Knicks Shooting For the Starbury
January 8, 2004
by William K. Wolfrum
Prior to taking a little holiday break where I spent two weeks on a nude beach in Aruba, things around here were quite easy. The West ruled, the East sucked and the Knicks were an organization in constant chaos.
Life was good and topics came easily. Need something to write about? Check out the Hawks, or Magic, etc. Writing a few hundred words on how much they stink was simple.
Now, Isiah Thomas has to come along and ruin everything.
Yes, Thomas has wiped away his past in a scant few weeks in New York. Sure, you can’t say anything bad about Thomas’ tenure as a player, but as an executive and coach, his results have been mixed to say the least.
First he bought the entire CBA and drove it right into non-existence. Then he took over as coach of the Pacers, and while he won a few games, he never seemed to be overly into the whole thing.
As President of the Knicks, Thomas has pulled off two trades and put New York not only in position to make the playoffs, but -- and I’m serious -- in position to make the NBA Finals.
With Stephon Marbury at the point, Allen Houston at the two, and Keith Van Horn, Kurt Thomas and Dikembe Mutombo in the frontcourt, the Knicks now have a starting lineup that can compete with any in the East.
Marbury has always been a mega-star waiting to happen, and the guy is still in his mid-20s. He should blossom in New York with his 20-plus points and eight assists per game. Plus, with Van Horn and Houston, you have two guys who can pour in 30 on any given night.
Mutombo remains an ominous force in the middle, recently blocking 10 shots in a game, and Thomas is a prototype power forward who was stuck at center for several seasons.
Add to that a bench that now includes Moochie Norris, Penny Hardaway and Shandon Anderson, and suddenly the Knicks have gone from a travesty to a team that should be tough in the second half of the season.
The best part of Thomas’ dealings was that he gave up very little. Antonio McDyess is healthy, but that will change soon. There are about 1,000 guys in the world who are every bit as good as Charlie Ward, Clarence Weatherspoon and Howard Eisley, and the two No. 1 draft picks? Have you seen the guys New York tends to draft? No problem giving those away.
At 14-22, the Knicks are behind nine teams in the East, but in reach of about five of those teams. Aside from New Jersey, New Orleans and New Jersey, there’s not really a team in the East that is good. The Celtics probably used to be, but Danny Ainge has gone insane and traded everyone worth anything other than Paul Pierce.
So you heard it hear first. The Knicks will be the team from the East that gets destroyed by the Lakers in the NBA Finals. Sure, I said the Knicks were a laughingstock a while back, but hey, I change my mind as the wind blows.
What I know for sure is that Thomas needs to be commended for making some bold moves, even though it’s made my life that much harder.