We’ve had enough time to put Tom Thibodeau’s work with the Knicks last year in the right perspective. And if anything, it resonates louder and stronger than it did in the spring. In fact, it was included in the rare air of a special pantheon of New York training achievements.
There are only two examples in our town’s pro sports history, the same ring that Tibodo did last year, leading the Knicks to a 41-31 record, their fourth win in the past 20 years, the second time in a row that they finished second in the .500.
Gil Hodges is in that team photo. The history of the franchise was filled with buffoonery and buffoonery when he took over the Mets before Tewi in 1968. The Mets’ average record was 54-108 from 1962-67. The shelves were everywhere. After taking the job, Hodges was asked if he thought the Mets could deliver 500 in five years.
“I have more ambitions than that,” he said, and it took him two years to engineer the 1969 miracle, but he put together the Mets in 68, which is amazing in its own way, from the stubborn extraction to brutal history. Later that year, Tom Siever said, “We became a baseball team and not a bad comedian. Gill wouldn’t let that happen.
Bill Parcells is in the team photo. When he was hired by the Jets in February 1997, the Jets were as humorous as the Mets of the ’60s, a catastrophic record of 1-15 in ’96 and the relentless decline of nearly a decade. Actors and bad football.
“The challenge,” Parcells said that day, “is to win a championship here.”
He never went there, but the Jets were 9-7 a year after 1-15, and then 12-4, and within 30 minutes of the Super Bowl. But in Detroit, the first year after the bitter end of the week (think a one-day version of the Hawks series), this was probably the best work of the parcels’ career.
That’s where Thibodeau’s 2020-21 Masterpiece is, along with those two epic turnarounds on the shelf (maybe joining Davey Johnson and the ’84 Mets, but that’s it). How deep the Knicks occupied the sinkhole and how dim their scenarios were. During one bath, Thibodeau changed the whole narrative. It was a very good year.
And what to do for the encore?
RJ Barrett said a few days ago, “Always, it’s the first defense,” and asked if Thibodeau’s message or his approach was somehow different from year 2. Him. That was the message. That makes us at the end of the day, help us get to the level we want to get to. Sharing the ball. Moving the ball. “
Year 2 ’68 Hodges and ’97 parcels can be compared with the company. The Mets, of course, were blessed with pixie dust. The jets were carried to the edge by the revived Winnie Testaverde. The Knicks could use a little bit of what the Mets had in ’69, and they could probably channel Kemba Walker into Winnie’s Come Back Mojo.
But the hard truth is: they may be better this year than last year and won’t win more games or top the scoring list. This is a simple reality in the Eastern Conference, where two-thirds of its elite teams (in Brooklyn and Philly) are currently in a state of confusion.
None of that is important to Thibodeau, no wonder. And he does not expect any grace period for his early starting speed.
“Every year you start at zero bottom,” he said. “What happened last year was last year. You have to start all over again, build your basics on offense and defense.
The Knicks will lose Elfrid Payton (who was on most of the year until he collapsed late) and Reggie Bullock, but they received updates on Walker and Evan Fournier. But everyone else who finished the Knicks down last year can talk about basic updates. He looked good in se tua.
“But that’s all that matters,” said Thibodeau, “when the 20th ball goes up” – the opening night, the Celtics at the Garden – “you’re ready.”
The Knicks will be ready, and Tibodeau is just as excited as anyone else to see what Year 2 brings. Last year’s weightlifting was epic and historic. And this time it’s even heavier.
“I really love this group,” he said, and it goes without saying: most of New York basketball wants to join him to feel the same way.