Court Vision: Examining the Knicks’ culture change under Mike Woodson
By Rob Mahoney
• Will Leitch penned a terrific profile of Mike Woodson in New York magazine, that effectively contextualizes the bridge between the Woodson and D’Antoni eras of Knicks basketball. We can talk all day about how Woodson’s strategic approach differs from D’Antoni’s, but just as important is an understanding of what each coach means/meant to New York’s team culture:
When you watch Woodson run practice, it’s not only much more together and focused than it was when D’Antoni was coaching; somehow everyone also seems to be having more fun. D’Antoni couldn’t help but keep himself somewhat at a remove from the action; he had his schemes, he let his players know how to run them, and he generally left them alone to figure it out. If they didn’t buy in, that was their problem, not his. His viewpoint was decidedly less rah-rah than Woodson’s. Woodson jumps — well, “jump” is probably the wrong word; he sort of saunters — into scrimmages and performs hands-on instruction to the most minute details. It must be strange to be Jason Kidd, a future Hall of Famer who is entering his nineteenth season, to have a man garrulously explain an entry pass to him, but Kidd plays along, because he, like the rest of the Knicks, clearly likes Woodson. For whatever it’s worth, that wasn’t always the case with D’Antoni.
• The Brooklyn Nets’ home opener was a win, an arrival and a cause for celebration. But it was also a reminder of the greater cultural value of sports, as so wonderfully articulated by The Brooklyn Game’s Andrew Gnerre.
• An interesting — if also somewhat depressing — account of the parallels in the rise of quantitative analysis in sports and politics. Is the concept of a probability really so difficult to grasp? (via Tom Haberstroh)
• The earliest rumblings that Kevin McHale might want to consider playing his rookies.
• Graydon Gordian masterfully lays out all the signature traits that make Stephen Jackson so distinct and so watchable. A sampling:
At this point in his career, Jackson’s offensive arsenal is largely limited to his high-arching 3-point shot. You’ll find him perched atop the curve of the 3-point line, or slinking quietly into the corner, lurking in spots that are familiar to any San Antonio shooter. But something about Jackson’s shot provides an extra bit of electricity. Maybe it’s the fact that it sails so high yet drops in so softly. Maybe it’s the big toothy grin that follows each make, or the pinky, ring and middle fingers of each hand that he so prominently displays while jogging back down the court.
By no means are these the league’s most outlandish 3-point celebrations. There are no blown vocal chords or holstered guns. They are all rather tame, actually, when compared to the peacock-ish celebratory techniques favored by younger generations. On the court, Jackson’s wild-eyed, truth-serum-soaked style achieves a certain calmness, albeit one rendered big and bold-faced by his palpable and magnetic confidence. Jackson moves with the easy, eager air of a chucker, of a guy who remembers all the makes and none of the misses, but his shot selection and personal aesthetic seem pretty sane nowadays. So does he. Jackson takes what Timmy, Tony and Manu give him, and seems happy to have it.
• Here’s Ben Folds making the case for his band — Ben Folds Five — to play from the pit at Bobcats games this season. Regardless of what you may think of Folds’ playful songwriting of self-aware square-ness, this is a pretty fabulous idea.
• A sound comparable for Greivis Vasquez: Jason Kidd, circa 2009, with slightly lesser playmaking abilities.
• Slip into an alternate universe where up is down and small-market teams are league royalty.
• Watching Brook Lopez really step out to hedge opposing ball handlers in the pick-and-roll for the first time in his career is fascinating, if a bit unfortunate.
• An exploration of Tony Parker and the offense of the contemporary Spurs, as they relate to the artistic development of Pablo Picasso.
• Over at ProBasketballTalk, Darius Soriano takes a crack at explaining the unusual struggles of Detroit’s Rodney Stuckey. The 26-year-old guard has never been a shining example of consistency or efficiency, but that 4.3 field-goal percentage mark is a bit of a doozy.
• Worth noting: the fine work being done by Mike Dunleavy and Beno Udrih off the bench in Milwaukee, effectively eclipsed by the hot start of Brandon Jennings.