A Plan for a Knicks’ Future? Look to a Spurs’ Past

But what if they had hailed from a some-more media-centric marketplace from that to launch their egalitarian approach, a one that endures in a post-Duncan epoch with a new heading man, Kawhi Leonard, who, like Tim Duncan, is antithetic to preening?

By a measures of a time (the early 1970s) and group (the 1970 and 1973 championship Knicks) that helped figure a immature Popovich’s coaching methodology, it’s easy to suppose him in New York being deified as a second entrance of Red Holzman; Duncan as a reincarnation of Willis Reed; and Ginobili, along with a French indicate ensure Tony Parker, as distinguished examples of melting pot diversity.

Leonard? The melded jaunty expansion of Cazzie Russell, Dave Stallworth, Bill Bradley and Dave DeBusschere.

It’s also satisfactory to wonder: In a increasingly glitzy, superstar-driven N.B.A., could a Spurs have even been a Spurs in a marketplace like New York, with a derelict night life temptations and news-media-induced ego inflations?

“When you’re winning, we consider we could do it,” Popovich pronounced in a coaching bureau of a visitors’ locker room before Tuesday’s game. “I consider they could have survived here. As distant as a invasiveness, they’re also flattering open to people. They talk. But they’re flattering unselfish in that it’s never been about a camera. So we consider a solid, elemental play and a sold personalities would have been appreciated by a Knicks fans, who are a many worldly — during slightest that’s what’s in my head.”

The doubt becomes some-more applicable now that a Knicks have changed on from their unsuccessful Hail Carmelo examination and are building a substructure with a Spurs-like general flavor, commencement with a Latvian large male Kristaps Porzingis, a earnest French rookie indicate ensure Frank Ntilikina and a charismatic Turkish core Enes Kanter.

The Knicks competence not be prepared to kick a still challenging Spurs, though can they — operationally and stylistically, during slightest — turn a Spurs?


Popovich was tender with his initial looks during Knicks ensure Frank Ntilikina, above. “It was a initial time we watched a indicate guard, and he was ease and cold a whole game,” he said. “Didn’t contend anything, only did what they asked him to do.”

Julie Jacobson/Associated Press

A comically antacid voice of experience, Popovich is mostly asked what he thinks of flattering most all things N.B.A., and more. He will typically respond by saying, “Last we checked, we were still branch a round over, so until we get all of that things straight, we don’t have to worry about anybody else.”


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But a Knicks — and Ntilikina, in sold — did leave an clarity on him in San Antonio final week with their opinion and their joining to round movement.

“They came into a timeouts and walked behind onto a justice and they played, and either something went good or wrong for them, they only played, only competed,” Popovich said. “So we was only tender with a operation.”

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On Ntilikina, he said: “It was a initial time we watched a indicate guard, and he was ease and cold a whole game. Didn’t contend anything, only did what they asked him to do.”

Noting Ntilikina’s mental approach, size, reach, justice prophesy and defensive tenacity, Popovich nodded when it was suggested that a 19-year-old could be a nightly stat-line filler.

“He competence be special,” he said.

Popovich had to bargain with a 19-year-old French child with a opposite physique form and personification proceed when Parker was a rookie in 2001. Popovich’s initial examination clarity of Parker was “a spare kid” who struck him as “soft” and “too cold for school.” He was prone not to breeze him, though a second demeanour assured him otherwise, and Parker was so considerable in training stay that he wound adult starting 72 games as a rookie — and that was for a group with championship aspirations.

“I don’t know if rolling a bones creates we brave, though a stupidity was positively there,” Popovich said.

Parker, he agreed, paved a highway for Ntilikina and others. As did a Spurs, in a incomparable sense, for latecomers like a Knicks to a mining of general talent.

“It’s only not an oddity, success by other people’s success, only meaningful it could happen,” Popovich said. “We’ve all got ’em, and it’s finished a N.B.A. better.”


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Importing talent is opposite from nurturing it and consistent it with homegrown talent, as a Spurs have finished for scarcely dual decades with undeviating excellence. The plea for a Knicks’ government group headed by Steve Mills and Scott Perry is how to change out a daily news media dissections, change long-term ambitions with short-term rewards, while anticipating that a owners James Dolan doesn’t review to his past chaos-inducing intrusions.

All with a bargain that Porzingis and his shrewd comparison hermit and agent, Janis, are examination closely to see if a Knicks can act some-more like a Spurs before a time comes to recommit long-term.

Ever a defender of a smaller and less-fussed-over market, Popovich nonetheless pronounced he hoped they could.

“I’ve always believed that a N.B.A.’s improved if it has good teams in New York, L.A., Chicago,” he said. “It raises everybody’s boat.”

At slightest a box can be finished it did a final time a Knicks won a title, when Popovich was furloughed a universe while portion in a Air Force, 45 years ago this spring.

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