In three hours or so, the New York Knicks will begin their season against the Miami Heat, the one team they're obsessed with defeating. Every move the Knicks have made has been with the presumption that they are this close to overtaking Miami. Can't trust the young point guard — bring in the playoff-test vets! The Heat are a generally small team — load up on old huge fellers! We got one playoff win from 'em last year — just need three more! This is, justifiably, considered a quixotic plan at best, but it's all the Knicks have. So full steam ahead.
The Knicks have gone all-in on winning a championship in the next three years, a strange concept considering the team is frighteningly old this season and is locked into a roster that will be downright decrepit by 2015-16. It stands to reason, then, that their best chance of winning a title is this year. The idea is to hang in throughout the regular season, figure out what works and what doesn't, and then have everyone healthy enough (and veteran enough) for a puncher's chance at the Heat in the playoffs.
This makes a certain amount of sense; the Pacers darned near took out the Heat last year. Lots can happen in a seven-game series. But the Heat are better than they were last year, and LeBron James is freed from all the "clutch" psychodrama that has marked the rest of his career. They can just go out and blow people away now, and enjoy themselves doing it. The Knicks are hoping to squeeze the last drops of talent out of a roster that will only go downhill. The Heat are peaking now. They might just be getting started.
The Knicks believe themselves to be legitimate title contenders. No one else seems to feel this way. But if they imagine themselves to be this way, the only way to prove the world wrong is to start winning games at a rate they haven't in twenty years. They need to win games over supposed other contenders at home. They need to change minds. Because if the Knicks get off to a bad start and Carmelo is sulking and the point guards are struggling or anything ... this whole thing could spiral out of control quickly. And keep doing it for the next two years.
The Knicks need to change the narrative by winning a lot of games. It would not hurt to start that tonight.