"With the team I have, everybody knows I can score the basketball, that's a no-brainer," Anthony said. "But for me to be able to go out there and say today I'm going to lead my team, I'm going to defend, I'm going to help out, I'm going to sacrifice something out there on the basketball court, that was my motivation, especially coming off of last season and the season before last. To approach this season as a new beginning for me. My focus is extremely high right now."
Woodson's response to Anthony's defensive light going on?
"He's supposed to play defense. I mean, he's no different from the last guy that comes off the bench," Woodson said. "Everybody's supposed to play defense. I mean it's not just the star. If you're committed and you're all about team, you're supposed to play defense when you're out there. Everybody. It's a team effort."
D'Antoni never had the proper roster for his system, and Larry Brown and Thomas had mismatched ones before him, but Woodson seems perfect for this group. Thought to be just a placeholder until the Knicks made a run at Phil Jackson or some other big name last summer, he's gone 25-7 in the regular season, and the players seem loyal to him and his values, a welcome change after the Marbury-Brown, Marbury-Thomas, or Anthony-D'Antoni soap operas.
"He's implemented principles and that's what we're going to stand by throughout the year," Chandler said.
There will be rough patches. The Knicks will have to fit Stoudemire in at some point when his knee is healthy, and though the old guys haven't looked old yet, check back in the spring. Still, hard-nosed defense and unselfish play have been a winning formula around here before, and the Knicks are seeing the benefit of getting back to it.
"I think we believe in one another. I don't want to say it's a surprise," Kidd said of the Knicks' success. "I think with the knowledge and the understanding of the game and the principles that Coach has put out for us, I think guys have picked it up quickly and it's kind of fun as you can see."