- Last Updated: 4:24 AM, July 8, 2012
- Posted: 12:35 AM, July 8, 2012
Innocent Climb: The surge that occurs within a team as they are accomplishing more because of the synergy that occurs within a team. Innocence means understanding that the team comes first and being carried along by that ...
The irony, of course, is this was coined by a coach plying his wares in New York City, a place where it almost impossible is to enjoy an innocent climb any more. Back in the early ’90s, it was: Pat Riley could walk into Madison Square Garden, transform the Knicks from 20 years of dull underachievement to the hottest ticket in town, write about all of it in a book called “The Winner Within.”
But that was a very different time. Pre-Twitter. Pre-Facebook. The Internet was in a nascent phase, and so was talk radio. So a team like the Knicks actually could charm you as they learned how to win. Even more remarkably, so could a team like the Yankees.
“I think 1993 was as enjoyable a season as any of us ever went through,” Bernie Williams said not long ago, “because the idea of winning was so new, and we were just learning how good we could be as a team and as individuals.”
Those ’93 Yankees might well be the last ones ever to be considered underdogs. A year later, they were well out in front by the All-Star break. Even the feel-good stories that elevated and surrounded the ’96 championship team weren’t quite as innocent. By ’96, the Yankees already had returned to the playoffs. They already had built a foundation of success.
“People forget,” Bernie said, “how bad it was around here before we learned how to win.”
The ’93 Yankees couldn’t quite keep up with the big, bad Blue Jays, but we started to see what was building here.
We were far more patient then. Far more innocent, if you will.
It didn’t seem possible that we could find those kinds of teams any longer, not in 2012, not with 24-hour news cycles and must-have-now demands from fan bases and front offices. And yet in the past six months, right here in New York City, we’ve gotten two of those kinds of teams.
The first one, the Giants, took that innocent climb all the way the uppermost branches. A few weeks shy of a new training-camp season, it still is remarkable to think about where the Giants were through 15 weeks last season and where they wound up seven weeks later. It still is remarkable to remember how that story grew and flourished, from the Jets game to the Cowboys game, all the way through the playoffs, all the way to Lucas Oil Stadium.
All of it unfolding like a sporting gift that kept on giving, the 12 days of Christmas lasting all the way to the first Sunday in February.Follow @NYPostsports