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Knicks work on team building on and off court

The Knicks practice during the first day of

The Knicks practice during the first day of training camp at the U.S. Military Academy in West Point on Tuesday, Sept. 30, 2014. Credit: Andrew Theodorakis

WEST POINT, N.Y. - As much as Derek Fisher is trying to establish a foundation and culture on the court, the Knicks also are having some team-building experiences away from the gym that could go a long way toward how they play this season.

The night before camp opened, they watched the documentary "When the Garden Was Eden" about the Knicks' glory years, when team president Phil Jackson was in uniform and they won their only two NBA championships, captivating New York.

Before practice Wednesday, the Knicks ate breakfast in the mess hall with 4,000 cadets, talking and learning from them. Both helped give the Knicks a feeling of togetherness that was missing from last season's 37-45 team.

"After seeing that film, that documentary, we all walked out of there, like we felt like we was one, we felt like one team and we were together and we were here for a purpose," Carmelo Anthony said. "Today, everybody was still talking about that from the film, to the lunch with the cadets -- it's the same message.

"Regardless of what we're doing, whatever event we're going to, it's the same message -- it's one team. That's what we're trying to create here."

Anthony said the Knicks haven't felt that kind of unity in past years. He said three different times how everybody has each other's backs.

"The energy is different," Anthony said. "The culture is a lot different now. The vibes around here is different. You see everybody now is willing to help one another. Everybody is very focused on the things that we have to be focused on."

It's only been three practices and things can change quickly with injuries or once the games begin. But the Jackson-Fisher leadership has everyone's attention.

"Look at the teams they've had in the past and how much success they've had," J.R. Smith said. "If you hate losing, you'll buy into it and see where it takes us."

Smith, whose focus isn't always on basketball, agreed that in the past the Knicks players looked out for themselves more than the team. But he said practices have been more businesslike and everyone knows their job.

"I think when it's more detailed everybody has a better understanding of what they want and expect and how to succeed," Smith said. "This year is definitely one [team]."

Fisher continued to concentrate on defense during yesterday's practice. They went over some offensive sets, but then ended practice with an individual defensive drill.

The individual player closed out to all five spots on the floor occupied by one of the assistant coaches. The emphasis was to not give up, and keep working from one side of the court to the other. The players were animated and spirited and encouraging one another during the drill.

Fisher hopes all their experiences at the U.S. Military Academy, on and off the court, will have a major impact on the Knicks becoming a true team.

"Just understanding that we're part of a larger fabric of society and that in the NBA sometimes we think in a bubble," Fisher said. "We're so hung up on each win and each loss and who scored this many points and who played this many minutes, and I think being here allows us to take a step back sometimes, even as we're trying to become a team, just recognizing the importance of how other people really matter to your individual success. So without those other people, you can't be successful individually."

Underrated Melo?Anthony told ESPN.com he's the most underrated star in the NBA. "I think I'm the most underrated superstar that's out there, but that doesn't matter to me," Anthony said. "I know how consistent I've been over my career. To do it day in and day out and night in and night out on a very consistent basis year in year out, I know what I can do and I know the work I've put in."

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