This past offseason, the New York Knicks front office acquired some players that made the Knicks the oldest team in the league (average age of 33 years old), but that didn’t matter because they wanted to bring in experience and leadership. And that experience and leadership paid off down the stretch on Saturday afternoon, Game 1 of the playoffs, helping New York to a 85-78 victory.
40-year-old Jason Kidd played key minutes on Saturday, as did 35-year-old Kenyon Martin. Both played the entire fourth quarter, when the Knicks outscored the Celtics, 18-8. Kidd was all over the floor, disrupting the Celtics offense that committed eight turnovers that period; Kidd had three rebounds and three steals in the period. Martin contributed five points that quarter, including the basket that essentially put the game away.
The Knicks’ strategy of loading up on
old veteran players was a risky move—and seemed ludicrous at the time—but it is a move that has been working so far. What the old guys have accomplished was exactly what coach Mike Woodson and Knicks fans wanted: leadership, defense, and an Atlantic Division title.
Relying so heavily on veterans has never been considered the most efficient way to win a championship, but it has worked, so far, for the Knicks and maybe this strategy is the blueprint to make it work: A mix of gritty, defensive-minded players and guards with superior ball-handling abilities that also know how to move around and be in the right place without the ball.
As the playoffs continue, it should be interesting to see how far this old Knicks team can go. The youth-versus-experience issue will come up repeatedly—especially if the Knicks can go deep in the playoffs—and will be an important decision Woodson will have to make game in and game out. But there’s no doubting that the veterans have been a main reason for the Knicks’ success and will continue playing a key role going into Game 2 on Tuesday night, and beyond.
In the beginning, a good amount of people laughed and joked about the Knicks’ old roster this past offseason—including myself. But right now, no one is laughing anymore, except maybe the Knicks.