GREENBURGH, N.Y. (AP) — Call it bad fashion sense or poor playoff etiquette.
New York Knicks coach Mike Woodson sure didn’t like his players’ decision to wear black to Game 5 of their playoff series against Boston on Wednesday night, which they expected to be the Celtics’ “funeral.”
Only the Celtics are still alive after winning 92-86, and Woodson said Thursday he told the Knicks to focus only on the court, not their closets.
“I made reference to our guys, we need to stay out of the paper and just concentrate on playing,” Woodson said after practice, “because that’s not important. What you wear doesn’t have anything to do with how you play on the basketball floor.”
The Knicks won the first three games of the series and perhaps got overconfident along the way. Guard J.R. Smith threw an elbow into Boston counterpart Jason Terry’s chin late in Game 3, earning a one-game suspension, then said he would have been playing golf Tuesday instead of practicing if he’d played in Game 4.
New York then broke out the black for Wednesday’s game, showing a lack of humility for a franchise that hasn’t won a series since 2000.
“This game has shown the immaturity of the Knicks team . the inexperience, maybe, in this situation. The playoffs are always a process and you have to learn as you go. They have learned something here,” TNT analyst Steve Kerr said, according to a transcript of the broadcast.
“You have to approach things in the playoffs in a very professional manner. You had the elbow from J.R. Smith that led to the suspension; a lot of trash talking the last couple of days; the shenanigans with wearing black. This is about executing and playing as a team and playing hard, and this is part of the process.”
Center Tyson Chandler said the Knicks understood Woodson’s message but didn’t regret wearing black, saying his Dallas Mavericks 2011 championship team that included current teammate Jason Kidd and Terry did the same.
“We did that every single time we had a closeout game in Dallas. There was nothing to look back on. It just reminds you of what you’re trying to accomplish,” Chandler said. “It’s nothing against the Celtics, it’s something we were doing as a team. It wasn’t meant to offend anybody or anything like that, it was meant to motivate the guys in the locker room.”
It may have motivated the Celtics, so Woodson, who said he wasn’t aware of the players’ dress code until Thursday morning, wants his team bringing the right mentality to Boston.
“I’ve addressed that with our players and that’s enough,” he said. “Again, the game is played on the floor and that’s where it should be played.”
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