New York Knicks Dine with West Point Cadets


11 NBA championships later, Phil Jackson is generally recognized as the greatest coach in NBA history. There have been no shortage of basketball icons—”Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Michael Jordan, Shaquille O’Neal and Scottie Pippen come to mind—but Jackson has an uncanny ability to manage egos.

Jackson’s tactics are unconventional, but they work well enough to warrant the nickname, “The Zen Master.”

Now the team president of the New York Knicks, Jackson is bringing his unorthodox strategies to The Big Apple. For training camp, he’s bringing his unique style to upstate New York.

According to Peter Botte of The New York Daily News, the Knicks dined with the cadets at West Point Academy—home to the United States Military.

"Derek Fisher has stressed the importance of team building during his first week of training camp, and mingling among the men and women of the U.S. Military Academy has been a significant aspect of that undertaking.The Knicks dined in the mess hall with the cadets before practice on Wednesday and took photos with various historic monuments around the campus grounds."

That’s an undoubtedly life-altering experience.

Fisher comes from The Zen Master’s school of basketball having played for him from 1999 to 2004 and 2007 to 2011. Thus, it comes as no surprise that he and Jackson have relentlessly stressed the importance of team-building activities.

Fisher spoke about how interacting with the cadets has positively influenced the Knicks as a team.

"Being here at West Point is bigger than basketball, it’s bigger than what we’™re trying to do from the team perspective, Fisher said. It’s an honor to be here and talk about being a team and committing yourself to serving others. This is a perfect example of it. We a™re as much trying to build ourselves as a team by being here as we are the x’™s and o’™s and strategy.œI don’™t think we could begin to learn as much as these young men and women understand about sacrifice and efficiency, working together as a group, the attention to detail. It was an impressive scene. So for us, we were thankful that we were there, appreciative that they allowed us into their space to see it and observe it. I think the energy from being there today was definitely on the court."

That’s an undoubtedly life-altering experience.

New York is immersed in a pivotal training camp. This is the first time the new-look Knicks will take the court as a complete and healthy unit, with a vast majority of the roster featuring players who weren’t present in 2014-15.

Bonding off the court is just as important as developing chemistry on it.

Carmelo Anthony will lead a group of career role players and rookies into a high-stakes 2015-16 campaign. The expectations are generally low, but anything short of the No. 8 seed in the top-heavy Eastern Conference would be disappointing.

Anthony will reunite with former Denver Nuggets teammate Arron Afflalo and a small cast of returning Knicks, but the starting lineup will be flush with fresh faces.

The starting point guard could be Jose Calderon, who played for the team in 2014-15, but he saw a vast majority of his playing time after Anthony was shut down for surgery. Langston Galloway experienced a similar story, and Jerian Grant is a rookie.

Afflalo, who’s expected to start at shooting guard, and Robin Lopez, the penciled-in starting center, were both acquired in free agency. Kristaps Porzingis could start at power forward and evolve into the franchise player, but he’s a rookie like Grant.

The likes of Thanasis Antetokounmpo, Kyle O’Quinn, Kevin Seraphin and Derrick Williams all have intriguing potential, but none were with the New York Knicks in 2014-15.

Thus, spending time together in such an unforgettable setting should bring the team closer together. West Point Academy plays home to our nation’s military, which speaks for itself.

If nothing else, this should be an experience that the 2015-16 New York Knicks never forget.

Next: What is Phil Jackson's impact on the Knicks thus far?

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