The New York Knicks are relevant once again. With the acquisition of superstar small forward Carmelo Anthony; The Mecca can take back its rightful place on top of the basketball world. The 90’s were a great time for basketball in New York, Patrick Ewing was running the show and his band of brothers had his back every step of the way. The Knicks were as good as a team with only one bonified superstar could be. A perennial playoff team who played with more heart than most of their competition with superior talent. If it weren’t for Michael Jordan, the Knicks may have had multiple titles and this would be a different conversation.
But the Bulls did have Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen, just as the Miami Heat had Shaq and Dwayne Wade and now have Lebron James with Dwayne Wade, the Spurs had Tim Duncan and David Robinson, the Rockets had Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler, the Lakers had Shaq and Kobe Bryant and now have Bryant and Pau Gasol and the list goes on and on. In the NBA, you need multiple superstars to win. You don’t automatically win if you have them, but if you don’t it is nearly impossible. Those who say the Knicks gave up “too much” in the trade for Anthony, I ask what championships were they winning with the squad that they had assembled? Was Danilo Gallinari going to come through in a clutch playoff series against the Heat? Doubt it. Did they give away a lot of solid role players? Yes. Role players don’t win championships and come a dime a dozen. Players like Carmelo Anthony come around once every 20 years if you’re lucky. And the opportunity to pair a player like ‘Melo with MVP candidate Amare Stoudemire comes along once in a lifetime.
New York is a city that appreciates the true game of basketball, the hustle, diving for loose balls and playing defense. Winning is always paramount, but the Knicks teams in the 90’s never won a title and are still adored by Knick fans everywhere. With no titles since 1970, we have lowered our expectations and some have even been pleased with a 28-26 record because “progress is being made”. Well, when Donnie Walsh took over the absolute disgrace of a mess that the likes of Isiah Thomas left behind as general manager, he did not simply want the Knicks to be back to .500 basketball and a 6th seed in the Eastern Conference. Donnie came back to his hometown to deliver a title, the first since he watched as a young man 40+ years ago. Despite these bullshit reports of owner James Dolan getting involved in the negotiations for Anthony and using Thomas as a “key piece” in the process, this is Donnie’s team.
The new Knicks starting lineup will look like this: PG Chauncey Billups SG Landry Fields SF Carmelo Anthony PF Amare Stoudemire C Ronny Turiaf. With the championship pedigree and hard-nosed play that Billups brings to the table, this lineup could be dangerous come playoff time. A 3-4 pairing of Anthony and Stoudemire is any basketball fans dream come true. The ability to go on the court every night and have two players who could take over an entire game is unique and certainly unknown to Knicks fans under 45.
This trade also ensures the Knicks flexibility with the salary cap over the next two season, a priority mandated to the Walsh regime from day one. They can still make a play at all-pro PGs Deron Williams and Chris Paul next season when Chauncey Billups’ contract expires. Filling in the holes that were left behind will be far easier than the naysayers may preach. Even as is, this will be team to be reckoned with in the postseason. And the Garden faithful will show up in full force to see the show that will be each and every home game. The place will be rockin’ again, the city will have that special type of buzz that only good basketball at MSG can provide.
We have waited our turn. It’s been long enough. This is our time New York. This city deserves respect in the world of professional basketball. Clyde, Willis, “The Pearl”, Dollar Bill. Those men worked hard, played as superstars on the same team and didn’t seek the spotlight on themselves individually. Instead, they showed what should be common sense to anyone who claims to know the game: having “too many” stars in on the same team is the best kind of problem to have and is an obvious advantaged if the stars have the right attitude and are managed properly. An embarrassment of riches like the Lakers, Bulls, Spurs, Rockets, Heat and countless other championship teams have had.
Carmelo, meet Amare, be friends, we need you both. And for those who say “what if the Knicks play Miami in the First Round?” I answer in the words of my beloved Bart Scott: