The New York Knicks‘ Friday night win over the then East-leading Heat was a big one for a multitude of reasons. In addition to being a W on the road against a legitimate title contender, it was a contest in which the club showed major grit down the stretch, closing on a 38-13 run to steal the game from Miami.
Meanwhile, New York got big performances out of its youngsters. For his part, Immanuel Quickley led the way off the bench with 23 points on 6-of-12 shooting. Also: Obi Toppin stepped into the starting five for an injured Julius Randle and responded with 15 points and eight rebounds.
Curiously, though, Thibodeau got prickly during his postgame presser when asked about the way in which they stepped up.
“You guys are trying to nitpick this, nitpick that,” Thibodeau said. “You need everyone over the course of a season. We love our young guys; we see it every day. They’re supposed to bring energy, and they did — they were terrific… [But] you need everyone.”
He added, “It’s a team, it’s not an individual thing… The thing is, how many people are watching the game after the game is played to really know exactly what happened in the game? I see a lot of opinions, but I don’t see a lot of people doing the work to actually study it.”
Thibodeau Goes off on the Tweeters
Thibodeau’s criticism of how his team and its young guns are being assessed didn’t stop there. He also took aim at fans who are hitting the tweet machine in order to voice their concerns about his perceived reluctance to utilize younger players.
As he sees it, the chatter can be a detriment to the team dynamic.
“It’s where we are in society today. With social media, it’s a different animal.” Thibodeau said. “Look, hey, it’s part of the game. We love it. It drives the game. It’s as popular as it’s ever been. But to me, I don’t like anything that eats away at the fabric of the team.
“And so, people want to take one game, whether it’s a win or a loss and they went, ‘Well, this, this and this.’ No! Oftentimes, a guy might make one good play in the game, and he has nine bad plays. Or conversely, he makes nine good plays, and he has one bad play.”
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On Those Who ‘Haven’t Studied’ the Game
Thibodeau continued, espousing his belief that a lot of the opinions that are floating around are uneducated ones.
“I’m just saying, everyone has all the answers right after a game and, oftentimes, they haven’t studied,” the coach said. “And I don’t want anything to divide our team. I want our team together. That’s how you win — as a team. You lose as a team.
“So, when I see stuff being written or people talking about this, that. You hear it all the time, and then when you actually do study it and you watch the game again and maybe you watch it a third time, you actually know what transpired.”
According to the New York Post’s Marc Berman, Thibodeau has been “offended” by accusations that he has stunted Toppin’s growth by limiting his playing time.