The year was 2013, or in NBA parlance 2012-13. The Knicks’ roster was dotted with veterans and the team went 54-28 under coach Mike Woodson.
You know the rest.
The Knicks have not attained those lofty heights since. But after the preseason came to an end in Brooklyn on Thursday night, the only player left from that 2012-13 squad agreed that a comparison could be made that should give Knicks fans hope going into Tuesday’s opener against the defending champion Cavaliers in Cleveland.
“We have guys on this team that kind of can push the envelope a little bit as far as coming together, holding guys accountable about where we want to be, where we want to go, what kind of team we want to have,” Carmelo Anthony said after the Knicks’ 116-111 victory over the Nets. “There’s some similarities between those two teams. It’s going to be on us to go out there and kind of just buy in formally what we want to formulate out there and guys just being comfortable with one another.”
The Knicks went 4-2 in the preseason. On Friday, coach Jeff Hornacek welcomed back Derrick Rose, who had been away from the team since Oct. 5 because of a civil trial in Los Angeles in which Rose and two other men were accused of raping a former girlfriend. The men were cleared by a federal jury in a decision announced on Wednesday. Rose reported to the Knicks’ Westchester practice facility on Friday for a crash course in what he missed while he was away.
Anthony said training camp and the preseason games were good for the players to start to learn about each other.
“I think just the way that we’ve grown as a unit in these couple of weeks, the way that we kind of got a chance to learn one another, being around each other, [it’s] a foundation of who we want to be as a team,” he said. “Aside from Derrick missing the time that he’s missing, I thought everybody did a great job of just kind of buying in and trying to figure everything out, committing to this journey we’re about to go on.”
The rest of the Knicks had Friday off. They will gather on Saturday to begin three days of practices before heading to Cleveland to face the Cavaliers on the same night the Indians host Game 1 of the World Series.
The Knicks are not going to be the headliners of those events. But Anthony hopes they will grow into a team to watch as the season evolves.
“Going into the season I was always optimistic about the team,” Anthony said. “I think that was just my competitive spirit believing that we could do something, I would believe coming into training camp that we had an opportunity to do something. I think this year is the same. I still have that same mindset.
“[It’s] just the unknown. I think that’s what as of right now gets me excited and gets me going. Not knowing who we’re going to be or what we’re going to be or what we’re going to accomplish. But understanding and being optimistic about what we can accomplish, where we can go, what type of team we can formulate here, I think just not knowing what’s going to happen gets me excited.”