you’re struggling at
the plate, trying now to just move the runners along.
Does Isiah realize and understand the basketball culture of this city? That thousands of guys, who grew
up watching Red Holzman’s Knicks 1) move the ball to the open man 2) play team defense better than
anybody 3) shoot the lights out (every guy in the starting five could shoot), are playing the game every
night of the week in a city gym somewhere, believing they can run the Knicks better than he can. Some of
them may be right. The truth is, neither Phil Jackson, Red Auerbach, Red Holzman, Chuck Daly or Jack
Ramsey, no one can take this collection of players very far.
If you asked ten Knicks fans whom they’d like to be the next coach, you’d probably get 5 or 6 different
answers. The roster is where the problem is, and that is where you can make the difference, Isiah. Look
at the rosters of the four teams still playing. They are loaded with guys who place winning first, and will
Jamal Crawford ever understand this? Isiah, you brought him here to be our "star", but don’t you find it
odd that the Bulls got better without him? I can’t fault you too much by bringing home Stephon Marbury,
but have you noticed how these two dominate the ball, but don’t dominate the game? Let me tell you
something about the person who goes to Knicks games. They’re not into the off-the-backboard pass for
a dunk as much as they’d be into a backdoor pass for a bucket. They’d much rather see a cohesive
group of flawed players than a dysfunctional group of talented ones. Why? Because the cohesive group
will win games and that’s what gets people excited about going to the Garden, no matter what price you
want to charge.
So let’s not try and fool a very educated basketball public into thinking that the right coach is going to
make a big difference here. For what it’s worth, I could live with Flip Saunders, Nate McMillan, even P.J.
Carlesimo (maybe Runyon’s will then be resurrected), but let’s give the job to Herb Williams, a loyal
Knicks soldier, as soon as you can, and get working on the roster. When the coach is in a position to
make a difference, then we’ll get serious.