The New York Knicks have taken a Kobe Bryant-like approach to their training this season. While some might have hit the clubs in the past while on the road or in New York, theyâ€™ve spent that time training in the gym instead, led by All-Star Julius Randle, who has completely overhauled his approach to the game.
Ultimately, spending a few hours at the gym instead of going out is the difference between winning and losing, as the Knicks are clearly experiencing as they enjoying a game win streak.
They most recently took down the Atlanta Hawks to claim the 4th seed in the Eastern Conference and are preparing to take on the Toronto Raptors on Saturday afternoon. The Raptors are struggling this season but have won their last four games straight, including a big win over the Brooklyn Nets.
However, there is no team that scares the Knicks anymore, as they continue to work hard outside of the game to prepare mentally and physically. One player who has seen a significant improvement and has blown expectations out of the water is rookie Immanuel Quickley.
Quickley scored 20 points against the Hawks, hitting 4-of-6 3-PT attempts and picked up four assists. Without his influence, the Knicks would likely have lost that game, as he hit a few back-to-back long balls to draw the Knicks closer in the fourth quarter as they mounted a comeback. All of this hard work and success is a product of his time in the gym after hours, heaving up shots after games, and spending extra time during practice.
After the win over Atlanta, head coach Tom Thibodeau forced his team to take a blackout day, essentially resting and enjoying their latest success. Quickley, however, was still inclined to make his way to the gym and continue practicing.
â€œWe have like a key-card card, we have 24-hour access,â€ said Immanuel Quickley, who has worked tirelessly on his 3-point shooting. â€œCoach says, he may turn off the card because he declared a blackout day. Nobodyâ€™s allowed to go into the gym, but Iâ€™ll probably still go.â€
â€œA blackout day is an order from Thibs, and he just declared that nobodyâ€™s allowed to be really on the court and doing stuff,â€ Quickley stated after the Knicks beat Atlanta to take the 4th seed in the Eastern Conference. â€œWe got an early game coming up so he declared that nobodyâ€™s supposed to come in. But the guys that want to work, will probably still try to come in anyway.â€
Even Thibodeau detailed why the team has seen success lately, attesting to the players coming in at night and shooting around during their days off or on film days. Obviously, the commitment needs to be there, and I think theyâ€™ve taken a page out of Kobeâ€™s book after internalizing what happened to him. Using his story as motivation is the only way to really fulfill his legacy, and I think the Knicks have embodied the game of basketball as more than just a money maker.
â€œWeâ€™ve put a lot of time into the shooting,â€ Thibodeau said. â€œSo guys come in at night, or they shoot around on off days or film days. So theyâ€™ve made a very serious commitment. I think by working the way they worked, itâ€™s given them confidence. The two biggest things with shooting are confidence and concentration. So, if you make that commitment to put the work in and grow your shot and you have a checklist on your shot, it helps.â€