Bill Parcells was watching his former receiver, Keyshawn Johnson, doing his present Tuesday morning when a thought struck him concerning the host’s apparel. On the day that his hometown group would face the Knicks in a sport formed by heavy playoff ramifications, Johnson was sporting a Lakers jersey.
“I love Keyshawn, I really do,” Parcells mentioned. “But let’s see if he’s wearing that jersey tomorrow.”
As a lifelong Knicks fan who had attended his first sport within the Garden 70 years in the past, and who had suffered by way of the darkish years whereas the Lakers had been hanging banner after banner, Parcells had paid sufficient dues to interact in slightly trash discuss with the grasp, Johnson. The former Giants and Jets head coach is invested within the Knicks’ bid to clinch their first playoff berth in eight years, and in Tom Thibodeau’s capability to persuade his gamers that this was even remotely attainable.
Back when preseason oddsmakers had these Knicks going 22-50, Parcells, two-time Super Bowl champ, was on the cellphone sounding like a believer in a much better file than that. From a distance, he mentioned he’d lengthy admired the work of Thibodeau, whom he’d by no means met, “because he gets guys to do things,” which is a splendidly Parcellsian factor to say. And because the 38-30 Knicks had been making ready to play the 38-30 Lakers, minus LeBron James, Parcells was speaking concerning the stunning job Thibodeau has done in instantly reworking the Knicks from a hopelessly misplaced trigger right into a group that might win a first-round playoff sequence, and possibly even frighten a heavyweight in Round 2.
“My God,” Parcells mentioned, “this has been like going from the outhouse to the castle.”
He watched from begin to end because the Knicks beat the Clippers on the street the opposite day, watched them beat Kawhi Leonard and Paul George on a day when Julius Randle scored solely 14 factors and didn’t make a single 3-point shot.
“The Knicks try to play the right way, you know what I mean?” Parcells mentioned. “They play each ends of the ground, and so they’re unselfish. That’s what a group is meant to be.
“Confidence is born out of demonstrated ability. You’ve got to demonstrate it, and beating the Clippers was a good demonstration right there. That makes you say, ‘Hey, we might have a chance to do something.’ ”
Win or lose within the Staples Center on Tuesday night time, the Knicks would return house with an opportunity to do one thing that was arduous to fathom 5 months in the past. Who might have guessed that the Knicks could be three video games forward of the Celtics with 4 video games to play, or that Randle could be this sort of sweet-shooting All-Star, or that Derrick Rose could be playing like prime Derrick Rose in his second New York act? Who might have guessed that the Knicks — the final word gang that couldn’t shoot straight — would stand among the many league’s most effective 3-point-shooting groups?
Who might have guessed that Tom Thibodeau would impose his will on an underwhelming roster as rapidly as he did?
“I’m no basketball coach or expert, but you can tell the team responds to him, just by the way they act,” Parcells mentioned. “These guys, they’re just trying to win, and that’s what’s great about it. It’s been so long in New York.”
Much prefer it was for the Parcells Giants, who, in January 1987, received the franchise’s first championship in 30 years. A highschool basketball star, Parcells usually performed pickup ball along with his Wichita State schoolmates and associates, Dave Stallworth and Nate Bowman, members of the Knicks’ first title group in 1970. He mentioned he’s uncomfortable speaking publicly about basketball, since he didn’t coach it. “But I like the Knicks and I’m happy with what’s going on there,” Parcells mentioned. “And you can’t help but like what this guy has done.”
This man. Thibodeau. Parcells and Thibodeau are each tough-guy locals (Big Bill from New Jersey, Thibs from Connecticut) who ended up in dream jobs, teaching professional groups they grew up rooting for. But it was Parcells’s first year with the Jets, not his first yr along with his boyhood group, the Giants (when he went 3-12-1 and almost bought fired), that almost all reminds of Thibodeau’s first yr with the Knicks. In 1997, proper after he left the Patriots, Parcells turned Rich Kotite’s 1-15 Jets into his personal 9-7 Jets.
“I don’t want to talk about that,” Parcells mentioned, “because I don’t want to jinx the Knicks. We should’ve been 10-6.”
And within the playoffs, which the Jets missed by a sport. That’s OK. All these years later, Bill Parcells’ favourite basketball group and coach are in higher postseason form.