The Knicks and Heat Alike? A Bogus Comparison
Recent comparisons of the Heat and Knicks are silly media constructions that have little to do with the reality of either team
In early November, I doubt you’d hear many people saying, “Hey, you know what? These Knickerbockers are reminding me a lot of those boys in Miami!” But now, just weeks before playoffs, I’m hearing people talk about Lebron’s Heat versus Melo’s Knicks. Even more, I’ve seen The Big Three t-shirts that feature New York’s Anthony, Stoudemire, and Billups. Personally, I think this is ridiculous. But it hasn’t stopped certain media from going wild exploiting and exaggerating whatever similarities they can.
Everybody is eager to compare the Knicks’ four game losing streak to the five game stretch of losses the Heat had earlier in March. Sure, there are some parallels, but the situations are actually pretty different. Let’s check them out.
Three of the Heat’s losses were to winning teams (The Spurs, Magic, and Bulls). Two of which are teams the Heat have struggled with throughout the season and pre-season. So perhaps the losses were disconcerting to Heat fans (the few there are), but they weren’t really all that surprising to anybody else. One might question the final loss to the Trailblazers, but I simply attribute that to nervous exhaustion and the natural human tendency to spiral all the way down, reach new and more depraved lows, before pulling yourself back up. It’s like George Orwell says: “It is a feeling of relief, almost of pleasure, at knowing yourself at last genuinely down and out. You have talked so often of going to the dogs – and well, here are the dogs, and you have reached them, and you can stand it. It takes off a lot of anxiety.”
Yeah, I’m digressing, but for the Miami Heat, here were the dogs: You’ve lost five games to teams you’ve convinced yourself you’re supposed to beat. Your coach Erik Spoelstra has made a legendary and colossally idiotic mistake telling reporters that you were crying in the locker room. The whole world is laughing at you. Phil Jackson is smirking, which you know hurts. You’ve disappointed your already meager fan base and created boundless material for anyone with a sliver of wit, a keyboard, and a decent wireless connection.
But I’m being too harsh. Because like Orwell says, being down and out does take off a lot of the anxiety and puts things in perspective. And the Heat proved this with their pretty smooth second half victory over the Lakers and a handful of subsequent wins afterwards—which included crushing those same old Spurs by 30 points.
The Knicks’ slump is a different story. New York is still adjusting. And not just patchwork here and there like the Heat. The Knicks are juggling strategies with a team that has literally only been together a month (only three New York players, Bill Walker, Toney Douglas, and Jared Jeffries remain from last year. And Jeffries is only returning after spending half of last year in Houston). The losing streak which started with a 99-95 loss to the Pistons last Friday has reached a pretty miserable low with two nose curling, shuddering, squirm-in-your-seat, go-home-filled-with-anxiety-and-existential-dread-scratching-your-head-squinting-at-your-knicks-cap, 4th quarters against the Celtics and then Orlando. But unlike the Heat’s inability to close in the last minute or two, the Knicks are suffering from a lack of confidence that doesn’t come from misguided entitlement, but instead, general confusion and lack of experience together. They are a really new team. And also unlike the Heat, the Knicks haven’t been walking around with an ‘Ordained by God’ attitude. Carmelo Anthony may be a little cocky but this doesn’t translate into any selfishness on the court. Against the Magic, he had nine razor sharp assists. The loss had more to do with Chauncey’s poor shot choices and Stoudemire’s uncharacteristically bad night then anything else.
The Knicks’ losses against Detroit and a double beat by Indiana have to do with the new team’s uneasiness when playing tight units who don’t rely on superstars but instead on hardworking collaborative team efforts. The losses against big threats like the Celtics and the Magic have been discussed; these are winning teams that have been handling fourth quarter wins for much longer than the Knicks. Any comparisons to the Heat—especially regarding pretention and entitlement—have been projected onto the Knicks from various media sources; they haven’t emanated from within and certainly have little to do with ego. Knicks fans need to be patient. And if Knicks fans were Knicks fans before this season, patience really…I mean really….shouldn’t be an issue.
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