Remembering the Willis Reed Tunnel

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As Marc Berman of the NY Post reports, the famous Willis Reed tunnel has been knocked out by the Madison Square Garden transformation. The tunnel has been replaced with center court seats and the Knicks will now enter the arena through a corner tunnel. James Dolan wants to start a new tradition of the players entering the court through the Delta Sky360Club where elite season-ticket holders can view the players running out of the tunnel. As great as that sounds, it is sad to see the famous center court tunnel go as the Garden is the last arena to have the center court tunnel.

Above is a video remembering the Willis Reed game in which he played injured to lead the Knicks to the 1970 NBA Championship.

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Earl Clark Signs in China

Well cross another potential Knicks free agent off the list. Former Orlando Magic forward Earl Clark has signed on to play in China next season. Clark is a free agent so there was no pressure for him to have an opt out clause. Even if there is an NBA season next year, Clark will be playing in China. He joins Joe Alexander as a player I wanted the Knicks to look at who will now be playing overseas next year. I wanted Clark to be a Knick because he is athletic and is a solid defensive player. I believe right now, he is an upgrade over Derrick Brown who is a work in progress. Shawne Williams is a free agent and will need to be re-signed. Clark would have been a great fit at the backup 3 but he will not be a Knick next season.

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Patrick Ewing Still Hopes to Work for the Knicks One Day

Knicks hall of fame center Patrick Ewing appeared on “the Mike Lupica” show today and discussed a possible return to the garden. The interview can be heard here.

The 49 year old is an assistant coach under Stan Van Gundy with the Orlando Magic. Last month, Ewing interviewed with the Detroit Pistons about their head coaching vacancy. The job was ultimately given to Lawrence Frank. Ewing said in the interview that he would like to return to the Knicks as a coach one day:

“I hope that one day I get to come back home because I do live in this area, I still consider this my area, I still consider myself a Knick. Hopefully one day I’ll be brought back here,”

Having been one of the dominant defensive players of all time, Ewing should bring a lot of defensive prowess to coaching. He is also the Knicks career scoring leader so clearly he knows something about offense. Could he have a coaching future with the New York Knicks? I loved in the interview how Ewing talked about the prejudice that guards are smarter than centers.

“People think that just because you’re a center, you’re not as smart as the guards or the smaller guys. I think that’s a load of crap. When I played with the Knicks, I was just as important or just as smart as any other of the guards I played with. I still had to call out plays, notice schemes, know the systems, do everything they had to do.”

I think Ewing is 100% right. One great example of this is former Knick point guard Mark Jackson. Jackson, 46, is 3 years younger then Ewing yet he is already a head coach. Ewing has been an assistant coach since 2007 while Jackson had never coached in any capacity prior to the Golden State job. I am not saying that Ewing should be a coach and Jackson should not. I do not believe Ewing is head coach material yet, I believe down the road he will be. I just believe he needs a bit more experience and I would like to see how he does in an expanded role, maybe as a defensive coordinator/assistant coach? There is one team that has a big glaring need at that position, oh yea, the New York Knicks.

Why shouldn’t Ewing be the Knicks defensive coordinator? I think he is more than qualified to fill that role. I would much rather have Ewing, a former player, coaching up Carmelo and Amar’e than a coach who does not hold the respect of the players. I always believe that ex-player coaches hold more respect with todays NBA players than most other coaches do. I doubt Ewing will even be considered for D’Antoni’s coordinator job, especially if Mike Woodson impressed D’Antoni in his interview, but I would love to see them at least give him a chance to interview.

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What Happens Now to Anthony Carter?

With all the Knicks postseason talk about bringing in centers, the draft with Shumpert and Big Jorts and Mike D’Antoni’s defensive coordinator search, there has been no talk about Anthony Carter’s future with the team. The forgotten man was one of the better bench players down the stretch for the Knicks last season and I think the Knicks need to take a long hard look at bringing him back. Granted the first round selection of Iman Shumpert takes away another guard spot on the roster but I think Carter still brings alot to the table. Think back to game 4 against Boston when Carter led a fourth quarter comeback and hit a 3 to get the Knicks within 5 before Boston pulled away from the ailing Knicks. He showed that even at age 36, he still can be a very serviceable emergency point guard and I wouldn’t be so fast to throw him on the street now that Shumpert is on the team. Here is what the current guard situation looks like assuming Carter comes back:

PG Billups, Shumpert, Douglas, Carter
SG Fields, Douglas, Walker, Rautins

I think going in with Billups, Shumpert, Carter and Douglas as a combo guard would be a very good point guard rotation. I am not saying Carter deserves 20 minutes a game or even a bench spot, but why couldn’t Carter be a 12th man? Why not keep him around to mentor the younger players? He clearly knows how to play defense and how to bring energy every night. He can contribute big time in the locker room and if injuries happen he can step in and make a contribution. Now he is not a superstar or even an above average player but with Carmelo and Amare being the stars, we need high energy players willing to scrap and claw on defense and Carter is that kind of player.

As Amare says “If everybody on the team is a leader then the team is going to be better”. Anthony Carter is a leader. Despite his lack of elite ability, age and stature on the depth chart, he is a leader. He made the most of his opportunities last season and he made a great impression on the coaching staff. Just because we drafted Iman Shumpert does not mean that Carter deserves to be shown the door. I would endorse him coming back even as the 15th man, as long as he is around the team he will have a positive impact. I am a big Anthony Carter fan and, bias aside, he deserves to be back with this team next season and the team could use veteran leaders like him.

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Spero Dedes Joins the Knicks

After waiting in limbo for a month, Spero Dedes has finally been hired as the New York Knicks radio play-by-play announcer. This deal probably would have been completed a lot sooner but Dedes received a DUI in the Hamptons about a month ago. He will also be backing up MSG Tv play-by-play man Mike Breen. This has always been Dedes’ dream job as he told the NY Post:

“I can remember walking into [Madison Square] Garden for my first Knicks game as a teenager and feeling the magic of the place, I’ve been in love with this franchise ever since. When I was a broadcast student at Fordham all I dreamt about was what it would feel like to be a Knicks announcer and now it’s become reality. I’m truly humbled by this opportunity, and having my family close to me again means a great deal. In addition, I’m forever grateful to the Lakers organization for my time spent there.”

I think this is a solid move as Dedes was considered a rising star in the Laker organization before taking his talents to New York. Current Knicks radio play-by-play man Mike Crispino is expected to back up Dedes on the radio side.

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James Dolan Sings “Fix the Knicks”… Really?

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The life of Knicks owner James Dolan is never dull. His band, JD and the Straight Shot, opened for Aretha Franklin at the Jones Beach Theater last week and premiered  a new Knicks themed song. The band performed “Fix the Knicks” complete with a tap dancing portion and a “my friend Isiah Thomas” reference. In the video, the fans at the concert all sigh when he lets out the Isiah line. Once again Dolan makes a complete ass of himself with this song providing just how moronic he really is.

Here are the lyrics to the song, feel free to cringe Knick fans:

Everywhere I go, I hear everybody say

‘What you gonna do to make that team play’
From the folks across the street at 34th and 6th
Everyone who calls says, ‘Hey man, fix the Knicks’

(Chorus)
Fix the Knicks and make them shine
Get on and win like it’s ’69
Hitting all their free throws and no more shooting bricks
Time to get it right and fix the Knicks

Doing my best and that’s my problem
I check with my friend called Isiah Thomas
Pay no mind to those nasty critics
They haven’t done a thing to fix the Knicks

(Chrous)

We know we’re getting better, but still no respect
We score a lot of points, but where’s the defense?
Everyone’s an expert saying ‘Trade your draft picks’
You got to get ‘this guy’ to fix the Knicks

(Chorus, two times)”

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Clyde to Open New Hell’s Kitchen Sports Bar

Clyde is such a beast. The hall of fame guard and current Knicks TV announcer plans to open a 10,000 square foot sports bar and restaurant on the ground floor of a residential on 505 West 37th Street. The bar will be upscale and will likely be named “Clyde’s”. The bar will serve classic American fare as well as display sporting events and sports memorabilia. The restaurant will partner with Ark Restaurants who currently is behind numerous other New York eateries. Frazier’s son, Walt Frazier III, said that his father has been seeking space to build a bar for a long time. Frazier III also said that this particular complex was chosen due to the mass population of young adults in the area as well as the lack of good competition in the area.

This is awesome and I cannot wait to see how it turns out. Clyde is another example of somebody using his sports stature to make advances in other aspects of life. Good for Clyde, I wish him the best of luck with his bar.

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Amar’e Making Moves This Off-season.

Despite his back still being injured, Amar’e Stoudemire has been quite active this offseason. While he has not been able to workout, shoot around, or do cardio exercises, he has been working on his non-basketball hobbies. His fashion line (logo above) with designer Rachel Roy is set to be released soon, and has announced his partnership with Big Lead Sports to create his own sports/fashion website.

Stoudemire has worked closely with designer Rachel Roy on her RACHEL Rachel Roy clothing line. The line is the cheaper, “younger sister” version of her Rachel Roy line. Roy says that she loves to work with people at the top of their game in other areas, and Stoudemire definitely fits that mold. Stoudemire has helped her develop what is described as “courtside apparel for women”. The line targets sporty women who are looking to wear sporting apparel classier than what is sold in sporting good stores, but casual enough to wear at an athletic event. Stoudemire says:

“I wanted to bring something to women who go and watch basketball games or want to be comfortable on the weekends and still look polished and chic -– clothes that could be dressed up or dressed down.”

Many of the pieces bear Stoudemire’s number 1, the Knicks logo, or the Star of David in which Stoudemire has a tattoo of on his hand. It is said that Stoudemire will be coming out with a line for men after he is finished with his current work. Here is a sketch sample of some of Roy/Stoudemire’s work:

Stoudemire has also struck a deal with Big Lead Sports to create his own sports and fashion website. One of his main goals is to boost the popularity of fantasy basketball which pails in popularity to fantasy baseball and football. It’s also rumored that the site will try and create an educational curriculum. Amar’e says:

“From fantasy basketball, it’s a great way for you to learn math without you even knowing it.”

Stoudemire will become a shareholder of Big Lead Sports and an advisor to the company.

Amar’e's moves show how well rounded of a man he is. Clearly he understands that his basketball career will not last forever, and it is admirable that he uses his stature in the sports world to make opportunities for himself outside of basketball. In addition to being an NBA all-star, Stoudemire has been a model citizen ever since he joined the NBA in 2002. Having dealt with attending multiple high schools as a kid, the death of his father and an alcoholic mother who has been in and out of prison, Amar’e is the ideal rags to riches story and he should be an inspiration to kids everywhere. I take my hat off to Stoudemire for all his accomplishments and I hope he continues to flourish.

[Images via Glamzons]
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The Final Word on Jerome Jordan Deal

I have been on vacation the past 2 weeks so I have not been able to post many posts so now I will catch up on all the posts that I have fallen behind on. One of them was all the Jerome Jordan news that went on the past week.

Last week Jerome Jordan, the 7 foot center who was a second round pick that the Knicks purchased from Milwaukee last offseason, signed a deal to play in Slovenia for the Krka club in the event of a lockout. Last season, Jordan played in Serbia for KK Hermofam. The great thing about Jordans contract is that he has an out clause for next season. It has been reported that the Knicks will buy Jordan out for 500,000 from Krka when the lockout ends. I love this move for Jordan in that he can get playing time that he needs to refine his game and when the Knicks can play games they will have him. It is also a great move for Jordan because as a 2nd round pick he is guaranteed nothing from the Knicks. There is a chance he will not make the team when the NBA resumes. He will for sure be playing ball for money and he can play for the Knicks whenever the season starts. It is great for Jordan and great for the Knicks. I am very interested to see how he contributes once NBA games start being played. If he becomes a stud, or at least an above average defensive center, he will contribute greatly to the Knicks.

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Mike Woodson to Interview For Knicks Defensive Assistant Position

According to Marc Berman of the NY Post, former Knicks draftee and Atlanta Hawks coach Mike Woodson will interview for the Knicks Defensive Assistant position this week.

“Mike Woodson, former Hawks head coach, is expected to be in New York this week interviewing with Knicks head coach Mike D’Antoni to become his defensive assistant coach, according to a person familiar with the situation.”

Woodson is not particularly known as a “defensive genius” but he was a good coach in Atlanta and is a former player. I believe he will be open to a 1 year contract because he was, like Lawrence Frank, rumored for multiple head coaching jobs this offseason and will be rumored for many more next offseason. I think this would be a fantastic hire if we could make it. However that is a big if. For starters, Woodson is also being considered for the vacant Minnesota Timberwolves head coaching position. Woodson also has the same agent, Joe Glass, that represents ex Knick coach Larry Brown. Brown and Glass did not have a good relationship with Dolan and management while Brown was the coach and that relationship only got worse when Brown was fired and his contract situation had to be sorted out by the NBA. Who knows if Dolan will even agree to let Woodson be hired if he in fact is D’Antoni’s choice. There are many question marks around this hire but I think if we could get Woodson we would improve greatly next season.

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