The New York Knicks were once considered the laughing stock of the NBA, but this season has been a release of all deadly toxins surrounding the franchise. There’s nothing but smiles in New York and I’m not just referring to the smug grins of the fans betrothed to the Super Team in BK.
The Knicks have had competent coaches in the past, but most of them weren’t game-changers. They didn’t have the cache or the influence to transform the entire culture of the team. At the same time, most of those coaches were handcuffed by stars with large salaries who influenced the direction and culture of the team. At times it was a debacle.
Thibs came in and was able to maximize everyone’s performance.
He’s definitely Top 3 for NBA Coach of the Year right now.
“He better be in the running,’’ Knicks rising shooting guard stud RJ Barrett said. “We all believe in Thibs. He’s done a tremendous job in how he’s turned everything around. The way he has us playing hard every single night and we’re getting wins. The whole staff, every day, we’re working hard, just pushing us. It’s a great feeling. I’m sure the fans see how hard we’re working and having them in the Garden has been great overall.’’
After what was billed as a modest free-agent haul and using much of the same roster that compiled a 21-45 record last season under David Fizdale and Mike Miller, Thibodeau has blown Las Vegas out of the water.
Vegas oddsmakers had the Over/Under for Knicks’ wins at 22. The Post’s preseason prediction called for the Knicks to finish 30-42.
Despite the Knicks’ success, New York hate is still rampant in media circles.
Wednesday’s matchup in Denver between the Knicks and Nuggets should have featured the two reigning Coach of the Month Award winners for April in the East and West.
Instead, only Denver’s Mike Malone will come in with the honor as Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau was snubbed by the NBA’s voting panel Tuesday.
Scott Brooks won the award for a 12-5 April. But the Wizards are still 30-35, in 10th place, and are iffy to make the play-in tournament.
Not only did Thibodeau post a better record than Brooks at 11-4, but he has resuscitated a dead Knicks franchise in one of the best NBA team turnarounds in recent memory.
The Knicks have the NBA’s eighth-best record (37-28), but Thibodeau hasn’t won the monthly award yet. That’s ridiculous. Officials from Adam Silver’s league office votes on the award, according to sources. Coach of The Year voting is done mostly by a panel of media members.
Most people outside of New York want the Knicks to remain bad. That bias is what has kept most of the country from appreciating just how remarkable the Knicks have been with a team that went 21-45 last season.
Other coaches have done excellent jobs getting the most out of their squads but Thibs has clearly been a miracle worker. The Knicks have no established superstars. Veteran Julis Randle has emerged to have his best season and might be an All-NBA selection, but he has no established track record of performing at this level. He’s obviously been elevated by the coach.
RJ Barrett is playing more and more like the No. 2 overall draft pick, every night out.
Immanuel Quickley has played himself into a prominent member of the Knicks backcourt of the future. Derrick Rose’s legendary story continues to switch shapes and build new incredible chapters.
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The veteran is celebrating the 10th-year anniversary of his NBA MVP by providing the Knicks with immeasurable veteran leadership during rough stretches and glorious times of success. Rose is the third-leading scorer on the Knicks (14.3 ppg).
More important than anything else is the fact that Thibs has infused New York’s downtrodden basketball spirit with enthusiasm. With real hope. With a damn playoff berth.
Is there a better story in the NBA than the 2021 New York Knicks? I think not. The Suns are a great story, but Devon Booker and Chris Pual are both Top 25 players in the league. Monty Williams definitely deserves his props, but the Suns have been steadily building towards this.
As of 2020, the Knicks were still in, complete disarray, and had lost a portion of their loyal fan base. This turnaround is inconceivable and it all starts at the helm.
Remember when the burning question was, Is Tom Thibodeau the right coach for the Knicks?
That question was answered within the first two months of the season.
Give that man his damn award and in the words of Kendrick Perkins, “ carry the hell on.”