2006-02-17 / Sports

Can A Rose Blossom In New York? Knicks Hope It Happens

By John J. Buro

The newest Knick has a megawatt

smile which can light up Madison

Avenue in a heartbeat. But, whether

Jalen Rose was delivered here as one

more piece of a fragmented puzzle or able to provide valuable minutes in

Stephon Marbury’s absence remains

uncertain at this point.

What is certain, however, is that –despite a 0-6 start in his new uniform

Rose continues to remain upbeat. He has every reason to. In five of

those games, he had either led his

team in points or assists. Unfortunately, the 33 year-old forward/ guard has not yet had the opportunity

to align himself with Marbury,

New York’s leading scorer [18.2 ppg] and playmaker [6.9 apg, which is 9th best in the NBA]. On the very same day the Knicks acquired Rose, Marbury was placed on the Inactive List with a bruised left shoulder.

That’s how it has gone for Rose who, on February 3, departed the 16-30 Toronto Raptors for a New York squad that was 14-30. For the second time in three years, he was moved, in part, for Antonio Davis. All of which has translated into a 5½ game swing in the standings.

The current losing streak was now at 10, and New York had only won once in 17 games. It’s hard to imagine things would get this awful so quickly. They had opened 2006 with a six-game winning streak and, at 13-21, started to look good.

“It would nice to get a win –period,” Rose stated, before scoring 11 fourthquarter points in New York’s last-second 98-96 win against Toronto at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday night. The win was even more impressive, given the fact that he was whistled for three fouls in the opening two minutes, fifteen seconds of the game and didn’t return until the second half.

Perhaps, this night –Rose’s first game against his latest set of ex-teammates will be the start of something special.

Still, the 12-year professional knows better than to rest on such laurels. One victory is merely a building block.

“We haven’t been winning with the guys who are here now,” he said. “Right now, we’re not in the playoff picture. So, anytime a team doesn’t win, there is the potential to make some moves. And, if those moves make the team better, so be it.”

The All-Star break, which is set for this weekend, offers another source of conversation. A slumping team will, almost always, look forward to a lapse in the schedule, whereas winners rarely welcome a stretch of inactivity.

However, Rose realized there aren’t any guarantees for future success merely because it’s time for the battery to be recharged.

“Just because we have a break, doesn’t mean we’ll win after it,” he rationalized. “Hopefully, it will allow some of our guys to get away for a few days [although the Knicks will be well-represented in Houston, as Quentin Richardson attempts to repeat in the Three-Point Shootout, Channing Frye and Nate Robinson will compete in the Rookie Challenge, and the 5’9” Robinson will bring his 43½ inch vertical leap into the Slam Dunk competition].

He remains mindful of the present and the future; the past, simply, is not part of the equation.

“I can’t be bitter about the way it ended in Toronto,” said Rose, who has now played for five organizations since being selected by the Denver Nuggets with the 13th overall pick of the 1994 Draft. “I’ve always understood that no one owes me anything.

“That’s how it has been since Vince Carter was traded [to the New Jersey Nets, in December, 2004]. Until then, the team was built around him. Then, it became laden with veterans, like Donyell Marshall and me. Now, they are rebuilding around Chris Bosh.”

New York, too, has personnel issues. But, Jalen Rose can make a difference here, and that, is certainly a step in the right direction.

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