It's not the end-goal that matters, it's how you get there.
Just ask the New York Knicks.
While we were exerting an abundance of energy attempting to disprove how a team with or without Amar'e Stoudemire—led by Carmelo Anthony—could contend for a title, the Knicks were busy preparing to shock the NBA sphere.
New York is a slave to both an injury-riddled docket and the oldest roster in league history, yet it currently boasts the best record in the Association.
So what gives?
Absolutely nothing on the Knicks part, and that's what is important.
It's not that New York is the only undefeated team in the league, it's how this squad became—and subsequently remained—undefeated that matters.
Watch a Knicks game for even five minutes and you'll be able to see they are far from perfect, or even dominant.
New York is inferior on the glass to the tune of 39.6 boards per game, the fifth lowest total in the league. The Knicks are also dishing out just 20.2 assists a night as well, ninth lowest in the NBA. Most notably, though, they aren't fit to run in transition, posting just 8.8 fast break points per bout, the third worst total in the league.
And yet, New York still finds itself not just winning, but winning by double-digits. Every game.
It finds itself holding opponents to a league best 87.8 points per contests and dropping a second-best 103.4 points a bout. And it finds itself shooting a second-best 42.6 percent from beyond the arc and turning the ball over just 10.8 times a night, the lowest total of any team.
But how is this possible? How have the Knicks become so dominant?
Well, the fact is, they haven't.
This team's success doesn't boil down to athleticism or an up-tempo game pace, but rather, it's predicated on intelligence and a sense of responsibility.
Save for their opening game against the Miami Heat, the Knicks have not throttled an opponent from start to finish.
Instead, they've found themselves down by as many as 10 points early, only to come storming back and claim what the scoreboard deems an easy victory.
Yet almost none of their wins have come easy.
Yes, New York has trailed in the fourth quarter just once this season, but that's not the point. The point is they've put themselves in a position to lose on numerous occasions, but have used diligence and perseverance to carry themselves past self-imposed deficits and ultimately to victory.
In other words, the Knicks have dominated, without really dominating; they've won in the face of adversity.
You won't watch this team and think they have a Heat-esque air about them. You won't look at the plays their running and see a complex offensive scheme that leaves the opposition baffled.
And, most importantly, you won't look at their roster—or game film—and believe they'll win games on sheer talent alone.
Which is what makes the Knicks so intriguing. They aren't winning on proven abilities or overwhelming athleticism—they're winning on will.
New York has willed itself to victory more often than not this season.
It has locked down opposing offenses without the help of Iman Shumpert or—for the most part—Marcus Camby. It has relied on erratic scorers in Raymond Felton, J.R. Smith and even Anthony to provide a surplus of offense, even in Stoudemire's absence.
And, most importantly, the Knicks have relied on their collective will to win to find themselves atop the standings.
This team isn't a poster-entity for winning in a flashy demeanor. Instead, they're the embodiment of spitting in the face of what you know.
What the Knicks knew was that most had counted them out.
What they knew is that they would be playing with a fragile roster, one that had already claimed numerous victims in Stoudemire and Shumpert.
And what they knew was they would be facing an uphill battle all season.
What we didn't know, though, was that they refused to accept this.
Anthony has refused to accept his supposed limitations as a leader. He has remained just as involved in the game whether he's on or off the court.
Smith has refused to accept the stigma that suggests he's no more than a one-dimensional scorer. He has left blood and sweat on the floor proving just the opposite.
Tyson Chandler himself has refused to accept the notion that he is merely a defensive mascot. He's become more active on the offensive end while remaining the primary voice on defense.
It doesn't stop there, either.
The Knicks, as a whole, have refused to accept the injury-riddled, age-impeding reality that has been set in front of them; they have refused to accept their limitations as a team.
It's this refusal, this chip that New York is carrying on its shoulder, that has left them undefeated and atop the standings.
It's this motivation that has led to five consecutive wins by 10 or more points.
It's this ever present form of determination—not the roster of big names or the wins themselves—that has left the Knicks where few believed they would be: Amidst the rest of the the contenders.
And it's this sense of resiliency that will keep them there long after their first loss inevitably materializes.
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