The New-Look Knicks Have MHS Staff Excited For What is to Come


Photo Courtesy of @NYKnicks on Facebook

Derrick Rose takes a shot on behalf of the Knicks.

Henry Bova, A&L Page Director

Greg Cuddy, Tyrone Carver, and Vincent Minotti are three longtime MHS faculty members, as well as three long suffering New York Knicks fans. For the first time in a while, the Knicks are making them, as well as many New Yorkers, proud to support the orange and blue.

At the time of writing this, the Knicks are 5th in the Eastern Conference with a top 3 defensive rating and gritty, inspired play on a night-in night-out basis. The Knicks may not be championship contenders, but it’s a start, and the improvement both on the court and within the organization has been a delight to fans, as well as a much needed change of pace.

The Knicks haven’t been a good basketball team in recent years, to say the least. Since 2000, they’ve totaled three winning seasons and five playoff appearances with only one series win. They haven’t reached the playoffs since 2013, and since then they’ve posted two different seasons with just 17 wins. 

The Knicks have had some abysmal rosters to work with, but much of the blame for the past few seasons can be attributed to their upper management wanting to rush a winning product, which paradoxically creates a losing team. Cuddy notes that it “didn’t feel like we had any patience to rebuild the right way, giving too many dumb contracts to players beyond their prime with the idea that we were going to compete right away.” 

Carver feels the same way, saying he had no faith in the front office and that they were “always looking for the quick fix or tanking for a superstar that ended up not coming here.” 

During these losing seasons, Cuddy, as well as most Knicks fans, had become disinterested in the team. “I still watched, but not as heavily because it seemed like losing was becoming ok. We lost that identity we once had and that was hard to watch,” he said.

Fortunately, things started to turn around in March 2020 when Leon Rose was brought in as team president to lead the turnaround. From there, he hired old school Tom Thibodeau as head coach, who created winning cultures through tough defense and intense play in both Chicago and Minnesota.

At this point, Carver’s excitement about the team shot back up. He points to that moment as when he knew things were truly looking up. “He was an assistant on those [head coach Jeff] Van Gundy led teams in the 90’s. He knew what it would take to win here in New York. You knew his teams would play hard, they would defend and play this game the right way each night.”

Minotti also loved the hire, saying “In the NBA, teams that are successful must buy into the head coach. The night I heard of the Thibodeau hire I was thrilled.”

Knicks fans who watched the teams of the 90’s look to that decade as one of the high points in franchise history. They were notably hard nosed, but also had legitimate success, reaching the finals in 1994 and 1999. “They epitomized what New York basketball should be,” said Cuddy. By hiring Thibodeau, a member of the Knicks coaching staff from the 90’s, the front office showed fans that they wanted to bring back that brand of basketball. And that immediately drew people back in.

Of course, coaching and front office moves alone aren’t going to make a team competitive, the players needed to step up too. Under coach Thibodeau and a front office that’s making smart trades and hires, many players have really shined. Second year RJ Barrett and rookie phenom Immanuel Quickley have delighted fans all year. “I think RJ is unselfish and can create shots for himself and his teammates, and I like Quickley’s athletic ability,” said Minotti.

Without a doubt, though, the best Knick all year has been 26-year-old Julius Randle, who was recently named an all star. If you told Knicks fans during the 2019 season that would happen, they’d think you were crazy.

“I was not a huge fan of his last year and I wanted him to go,” said Carver. Many Knicks fans would agree, as he played selfishly while turning the ball over at a high rate. 

This year, though, with better coaching and training, he has turned into an emerging star. Randle has been perhaps the clearest sign of what can happen if a team has a good culture in place around their players.

This season is just the starting point for something greater, and in the future the team can go in a number of directions. Cuddy wants the Knicks to forget about free agency and just focus on drafting smart players, as does Minotti. Carver feels that now is the time to add a star, confident that with a better culture around the team, someone big will finally bite.

In the end, no matter how it’s accomplished, everyone is just thrilled that a sustainable winning product is finally in reach. “I truly feel we are heading in the right direction,” said Minotti. “With hard work and little luck, the Knicks can get back on the map and bring championship level basketball back to New York.”