RJ Barrett
ESNY Graphic, Getty Images

The New York Knicks’ Tarrytown Training Facility is a lightning rod for criticism, but there’s more to this story than meets the eye.

Danny Small

Any New Yorker knows how bad traffic can be in this city and the surrounding areas. It’s no major secret for anyone who has spent time weaving in and out of traffic in the Big Apple.

The New York Knicks‘ commute from their training facility in Tarrytown to Madison Square Garden is a topic that comes under scrutiny every now and again, but it doesn’t deserve the energy it receives among fans and the media. The pros of the facility’s location are often overlooked while the cons are emphasized ad nauseam.

Recently, Jared Dudley spoke with Bill Oram of The Athletic and he mentioned the Knicks’ training facility as a drawback for the franchise.

“The first thing I would be doing? I’d be getting rid of that practice facility in Westchester,” Dudley said. “Nobody wants to live there, no one wants to commute there. You have to get as close to the city as possible. That’s why Brooklyn got Kevin Durant. I told DeAndre Jordan who told Kevin Durant: The practice facility is two minutes from (Barclays Center). They didn’t even know that. I lived in the city. It took me 12 minutes to get to the practice facility. That’s a huge bonus.

“People bash the Knicks, but I definitely wouldn’t bash the Knicks. I would have gone there if the Lakers wouldn’t have offered me, or Brooklyn. If it was my third or fourth option, sure.”

Sure, some players may prefer to have the training center closer to the team’s arena, but this is blown out of proportion when all aspects are considered.

Most Knicks live closer to the training facility than Madison Square Garden to ease the commute to and from practice. But there have been plenty of high-profile Knicks who settled down in Manhattan without any issues. Carmelo Anthony, Derrick Rose, and Amar’e Stoudemire all took root in the confines of New York City and had to make the reverse commute to Westchester for practices. There wasn’t a peep about the difficult commute from any of those high-profile guys.

Nothing out of the ordinary

The Knicks are hardly the only NBA team with a training center miles away from where they play their home games. The Los Angeles Clippers and Lakers both have difficult commutes through the notoriously slow LA traffic. Kobe Bryant even opted to fly to games by helicopter to avoid sitting in Los Angeles gridlock, per Janis Carr of the OC Register.

Rough travel is a fact of life in the NBA no matter what team we’re discussing. The Toronto Raptors have to go through customs on every road trip. Conversely, the Knicks fly in and out of Westchester County Airport as opposed to one of the major airports in the New York/New Jersey area. Players who live in Westchester can drive themselves home in about 10 minutes after road trips, according to a source.

While the drive from Westchester to the Garden can be difficult during rush hour, having an easier commute from the airport to home or home to the practice facility is a counterbalance.

Pick any team in the NBA and there are sure to be a few drawbacks in regards to their training facility and travel situation. But none of those teams are critiqued in the same way the Knicks are for Tarrytown.

Rangers success

If the Knicks’ Tarrytown Training Center is holding them back, why doesn’t the same apply to the New York Rangers? The Knicks and Rangers both practice at the facility and this hasn’t slowed down the NHL franchise one bit. As a matter of fact, the Rangers have been one of the most successful teams in the NHL over the last 15 years.

Of course, the Rangers are currently in a two-year playoff drought and outside the postseason picture yet again, but this mini-funk comes after over a decade of success. While a Stanley Cup has eluded the franchise, New York was one of the most successful franchises of the 2010s.

They went to the Stanley Cup Playoffs in seven consecutive seasons, with one Stanley Cup Finals appearance and a President’s Trophy under their belt. If we travel back even further, the Rangers made the playoffs 11 out of 12 times between the 2005-06 season and the 2016-17 season. They were one of four teams to do so during that span of time.

On-ice success has coincided with success on the free-agent market. Artemi Panarin, the most high-profile NHL free agent of this past summer, signed a seven-year, $81.5 million deal with New York. In fact, he turned down a more lucrative offer from the New York Islanders to sign with the Rangers.

When critiquing the Knicks, there are far more valid topics to examine than the address of their training facility. Players have said that the commute can be tough and perhaps it plays a role in the decisions of some free agents, but it doesn’t deserve to be scrutinized time and time again.

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