As nearly all the Knicks (the exception being Eddy Curry) get settled into town to prepare for training camp, major questions begin to surface.
The biggest question of all, however, is how good the new-look Knicks will be. While it’s unclear how well the new group will mesh, the pressure for success has been mounting.
One man who knows all about the pressures of Madison Square Garden is Knicks fan-favorite Charles Oakley.
Oakley, who was known for his intensity on the court during his playing days, shared his thoughts earlier this summer before Donnie Walsh and the Knicks officially embarked on their massive recruitment.
“They’re going to get a good player—I just hope who they get will make the team better. Just because you give a guy max money does not necessarily mean you are going to win.”
While Donnie Walsh and the Knicks struck out on most of the summer’s top free agent prizes, the team did come away with Amare Stoudemire, whom flourished under Mike D’Antoni on the Suns.
The Knicks did in fact lure Stoudemire in with a maximum six year contract. As Oakley suggests, that may not be enough to win.
As luck would have it, though, Walsh seemed to agree with Oakley’s notion. After securing Stoudemire, Walsh was diligent in assembling a strong cast that fits D’Antoni’s style of play, and more importantly, can play well around the team’s new leader.
Many of the Knicks have begun working out together on their own in preparation for the new season. With many new faces on the squad, the players can certainly use as much time with one another as possible.
Like many Knicks fans, Oakley is curious to see what the team can do. However, the two-time “All-Defensive Team” member wasn’t thoroughly convinced an offensive system was the best policy.
When asked if D'Antoni can be considered a great coach in the league, Oakley said, "Do you think he's a great coach? I don't know. Players always like something easy. I don’t know why—I can’t judge. “
At the same time, Oakley was open to finding out what will happen. Referring to himself as a fan these days, just like everyone else, he simply said “we’ll have to see what [D’Antoni] does with the talent he gets.”
Nevertheless, would the “Oak-man” ever consider working with the Knicks to instill a stronger defensive presence?
“I’ve been trying to work with the Knicks for years. I would love it. Donnie talks about it, but what can I say? I’ve been getting offers from other teams around the league about coaching now.”
But in the meantime, besides keeping in contact with fans on Twitter, he’s been staying busy, “I’ve been trying to do a couple cooking shows, trying to produce movies. I’m still doing charity work when I have time. I’ve just been trying to stay in the business and stay in shape.”
Whether or not the Knicks of new have the defensive intensity that the Oakley-led Knicks teams of old, one thing is for sure; the Garden will be rocking with excitement for a winning season.
“Aint no doubt—there’s no place better than MSG,” Oakley said. “I just loved to walk in and play, with all the lights and being able to hear all the fans. It’s just a different place. It’s amazing in the Garden.”