Back in March or April of my junior year of high school, our English teacher got very sick and was replaced by a substitute. The sub was everything my teacher was not — young, energetic, maybe even a little attractive. She’d start class by telling us which song from the drive to work was stuck in her head that day, occasionally singing a few bars, too. And then she’d let us settle in by readling chapter or two of Catch 22 or Cat’s Cradle aloud.
No tests. No essays. No extended discussion about the symbolism in Snowden’s death scene.
We loved her.
Of course, we weren’t actually doing any work or learning anything. And it was probably for the best — in the long run, anyway — when our regular teacher returned from medical leave and redirected the class to its regularly scheduled programming of test and quizzes and essays and Vonnegut’s use of irony. Because school.
Which brings us to the New York Knicks.
To a man, the team has been supportive of Mike Woodson. The players willingly admit that they’re to blame for the club’s atrocious start and that Woodson shouldn’t be held accountable for the 5-14 record. They absolve the coach for New York’s utter no-show on Sunday against Boston. They seem to genuinely like the guy and they want to keep him around.
Well, of course they do!
You see, Woodson doesn’t make them fight over screens on defense. He doesn’t hold them accountable when they ignore wide-open teammates on offense. (It’s no coincidence that Woody’s staunchest defenders, Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith, don’t seem to be held accountable for much of anything, while, say Iman Shumpert or Pablo Prigioni are relative anti-christs, apparently.) It’s no surprise, really. When pundits talk about “player’s coaches,” they really mean coaches who let their inmates run the asylums. That kind of approach can work in the short-term — just as a hardliner’s maniacal coaching tactics can wear thin eventually, too — but at some point, a team’s “bad tendancies” go from occasional to trend to dumpster fire. In the case of Woodson and the Knicks, he’s the substitute teacher and his players are the unruly bunch who doesn’t care that it isn’t receiving an education.
Still worse, though, is the idea that anyone wants to listen to the players responsible for this train wreck waxing poetic about their coach’s job security. So here’s a bit of unsolicited advice to Carmelo, J.R. and anyone else on the roster lobbying to save Mike Woodson’s job:
- Don’t tell us, show us.
- Play with a modicum of pride.
- Don’t settle for isolations and long twos.
- Play with the slightest sense of urgency.
- Eschew switching, try fighting through screens.
Failing that, kindly STFU. Or take it to the Principal’s office.