From being selected as the first overall pick in the 2000 NBA draft, to playing in China, to not being able to find a team at the start of this season, Kenyon Martin has gone through quite the journey. And it's not over yet.
Martin now seeks redemption with the New York Knicks, who signed him to two 10-day contracts before locking up the physical power forward for the remainder of the year. At 36, Martin has been slowly inserted into the rotation but has still managed to make his mark, adding a mixture of aggressiveness, passion and intensity that is difficult to duplicate.
Despite experiencing continuous injury problems—from missing Carmelo Anthony here and there to Amar'e Stoudemire being sidelined for a major chunk of the season—the Knicks have still found a way to fight through the adversity and currently sit second overall in the Eastern Conference.
Head coach Mike Woodson has slowly worked Martin into the team's rotation, and it has definitely paid off. With injuries to veteran players like Rasheed Wallace and a lack of big, aggressive low-post presences, the Knicks decided to keep Martin for the rest of the season. Although Kenyon has only received solid minutes in his most recent two performances, the Knicks have won six of their last eight games since he first joined the roster.
Against the Oklahoma City Thunder, his first game seeing major action, Martin proved why the Knicks brought him to New York—his physical nature and enthusiasm for the game. Although he fouled out after playing only 17 minutes, he uplifted New York's defensive spirit and brought physicality to the game.
Two days later, Martin scored 10 points, snatched six boards, dished one assist and had two steals in 22 minutes of play against the Jazz. About 20-25 minutes should be Martin's expected duration of playing time. With that allotment, he can still have a major effect on the game while not pushing his body and risking injury.
The tenacity that Martin brings to a basketball game is more valuable than scoring itself. He refuses to lose and instills a passion in his teammates that not many players can. Not only can he score and rebound, but the passionate veteran can also play frustrating lock-down defense that is contagious. Martin's postseason and NBA Finals experience will be very valuable to the Knicks as they attempt to dethrone the Miami Heat and win the championship.
Sure, Martin hasn't recorded any spectacular season averages throughout his career, but he was and still is a high-energy double-double threat on a nightly basis. Also, let's not forget that his best years came when he was in New Jersey playing alongside future Hall of Fame point guard Jason Kidd; the Nets made two NBA Finals appearances during that time.
Now reunited with the assist machine and many other players with whom he has played in the past, Martin is familiar with his surroundings and may just play the best basketball of his career. That is, of course, if he can stay healthy.
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