Maybe it would matter if there was a press conference with the stars at Madison Square Garden or up at Knicks headquarters in Westchester. Perhaps in these usual restraints, dressed in a nice suit free to use his daisy as a pulpit, Tom Thibodeau would end the day with oration and charm.
Although, frankly, this doesn’t look like the Thibodeau genre at all.
In many ways then it was the perfect way for Thibodeau to greet in the summer of 2020, on call, Zoom, in a Knicks golf shirt, Brady Bank square on a computer screen with Leon Rose and Scott Perry, It’s impossible to win the press conference when this press conference is on Zoom anyway, so no need to try.
Also: Knicks fans are tired of winning press conferences. David Fizdale and Jeff Hornacek were excellent performers on Day 1
Winning basketball games after that is much more rewarding and much more meaningful.
“Every time you find yourself in a situation, you think of ways you can improve your club,” Thibodeau said on Thursday, the day he officially took the reins of the Knicks. “You start with the players you have, your inner development is paramount. So we start there and add talent to the draft, we also look at a free talent addition agency, and we look to trade to add talent. There are four ways to improve the team. And we will look at all of them. “
Thibodeau is a no-nonsense trainer with a no-nonsense personality, and if you can joke how surprising it was for some when they heard that he actually took a vacation in Miami this year, sitting and fried on the beach, he also doesn’t claim that he is something other than laser-focused and work-focused.
Others in recent years have taken on this job and talked in great tones about their vision for the franchise and the future, and have been overwhelmed with general optimism – which at the end of the day translates mostly to wishful thinking. Thibodeau speaks mostly in specifics and with the authority of a man who has earned 59 percent of his games as an NBA coach. It records five core values: rebound, defense, low revs, ball sharing, and the use of paint – passing or penetrating – as the primary weapon.
Maybe simple, but that’s exactly the kind of starting point that a team like Knicks needs the most. Speaking about the players he inherits now, Thibodeau said: “But I thought there were some players who really got active and did a good job. But there is a lot of work. One of the most important things when studying a team is to just look at performance and when you see that you are at -6.54, you realize that there is a lot of work. And let’s hope we can get players to play for each other and start building those habits. “
It’s also helpful to go back 24 years to the day when Thibodeau’s friend and coaching guide, Jeff Van Gundi, was promoted to coach after the surprise of Don Nelson, who has played 23 games since the end of the season. Van Gundi is another who would never have won a press conference in those days when he was little known, with hollow eyes and a voice-scratched fitness rat.
But from the very beginning the reason he managed to succeed in the job was that he was not subjected to work. He had no experience like Thibodeau now, but hear those first words he uttered on his first day at work, and then ask yourself: Why does this sound so familiar?
“Some coaches believe in giving players a day off,” Van Gundi said in the old Philadelphia spectrum on March 8, 1996. “Other coaches believe in saving players’ legs. I am the one who believes in practice. I think the games are won in practice. It doesn’t just work hard, it works productively. My job is to create a profitable, working environment.
“There is no easy answer.”
There was none then. Not now. If the Knicks need to be rehabilitated, a brick at a time, a nail at a time, a piece at a time will come. Van Gundi was a serious basketball man, and Thibodeau is a serious basketball man, so serious that he sometimes makes Van Gundi look like Jackie the Man of Jokes in comparison.
But the Knicks are in serious need now. They demand seriously. They long seriously. Tom Thibodeau brings this to the dance and this percentage of earnings and a specific belief in how it should be done. Okay. It is time.