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Mind over Matter in the Mecca

Knicks fans have trekked up steep mountains and down treacherous valleys. In the 70’s, the club reached the pinnacle being led by a team of Frazier, Reed, Earl “The Pearl”, and Phil Jackson. In the 90’s they almost reached that high point again by assembling a roster of Starks, Oakley, Mason, Ewing, but ultimately fell short of the summit, which was conquered and defended by none other than “His Airness”, Michael Jordan.

In the decades to follow, the Knicks have been stuck in the valleys with little light creeping in. Through many questionable financial decisions, the Knicks have landed and acquired talent that simply could not help them make the climb. All-Stars, Former All-Stars, 6th Man winners, DPOY winners, and players with other award winning accolades. As fans we constantly point the finger and make excuses. “Why don’t we have a superstar?”, but who can argue that a top 10 player in Carmelo Anthony is not a superstar. To me, the problem isn’t – and never was – talent, the problem is mindset.

At such a high level of play in the NBA, psychology has as much to do with winning as does talent. The greatest feats come from awe inspiring play and conquering what seems to be impossible. These “impossible feats” of course have talent at the base, but it’s the mental fortitude that breaks the boundaries and transforms ordinary to extraordinary. The Knicks have lacked this pivotal mindset as individuals and as a team. Rather than “playing to win” we often “play not to lose”. I know the former and the latter quotes technically and wordily equate to the same result, but do they really? Playing to win = Positivity. Playing not to lose = Negativity. A negative is all you need to negate any positive results.

Enter Phil Jackson, “The Zen Master”. The man who once played on a championed Knicks. The man known to utilize mindsets as much as play sets. My personal hope is that Mr. Jackson is able to transcend not only his mindset but his ability to create contagious positivity that can propel the Knicks to a formidable and relevant team once again. Mr. Jackson’s biggest accomplishment won’t come from gathering a team of big names, yet a team of big minds. The league is tough, and one wrong step can lead a team slipping down that icy mountain, ready for a club like the Knicks to battle its way up. Plus, who doesn’t like Orange and Blue skies at the top.

Written by: Zach Guglielmo