NBA training camp season is upon us! For most teams, today is Media Day and the unofficial start of the season. The whole team’s in one place and in uniform for the first time since last year, and the reporters show up to pick up their credentials and get a few trite quotes for their season-opening stories. It’s a good time.
This afternoon, I attended Knicks Media Day, an event with a slightly different feel from the rest of ‘em, I’d imagine. Perhaps because of the contentious summer the Knicks had and, moreover, because of the clandestine manner in which they had it, there was an unusual bit of distance put between reporters and the Knicks. Media access is usually a free-for-all, with each player sitting at his own table and reporters milling about as they please. This year, the most important team officials and players were brought in one or two at a time to conduct a sort of press conference with the seated media. There are rarely many takeaways to be taken away from events like this, and that’s doubly true with the press conference format, but here’s a rough overview of what was said:
- The Knicks don’t want to talk about Jeremy Lin. The Knicks didn’t offer media availability and hardly said a peep after letting Lin walk in July, so today was the first time a lot of reporters got to confront the likes of Glen Grunwald and Mike Woodson about the decision. Those two were the first to take the mic, and many of the first questions they fielded centered on Lin. Woodson came right out and said “I’m not going to discuss Jeremy Lin” and then turned the focus to New York’s new point guards. Both Woodson and Grunwald wished Lin the best and pretty much left it at that.
- The Knicks are experienced, not old. The other major theme of the questions asked was about the advanced age of New York’s off-season acquisitions (once Rasheed Wallace signs, they’ll have five players older than 35). Woodson in particular championed the addition of older bros, claiming that “young guys are not winning NBA titles” and repeatedly referring to training camp as “veteran camp.” Throughout the afternoon, allusions were made to the 2011 Mavericks and the 1999 Knicks as veteran-heavy teams that went on to great things.
- Rasheed Wallace isn’t officially a Knick yet, but he will be. Grunwald said he had “not signed yet, but we think he probably will.”
- Everyone’s trying to become more versatile. In typical Media Day fashion, several key Knicks spoke up about adapting their games somewhat to do more and benefit the team as much as possible and all that stuff. Carmelo Anthony spoke of not “trying to score 30, 35, 40 points” a night anymore (though he qualified it later with “I’m still gonna try to score the ball. Don’t take that out of context.”), while Tyson Chandler mentioned having practiced a short-range jump shot over the summer, and Amar’e Stoudemire talked up the post game he’s been developing under the tutelage of Hakeem Olajuwon.
- Pretty much everyone is healthy. Iman Shumpert (whose hi-top fade is about four inches tall at this point and apparently isn’t going anywhere) still has a few months of knee rehabilitation, and Ronnie Brewer hopes to be ready by opening day. The rest of ‘em say they’re good to go. Carmelo Anthony is “100 percent.” Tyson Chandler’s hand is fine. Amar’e Stoudemire is in shape and ready to go. Raymond Felton, who admitted to coming into Portland camp last season “out of shape” and “complacent,” is healthy and relatively fit, with his only medical abnormality being a “big, big chip” on his shoulder. As for all the old guys, Marcus Camby went out of his way to say that there are “no restrictions” on the team’s 35-and-up set. They’re in good shape.
- Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire are totally going to make it work. Both Anthony and Stoudemire took questions about their lack of chemistry to date. ‘Melo proclaimed that both guys would be tuning out that talk as much as possible this season, while Amar’e (rightfully) cited the mid-season blockbuster trade in 2011, the lockout, and the mid-season coaching change in 2012 as major obstacles in their path to cohesion.
- The Knicks will try to contend for a championship. Breaking news!
So, there you have it. Everybody’s happy, healthy, and looking forward to a big season and anything, really, that’ll get people’s minds off Jeremy Lin. Training camp — the real, actual basketball — begins Tuesday and will continue until Sunday. We’ll be there most of the week to update on how things are going.