2002-10-19 / Sports

Knicks And NBA Can’t Ignore Hovering Storm Clouds

By Elio Velez
Knicks And NBA Can't Ignore Hovering Storm Clouds By Elio Velez Sports Columnist

Knicks And NBA Can't Ignore
Hovering Storm Clouds
Sports Columnist

The best thing to ever happen to the New York Knicks was Antonio McDyess hopping off the MSG court with a kneecap boo-boo to end his season. This will finally end GM Scott (uh-um-uh) Layden and soon-to-be fired Don Chaney's idiotic belief that the Knicks would make the playoffs. With McD's health and a weak Eastern Conference, Knicks management deluded themselves into believing that an eighth playoff spot would cure all ills.

There is no one of any great value for the Knicks to give anyone their $4 million cap exception. A combination of Othella Harrington and Clarence Witherspoon will not make anyone remember McDyess or Charles Oakley. (I was going to say Dave DeBusschere, but it has been 30 years.) Latrell Sprewell will not rise like a phoenix and carry this team to the championship. $100 mil worth of Allan Houston isn't worth bupkus. Serves them right.

Well now it's time to finally think of the future. Scott Layden must get adjusted to the fact that this team will possibly lose 55 games or more. It's time for the Cablevision Dolans to figure out ways to whisper into Commish David Stern's ear about ping-pong balls going NY's way.

Ping-pong balls you ask? For Knicks fans, the hope of Ohio high school phenom LeBron James should be inscribed into Knicks' fans. The high school senior will almost certainly enter the draft and the comparisons coming from this kid is a Jordan/Bryant combination. Though the hype maybe a teeny bit high, what else should the Knicks look forward to? Another go around of Laydenesque speak to bore the masses? I think not.

The second idea that the Garden should do is to start scouting overseas. There has to be a full commitment to get the talent that is coming out of Europe. The failures of former first round picks Mirsad Turkcan and the immortal Frederic Weis should not hinder the Knicks' search for talent. Knicks' management is crying that they don't even have Nene Hilario hanging around.

The Peja Stojakavoic's Pau Gasol's and the emerging talent is not an aberration that can be laughed at. They are real and finding the next talented youngsters who already have the fundamentals in their brain can't hurt right?

It should be required, nope, wrong word, demanded that Scott Layden have a reconstruction plan for this team. For anyone who wants to see mediocrity be played out every year and have no chance in hell for a championship, go watch some highlights of the 2001 and 2002 Knicks.

For those who want to take the lumps now and hopefully see a bright future, raise your voices. In the Cablevison Corporation, the Dolans know that somebody did beat the Wiz after they've closed down half their stores. The customers spoke with their wallets. For Knicks' fans, they must demand ping-pong balls and overseas cuisine. Come hell or Wiz bucks, there had better be a plan.

USA Deserved To Lose

Ok, I'm two months late in reacting to USA basketball's loss in the World Championships. But there is a reason for this, trust me.

USA's loss in the World Championships this summer was a long time coming and a wakeup call. Europe's brand of basketball is not that different than what was taught in America from the 50's to the early 1980's. When the NBA, ESPN and everyone marketed the slam-dunk, the no-look pass and the demonstrative block as the key fundamentals of ball, there was going to be a time when those flaws would be spread to even the CYO leagues.

Remember the pick and roll? Utah does it but no one else has ran with this simple offense. Remember help defense? Watching Ben Wallace and Jermaine O'Neal looking on helplessly as Yugoslavia and Argentina went by them to the basket was so funny. What about the jump shot? Remember that fundamental key to basketball. Watching Paul Pierce clang it off the rim was embarrassing and on and on and on.

It's time for the NBA to take the mantle in preaching to teams to teach the fundamentals. Now you might say, well it's not the NBA's fault that players shoot 40 percent and can't defend a lightpole. The real truth is that most upcoming players look up to the NBA as the standard of playing ball.

I'm not blaming street ball for this. Playing ball at Arverne Park or Rucker Park is a different game. It's real damn fun. It's cool. But the NBA can't play that game.

I propose that if the NBA wants to see high scores and fun basketball, they must create a program in which using the legends and today's stars of the NBA go into the AAU's, high schools and colleges to show the real way to play ball. It will not be an overnight solution, but the next generation of players may make the game in all levels better to play. It will also be a chance to learn the history of basketball and bridge generations.

Let's go Rally Monkey! Until next week, Peace.

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