First-year New York Knicks head coach Jeff Hornacek knows full well what struggling franchises go through. He also knows how it feels to be a perennial championship contender, only to come up short in the end.
Hornacek primarily split time between the Phoenix Suns and Utah Jazz during his solid 14-year career as a player. During his six years in the desert, the Suns earned a playoff spot four times, losing in the Western Conference Finals twice.
Then, in Utah, his Jazz earned a playoff spot all seven seasons he was teaming up with John Stockton and Karl Malone. Unfortunately, the closest Hornacek would get to hoisting the trophy was two consecutive losses in the NBA Finals.
Now looking to turn around the fortune of a fledgling Knicks organization, Hornacek is looking to MLB’s Chicago Cubs for inspiration.
“You just wish you could take that when you see playoffs in any sport, you see teams that get to the top, the confidence and the togetherness they have, you just want your own team to see that stuff and say, ‘Hey, look, this is what we can do,’ ” said Hornacek, via the New York Post. “Maybe some of it transfers to the different sports.”
Chicago is heading to its first World Series since 1945. It hasn’t earned a title since all the way back in 1908.
There are some parallels with the Knicks here. Despite a run of success with Patrick Ewing and Pat Riley back in the 1990s, the Knicks themselves have not won a title since the 1972-73 campaign. More recently, New York has failed to even earn as much as a playoff spot in 11 of the past 15 seasons.
If a change in culture can be contributed to taking inspiration from the Cubs, Hornacek would be more than happy with that. Though, culture itself won’t fix the issues here.
Simply put, the Knicks need the likes of Derrick Rose and Carmelo Anthony to play at MVP levels if they hope to contend with the Cleveland Cavaliers back east. That’s the mighty task ahead for this team.