This season's New York Knicks team could be one of the elite teams in the Eastern Conference. Their current place second place standing says they already are an elite one, and they have Carmelo Anthony at playing a very high level. However, the true elite teams have the proper mentality to win. While the Knicks are rich in experience and knowing how to win, they sometimes lack the hunger to do so, which allows other teams to take advantage. If they are going to compete for a championship that mentality needs to change.
That being said, any team can win or lose on any given night to any opponent in the NBA because everyone in this league knows how to play. That's why you can see elite teams beat other elite teams and lose the next night to the worst statistical team in the league. It happens.
Everyone is entitled to a bad day. Just like we all have our bad days and our good days at work sometimes these players perform well and sometimes they lay an egg. Other nights they go through the motions but the effort isn't really at the level it should be. They are human.
Sometimes it's human nature to get ahead of yourself; when things are going well, it is safe think that the world should just get with the program and play along with your plans. It's easy to slip into a feeling of entitlement when you are flying high. It can cause you to ignore your faults and have unrealistic expectations.
Ian Begley of ESPNNewYork reports that J.R. Smith thinks the Knicks need to focus and stop expecting opponents to allow them to win.
J.R. says 'part of the problem' for NYK is 'we just expect teams when we come in the building to lay down & not play and we can't do that.'
Perhaps the Knicks think they're better than they are. Perhaps they have gotten full of themselves. Whatever the reason for thinking teams will give up against them doesn't matter. That mentality needs to change or they'll have a quick wake up call and exit in the playoffs.
Teams don't lay down in the playoffs. They've been through a full season and have earned their way into a tournament that will end in the crowning of a champion. Professional players know they are judged by titles and don't take that lightly.
If the Knicks want to find themselves anywhere near the title picture they need to take heed of Smith's words. If a team wants to be taken seriously and move deep into the playoffs they need to earn it. No one is going to give up an inch. No one hands games or series over to their opponents.
One team out performs the other and moves on to the next challenge. That's how it works. Organizations are not interested in being charitable to other teams and willing to just give away victories. It's thoughts like that which set teams up for failure.
If the New York Knicks want to be taken seriously they need to buckle down, return to their defensively dominant performances of the early part of the season and stay hungry. This team is not as old as their ages say they are. Most of the older players are limited minutes backups or bench warmers. However, this roster has a short shelf life and window to compete for a championship. It's time they start to act like it. If they want to be elite they'll have to prove it.
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