It's a good thing someone (okay, everyone) pays attention to the New York Knicks.
That rabid, tough-guy media up there is going to have a field day with this team, win or lose. If the organization's experiment with raiding nursing homes for their best talent turns out a success, this season's headlines may read more like a "this is your life" retrospective than anything current and newsy.
If said experiment fails...well, there's got to be some way to blame this on Isiah Thomas right?
One wonders if adding experience was really the impetus for the archaeological survey that was NYC's offseason. After all, how much experience does a roster need?
Perhaps the real rationale had to do with giving us something to talk about besides Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire. This organization's upper management has always fared better at strategizing against the media than assembling a winner.
Could the mass importation of mid-life mercenaries simply be an elaborate act of misdirection, a media buffer of sorts to spare New York's long-suffering stars some of the endless scrutiny they endure on a daily basis?
Probably not, but it would make for quite the "wag the dog" conspiracy.
The more likely explanation is simply that guys like Jason Kidd, Marcus Camby and Kurt Thomas met three important criteria that really didn't have all that much to do with age, at least directly. They were affordable, available and proven.
They were the best the bargain bins had to offer so long as you're a team trying to win now.
It just so happens that they also happen to be old—or, as GM Glen Grunwald put it (via The Wall Street Journal's Chris Herring): “We don’t think we got older. We feel we got more experienced and better.”
I don't think Grunwald's mischaracterizing the situation. I just feel like he's using euphemisms to avoid saying what we all know to actually be the case.
No, the Knicks didn't get older—they got historically older. Every home game will feel like the Rolling Stones are playing MSG and for all the wrong reasons.
But with age comes wisdom, or so the theory goes anyway.
Eldest statesman Kurt Thomas certainly contributes something New York needs, but you'd probably describe that something as "toughness" or "grit" before really thinking about it in terms of leadership.
Meanwhile, Grunwald describes 38-year-old Marcus Camby as a "great leader," but apparently he was not great enough to stop the Clippers, Trail Blazers and Rockets from trading him three times in the last three years (after the Nuggets traded him away in 2008 in exchange for the option to switch second-round draft picks). Now no one is denying what the center contributes on the defensive end—just wondering if he actually brings anything else to the table.
But then there's Jason Kidd. Surely one of the game's all-time greatest point guards will help transform New York's locker room.
Maybe, although there's something that doesn't sit quite right about how he became a Knick in the first place, at least if you accept Mark Cuban's version of the events:
"I was more than upset. I thought he was coming. I was pissed," Cuban said. "J-Kidd is a big boy; he can do whatever he wants. But you don't change your mind like that. That was ... yeah. I'm sure I'll get over it at some point, but as of now, I wouldn't put J-Kidd's number in the rafters."
Forget the DWI arrest, and forget all the domestic turmoil that's come Kidd's way. However you judge his personal indiscretions, we're only concerned about his professionalism in this instance. Unfortunately, even by that metric, will the Knicks ever feel like this guy completely has their backs after the way he ditched Dallas?
Let's hope they can.
Just don't put too much faith in these aging icons. The Knicks may be better this season, but it probably won't be because of any sage advice. It doesn't always come with age.