March 25, 2011
The New York Knicks have lost nine of 16 games in the month since they traded four players and several draft picks for Denver's Carmelo Anthony(notes) and Chauncey Billups(notes). The team has slowed down offensively, the group's defense has taken a major hit and New York's fourth-quarter defense has dropped to shockingly poor levels.
All sorts of excuses abound, but the team can't argue losses away. And, quite a ways south, another member of a much-anticipated team is feeling New York's pain. LeBron James(notes) digs what those Knicks are going through, even if one of New York's seven wins came against Miami.
"I know exactly what he's going through right now," James said, of Anthony's more-difficult-than-expected indoctrination with the Knicks. "I understand exactly what he's been saying. Do the people, the fans and the media in New York want to hear that? I don't think so. But I know exactly what it means. And it's going to take time. Everybody knows we were 9-8. We had to figure things out. And we're still figuring things out. Once they figure it out, it'll be fine. It's not going to be a bed of roses."
In some ways, the Knicks have had it tougher. The team didn't have a summer for the coaching staff to prepare to work with this roster. It didn't have a full training camp to work with or a preseason. One day they had a pretty full, above average roster, and the next day it was missing a huge chunk, despite the newly added presence of Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups.
Then again, Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire(notes) aren't great all-around players like James and Dwyane Wade(notes). And the Heat started 9-8 even with the benefit of that training camp and preseason, even if Wade missed most of it. And the Heat are still struggling as we enter spring. See, now I'm getting angry at the Heat and the Knicks.
Let's go back to James:
"People think that just because you put great talent together that it's automatically going to work from the start," James told ESPN.com, about the similarities between the Heat and Knicks. "But it doesn't work like that. It takes time for chemistry. It takes time for cohesiveness. It takes time for people to understand where you like the ball, where you want the ball. And it starts with building those relationships off the court."
Sure, we've probably expected too much from these respective teams right out of the gate. Perhaps we were spoiled by a Boston Celtics team from 2007-08 that was completely re-made, adding two stars to one that was already there, shooting from nearly the league-worst record in 2007 to a championship in 2008. Or the current Bulls team, which added about 42 new players and a new coaching staff before shooting to the top of the East.
But by all means, New York and Miami, keep your heads up. You'll always have those awesome player introduction/news conferences to look back upon.