When it came to holiday shopping, we knew what not to get Larry Brown: rose-colored glasses.
The former Pistons' coach apparently already had those affixed when he made last July's shift to the Knicks' bench.
"I'm sure there were a lot of people who said things to him before he took the job here: 'Have you really thought about this?' 'Are you sure you like New York that much?' 'There are only so many musicals you can go to,"" Spurs coach and close friend Gregg Popovich said before last week's game at Madison Square Garden. "It's like in one ear and out the other. It's New York and it needs to be fixed. He loves that stuff."
With those spectacles gone and the blinders off, Brown is aware of exactly what he has gotten himself into.
"Even though we were losing games, I thought we were making progress," he said of a bad start made worse by the recent seven-game losing streak. "Now it seems like we're not making any progress."
When you get down to it, how could there be, with Isiah Thomas running the personal side?
Thursday marked the two-year anniversary of Thomas' succession of Scott Layden. Over those two years, the Knicks were 69-92.
When you consider Thomas' legacy, that .429 winning percentage rings true. Among Thomas' specials:
Antonio McDyess, two future first-round picks and cap filler to Phoenix on January 5, 2004 for Stephon Marbury, Penny Hardaway and Cezary Trybanski.
Nazr Mohammed, Jamison Brewer and two first-round picks to San Antonio on February 24 for Malik Rose.
Kurt Thomas and Dijon Thompson to Phoenix on June 28 for Quentin Richardson and Nate Robinson.
Extending big-ticket contracts to low-return free agents Jamal Crawford and Jerome James.
Arguably, the best move of Thomas' tenure might be one that has yet to be fully measured, the October 14 acquisition of Eddy Curry and Antonio Davis for the Bulls for Tim Thomas and Michael Sweetney.
But even that deal came at an additional cost to New York of two second-round picks and a first-round pick.
Brown publicly has expressed only admiration for the man who signed off on his US$10 million annual salary.
"I've been with a lot of pretty special guys in his position," Brown said of Thomas, "and he has all the things that are necessary to build this thing the right way."
Except, perhaps, time.
Last week Marbury was booed at Madison Square Garden, as have so many of Thomas' supposed prime acquisitions.
Thomas, in fact, now has grabbed hold of a new lifeline, saying the nucleus of the latest rebuild is Curry and impressive 2005 first-round pick Channing Frye.
All we know is this: When Brown lost Wednesday to San Antonio, the seventh straight loss marked his longest losing streak since his Spurs lost eight in a row in 1988.
Again, what was the man thinking?
"It was New York and it was something that needed to be fixed," Brown's 2005 NBA Finals dinner partner Popovich said. "He's attracted to that kind of situation. If he could coach three teams that have problems, he'd try to coach all three at the same time. He's attracted to that."
Former Heat first-round pick Caron Butler offered a most unusual take when asked by the Washington Times for his favorite Christmas memory. The Wizards' forward went back to when he was released from a youth facility while in high school. "Honestly, this is probably going to strike a nerve with a lot of people," he said. "But my most memorable Christmas memory was having all of my uncles and aunties out of prison for one Christmas, and that includes me. We had a lot of run-ins with the law, and to have us all out at one time was great."
The source of consistent instant offense off the Suns' bench, Phoenix guard Eddie House said he is glad he decided during the offseason to bypass a potential Heat reunion, even if it meant losing out on the opportunity to play alongside Shaquille O'Neal and Dwyane Wade.
Avoiding a reunion with Pat Riley also had its benefit said House, the one-time favorite of Riley's daughter, Elisabeth.
"Here, everybody touches it," the Heat 2000 second-round pick said. "There, you've got Shaq, D-Wade and Antoine Walker. Here, everybody has a chance to flourish and the coach doesn't scrutinize you."