For years, one of the few defenses professional basketball franchises and coaches had against players' late-night peccadilloes and inclinations toward malfeasance was the morning shootaround. Stay out as late as you desire, kids, but you better be in here at practice at 10 a.m. every morning and ready to go. Well, the Knicks are trying something a little different this year.
To make sure his players have "fresh legs," Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni is becoming the first NBA coach to do away with the morning game-day shootaround for home games. The stated reason for this is avoiding the players' double commute, a drive to the practice facility in Westchester in the morning and then another drive to the Garden for the actual game. It's about saving on transit, you see. It's good for the environment. (The Times points out that only two current Knicks live in Manhattan, which isn't the best way to inspire LeBron to come here; Edgewater, New Jersey, is beautiful this time of year!
Anyway, D'Antoni thinks the full day at the Garden — players will be expected there at 3:30 — will be good for team cohesion and will make players more lively come game time. It also means they'll be eating pregame meals together, which is important, because there will always be someone around to slap Eddy Curry's hand when he dives in for fifths.
It's still worth noting, though, that now players could legitimately sleep in until 1 p.m. every day, at least. That leaves plenty of time for late nights. But there's a catch!
The Knicks will continue to hold morning shootarounds for away games, the belief being that players are more likely to stay out late on the road than they are at home.
"At home, the fans will keep you in the house," Harrington said with a smile. "Like, What are you doing out? You play tomorrow."
So, if you happen to see a Knick out at 2:30 in the morning the night before a game, you are hereby deputized to inform them that they should go home and get some rest. We are certain it will go over well.