North of the 400

North of Toronto, South of a championship

A change for the better?

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It seems that for the Knicks, the more things change, the way they stay the same. On Thursday, the New York Knicks fired head coach Larry Brown who had coached the team to a 23 – 59 record last season – and they replaced him with, er, Isiah Thomas.

That’s right – the same guy who coached the Pacers to three straight first-round eliminations in the playoffs. The guy who, as GM of the Knicks, had the highest paid roster in the league and finished in the cellar for a few years now. He’s the one who hired Larry last summer (not even a year ago, actually) and now he’s the one who’s supposed to bring the team back into contention.

Sometimes teams need to make a change at the helm to shake things up – no coach, not even Vince Lombardi or Scotty Bowman, can keep a team winning for years – but that doesn’t really seem to be the case with Brown. His relationship with Thomas (and the Knicks ownership) was troubled at best. But he is a great coach, although one saddled with a team that under performs at a consistent level. If he had time, perhaps he could have turned the Knicks into a winner, like he did with the Pistons or the 76ers. Maybe not.

Either way, that’s all moot now. The Knicks have not only retained one of the worst General Managers they have ever had, but they also made him coach too (or maybe he hired himself as coach. Would he have to fax himself his own resume?) of a team that’s been in a pretty steady decline – and he won’t be successful.

George Will once wrote that the best coaches (well, the best baseball managers – but the points the same) were the ones that lacked talent and only stuck around for a few years – unlike the Greztky’s, the Bird’s or the Pete Rose’s of the sporting world, they had to learn the game and play it smartly to get to the majors, and as such they already have a bit of the knowledge for coaching (Hence why marginal players like Larry Brown, Billy Beane or Mike Ditka made good coaches). And I think it’s the same here: Thomas was a great player, one worthy of the Hall of Fame – but he was not a great coach for the Pacers and he was not a great member of management with the Knicks. And I suspect that he will not be a great coach for the Knicks.

It could have been worse, though; He could have let Rob Babcock take over as GM.


Written by M.

June 22, 2006 at 8:53 pm

Posted in basketball, NBA

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