The New York Knicks don't need LeBron to return to their age of glory. They need a team of hungry players who give it their all every time they step on the court, and whose passion and dedication are felt throughout Madison Square Garden.
The best Knicks were the ones who embodied New York, who were not flashy superstars, but tough and hard-working role players. They were the players who electrified the crowds, who hustled back on defense and passed to the open man on offense. We knew their strengths and weaknesses as players, and loved them just the same. When these Knicks were on fire, we were excited to be there with them. When they struggled, we felt their pain, and tried to ignite their play with our cheers.
Here are the five Knicks I think should rejoin the team. Yes, they are past their prime. But in just a few games, they could help electrify the Knicks and send them to a winning season once again.
Anthony Mason was one of the toughest Knicks ever to play. He had the kind of muscles and aggressive style of play that could scare any opponent in the league. While he was not a tremendous scorer, he made up for it with his defense and outstanding effort. No one messed with Anthony Mason, and that was a huge benefit to the Knicks.
Larry Johnson was just fun to watch. LJ wasn't an amazing player, but he worked hard on the court. Some fans remember him for his four-point play to beat Indiana in Game 3 of the 1999 Eastern finals. And who can forget the "Grandmama" commercials he did in the early 1990s to promote Converse sneakers? But in my mind, LJ was someone who always gave it his all, and used his trademark LJ sign to rally the crowd after every bucket. The Knicks could use a guy like LJ to put them back on track.
A little known center and Oak.
Is there someone who embodied heart more than Oak? He was one of the most durable players out there, a guy who knew how he could help his team and worked his hardest every time he laced up. He wasn't as tall as Patrick Ewing, or as good a shooter as Starks, but he was the guy who did the often unnoticed things that kept the Knicks in the game—rebounds, setting screens and defense. Oak is the kind of player the Knicks could use and he was always a force to be reckoned with.
No one played with more energy than Latrell. Whether he was hitting his shots or not, Latrell brought an energy to the Knicks that no one else could bring. He got his team and the crowd excited every time he played. After the incident with PJ Carlisimo, there were questions about how he would adapt to the Knicks. But he turned into a true team leader. He had an electricity that brought the team to a new level. Latrell was fun to watch and could help bring energy and leadership to the struggling Knicks of 2010.
How can you forget Patrick Ewing? The long arms, the great hands and the sweat that drenched his face every game. His game was not pretty, but it was critical to the Knicks' success. He was the kind of center you just don't see that much anymore. No matter how much pain he was in, he lumbered down that court, played hard defense, and drew the double team. He was the core of the Knicks, the warrior who fought hard each and every play. It would be great if he would come back to the Knicks and play, even for just one game.