Thursday, March 31, 2011
Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Shelden Williams became a New York Knick in the trade that brought in Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups. Once an afterthought, Williams is beginning to make a name for himself on the Knicks as a reliable big body, doing enough to successfully pester Dwight Howard down the strech in the Knicks' win over the Magic Monday.
With news fresh off the presses that Sheldon Williams will start at center (in place of the injured Ronny Turiaf and Shawne Williams) tonight vs. the Nets, coming from my buddy Seth Rosenthal via Steve Adamek, let's get to know newest member of the Knicks' "Sh-Williams Club."
Sometimes known as "Mr. Parker," Williams is married to 2008 WNBA MVP (and Rookie of the Year in the same year--how about that?) Candace Parker. While you may think these two may have their fun playing a little one on one (don't you wonder who would win?), Parker has said she and Shelden can talk for hours about just about anything.
Keeping it all in the family, remember those three times the Cavs beat the Knicks this season? (Don't feel too bad, they just beat the Heat last night, too). Anyway, Anthony Parker, the Cavs' swing man who was firing away, knocking down three-pointer after three-pointer to sink the Knicks in their most recent loss to the team, just happens be Williams' brother-in-law. Do you think Candace was at all conflicted in who to root for?
While 13 is perhaps known as the most unlucky number of all time, (beware: Friday the 13th appears again this May), the number has special meaning to Williams, who dons it with the Knicks: not only does his wedding anniversary fall on a 13th, but so does his daughter's birthday. Seems like a couple of special things to happen on an arguably not so special day.
And if you're wondering who Williams gets along with off the court (perhaps besides the four Nuggets' teammates he arrived to New York with), look no further than Bill Walker, who also happens to be best buds with Shawne Williams aka "Extra E", the Knicks other resident "Sh-Williams." Williams and Walker also spent time together on the Celtics.
Finally, aside from attending classes and playing for Duke University (which is of course highly regarded class of its own), Williams joined an even more unique and exclusive class, following only Ralph Sampson and David Robinson to become only the third player in ACC History to have 1,500 points, 1,000 rebounds, 350 blocks and 150 steals (along with David Robinson and Pervis Ellison). The Knicks are obviously setting out to put his skills to good use by inserting him in their starting five.
There ya have it, folks. Knicks Journal is pleased to help you get more acquainted with Shelden Williams: the team's newest starting center.
Amar'e Stoudemire has seemingly been the heart and soul of the New York Knicks organization from the moment he proclaimed "The Knicks are back."
All season long, although the cast of characters around him has changed, it has been Stoudemire who has led the charge in the resurgence of the Knicks.
While it was clear prior to the season that the Knicks would have to heavily depend on Stoudemire, the players around him have come up big time and time again.
Nevertheless, Stoudemire has been the MVP candidate whose success the Knicks have ridden through their quest for a spot in the playoffs.
Though the Knicks erupted for a big overtime victory against the Magic Monday night, they have struggled mightily since the trade that brought Carmelo Anthony to New York.
Those same struggles have had the Knicks gasping for air as they look towards the playoffs, but perhaps the last win can be a momentum builder.
That being said, such struggles need to be highlighted (and improved upon) as the Knicks look to better themselves as they prepare to pose as a contender. Some people will cite the lack of chemistry amongst the team's new players for the ongoing struggles, as Chauncey Billups and company have failed to get into a groove with their teammates just yet. Others will blame Coach D'Antoni and his sometimes random rotations and starting lineups, with two starting positions (the shooting guard and center positions) in flux as of late. While there may be validity to the suggestions that the mentioned above factors have contributed to the Knicks' most recent slump, there's one more thing people may overlook.
Just as crucial as Amar'e Stoudemire has been to the team's success thus far, that's how pivotal he will continue to be. Whether it's still being the center of attention on the offensive end, or being the leader in the locker room that gets his teammates on the same page, Stoudemire will need to continue to assume his role as savior.
The problem is, Stoudemire just may be getting exhausted down the stretch. It's not particularly his fault, as he has carried the future of the organization on his shoulders throughout the season. He has propelled the team to many victories, even having last-second plays drawn up for him where he shoots a three-pointer on an inbound pass in an attempt to keep the Knicks in a game--sometimes, even miraculously converting on such a play.
At the same time, it wouldn't be shocking to see him slowing down, as discouraging as it might be. In the previous two seasons, the Knicks found moderate success (compared to what was expected) by attempting to mold Chris Duhon into a D'Antoni-type point guard. Duhon's court vision was impressive at times, and he was able to efficiently work the pick and roll with the Knicks' All-Star at the time, David Lee.
Unfortunately for the Knicks, while the success was not expected to last long, it abruptly came to a halt as Duhon faltered, exhausting himself towards the end of both his seasons for the Knicks.
The one (and only) correlation between Duhon and Stoudemire is that the Knicks seemingly depended on each one's success to propel the team, leaning on them heavily. For Duhon, a career-long role player, it was clearly too much to handle. He wasn't meant to carry his team by any means.
Stoudemire, on the other hand, was brought in for that very reason. While it would be ideal for him to find a nice balance with Carmelo Anthony (and Chauncey Billups) in regard to a consistent offensive attack, he needs to continue to step up on his own.
Besides having a less than stellar shooting streak during the Knicks slump, Stoudemire has seemed to lack the same type of aggression he has had throughout the season. While some of the offensive burden may be taken off his shoulders now, the aggression still needs to be there. The Knicks brought in Anthony not because he was an improvement over Stoudemire as a potent option on offense, but so the two could power their way through defenses around the league, dominating together. That has to be the key.
Exhaustion throughout the season is understandable, especially when your team and one of the biggest cities in the world depends on you. That being said, it's time for Amar'e Stoudemire to take a deep breath and use New York City celebrating playoff-success as his motivation moving forward. He was paid and brought in to do a job, and that is to help the Knicks climb back to greatness. It's now, more than any other point in the season, that his impact matters most.
Monday, March 28, 2011
Bobby Hurley is a college basketball legend, having led Duke to back-to-back NCAA titles in 1991 and 1992. After becoming a two-time national champion, Hurley went on to play five NBA seasons, almost exclusively with the Sacramento Kings. Nevertheless, he, just like anyone else, has had tremendous ups and downs throughout his life and career. That's why Hurley and his family have teamed up with Dove Men & Care for its "Journey to Comfort" campaign during this year's NCAA tournament.
If you're a regular to Knicks Journal, you would have already read my chat with Bobby about his thoughts regarding Duke winning the 2011 NCAA Tournament. The bad news is, Duke fell to Arizona last week, but the good news is, Bobby also weighed in on the new-look Knicks and what he's been up to since his playing days.
Like everyone else has seemed to this season, Bobby also had his own opinion about "Big Three" in Miami, and whether or not seeking a trade to the Knicks was the right move for Carmelo Anthony. Read on below to see why he says the most recent times have perhaps served as his journey back to comfort.Q: While at Duke, you had the chance to win big as you teamed up with the likes of Grant Hill and Christian Laettner, forming a "Big Three" of sorts. What do you think of these NBA superstars looking to join forces on the court? Can you relate?
A: There is definitely something to be said about that. We had a chance to grow up together. We developed something special and formed great chemistry. When we played together on the court, we had an idea of where and how we could be successful. We were able to help each other improve, and I think that's what good teams do. We have seen Boston (Pierce, Garnett, and Allen) and Miami (Wade, LeBron, and Bosh) do it. I think players are realizing when you have better players around, you can make the team that much better.
I think what you are seeing is guys realizing the value of winning. There is nothing that can really replace that. Once you get to a certain point in your career and you have achieved a certain amount of individual success, to finally be recognized as a great player, you have to win big and you have to win championships. That's why other players are now willing to move and talk with others about putting something together where they will have an opportunity to win the whole thing. I was lucky enough to experience that on a college level. A guy like Carmelo is a national champion, so he understands.
Q: So even with the Knicks' mediocre start since the Carmelo Anthony trade, you still think New York was the right move for him?
A: I think so. That's what was in his heart and obviously is what he wanted to do. He had some really great years in Denver, but the Nuggets never really got over the hump in the West. He needed a change of scenery and wanted the big stage in New York. I think he's the type of player that can handle that and has also put himself in a position where he's got teammates he can count on that are at his level, like Amar'e Stoudemire. They should be a very formidable duo.
It's all about the chemistry and how quickly it can be formed. I think that's something that's always overlooked. It something that Miami is still searching for with all the talent they have. It's one thing to have all that talent on a team, but how quickly you can mesh their talents and have them understand how to play together and be effective is another. I'm not sure the Knicks are ready to win big this year, but they certainly have a lot of the right pieces and should be heard from within the next couple of years in the East.
Q: Bobby, talk to me about Dove Men & Care's "Journey to Comfort" campaign, and how you and your family came to get involved in it.
A: We were contacted by Dove Men's Product Line to get involved in an NCAA tournament promotion. We like what the company stands for in terms of being family oriented. I personally like the products--I use them. I've had some problems with dry skin, especially in the winter time. The body wash has been very helpful in that regard, so it just made sense to get involved. It gives me an opportunity to talk about my "Journey to Comfort". I'm in a really good place right now with my family and my life off the court--my association with my dad and the opportunity to coach with my brother.
Q: You obviously have solid family values. What kind of influence has your family played in your career? I know your father and brother are currently involved in basketball as well.
A: We grew up in a basketball family, so that was a big part of my childhood. I was around my dad a lot and went to his practices and games. I was able to learn the game at a young age by being around him. All the time he put in with me definitely attributed to my success at Duke and the chance to play in the NBA. My brother, Dan, as Head Coach at Wagner, gave me the opportunity to share my knowledge with the players. The chance to coach at Wagner has helped me stay close to my kids by keeping them in the setting where I am coaching, especially my young son, who loves sports. It's been really enjoyable.
Q: You mentioned that you are an assistant basketball coach to your brother Dan at Wagner College. Your team saw an eight-win improvement from last season, the greatest improvement among first year coaching staffs. You guys must be pleased so far, right?
A: The players and our fan base are very excited Last season, they were accustomed to losing but this year we have definitely given them a taste of winning. We have played high level competition and stayed very competitive. We have started to bring our own recruits in, and want this group of guys to eventually experience an NCAA tournament bid, so that's what we're trying to do.
Dan has done a great job. There were forty plus new coaches in the league, and he had the best turn around out of any of them. It's a testimony to what we did in the pre-season and how Dan changed the culture. Our players were asked to play as hard as they could, and they did that. We established the way we wanted to play moving forward. Now it's just a point of continuing to recruit well and bring in new talent, and I think we'll get to where we want to be with Wagner.
Q: Wagner had quite a few freshmen on its team this past season. As you continue to recruit, like you said, what are some ways the coaching staff helps incoming freshmen adapt to the college level coming from high school?
A: With freshman, it's going to be a bit of a roller coaster. We are prepared for that, and understand they will have their ups and downs. We just want them to work every day to get better. We don't what them to get too discouraged or too high on themselves--we want to keep them as even keeled as possible. Starting freshmen is tough, but the future is bright when you realize they will be in your program for the next few years.
Q: You had the unique opportunity to learn from two of the best basketball coaches of all time, your father and Coach K. What makes them both so great?
A: Each of them has passion for what they do. My dad just loves being with the kids in the gym teaching the game. He wants to be successful. Those same things hold true for Coach K; he's got the passion and looks to help the lives of the kids he coaches. He loves to win.
Q: We talked about you and Grant Hill being teammates at Duke. Having faced adversity and difficult injuries during your playing career, what do you have to say about Hill's own perseverance through his own tribulations, and longevity in the NBA thus far?
A: I'm really shocked every time I watch him play, and sometimes I even feel bad! I just can't believe that this is a guy that I played with, having endured the '82 game NBA season, and knowing how my body felt as a 22 year old. it's a true testimony to not only how many miles he's put on his legs, but how well he has taken care of himself. I am truly in amazement that he is still out there doing it on this level.
For more on Bobby's "Journey to Comfort," as well as Magic Johnson and John Thompson's own journeys, click here.
Sunday, March 27, 2011
Saturday, March 26, 2011
Thursday, March 24, 2011
As predicted, the Knicks were overpowered by the Magic last night and to recuperate, having hit the game films, as opposed to the hardwood floor, taking a day off from physical activity for the day.
In the interim, let's take a look at what the usual (yet always reliable) blogging suspects have to say about what's been going with the Knicks as of late.
Starting things off, my pal Tommy Dee of The Knicks Blog, tries to figure out what's been Landry Fields' deal as of late, as he, just like the rest of the team, has seemed off.
While I may be a couple days late to the party, my man Jared Zwerling from ESPN New York takes a look at Knicks Journal-pal Ronny Turiaf's ongoing philanthropy in conjunction with his Heart to Heart Foundation.
Who better to get inside the head of a man like no one else than his wife? Jared's ESPN New York colleague Ian Begley chats with celebrity personality La La about how her husband, Carmelo Anthony, is keeping his head up during this trying stretch for the Knicks.
ALERT! ALERT! Posting and Toasting's Seth Rosenthal changed his Twitter handle!. Also, if you're interested in meeting Seth and the rest of his P&T gang, be sure to R.S.V.P to his latest Knicks game-viewing party!
And while this piece may be a tad dated, Dan L from KnicksFan.Net let everyone know last month that while the Knicks mayultimately take some time to gel, where the team is today is much better than where they were yesterday, so to speak.
Finally, if you haven't already, make sure you get yourself ready to go to visit the Steiner Sports Store in Roosevelt Field Mall in Long Island, tonight, at 7PM EST to hang out with me and Knicks point guard Chauncey Billups!
That's all folks! Check in tomorrow for my chat with Chauncey!
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
The last time the Knicks and Magic met, on a night in late February in Orlando, the Knicks were hopeful that a win that night could be a start of something special as the team looked to capitalize on the recent acquisitions of Carmelo Anthony, Chauncey Billups, and company.
However, Dwight Howard muscled his way past the Knicks' big men and had 30 points and 16 rebounds in a win over the Knicks. Though the Magic trailed by double-digits at halftime, they, like many other teams down the stretch, brought more to the table than the Knicks in the final minute.
That being said, a loss wasn't the only blow Howard delivered to the Knicks that night. As Billups ran into (and tried to get past) a Howard screen, he offered a deep thigh bruise and was out multiple games. Though Toney Douglas played well in his absence, the missed games cost the Knicks crucial time of which they could have been using to acclimate themselves and build stronger chemistry.
Instead, the Knicks now stand at 7-8 since the big trade that was expected to give the Knicks an extraordinary lift.
Though the struggles may be in part due to lack of chemistry at this point, much of it also has to due with the lack of defensive intensity and killer instinct down the stretch. With the greatest Knick of all time, Patrick Ewing (now an assistant coach for the Magic), once again revisiting the Garden tonight, fans are reminded of those 1990s Knicks squads that thrived on their defense, even reaching the NBA finals in 1994. Those teams, whether it was entirely due to their defense or not, always knew how to win and put away an opponent.
In any event, while one may be hesitant to say this (given the Knicks nature to give up late game leads), a key to the guys in orange and blue coming away with a victory tonight will be getting out in front early, and forcing the Magic to keep up with their pace. If the Knicks can outrun and exhaust them, they'll have a good chance at sustaining the lead and coming out victorious.
However, if the Knicks allow the Magic to control the game and constantly run the offense through Howard, getting him into enough of a groove, their feeble defensive efforts against Howard in the past could come back to haunt them.
Perhaps having such a legend in Ewing in the building tonight, given his success and his legacy, will inspire a victory.
Knicks fans: If you're interested in meeting Knicks point guard and a past NBA champion in Chauncey Billups Thursday night, all you need to do for a chance to win is "like" the Steiner Sports Facebook page and write on their wall that you were sent by Knicks Journal! It's that simple! A winner will be selected later tonight.
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
Monday, March 21, 2011
Everyone knows that Paul Pierce is "The Truth," that Ray Allen is perhaps the purest shooter the game has ever seen, and that Kevin Garnett is one of the NBA's most intense players of all time.
These three players, of course, have led the way as the Celtics have once again climbed to the top of the Eastern Conference, but the team's locker room was shaken up when Danny Ainge traded defensive anchor Kendrick Perkins and Nate Robinson to the Thunder for young wing man Jeff Green.
Would Green be able to make an impact behind leaders Pierce and Allen?
It just so happens that while Perkins' defensive presence is no longer there, Green has in lieu of that, given a huge boost to his new team's bench.
Averaging a far cry from his 37 minutes per game averaged in Oklahoma City, the 23 plus minutes per game he receives in Boston have proven enough for Green to make solid contributions. Aside from averaging 11.5 points per game, Green's field goal percentage is an impressive 52% overall, including 40% from down town.
Much of that, Green says, has to do with the chemistry he has already begun to build with his new teammates, specifically, his all-star point guard in Rajon Rondo. Green told The Boston Globe last week following his 19 point effort in a win over the Pacers, "You seen some of the passes he made. It’s a beautiful thing when you’ve got a guard that can pass the ball like Rondo. I kind of credit myself as a guy who can get out in the open floor and run. When you’ve got a guard who can pass the way he can pass, it’s fun."
When he isn't on the floor with the Celtics' starting point guard, Green can now be seen anchoring the team's second unit. After starting for most of his three and a half plus seasons with the Thunder, it's remarkable how well (and how so quickly, at that) Green has taken to coming off the pine. While with the Thunder, Green was a part of a young and upcoming team still climbing up the contention ladder, as they currently have the fourth best record in the West.
Now a Boston Celtic, Green is experiencing what it's like to be gunning right for a championship title, and is simply just trying to do his part, saying, "I just go out there and be aggressive, just go out and play hard. You play hard and it makes up for a lot of things. Lately, it’s been great for us. We’ve just got to continue to do that."
The Knicks, who on Sunday got burned by sharp shooter Carlos Delfino's (as opposed to the normally headlining Andrew Bogut or Brandon Jennings) career high 30 points, should be mindful of Green's contributions. While it's obviously important to attempt to shut down (each or any) of Boston's "Big Three," it's also critical to not allow the idea of Green's effectiveness evade them in Monday night's matchup.
If they do, Green could end up scorching them, just as he has proven to do to various teams in the last few weeks as his Celtics career has begun.
Sunday, March 20, 2011
**This piece was written by Rhonda Dearborn, a contributing writer at Knicks Journal**
Earlier in the NBA season, there were many who supported the concept that Amar’e Stoudemire was a valid candidate for MVP. Those same voices have long dismissed the concept. However, I’d like to revive the campaign right here and now. This Knicks franchise would be at ground zero if it weren’t for Stoudemire. He came here when there was little reason to take such a risk. He could have come here for the money and just worried about his own stats. He could have come here, talked a good game, but then simply just cashed a paycheck and that would have lived up to all of the “haters’” expectations.
Upon agreeing to sign with the Knicks he declared, “the Knicks are back,” much to the dismay of many of his critics.
Did Stoudemire have 100 million reasons to come to New York? Sure, but becoming a New York Knick was about something else for him as well. I think Amar’e savvy enough to understand what this city, its fans, and the media, had in store for anyone foolish enough to come here and underperform. He wanted his own team to lead. He wanted to face his critics and show them what he is fully capable of: leading a winning team to greatness.
While he is not quite there yet, and things are at a rather low point after Friday night’s loss to the lowly Detroit Pistons, STAT yet again stood up to the glare of the media and stated, “the D’Antoni system works,” thus sending a message to every member of his team, including Carmelo Anthony, who opted not to talk with reporters after the tough loss.
In good times and bad, it is Amar’e Stoudemire who is the vocal leader. Even during the fourth quarter of an absolute blowout, with the Knicks up 24 on the Jazz, Amar’e was first up off the bench, exhorting the bench players who were still in the game, rooting them on and was the first one launching to slap hands with them during an officials’ time out.
While the Knicks are in a transition period now, after the Carmelo Anthony trade grappling with who they want to be, the team is certainly better off today than they were yesterday, and perhaps only a few pieces of the puzzle away from being a true contender. The team should thank Stoudemire for the already present progress.
There is no confusing the fact that Stoudemire was the pioneer that sparked the renaissance of the New York Knicks; his presence was the one that ultimately reeled in Carmelo Anthony. Now, other key role players and perhaps even all-star caliber players will want to come to the Knicks, play with Amar’e and ‘Melo, and make this team better.
It is in good times and bad where true leaders stand apart, but the Knicks’ leader has more to do. It will be up to Stoudemire to get Anthony and his new teammates on the same page with the coach,. It will continue to be his responsibility to speak with his team and strengthen their resolve on defense, to study film and try to improve his own defensive shortcomings.
It will even be up to Stoudemire, as the season goes on, to make sure his team keeps up the pace and maintains their defensive intensity late in games. All that responsibility is a lot to put on the shoulders of one man. However, Amar’e Stoudemire is fully capable. He should continue to be recognized as the Knicks’ true MVP.