Once you look across the NBA this season, the Knicks are a mannequin of calmness and stability, which is definitely a sentence I by no means thought I might write.
Sure, there are higher groups. Sure, there are extra proficient groups. But it surely’s laborious to not admire the general tradition on a franchise the place there aren’t any protests exterior the world earlier than video games, no absent superstars, no close to fistfights between teammates throughout a good sport and no obvious competing agendas.
After a tumultuous 20 years which most just lately included altering coaches six occasions within the final seven years, the Knicks have lastly developed the kind of tradition the place younger gamers like RJ Barrett can develop, proficient gamers like Julius Randle could make the leap to famous person and previous savvy veterans like Derrick Rose could make a big-time impression each on the court docket and within the locker room.
This truth was not misplaced on 76er coach Doc Rivers, who has been coping with the Ben Simmons telenovela this season.
Rivers, who performed two plus seasons for the Knicks when the staff additionally employed Patrick Ewing and Pat Riley, is aware of how laborious it’s to ascertain a resilient and profitable tradition. And he believes Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau, who was his assistant in Boston for 3 seasons, is managing to try this in New York.
“Thibs is a hell of a coach,” Rivers stated Tuesday earlier than his 76ers performed the Knicks at Madison Sq. Backyard.
Tuesday night time, Rivers’ staff was once more with out Simmons. A max contract participant, Simmons has but to swimsuit up for the 76ers after a tumultuous summer time the place there was a confrontation in addition to commerce rumors and commerce requests. The staff had been fining Simmons, who was additionally kicked out of a observe and suspended a sport.
Now, nevertheless, after he held a gathering together with his coaches and teammates the place he defined he’s not in the correct place mentally to return, they’re now not fining him, although there is no such thing as a date for his return.
The 76ers, together with the Nets, have been thought of contenders final season. Each groups had disappointing exits within the second spherical of the playoffs with the 76ers shedding to Atlanta and the Nets shedding to Milwaukee, the eventual NBA champion.
Whereas the 76ers have been coping with the Simmons saga, the Nets have needed to come to phrases with the truth that their All-Star level guard Kyrie Irving won’t be enjoying with them till he both agrees to be vaccinated or New York Metropolis lifts its guidelines that require folks coming into a public constructing just like the Barclay’s Middle to be vaccinated. Irving, within the meantime, has turn into a poster individual for many who are in opposition to vaccine mandates. Within the season-opener, a small group of protesters chanting “Let Kyrie Play” needed to be repelled from the entrance of the world after they tried to cost the door.
After which we’ve the Lakers, one other staff with large time aspirations. Not solely have the Lakers gotten off to a gradual begin, however stars Anthony Davis and Dwight Howard needed to be separated after a sideline scuffle when the Lakers have been getting blown out by the Phoenix Suns.
The Knicks, who have been a shock to make the playoffs final yr, don’t have the identical expectations that the Nets, Lakers and 76ers do. Perhaps it’s important to be good for a few years, earlier than your tradition actually will get examined.
It’s clear proper now that the 76ers are being examined, and Rivers thinks they’ve what it takes to get by means of it.
“Tradition will not be an accident,” Rivers stated. “We have been doing it final yr. We cleaned out quite a lot of stuff as you already know on the staff and throughout. It’s not an accident. You need to work on it. When you might have it, it means that you can get by means of powerful occasions lots simpler than once you don’t have it.”