BULLS RUN: A RIVALRY RENEWED

It’s a rivalry as old as Major League Soccer itself: New York vs. D.C. United.

Whether the New York soccer franchise has been known as the MetroStars or the Red Bulls, there has always been an extra feeling of enmity towards D.C. United. Now, the two rivals meet again in the postseason, with hostilities renewing Sunday in the first leg of the Eastern Conference Semifinals at Red Bull Arena. (Live coverage gets under way at 3:30 PM on MSG).

This will be the fifth time the teams have met in the postseason and the Red Bulls will be looking to record their first series win over D.C. United. This year’s Eastern Conference regular season winners have never lost a playoff series to New York in the four previous meetings – 1996, 2004, 2006 and 2012. The results in the regular season this year also went D.C. United’s way, with the Black-and-Reds winning two out of the three matchups.

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But this might be the year the Red Bulls lay old demons to rest. After all, they hadn’t won a playoff game at Red Bull Arena until Thursday’s dramatic 2-1 win over Sporting Kansas City. Red Bulls head coach Mike Petke hopes that the good karma generated from that victory over SKC carries over to Sunday’s game.

“Over the last couple of years, I’ve been saying I don’t believe in any curses or jinxes or anything like that,” he said after Thursday’s win. “But I thought maybe we were just scared of the playoffs. But [the players] proved that wrong, and now they’re happy in the locker room, exhausted, and now it’s on to DC.”

“Over the last couple of years, I’ve been saying I don’t believe in any curses or jinxes or anything like that,” he said after Thursday’s win. “But I thought maybe we were just scared of the playoffs. But [the players] proved that wrong, and now they’re happy in the locker room, exhausted, and now it’s on to DC.”

SCOUTING REPORT: D.C. UNITED

The Black-and-Reds had one of its best seasons in franchise history, completing a worst-to-first turnaround. After tallying just 16 points in 2013, DC United took the Eastern Conference regular season crown with 59 points.

Ironically, the D.C. United attack is powered by a former Red Bull striker. Fabian Espindola had a somewhat uneven 2013 season in New York and had his position in the first XI usurped by Bradley Wright-Philips. Espindola moved to the nation’s capital for the 2014 season to earn a starting place and has arguably been D.C. United’s MVP this season. The Argentine striker tallied 11 goals – tied for the team lead – and also had nine assists.

And while the Red Bulls relied upon Wright-Phillips’ goal production, DC United’s goal scoring was spread throughout the team. Luis Sliva also scored 11 goals for United and former US International Eddie Johnson chipped in with seven.

But what really drove DC United’s success this season was its defense. Goalie Bill Hamid was tied for the fewest goals allowed this season in MLS, surrendering just 37. Hamid was particularly stellar this season in between the posts this year, recording 10 shutouts.

RED BULLS KEYS TO VICTORY:

Use the Home-Field Advantage

It sounds pretty obvious, but it’s imperative for the Red Bulls to get a winning result at home Sunday. D.C. United’s road performance was somewhat mediocre (6-4-7), but its form at RFK Stadium was one of the best in the league (11-4-2). It makes Sunday’s game all that more important as New York would face an uphill battle if tied or behind going into the second leg.

Keep The Ball and Keep it Tight

The Red Bulls played Thursday in the play-in game, while DC United comes in fully rested and can go all out in trying to press and harass the Red Bulls into mistakes. It’s crucial for New York to keep possession of the ball and not give it away cheaply in transition. The less energy spent chasing after the ball, the better of a chance the Red Bulls will have to get a result.

With the away goals rule in effect, it’s doubly important for New York to keep the ball out of its net Sunday. If the two teams are tied after the two legs, the tiebreaker is the team that has scored more away goals. That could come into play with two clubs that normally play close matches.

Who’s Down With BWP and Henry?

Thirty-seven of the Red Bulls’ 55 goals this season came from either Wright-Phillips or Thierry Henry. While both men will be expected to score, it would also help New York’s chances greatly if they get goals from other areas. This is as a good a time as any for Tim Cahill to rediscover his goalscoring form from midfield and a trademark header from the Australian is exactly what New York needs in order to pull off the upset.

 

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The Knicks Fix: Season’s Greetings

Phil Jackson admittedly walked into a ready-made situation with the Lakers. He had been part of the building process as an assistant coach with the Bulls. But here in New York he begins the first ground-up renovation of his career.

And it starts tonight at Madison Square Garden, where his NBA career began, against the franchise where his championship legacy was created.

The notion that the Knicks, with most of it’s core still intact from an underachieving 37-win team last season, will be instantly better should be dismissed before the ball is even tipped off. Both Jackson and Derek Fisher

have already acknowledged this is a work-in-progress. The only thing that can be promised is the group that takes the court is far from the final product. There will be changes along the way.

Yes, this is only the beginning. And that’s something we are used to around here, since this marks the fifth new beginning in the last 13 years.

Some say New Yorkers don’t have the patience for rebuilding. Knicks fans have proven that theory wrong. Through numerous changes in the front office and in head coaches over the years, hope has been invested and, save for the 54-win season two years ago, there has been no profit to celebrate.

So why will this be different?
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1. Culture – Jackson is a presence and a proven leader who creates an environment and quickly recognizes who does and who doesn’t thrive in that environment. The Knicks have gone through many different leadership changes, which has created a great deal of inconsistency at the top of the organization.

During the 1990s, there was consistency, which allowed a culture to exist and perpetuate. The franchise, with Patrick Ewing as its face, had an identity. Jackson’s first mission is to create a culture and his presence, and reputation, allows it to grow.

2. Action Jackson – Jackson has no serious investment into anyone on the roster aside from Carmelo Anthony, who signed a five-year deal. So when it comes to playing time and trading time, the only decision that should matter is what advances the cause.

Don’t expect Jackson to hesitate when it comes to upgrading the roster. Dumping a $3 million veteran (Travis Outlaw) to make room for an undrafted free agent (Travis Wear) who has better upside in this system is a perfect example of why there is a new approach in the front office.

3. System – First you need to understand that the Triangle Offense is not some magical system that is impossible to stop and makes bad players good. What it is, however, is a system that sets a foundation of style of play. It’s an identity. There could be a situation where a marginally-skilled player may fit much better than a skilled player. It demands more from you mentally than physically, which means high-IQ over high-flying.

And it takes time not only to find the flow that is necessary for it to work, but also to recognize who fits and who doesn’t. This is not as simple as D’Antoni’s Seven Seconds or Less, where a journeyman such as Chris Duhon can record 22 assists running pick-and-roll but good defenses can exploit and bad shooting nights can destroy. This is going to take time to get right, but it has a bigger payoff in the end once synchronicity is achieved.

4. Carmelo Anthony – He has taken ownership, which is critical to the process. When your best and highest paid player has bought in, there is no one else on the roster who can rebel. Melo may not be the leader that Ewing was, but over the last two years he has shown to be the consistently reliable presence that Ewing was night-in and night-out.

His fitness level is a great example of this. Melo, like Ewing, still needs a supporting cast and some no-nonsense types to be voices in the locker room, but they are one step ahead in the building process with him here.

5. Leadership – Derek Fisher has a lot to learn when it comes to game management, for sure, but while he hasn’t experienced the job in the first seat on the bench, the last few years of his career has been in a player-coach role. And being a leader is something that came natural to him from the beginning of his career.

It’s not the leadership of a superstar who had players follow him, either. It’s the leadership of a self-made man who has shown genuine interest in his teammates on a personal and professional level and earned the respect of his peers from his worth ethic and determination. The Knicks have had many coaches over the last decade. How many of them could you say commanded the respect that Fisher already does?

6. Youth – The Knicks have had young teams before. The 2005-06 team had eight players on the roster that were 25 years old or younger, but had leadership issues. This year’s team has six players under the age of 25 and you could argue with Jackson and Fisher, they are in better hands. Tim Hardaway Jr. has the potential to be an explosive scorer off the bench, especially if he adds the ability to drive to the basket and draw fouls. Iman Shumpert could thrive as a defensive stopper under Fisher, who took pride in his defense as well.

And many critics around the league believe Cleanthony Early

was the steal of the NBA Draft last June, when the Knicks landed him in the second round. He’s still raw, but with the proper development and time, he could become a valuable piece in this build. Let’s also say that Fisher brought with him from Oklahoma City two heralded player development coaches in Brian Keefe and Joshua Longstaff, both of whom played a big role in the growth of the Thunder’s young talent.

7. More Youth Ahead? – The Knicks own their 2015 first round pick, so if they don’t make the playoffs, they will be in the lottery. And even if they are in the playoffs, when the Knicks have kept their picks, the scouts here have proven they can find talent late in the first round.

8. Cap Space – Yes, we all know what comes on July 1. Or, better yet, what goes. Several large contracts expire, which will put the Knicks well under the salary cap for the 2015-16 season. There is still some maneuvering to do and technicalities such as “cap holds” make it difficult to report an exact figure, but there is expected to be enough room to allow for a max contract or the ability to sign (or acquire) two players to large deals.

9. Even East – With the breakup of the Miami Heat, the Eastern Conference has become a lot more competitive, but also a lot more wide open. The Bulls and the Cleveland Cavaliers expect to be among the best, but you also have to consider the Washington Wizards as a sleeper. There will be far more competition night to night and that parity could keep the race a lot tighter. It may allow the Knicks time to grow during the season and make a strong second half push.

10. Division By Multiplication – The Toronto Raptors are the favorite to repeat as the Atlantic Division champs, but they are not a juggernaut that can’t be beaten. The Brooklyn Nets have a terrific coach in Lionel Hollins and a good starting five, but health and depth are always an issue for them. One way the Knicks can ensure a playoff berth is to win the division and the lack of one dominant team allows them to believe that is possible if they can stay within reach.

11. Legacy – This job is personal to Phil Jackson. During the years he was beating the Knicks in Chicago and even during his time with the Lakers, he always talked with emotion about the Knicks and the state of the franchise. He won six rings with the Bulls and five with the Lakers, but winning just one in New York, and returning this franchise to the heights where he saw it as a player under Red Holzman, would be the ultimate final achievement in his Hall of Fame career.

That’s our list of 11. Do you have any other points to add? Post a comment below or tweet at me!

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The Knicks Fix Video Blog: Wally Szczerbiak, Part III

As the 2014-15 season-opener nears, MSG Network’s Alan Hahn has been inviting guests to talk about the past and current Knicks teams in a special video version of his The Knicks Fix podcast.

In part III of Hahn’s conversation with former NBA All-Star and MSG Network analyst Wally Szczerbiak, the two discuss the Knicks’ chances of making the playoffs this season.

After missing out on the postseason last year, Szczerbiak believes the team can get back to the playoffs after being invigorated with an infusion of new talent.

Are the Knicks a playoff team? Wally Szczerbiak gives his opinion to Alan Hahn on if Derek Fisher can guide the Knicks to the postseason in his first season as head coach.

“With the fresh outlook that this team has, with some of the pieces that they’ve added, I think team chemistry will definitely be better,” Szczerbiak said.  “Team chemistry goes a long way over a course of an 82-game season. I think that’s going to help the Knicks become a playoff team this year.”

But there are no certainties in the NBA and Szczerbiak cautions Knicks fans in thinking that new coach Derek Fisher will turn the team into an instant success.

“You can never guarantee anything in [the NBA],” he said. “Other teams are competitive. Other general managers do a great job of finding players. You never think you got anything figured out in this league.”

The Knicks begin their journey back to the postseason Wednesday at The Garden against the Bulls. Live coverage gets under way at 7 PM on MSG.

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The Knicks Fix: Melo Open To Triangular Thinking

LAS VEGAS — Derek Fisher

grinned at the suggestion that the championship success of the San Antonio Spurs this past season — winning with a foundation of team play over individual talent — might have helped him sell the message of the Triangle Offense to Carmelo Anthony.

“It’s ironic that the Spurs did anything to help me, as a former Laker,” said Fisher, known well for his “Point-Four Shot,” the game-winning basket with 0.4 seconds left in a pivotal Game 5 against the Spurs in the 2004 Western Conference semifinals.

“But, in my opinion, I don’t know if what the Spurs have done, or have been doing, has ever changed,” Fisher continued. “Basketball has always been a team game. We talk a lot about Big Threes and superstars, and which team are they going to and which three or four guys are going to be playing together. But at the end of the day, it’s the best team that ultimately wins a championship.

“We hope to be that one day, but right now we have to start at the beginning and that’s becoming a team. But we think this offense will help us.”

It helps that they’ll have one of the game’s best scorers in that offense. But for Melo, his transition into this system — which brought great success to Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O’Neal and Pau Gasol — won’t be about how well he can score in it. But, instead, how well he can play in it.

The system demands not just ball movement, but player movement. We’re getting a little taste of it in Summer League play right now and what you see is the ball goes to the high- or mid-post, and players on both sides of the court begin cuts and screens, creating movement and options. It’s not going to involve high screen-and-rolls with the point guard dominating the ball and shooters in the corners. It’s not going to involve isolating Carmelo Anthony on the wing and having stand-still kick-out options for him when the double-team comes.

Melo is going to have to play within the movement. TNT’s David Aldridge asked Fisher if he has imagined Melo in the “pinch post” similarly to how Pippen thrived in the offense. It would open up a lot of room for Melo, because the pinch post sets up on the weak side elbow. There are various options once he gets the ball and most of them include passing the ball, something Pippen thrived at as a “point-forward” on those great Bulls teams. But with all of the movement, it also creates spacing for Melo to get off his dangerously quick release mid-range shot.

“Oh yeah,” Fisher said to that idea. “I imagined it quite a bit. It’s an area he likes to operate before even playing in this system.”

Fisher then quickly tagged his reaction with a thought that both he and Phil Jackson routinely hammer home.

“But it’s important we don’t put him there and then just watch him play, which is easy to do with great players,” Fisher said. “We have to have things going on around him, wherever he catches the basketball, that will allow him to make his pla,y but also be able to make a play for his teammates. And that will make the game easy for him.”

The new mindset of the NBA is that stars need more talent — preferably other stars — around them to thrive. The idea is putting two or three stars together takes the burden off one star. But Fisher believes the right system — and the development of trust within teammates, which is a page torn out of the Spurs playbook — can do that too.

Jackson will point out that despite the perception that his success came from coaching some of the game’s best players, only once did he have more than two all-stars from his teams in a single year. And it’s worth noting that over the last 40 years, there have been three all-stars on a single NBA team 35 times. And the only one from a Phil Jackson-coached team? It came in 1994 when Pippen, BJ Armstrong and Horace Grant were named to the team. Not exactly a superstar lineup there.

Fisher believes Melo is ready to buy into the system that made champions out of Jordan, Pippen, Kobe and Shaq and the philosophy that has made the Spurs one of the great franchises in sports.

“In conversations I’ve had with him, that’s what he wants,” Fisher said. “He doesn’t want us to give him the basketball and just say, ‘Save the day.’ He wants to be in an environment where everybody’s effective. He wants a balanced basketball team and that’s what we need to build.”

FIXINS

  • Fisher made headlines by proclaiming the Knicks, even without any more changes to the roster, are a playoff team.”In my opinion, based on our roster and the things we’re going to do and who we’re going to become, we can compete for playing in the playoffs and playing for a championship in the Eastern Conference,” he said on Monday. He later reiterated it, saying, “I believe in the group of guys that we have, even if nothing else changes, we’re good enough to be a playoff team in the Eastern Conference. But we’ll obviously have to go out on the floor and prove it.”The Knicks went 37-45 last season and missed the playoffs by just one game, so Fisher certainly wasn’t going out on a limb. It was an awful start to the season that did them in, as they were playing well enough late in the season to be a playoff team.
  • Jackson, too, made a very noteworthy statement while sitting in on the MSG Network broadcast during the Knicks win over Charlotte here in Las Vegas on Monday. When talking, he was asked about Andrea Bargnani, Jackson said the big man, who was acquired from the Raptors last year and cost the Knicks a 2016 first round pick, was “just overlooked.”He then added, “We think he’s going to do well in the kind of system we have … I think he’s going to be a surprise and I think he’s going to be a pleasant one for us.”
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The Knicks Fix Video Blog: Spike Lee, Part II & III

Renowned film director, producer, writer, actor and super Knicks fan Spike Lee recently sat down with MSG Network’s Alan Hahn to talk about past and current Knicks teams, and Spike’s upcoming special on MSG, “What Is The Triangle Offense? A Spike Lee Orange and Blue Skies Joint.” Leading up to the Knicks season-opener, Hahn has been interviewing special guests in a video edition of his popular The Knicks Fix podcast.

In this clip, see Spike Lee and Alan Hahn discuss the cultural impact of Lee’s 1989 hit film “Do the Right Thing” and how it still has lasting value to this very day.

DO THE RIGHT THING

Spike Lee and Alan Hahn talk about the cultural impact of Lee's 1989 film "Do the Right Thing" and how it still has lasting value to this very day.

Below, Spike Lee explains “What Is The Triangle Offense? A Spike Lee Orange and Blue Skies Joint” and what he expects fans to come away with from the special.

WHAT IS THE TRIANGLE OFFENSE?

Editor’s Note: Stay tuned for the complete interview in an upcoming edition of the The Knicks Fix podcast.

In the hour-long special that premieres Friday, Oct. 24 at 10:30 PM on MSG, Spike Lee brings viewers exclusive and in-depth interviews with team President Phil Jackson, coach Derek Fisher and Knicks players. The special also features on-court demonstrations.

Watch behind-the-scenes footage from the special:

Watch Spike Lee in action as he directs and produces an hour-long special for MSG Network, "What Is The Triangle Offense? A Spike Lee Orange and Blue Skies Joint."

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The Knicks Fix: STAT Ready to be Center of Attention Again

Amar’e Stoudemire is playing for his fifth different coach in seven seasons. With the Knicks, Derek Fisher is the third coach he’s played for in New York since he arrived as a free agent in 2010.

“Every year,” he said, “has been different.”

With Mike D’Antoni, it was pick-and-roll and up-tempo offense, which he knew well from his Seven Seconds or Less days with D’Antoni in Phoenix. With Mike Woodson, it was half-court offense and post-up play, which led him to developing a post-up game by working with Hakeem Olajuwon. Now for Stoudemire, it’s about the elbow/high post, facing up to the basket and passing.

As usual, Stoudemire says the latest system he is working in, the Triangle Offense, fits him well. “It will allow me to utilize all of my skills,” he said.

Amar'e Stoudemire talks about playing center in the triangle offense and the possibility of being the starter at the five for the Knicks.

Offense has never been an issue for Amar’e, whose minutes dropped dramatically over the last two seasons due to his injuries, but his production was still near his career standard. Last season, for instance, he averaged 19 points per 36 minutes.

But defense has always been the criticism of Stoudemire’s game. It’s something he is quite cognizant of and entered this season intent to improve in that area. With Amar’e, it’s never a lack of effort. In fact, Fisher noted that Stoudemire provides something on the defensive end that many coaches value.

“He communicates really well,” Fisher said. “You always hear Amar’e’s voice on the floor.”

You always hear former Bull-now-Laker Carlos Boozer’s voice on the defensive end, as well, but he, too, is usually maligned for his defensive capabilities.

And it doesn’t help Stoudemire’s mission to return to starting status when the Milwaukee Bucks come in and drop 120 points on the Knicks — including 32 in the first quarter — in his first start of the preseason. Coincidentally, Stoudemire pointed to a “lack of communication on defense” to the Knicks’ issues in that area.

Fisher didn’t quite praise Stoudemire for his performance in the game, but did note that “he tried to communicate to his teammates as much as he could on the defensive end. So I was happy. He looked good.”

Does it matter that in 24 minutes, Stoudemire finished plus-4 in a game his team lost by 13?

The better question is: Will Fisher give Stoudemire another look as the starting center? If not, what exactly will the 31-year-old’s role be for this team as he enters the final year of his contract? Stoudemire openly campaigned for minutes at the center position on a team that already has three 7-footers in Sam Dalembert, Jason Smith and Andrea Bargnani.

“I’ve been playing that position for a long time,” he said. “A lot of people forget back in my Phoenix days, against the Spurs and Lakers, that’s where I got most of my bread-and-butter from, the pinch post and also the post-up area. So I’m just going back to my old roots.”

Actually, Stoudemire’s real roots are in pick-and-roll sets and drives to the basket. He also has developed an effective curl, catch and shoot at the elbow. In an offense where holding the ball for more than two beats is considered counter-productive, the Knicks are better off keeping Stoudemire moving rather than allowing him to dig in for regular post-up situations. But can his body withstand the demands of constant motion, rolling to the rim and explosive finishes?

As far as minutes go, Stoudemire will get his share, despite the log jam of bodies in the frontcourt. Each of the four bigs have a history of injuries, which means none could be considered workhorses that can carry over 30 minutes a night.

But when it comes to supporting cast offense that the Knicks will need around Carmelo Anthony, Stoudemire has the best resume of anyone on the roster.

RIGHT ANGLED TRIANGLE

Spike Lee’s special, “What Is The Triangle Offense: A Spike Lee Orange And Blue Skies Joint,” will air Friday night at 10:30 PM on MSG Network. He spent extensive time with Phil Jackson, Fisher and the coaching staff outlining the Triangle Offense and telling it’s history. He also learned a little something about it that he hopes to share with all of you.

He also told me he doesn’t expect the Knicks to fully grasp the system – I mean have it down pat – until February. That’s over half a season into the schedule.

Spike Lee joins Alan Hahn to discuss their expectations for the Knicks this season and how first time coach Derek Fisher will fare.

But that doesn’t mean it will be a total mess until then. In fact, there is already evidence that the concepts of the system are already taking hold. The most important tenet of all is sharing the ball. After spending most of the last two seasons at the bottom of the NBA rankings in passing, the Knicks offense so far in preseason has seen the ball move frequently and directly lead to scores.

Last season, just 54.2% of the Knicks’ made field goals were assisted, which was the fourth-lowest in the NBA. After five preseason games, that number has jumped to 63.6%, a rate that would have ranked third in the NBA last season. When they scored a preseason-high 107 points against the Bucks, the Knicks assisted on 74% of their made baskets.

And that number could grow if the Knicks can improve their shooting percentage. After five preseason games, the Knicks are shooting just 43.3% from the field. Last season the Knicks shot 44.9% from the field, which was the league median.

FIXINS

Up until the poor showing against the Bucks, the Knicks defense had been effective if you consider the numbers. In the four previous preseason games, the Knicks were allowing just 86 points per game and holding opponents to 41.6% shooting. Milwaukee put up 120 points and shot 59.7% from the field, including 12-of-24 (50%) from three-point range. Fisher said the Knicks, like most teams, are not scouting or preparing for opponents in preseason play, but there are still “defensive concepts and foundations” that the players must execute. That, obviously, did not happen in that game . . .

Bargnani’s hamstring issues are enough to cause concern about his availability for the regular season, which opens next week. Fisher said it’s too early to know if Bargnani won’t be ready to play in time for the Oct. 29 season-opener against the Bulls, but did say that the big man has to practice some and be at “the level of conditioning you need to play in a game.” . . .

Jose Calderon (calf strain) seems to be OK, while J.R. Smith is battling back spasms that come and go, which leaves his availability uncertain. With two preseason games left to play, Fisher said he hoped to get into a starting five and set rotation, but won’t push minutes at the risk of furthering injuries . . .

What a thrilling history lesson writer Harvey Araton and producer Michael Rapaport created in “When The Garden Was Eden,” a 30-for-30 documentary that aired on ESPN Tuesday night. We’ve heard many of the stories, but Rapaport did a terrific job bringing them to life, not to mention unearthing video of one of the legendary moments, when Willis Reed took on the entire Lakers team. As for the current team, Rapaport told me that Phil Jackson arranged for a private screening of the documentary for the players on the eve of training camp.

He told me about that experience, plus what it was like to make that movie, in the first Knicks Fix Podcast of the season, which you can listen to below:

Actor and director Michael Rapaport joins Alan Hahn to discuss all things Knicks, both past and present, and his upcoming ESPN documentary, "30 for 30: When The Garden Was Eden," about the Knicks' championship teams in the 70s.

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The Knicks Fix Video Blog: Spike Lee, Part I

enowned film director, producer, writer, actor and super Knicks fan Spike Lee recently sat down with MSG Network’s Alan Hahn to talk about past and current Knicks teams, and Spike’s upcoming special on MSG, “What Is The Triangle Offense? A Spike Lee Orange and Blue Skies Joint.” Leading up to the Knicks season-opener, Hahn has been interviewing special guests in a video edition of his popular The Knicks Fix podcast.

In this clip, Spike Lee talks about his expectations for the 2014-15 Knicks and his thoughts on first-year head coach Derek Fisher “He’s (Fisher) a great presence,” Lee said. “I’m very optimistic about this year, this team.”

Spike Lee joins Alan Hahn to discuss their expectations for the Knicks this season and how first time coach Derek Fisher will fare.

Watch behind-the-scenes footage from the special:

Watch Spike Lee in action as he directs and produces an hour-long special for MSG Network, "What Is The Triangle Offense? A Spike Lee Orange and Blue Skies Joint."

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Islanders Introduce New Ownership Partners

**COURTESY NEW YORK ISLANDERS**

The New York Islanders officially introduced two new ownership partners, Jon Ledecky and Scott Malkin, in a joint press conference with owner Charles Wang and General Manager Garth Snow Wednesday at Nassau Coliseum.

“Jon and I are thrilled to be here today,” said Malkin. “It’s a great privilege to participate in this small way in the phenomenal Islanders hockey tradition.”

Ledecky and Malkin reached an agreement to purchase the Islanders on Aug. 19 and the deal was approved by the National Hockey League’s Board of Governors on Sept. 30.

The pair will serve as minority owners for the next two years, with Wang serving as the majority owner. After the two-year period, the parties will switch roles, with Ledecky and Malkin holding a majority share to Wang’s minority stake. Ledecky and Malkin are embracing their role as minority owners and say they are eager to learn from an experienced owner.

The New York Islanders officially introduced Jon Ledecky and Scott Malkin at a press conference on Wednesday afternoon.

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“As I’ve told Scott, so much has changed in the 15 years since I last was in the NHL,” Ledecky, a former part-owner of the Washington Capitals, said. “It is a process for us to learn once again. So many things have happened in the league both player-wise, player conditioning, statistical analysis, things that weren’t prevalent in 1999 when I first came into the league. I think we do have a lot to learn. This process of being a minority owner first really gives us a chance to get that transition underway and to hit the ground running when we’re fortunate enough to become the majority owners.”

“What I’ve realized in the few short weeks that we’ve formally been owners is how much we still need to learn,” Malkin said. “What I admire about Charles’ approach is he’s focused on what’s best for the team, the future of the team and a smooth transition and partnership lends itself to that. I’m learning every day from Charles and I see already how valuable this kind of transition is.”

Ledecky and Malkin declined to talk about on-ice specifics for the team, but insisted that the next two years will be about listening to fans and enhancing their experience.

“I feel very strongly that a team is a community trust. Scott and I will be – along with Charles – stewards of that trust for many years to come,” Ledecky said.

“We are going to be on a listening tour for two years, listening to the fans, listening to what we can do to enhance the experience for hockey fans as we move to Brooklyn,” he added. “I don’t want to lose one single fan of the New York Islanders. I want them to come and migrate with us if at all possible, and we need to be doing things that are effective to make that a reality.

Ledecky endeared himself to Islanders fans by announcing his dislike for the Pittsburgh Penguins, while Malkin talked of his days playing high-school hockey in New York and playing club hockey through graduate school.

Wang said there is never a perfect time to sell, but felt that these were the right owners to hand the Islanders over to. He’s seen the Islanders through thick and thin over 14 years and will continue to stay on as a minority owner. Wang has always wanted what’s best for the team and he thinks he’s found it in a partnership with Ledecky and Malkin.

“We found new partners here, two partners that will be great for the Islanders,” said Wang.

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The Knicks Fix Video Blog: Season Preview

As we gear up for the 2014-15 season-opener, MSG Network’s Alan Hahn talks Knicks basketball in a special video version of The Knicks Fix.

In Part I of Hahn’s conversation with former NBA All-Star and MSG Network analyst Wally Szczerbiak, the two discuss how Derek Fisher will adjust to the role as head coach of the Knicks just one year after playing for the Thunder.

“Obviously, [Fisher] is a rookie coach, so he’s going to go through a little bit of a learning curve,” Szczerbiak said.

“But everything about Derek Fisher says that he’s a great leader. I don’t see any reason why he’s not going to be a great coach and have a long career.”

Editor’s Note: Stay tuned for more video from Hahn’s conversations with Szczerbiak and Shields and the complete interviews in an upcoming edition of The Knicks Fix podcast.

In Part II of Hahn’s conversation with Szczerbiak, the two discuss the triangle offense.

Szczerbiak has plenty of experience defending the triangle, having gone up against Phil Jackson’s Lakers many times in his career.

“It’s so good with spacing,” Szczerbiak said. “That’s going to help Carmelo Anthony a lot.”

Wally Szczerbiak talks with Alan Hahn about his experience defending the triangle offense and how the Knicks will adjust to it.

Hahn also talked with Ben Shields, co-author of The Sports Strategist: Developing Leaders for a High-Performance Industry and lecturer at the MIT Sloan School of Management.

One of the leading minds in basketball analytics, Shields talked about how analytics is changing the way we think about the game.

 

 

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The Knicks Fix Video Blog: Wally Szczerbiak, Part II

As we approach the 2014-15 season-opener, MSG Network’s Alan Hahn will invite special guests to talk about the past and current Knicks teams in a special video version of his The Knicks Fix podcast.

In Part II of Hahn’s conversation with former NBA All-Star and MSG Network analyst Wally Szczerbiak, the two discuss the triangle offense.

Szczerbiak has plenty of experience defending the triangle, having gone up against Phil Jackson’s Lakers many times in his career.

“It’s so good with spacing,” Szczerbiak said. “That’s going to help Carmelo Anthony a lot.”

Wally Szczerbiak talks with Alan Hahn about his experience defending the triangle offense and how the Knicks will adjust to it.

Editor’s Note: Stay tuned for more video from Hahn’s conversation with Szczerbiak and the complete interview in an upcoming edition of The Knicks Fix podcast.

However, Szczerbiak warns that it might not be an instant success.

“A lot of these guys have spent their whole careers in a different system,” Szczerbiak said.  “It’s going to take some time to adjust to this offense when you’re not accustomed to it.”

We’ll find out how the Knicks are adjusting when they take the court for their season opener against the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday, Oct 29.

 

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