There's something about this town that keeps patience in short supply. The “I want it now” attitude permeates politics, business, and yes, even sports.
New Yorkers demand results “like, yesterday”—and if a team or individual doesn't deliver, the media and fans are quick to gripe about it.
As a former athlete, I wouldn't wish that kind of pressure on anyone. But hey—that’s why they make the big bucks, right?
And truth be told, this is where I take my stand as a citizen of Gotham.
My patience is running very thin with the Knicks and their management. The 1999 Finals are now just a glimmer in the past. It was understandable that the team would need time to rebuild after the end of the Patrick Ewing Era in 2001—but six years is long enough.
The '07-'08 Knicks should be contenders. Yes, I said it: contenders.
The East is wide open, and everyone knows anything can happen in the Finals. Here's what each member of the franchise needs to focus on to get New York over the hump...
Thomas needs to forget his offseason troubles and manage games. He also needs to stop thinking about what he'd do if he were on the court—and instead coach the players he has.
Stephon Marbury G – Consistency, Intensity, and Poise
Marbury has been and will be a big-game player, but it’s his day-to-day performance that's suspect. If he shows up mentally and physically, expect 10 points, 6 assists, and 5 rebounds in a leadership role.
Jamal Crawford G – Consistency, Self Awareness
With the addition of Zach Randolph, Crawford has to realize that he's not going to get as many shots as he's accustomed to. His long-range jumper is starting to catch up to his mid-range game.
We need 18 points, 6 rebounds, and 5 assists from him this season to win down the stretch.
Eddie Curry C – Consistency, STAY OUT OF FOUL TROUBLE
Curry is 30 pounds lighter and has the potential to reach stardom this season. If he can stay out of foul trouble, expect big things.
Assuming he works a little harder on the glass, I predict 21 points, 8 rebounds, and 1 block.
Zach Randolph F – Consistency, Shake the New York curse
Whenever a star player comes to New York, his production seems to drop for a few seasons. If Zach can break the trend, you might see three 20-point scorers for the Knicks this year.
That said, I might sneak into the locker room and leave a dictionary on his stool open to the word “pass.”
20 points and 9 rebounds.
Nate Robinson G – Consistency
Nate is going to play a much more active role this season. With an improved jump shot and unmatched intensity, he's going to be fun to watch.
After a great summer, look for 10 points, 4 assists, and 3 rebounds.
David Lee F – Stay Positive
Lee is going to be a star—but not just yet. If he can stay patient and positive, I expect another double-double season...translating into a starting role in '08-'09.
12 points, 14 rebounds, and 1 block.
Quentin Richardson G – Consistency, Focus
Q is the cornerstone of the New York defense—but he needs to focus more on hitting shots than on what hand signal he's going to make after a three-pointer.
8 points, 6 rebounds.
Everyone Else – Consistency off the bench
The Knicks' subs need to play strong minutes. My college coach always said that the unit should function normally when parts are replaced. That’s how it has to be in New York.
Guys like Mardy Collins and Fred Jones and going to be versatile off the bench. Jones is my pick for breakout player of the year.
12 points, 14 rebounds, 8 assists from the bench as a whole.
I believe the recurring theme of this article is CONSISTENCY—if we can get a little of that in New York (especially on the defensive end), we'll have a great season.
What better way to end the preseason than tonight at “the most famous arena in the world” with a battle between the Knicks and Nets? I'll be there with bells on—along with Spike and the rest of Knick nation.
Man—“I love this game!”