Thursday, November 09, 2006

Rumsfeld Joins Knicks' Coaching Staff

One day after the eventful mid-term elections, further change was evident in Washington as President Bush announced the resignation of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. Bush has nominated Robert Gates, a former CIA director and current president of Texas A&M University, as Rumsfeld’s replacement. As for the outgoing secretary, he will make the move from the Pentagon to Madison Square Garden. New York Knicks head coach and general manager Isiah Thomas announced that he has hired Rumsfeld as an assistant coach.

Thomas described Rumsfeld as a great fit for the Knicks due to his record during the Iraq war. The feeling was mutual from Rumsfeld, who stated, “The New York Knicks have shown a commitment to spending outrageous sums of money, with little success to show for their efforts. That’s my kind of team!” In hiring the outgoing secretary, Isiah reportedly went against the advice of Bobby Knight, his coach at Indiana. As a General, there was no way Knight could endorse Rumsfeld.

The new assistant does provide New York with a reminder of the team’s glory days. Rumsfeld is a Princeton alumnus who comes to the team after a career in politics. Bill Bradley was a Princeton graduate who went into politics after a career with the Knicks – highlighted by the 1970 and 1973 NBA championships. Bradley was regarded as a team player who would pass up a shot if he could set up a teammate with a better one. Similarly, during the Bush administration Rumsfeld has been content to leave the shooting to Dick Cheney.

The secretary did have some interaction with the Knicks during his tenure at the Pentagon. The same questionable intelligence used to justify the invasion of Iraq was also responsible for New York’s first round selection of Renaldo Balkman. Even more notable was the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal that led to widespread calls for Rumsfeld’s resignation. Defense Department officials regretfully acknowledged that some prisoners had been forced to watch an entire Knicks game on DVD.

New York had some good news Wednesday night, as Jamal Crawford’s 3-pointer with 3.7 seconds remaining capped a 109-107 road win over the Denver Nuggets. While encouraged by the result, Rumsfeld reiterated the Knicks’ need to stay vigilant on the long road to success. “We will remain committed to winning the war on turnovers,” he declared. Rumsfeld added, “New York must always remember 9-11,” referring to the days when the Knicks were good enough for a 9-11 record after 20 games.

Upon joining New York, the outgoing secretary will find numerous similarities to his previous line of work. The Knicks’ defense, like the Department of Defense, is often a target of ridicule. The United States has become bogged down in the Middle East, while the Knicks have struggled in the Eastern Conference. Rumsfeld is not interested in international alliances, so he is happy that New York is a rare NBA team with only U.S.-born players on its roster. He is also unconcerned about potential clashes with high-maintenance guard Stephon Marbury, remarking that Marbury “can’t hate me as much as the Democrats in Congress did.”

Before the Iraq war, Rumsfeld was quoted as saying, “It could last six days, six weeks. I doubt six months.” That remark lives in infamy, along with Cheney’s statement that “we will, in fact, be greeted as liberators.” However, Rumsfeld does expect warm greetings to be commonplace during his time with the Knicks. Opposing players and fans will be very happy to see them.