Sure the object of the game in any sport is to score more points than your opponent, but you also have to defend your challenger so that they don’t score those points to beat you. The Chicago Bulls, led by reigning league MVP Derrick Rose, does this better than anybody in the NBA. The brain trust of this defense is none other than former New York Knick assistant coach Tom Thibodeau.
Funny thing about Thibodeau, he kind of cost current Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni his job while he was at the helm of the Phoenix Suns. Steve Kerr of TNT basketball coverage was the general manager of the Suns and he wanted to hire a defensive specialist to go along with their lethal offensive attack. The reasoning – and justly so – was that Kerr knew (as he’s won championships with both the Chicago Bulls and San Antonio Spurs, two superbly defensive teams) that you have to guard and slow down the opposing team with a scheme in order to win championships.
Needless to say, D’Antoni didn’t take too benevolently to the suggestion and thus a rift ensued and a separation was the result. Now he’s with New York but is it any different? If someone were to poll Knicks fans, D’Antoni would’ve been fired the day the Knicks were eliminated from the playoffs against the Boston Celtics. But in looking at the remaining four teams in the playoffs: Bulls, Miami Heat, Dallas Mavericks and Oklahoma City Thunder, they all play hard defense. With the exception of the Heat, all of them are superb rebounding teams as well. The Knicks are neither of those two categories. In fact, the Knicks are at the bottom of the pile in rebounding and defense. Those are recipes for disaster as far as championships go in this day and time.
If you cannot guard and/or stop your man from scoring and rebounding the basketball and you’re constantly giving your opponent extra shots or easy shots, your team will lose – and lose big. Pat Riley, as the coach of the Los Angeles Lakers and Knicks, so often said, “no rebounds, no rings”. How true is that statement?
The Knicks, as an organization, could learn a thing or two from these Bulls. Sure having Amare Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony is great and something most of the 30 teams in the league don’t have; but if defense and rebounding aren’t addressed, the first round of the playoffs will be the best this team will accomplish.
Follow Jerald on Twitter @JerryHoover65