Knicks visit Walter Reed military hospital during D.C. layover
The New York Knicks were unable to leave D.C. on Monday night after their first preseason game against the Washington Wizards, a 104-99 win, due to airport construction.
The layover inspired Knicks head coach David Fizdale to plan a visit to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, and the team outing unsurprisingly had a meaningful impact upon players and staff.
The Knicks spent Tuesday visiting with wounded soldiers and hospital staff at the facility that serves upwards of 150,000 soldiers.
A moving experience at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center honoring wounded warriors. pic.twitter.com/QFsBT8WfSX— NEW YORK KNICKS (@nyknicks) October 8, 2019
“I felt, let’s not waste this opportunity,” Fizdale said, per the New York Post. “I just felt to visit those soldiers, it does something for the soldiers. For our team, it gives them perspective and make you appreciate what you have. Hopefully it gives them an understanding what service is, selflessness is. What I’m asking isn’t anything to what these guys have given. I know our guys are looking forward to it and it has an impact.”
Knicks players, including Kevin Knox and Julius Randle, spoke of the profound impact the visit had upon them. Knox has several family members who serve or have served in the military, including an uncle who was killed by friendly fire when serving in Afghanistan when Knox was in middle school.
“It means a lot to me to see the soldiers,” Knox said. “My uncle, it was definitely tough for my family and we got through it. Every time it’s a Military Appreciation Night it’s always a big night for me because of (my uncle) and my family history with the military.”
Fizdale believes having players see the sacrifices military members make to serve will have a profound impact and make them grateful for the blessings they enjoy thanks to their NBA careers.
“Perspective,” Fizdale said. “Some of those guys are younger than (our) guys. The stuff they sacrificed and lived through, I’m hoping that gives our guys perspective and gratitude for where they are.”