Last night I watched the NY Knicks win their fourth straight game on the road in New Orleans. They are now 29-27 and have a fighting chance of being a .500 team this season with only 16 regular season games left.
This is essentially the same team that went 21-45 last year. Elfrid Payton, RJ Barrett, Julius Randle, Mitchell Robinson, Taj Gibson, and Reggie Bullock were all on that 21-45 team.
The coach is what changed. Tom Thibodeau came in and has instilled an entirely different approach and culture. The Knicks are the league’s best defensive team, allowing the least points per game. Last year, they were 18th in defense.
This Knicks team is competitive in every game, even if they don’t win them all. Last year, we would regularly walk out of the Garden down 20 points in the fourth quarter.
I am going to the Garden on Sunday for the first time in fourteen months and I am excited at the opportunity to be at a game that will hopefully be competitive down the stretch.
Watching Thibs at work is a lesson in leadership. He sets the tone, expectations are high, players that don’t put in the effort don’t play, no matter who they are. Everyone knows what is expected of them.
I have seen this in companies too. The same team, with the same product, in the same market, can be completely transformed by a new leader. Leadership matters. A lot.