John Starks is one of the most recognizable Knicks of all time. A true fan favorite, Starks enjoyed 13 seasons in the NBA, spending eight with the Knicks. His career was highlighted by an All-Star appearance, a Sixth Man of the Year award, an All Defensive Team selection, and a whole lot of passion.
Since his playing days ended in 2002, Starks has gone on to numerous new ventures, which have included coaching, working for his former team, and even bringing forth a new clothing company, “Zipway," which can be found at ZipwayUSA.com.
Starks started The John Starks Foundation in 1994 with the goal of rewarding and recognizing hardworking high school students. I had a chance to catch up with John at his foundation’s inaugural bowling tournament in New York City.
Always a truly focused individual, John still carries himself with as much passion and integrity as he did on the court.
Here’s what he had to say about what he’s been up to now, as well as what 2010 holds for the Knicks.
Q: John, you are here tonight in support of your foundation’s bowling fundraiser. Tell me a little bit about the foundation.
A: Well, our primary agenda is to raise funding to help high school students further their college careers. We give out about 15 scholarships a year in the tri-state area, as well as Tulsa, where I’m from. It’s been very successful, and we have a bunch of fundraisers we do throughout the year. This is obviously one of them. We have a “casino night” sometime in May, and then we do our golf tournament, our biggest fundraiser, in September.
Q: Now, in addition to your foundation, you currently work in the Knicks' front office. What role do you play?
A: I am Alumni Relations Adviser. I keep former Knicks players involved in what we do over at the organization, and if we need them for some sort of event, it’s my job to get them there.
Q: Looking at your playing career, everyone seems to recall “the dunk,” or that Game 7 vs. the Rockets in the 1994 NBA Finals. What are some key things you would like fans to remember you for?
A: Well, just being a guy that gave his all every time he took the court. I left everything that I had inside of me out on the court every night. That’s the most important thing because you don’t want to cheat the fans. They paid hard-earned money to watch you play, so you should be able to give them 110 percent while you’re out there on the court.
Q: That’s definitely important. Nate Robinson reminds me a lot of you for that same way he plays—wearing his emotion on his sleeve and leaving everything he has out on the court. Nate has had a tough time in Coach Mike D’Antoni’s rotation this year, as has Larry Hughes. I know you went through something similar with Don Nelson. How do you relate to those guys?
A: I think the most important thing in this game for those guys to realize is that their time is going to come. What I can say about Nate Robinson is that I hope he keeps doing what he’s doing and focus on the things that helped him get where he is.
That’s important for everybody, even Larry Hughes. He’s a veteran guy who’s been through a lot throughout his career. I think he understands how to handle whatever situation he’s in.
Nate is a little different because he’s new to the game, but he’s learning.
Q: With the Knicks’ struggles this season, the summer of 2010 is on everyone’s mind. What are the chances we see any of those marquee free agents in a Knicks uniform?
A: I can’t talk too much about that, but as an organization, what we’re trying to do is put ourselves in the position to attract some of these free agents. It’s important that we continue to get wins and keep a good nucleus so that those free agents know they would be stepping into a good situation.
Q: The Knicks have a lot of free agents of their own coming up. Are there guys on this current Knicks squad who could remain that in nucleus?
A: Yeah, we’ve got some good guys that probably will be around. We’ve got a lot of free agents coming up, too, so it’s just a matter of deciding who we will keep.
For more information on the John Starks Foundation and how you can get involved, you can visit http://www.johnstarks.org/