True Hoops

True Hoops

Monday, February 28, 2011

The Importance of Having a Mid-Range Jumper

 As excited as I am by their heart and performance against one of the top teams in the NBA, I'll wait to see what the Knicks do against Orlando tomorrow before I go crazy.

But still, let's talk about one of the final plays of last nights game. The one in which Amar'e Stoudemire showed brilliant help defense by coming over from the weak side and blocking LeBron James' lay-up - essentially securing the win for the knicks.

Here it is:


From the moment I saw this play live, one thing stuck out at me:
Look at how much room Carmelo gave LeBron.
I mean seriously, look.
It must be close to three feet.
Carmelo is below the foul line when LeBron is around the top of the key.

LeBron could have easily pulled up for a mid-range jumper - which would essentially have been wide open. Even if you think that Carmelo would have be able to contest a pull-up, well okay, LeBron still could have stepped back into a jump shot to provide himself with another foot of space - still within mid-range.

In basketball, INCHES make a difference in getting a shot off (check out Billups clutch three over Wade). On this play, we're talking about FEET of space.

Listen to Hubie Brown say "give Anthony credit for taking away the lane."
Okay, give Anthony credit for that.
And give Stoudemire credit for an amazing play.

But you know what?
The truth is if that were Paul Pierce, the Knicks would have lost.
If that were Kobe, the knicks would have lost.
If that were Kevin Durant, the knicks would have lost.
If that were Dirk Nowitzki, the Knicks would have lost.
They all would have hit the mid-range jumper.

I get it.
LeBron is a physical specimen with incredulous talents. And if you can get to the basket at will, as he can, then keep doing it. The problem is in a real game with real defense it won't be so easy. And you better believe, as per the game plan, help will be coming.

This is the difference between LeBron and many other players in the top-ten category, including Melo.

LeBron is an all-world talent, that is the MVP over the course of the season because of how much better he can make a team with his muti-dimensional play. He's athletic, he's fast, and he's powerful.

Carmelo, relatively speaking, is none of those.
BUT, Carmelo is skilled.

Having watched Melo closely the past three games, as has most New Yorkers, he's quite adept at creating  space with a plethora of moves to get his jump shot off. In fact, he seems content to pull up for the mid-range rather than drive to the basket.

I have always felt, it is more important to be skilled than talented/athletic (ask Steve Nash)
Having a mid-range jumper may be one of the more deadliest weapons a basketball player can have. I can't tell you how many times I see guards  - at any level - get by their man or come off screens and then drive all the way to the basket to have their shot contested or blocked. Why? Just pull up for a mid-range jump shot! Just create space and elevate!

Now I know, always settling for a jump shot is not a good thing. Some people think it makes you a passive player. But the truth is, having that mid-range jumper MAKES you a better driver, as defenders are more willing to bite on a fake or get blown by as they push up on you. In a do or die situation, it becomes a necessity.

Over the course of a season, LeBron wins out because of his abilities. There is no denying that. But when games, perhaps even the season, comes down to one play in the final moments.... Melo may be better than LeBron.

The reality is, this is something LeBron should know and have mastered - being the best player in the world. Well, maybe the reality is that I have to clarify that statement - maybe LeBron is just the best talent in the world. Maybe he won't have the best player title until he is also the most skilled player in the world.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Random Thoughts from the All-Star game

I realize now that we are in the midst of STAR WARS between New York and New Jersey.
I realize now that Carmelo has played his first game as a knick
But I started writing this post before the Carmelo and Deron Williams trades went down.

So let me get this one out of the way before it becomes entirely irrelevant, as some of my points are already starting to be adjusted (I have written some additional comments made after the trades in parenthesis).

Here is what I took away from the All-Star game......

Kobe is still the certain situations
When he is rested. When he is healthy. When he takes good shots. When he lets the game come to him. When he lets his skills take over.

Sometimes he tries too hard in real games, but when the moment is big Kobe is great. Certainly in an all-star venue, when the game becomes a show and he becomes an entertainer, Kobe has fun and we have fun watching him.

Did anyone really doubt he was taking home the trophy at the end of the night? 37 and 14, light.
And the bounce he had in his game was amazing, ask D. Rose and LeBron.

Interestingly enough, when the game got serious down the stretch, and the intensity on both sides picked up. Kobe wasn't as dominate. Which means that at this stage in his career, some people may actually be able to check him, for at least some possessions.

Which means the rise or even realization of the new best player is already here......

LeBron is the every other situation
This guy is amazing. In the 3rd he got dunked on by Kobe and had several turnovers that helped push the west's lead. Well, someone forgot to tell him this was an All-Star game and to take it easy. He went into full attack mode in the 4th and almost single handedly brought the east back to win. That's how nice he is; he can mess around for three quarters and still finish with a triple double - against the league's best. It was only the second in all star history (29, 12 and 10 assists).

And he did it not with skill, but just being a straight up bully by grabbing rebounds and running down the court while daring someone to jump with him.

Still, for all his dominance in the 4th, There was a telling possession late in the game. Down by four with around a minute to go LeBron had a chance to cut the lead to one with an open three. Instead he passed the ball to Chris Bosh to take the shot, who missed.

Come on buddy, YOU have to take that shot......

Kevin Durant will take the big shot
With the east cutting the lead to two, it was Durant who pushed back with a jumper to get it back to 4 and then a three to push it to 7. Kobe finished with 37, but really should thank Durant, who finished with 34, for securing his hometown victory and MVP trophy.

Some say Durant is better than LeBron. I am NOT one of those people. Some say he will be better than LeBron. I am NOT one of those people. Some say he is more willing to take and make the big shots than LeBron. I......
"Excuse me."

Amar'e Stoudemire is big time
Thought he was slowing down after his MVP caliber start? He tied LeBron for the east lead in scoring with 29. What if LeBron did team up with him in NY? He used to be a Blake Griffin type all-star - only catching highlight dunks. But this time he did it with skill, knocking down multiple jump shots including a three late in the game to cut the lead back down to 4. Not to mention his lob pass to Dwight Howard for a dunk in the 1st quarter. What if Howard teams up with Amar'e in NY?

The game came down to Kobe and KD vs. LeBron and Amar'e. While the west won, I'm glad the knicks had someone representing them as the best of the best (Now with Carmelo, we have two!)......

Blake Griffin is a force to be reckoned with......but not yet
Leave it to coach Poppovich to put the rookie in his place by keeping it old school and not playing him too much. It just goes to show you how many levels there are in the NBA. Griffin has taken the game by storm just by harnessing his raw power and athleticism. But to have real success in the NBA, you have to combine that with extraordinary skills, both mental and physical.

In a game of this caliber he is just there to catch ally-oops and put on a show. Although as with Amar'e, Griffin will get there, and soon......

A taste of things to come 
Russel westbrook is a problem.

My brother likes to remind me, he knew Russel Westbrook was nice a long time ago. I on the other hand didn't jump on the band wagon until I saw him play live in their first ever playoff game at OKC against the Lakers. It was the game he dunked on Lamar Odom.

While he didn't kill in the All-star game, you saw flashes of what he can do. His fastbreak dunk in the 2nd quarter made me flinch and text my brother. And the move he put on D. Wade in the 2nd quarter made my brother text me.
Take a good look at that move, he crossed up one of the top 3 players in the world...and made the jump shot......

A taste of things to come
Watching that Westbrook vs. Wade possession was amazing. As it will be in during the 2012 finals.

After I saw OKC play the lakers, last spring, I walked out of the arena thinking they could win a championship in three years. After Miami got LeBron and Bosh, I thought they could win four championships in the next six years.

Somethings got to give.

At the beginning of the year I told a friend of mine that OKC and Miami were the teams of the not too distant future, assuming their rosters don't change too much. He laughed when I told him OKC would match up well:
Durant vs. LeBron
Westbrook vs. Wade
Green (or Ibaka) vs. Bosh
He said to me "Westbrook is not in the same league as Wade."
I beg to differ. I'm not saying he is better, but he can compete at that level.

This would be an epic battle.

(Although, things have already changed in the last two days. If the Knicks add Chris Paul to Melo and Amar'e - even though I would prefer Williams - they would give the Heat a run for their money. Not to mention if the Nets add Dwight Howard to Williams in Brooklyn)......

Game recognize game
"We are going to kill in the second half."
NBA players and coaches seem to really respect what Carmelo anthony can do.
Last year in Dallas he took the last shot of the game to try to win it for the west - even though Dirk was the home favorite. He missed.

This year,  other than his  interview with Craig Sager (and Kobe, and Chris Paul) , Carmelo didn't have an impact on the game. Still he was on the court at the end of the game when it mattered most.

It seems that everyone knows how dangerous of a player he is and has the ability to  pretty much score at will.

When asked about (at that time) a potential trade for Melo, Kobe responded: "Melo is a bad boy."

Game recognize game
What I love about the All-star game is that you get to see so many differnt permutations of basketball players together that you otherwise would never see. Both on the same team and competing against one another.

Additionally, it is the one time in which it is okay for rival players to appreciate and complement - both literally and figuratively - one another.

Take a look after Kobe's reverse baseline dunk. I just smiled seeing Dirk Nowitzki's reaction, and then sharing his thoughts with Russel Westbrook and Blake Griffin next to him.

Sometimes it's okay to be a fan of your peers......

"Quick, take a picture!"

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


Those are the words I texted to my brother and friends immediately after hearing that the Knicks closed the deal for Carmelo Anthony today.

Jubilation is the emotion that I felt.

I'm not sure what percentage of New Yorkers I speak for, but I can finally say that there is a sense of optimism and excitement for basketball in this city, which has been missing for a long, long time.

"We got Carmelo!" were the words I spoke to any and everyone I saw at work - even those that may not follow basketball.

"The Knicks are back" were the words Amar'e Stoudemire said after introduced for the first time as a knick. Those were words I met with skepticism. Even with the improvement they showed before the All-Star break, we weren't really back - unless you mean back from the abyss and showing a pulse.
But with this move that statement is undeniable.

And you know what? Amar'e is the real hero in all of this. He came here first by himself. He brought his swag and single handedly changed the culture of Knicks basketball - in half a season. He is the one that said right after he signed, he could get other stars like Carmelo to come. Dude wasn't lying.

I have already mentioned in my previous post why this trade was a necessity. But still there are those that think we gave up too much or could have played our cards better and got him for less.

Stop it.

This wasn't the time to get cute or greedy.
We traded Chandler, Galo, and Mozgov for Melo......that is not too much.
There is a reason why Carmelo is one of only three players in the picture on the top of this blog.

We did this for our past, our present, and our future.

I personally have never been alive to see the knicks have two bona fide super stars. The closest maybe was the '99 team that had Sprewell and Houston, and of course an aged Ewing. We lost out on a championship that season because of Ewing's injury in the playoffs. But even then, this is different. It is not out of line to say we now have two of the ten best players in the NBA on our team!

And after all we as knicks fans have been though,


Can you tell how excited I am?
I'll settle down. And we'll all come back to reality. And the new-new look Knicks will need time to mesh.

But, we are better today.
In a year, or less, we'll be even better.
And in the summer of 2012, if not sooner, we will become championship contenders.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

'Melo Dramatic

"Come on, do it! Do it now! Trade for me, I'm here!"

You know, this would all be so easy if Carmelo Anthony just decided to wait it out and sign with the knicks in the off-season. But alas, things are never that simple.

If James Dolan did in fact meet with Carmelo the other day, this is how the conversation should have went.

Dolan: "Carmelo, just tell me what you want us to do. If you want us to wait for you we will. However, if you really would sign with the Nets and want us to trade for you now, then we'll do that. Of course we  would be better if we were able to keep Gallinari and sign you, but what ever you want us to do, we will do it. Just tell us what you want us to do ..."

And that is that.

Now, what does it say about Carmelo that he would sign with the Nets? I don't know, probably not anything too good. But really that is irrelevant. Will getting Carmelo now make the knicks a contender right now? No, but that too is irrelevant. And finally, will getting Carmelo address the knicks defensive issues. No. But you know what, neither will keeping Gallinari and Chandler.

There are really two trades here.  Gallinari and Chandler for Carmelo. And Felton for Billups. I'll address both.

Remember when the knicks started the season 3-8? Remember when they were talking about firing D'Antoni? There would have been no hesitation to trade any to of the knicks starters for Carmelo at that time. Then the knicks went on this great run to flirt with being a 4 seed in the east. Well, back to reality: The knicks, in all of their improvement this year, are really no better than a .500 team. Sure they will make the playoffs in the east, maybe compete, but they are not serious threats. While it is much more suitable to the last decade, it's not what we have waited for in New York. It's not what we have sacrificed the last two years for leading up the the free agency period. And let's be honest, that's really no different than had they kept Zach Randolph (20 and 13), David Lee (16 and 9), and Jamal Crawford (6th man of the year).

I was furious with the knicks when they didn't land LeBron and Wade/Bosh (or who ever). They sold us on this dream for two years, which I knew was total crap to begin with. But think about this, what if the knicks end up with, instead of LeBron and Bosh, Carmelo and Stoudemire? You know what? That's actually not that bad of an alternative. Especially when you think of who the knicks can then add after that.

I feel bad for Chandler and Gallinari. They were there for the really bad days the past few years and made it through to see the knicks above .500 this late in the season - only to potentially go back to another rebuilding situation. And don't get me wrong, I would like to keep Galo, he is a unique talent. A 6'10" player who can shoot, put it on the floor, and potentially (although not so much right now) guard 4 different positions on the floor. He is only 22. What if he matures and gets a post game? It's not crazy to say with longevity, he could be the next Dirk Nowitzki. But, as the current knicks motto goes, "Now!" And right now, Galo in all is youth is not Melo.

For the other trade, let me say I really Like Raymond Felton. He is much better than I thought. He is tough and has swagger. He is averaging 17 points and 9 assists and should have been an all-star. Most importantly, I felt is was a knick. But you know what, it seems all along the knicks have just been renting him for the next two years till they try and get Chris Paul in 2012. If that is the case, why not trade him for Billups? Especially if it means getting Melo. And Billups is no slouch, he may actually be better than Felton, still. He won a championship and finals MVP. Last summer he won a gold medal for the USA. He is a better shooter and can slide over to the two. He's played on the biggest stage and can run a team. Plus he already knows D'Antoni's offense from team USA. And let's not forget, the Nuggets didn't get to the conference finals and challenge the Lakers till Billups got there.

Again, I feel bad for these two. For Billups because it seems like he wants to retire in his home state. And for Felton, who is having a breakout year only to be traded. But let's not forget, it's the Nuggets that want to include Billups in this deal. The knicks are the ones that have to oblige.

With that said I think a starting 5 of Billups, Fields, Carmelo, Williams/Mozgov, and Stoudemire might actually be a little better than that of Felton, Fields, Gallinari, Chandler/Mozgov, and Stoudemire. They will still make the playoffs and could very well compete in a potenial first-round match-up with the Bulls.

But let's be honest, this trade is really about adding star power to the knicks. It's about adding more swagger and more credibility to make the knicks more attractive to other stars. When was the last time the knicks had two stars and potentially three? When was the last time a star said they wanted to play for the knicks and demanded it?

This is the real legacy of the 'The Decision.' It wasn't so much that LeBron James going to Miami changed the landscape of the NBA this season.  It wasn't so much that you need a super team to compete   (think about all the teams that won the championship the last 30 years. How many have done so without at least two super stars/ hall of famers/ 50 greatest players/ multiple all-stars? The only team I can think of is maybe the pistons in '04 - which oddly enough had Chauncey Billups). Really, 'The Decision'  ushered in a new era of of how rapidly super teams can evolve. The '08 Celtics were a pilot test. But it was a trade between two bad teams where the forming stars were a little past their prime, paid their dues and deserved to win a championship. Now, we are in an era in which star players - in their prime - can choose where they want to go, to pair up with other stars, and then force their current team to meet their demands (via twitter)...or else.

How long after Carmelo comes to New York till Chris Paul or Deron Williams (whom I actually would prefer) demands a trade or threatens to leave via free agency? Or simply doesn't accept a contract extension? What about Dwight Howard?

The reality is, making the trade for Carmelo is a no brainer. Who knows if it makes them significantly better now. It makes them better suiters next year. Who knows what will happens in the off-season. What if the Lakers decide to trade for or sign Carmelo in the off-season, and then go after Paul, Williams, or Howard? Could the Knicks (and New York) live with the fact they let Carmelo get away? No.

And I'm sure there is at least one other person who agrees with my line of thinking......


Monday, February 14, 2011

Kobe's Garden

Picture by Charis Tsevis

            I saw Kobe Bryant play the other night at Madison square garden. It was one of those events where you tend to watch a player more than the actual game. I’ll be honest; I felt a little weird for watching him, before, during, and after the game - analyzing his routine, interactions with teammates, and reaction to game situations. But then I realized Watching Kobe is akin to paying to see any other great artist perform. As a player or coach it’s educational. As a fan it’s both intriguing and insightful. I am always interested in seeing the little things that one does to get motivated and prepared for games. The meticulousness. The secrets. Greatness after all, is in the details.

Kobe kept mostly to himself and didn’t exert much energy during shoot around. Was it always like this? Or has his pre-game ritual evolved to conserve more in his 15th season? Is it more about the mental aspect now? He seemed to do more dribbling, in one spot, while surveying the court. He himself watching, he pulled Andrew Bynum over after his jump hook warm-ups to give him some pointers.

His actions during the player introductions were atypical. After the Lakers were announced, they all returned to their bench as the lights went off in the garden to introduce the Knicks. Except Kobe, who instead was out at the other side of the court pacing back and forth between baseline and the foul line extended with his hands in his pockets. At first I thought something was wrong; was he avoiding his teammates? Did he get into an argument with one of them? My brother thought he was acting sort of nuts. But after a while it occurred to me; was he envisioning the game before it begun? Was he laying a mental map of how the game would go? What he would do not just for the game, but play-by-play? What was he thinking? Or, was he taking in the sights and atmosphere, reveling in the moment of being at the garden, a place he plays only once a year.

Could it be that at that moment with all eyes on him, he was alone in his own world?

          As soon as the lights came back on he snapped out of his pensive trance, and like a predator who has found the right moment to strike, darted to the basket to jump and pounce on the rim. This reminded me that no matter how sedated you think a lion (or snake) is, they are ready to attack. He twisted while hanging up there to ensure all components of his body were fully prepared for battle and then headed back to the Laker bench.

There are times when I have seen Kobe on T.V. and it looks as if he tries too hard to be the best player on the court. Fighting to still prove he can do it all. In those times, he takes too many contested shots. Goes one on one too much. And appears too selfish. Imagine how hard he can make it for his teammates. Then there are times like the other night at the garden. With efficiency and seemingly without effort, he plays at different level dominating the game. To start the first quarter he didn’t seem interested in scoring, but rather using and setting up his teammates. Yes! How can you guard him coming off a Pau Gasol screen? He can get into the lane at will and methodically pick apart the defense. Imagine how easy he makes the game for everyone else.
After letting the game come to him, Kobe then decided to put on a show. He started to make every shot he took, from where ever he took it, no matter who was guarding him. With time winding down in the first he was isolated with Raymond Felton on the top of the key (0:48 mark in highlight). He hit him with 2-3 fake spins that were so smooth it seemed to be all one motion. As everyone one in the building knew he would, including Felton, he shook free, elevated and sank the shot as time expired. He finished with 19 in the first quarter.
In the third quarter, he hit Danilo Gallinari with a cross over so hard he created five feet of space to pull up for a foul line jump shot (3:14 mark in highlight). And how perverse was that? I remember when Kobe was a kid crossing over gown men. Now Kobe is a grown man crossing over kids.

He finished the game with 33 points and 10 rebounds, light, in only three quarters of playing. He made moves and shots that made my brother literally shake with amazement.  He had the garden chanting “M-V-P!” when he went to the foul line. He had our whole section talking, as one guy mentioned: “you’re lucky the game isn’t close, or else kobe would have 50 by now.” I didn’t doubt him. This is Kobe. This is fine art. This is greatness. The only disappointment of the evening was that the game wasn’t close enough to see Kobe play more. But still, in the fourth I watched him - laughing and playing around with Derek Fisher, shadow boxing a coach with a towel over his head. How cool is it to be that bad, for so many years? Simply put, Kobe was bigger than the Knicks. Kobe was bigger than the game.

Much to soon, it was over and Kobe was interviewed by ESPN. After, he again went to the other side of the court without his teammates, although this time with security, and this time to greet and hug someone.  Who was this guy he was talking with? Was he as remotely good at what he did as Kobe was at basketball? I'll have to doubt it. Although, it might have been a pre-requisite for conversing with him.

As he walked off the court, and walked down the tunnel to lead him out of sight, a swarm of fans rushed to the seats closest to the exit, amassing to get a final glimpse of him before they had to wait another year. Chanting his name in hope that he would acknowledge them, Kobe gave them all a thrill and raised his hand in recognition. In that moment, in one of the most famous venues in all of sport, in all of it’s publicity, all those that admired greatness in the form of Kobe Bryant were able to share an intimate moment with him. And in turn, that emotion was reciprocal. For all the talk of this being Phil Jackson’s last game at the garden, the reality is, how many more games does Kobe have at the garden?  In that moment, was there a chance for reflection of everything thing he has done to get to this point? The pinnacle, the prime, this moment. Did all the work and enormity of it flash through him?
The picture of it was sublime.

And then he was gone. We were asked to exit.

As I walked to the train, I saw a line down the block in front of Foot Locker waiting for him to make a midnight appearance. The line formed before the game, for those who wanted to see him and couldn’t get into the garden. I suppose greatness inspires greatness. It demands respect. It deserves emulation. To appreciate this, imagine all of the basketball players you have seen and know. Imagine the best. Now imagine, one of the ten best players of all time…… AT ANY POSITION. Think of everything it took to become that, both by effort and chance. The journey. The progression. And finally, the realization.

Wouldn’t you want to see that?

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Feeling Randy

Scene: February 9th, 2011 -  cold winter night in New York City -  father and son seated in the nose bleed section of  Madison square garden to see Amar’e Stoudemire take on Blake Griffin. After the starting line-ups were introduced……

Son: You know, the starting two-guard for the clippers is Randy Foye. He went to Villanova and is from Newark.

Father: Is that important?

Son: Well, we played against him (when I was at St. John’s) and he is a local kid.

Father: Did you beat him?


This non-fictional scene foreshadows the player on the court that would have the most impact down the stretch of the recent Knicks/Clippers game. Who would have guessed, Randy Foye, a local kid from Newark, New Jersey, would steal the spotlight from the marquee power forward match-up? Finishing with a team high 24 points, 17 of which came in the fourth quarter, Foye dominated down the stretch. He led the Clippers to a 116-108 victory.

I was on hand to watch all of this and simply marvel at it. What amazed me most wasn’t the climatic ending. It was the dramatic finish by Foye after a fairly tumultuous beginning. But such is great drama. I sat there watching Foye, the once number seven pick in the draft, out of sync and without confidence for three quarters. I watched him miss shot after shot, turn the ball over on an ally-oop pass (prompting coach Vinny Del Negro to mouth “what is he doing?” and proceed to sub him out of the game). I watched him turn the ball over against the knick press. I watched his own teammate, rookie Eric Bledsoe, severely out play him and wondered how long it would be before he replaced him all together in the line-up. I wondered what would happen to him when Eric Gordon returned from his injury? And finally, I simply wondered what happened to Randy Foye? How did he go from so much promise, so much potential coming out of school (Jay Bilas thought he would be the next Dwanye Wade), to this? At the end of the third quarter, I just chalked it up to another tragedy. Another story about a great kid, a great talent, falling from grace, losing his place. Another example of how important confidence is, and how society (the NBA) can beat you down and take it away. And once you lose it, it’s gone baby gone.

Let’s just say in the fourth quarter I switched the channel and started watching The Fighter. Everyone loves a magnificent comeback story (except in this case the knicks). It was rather incredulous how quickly it happened. The knicks cut a 20 point third quarter deficit to 3, on the verge of their own comeback. Un-assumingly, Foye counters with a contested lay-up high off the glass. After his play in previous quarters, it took guts to take, and make that shot. Next time down, Foye hits a 15-foot jumper from the corner. And then all of a sudden, as if he just needed to see the ball go in the basket two times in a row, the bell goes off and he starts to attack with multiple shots to the body of the knicks. And dig this, as if cheering him on from the corner of the ring, the Clippers actually run isolation pick and roll plays for him. For the finale sequence, he comes off a screen and Amar’e switches, with his hand down. So he makes a three in his face. Next play, same switch. So Foye steps back getting Amar’e to jump and he blows by him to set up DeAndre Jordan to get fouled going to the basket. And finally, same screen and roll, same switch, same blow by, although now confronted with help from the middle. Foye lofts up a pass of perfection to Blake Griffin to slam it down from the weak side. Game over. Yeah, I suppose Del Negro wasn’t mouthing “what is he doing?” that time.

How you like me know?

Three things:

1) How much of an amazing player do you have to be to play in the NBA, I mean really? We’re talking about a guy who up into this point was having, what most would consider a disappointing career (although he is only in his fifth season and still young), someone who probably isn’t the focus of the opposing team’s scouting report, someone who might not be playing that much if it weren’t for an injury……someone who didn’t look good at all through the first three quarters. And then all of a sudden, this dude just kills in the fourth and no one could stop him.
I read a local paper the following day. Naturally upset at the knicks, they found it hard to believe they let “a journeyman in Randy Foye dominate them down the stretch.” This journalist just doesn’t get it. If you are in the NBA, you are nice, end of story. It doesn’t matter who you are, if you get an opportunity and some confidence, and if the time is right, you will get buckets, or do whatever it is you do best that got you there.
This kid was one of the best players coming out of college, the number seven pick in the draft and before Eric Gordon’s injury was relegated to the bench. That’s how good you have to be to play in the NBA.

2) Randy Foye embodies what it means to be a true professional and the type of mental fortitude that is required to make it at a high professional level (NBA). How can you play pretty bad most of the game, have your teammates and coach question you and still have the belief and confidence in yourself to take over the game down the stretch? Especially when you are in the precarious position of playing due to an injury and having a rookie begin to outplay you for that open spot. I will say, it is amazing how important confidence is, what it can do, and how something simple (a lay-up off a broken play) can instill it – but that is another story. Being a professional is producing when your number is called, regardless of the circumstance or prior set of events. And maybe it’s that simple, detaching the emotion, the pressure, and just knowing that it’s your job to keep playing and keep being aggressive.

3) I have to give props to Coach Negro and the Foye’s teammates, especially Baron Davis and Eric Bledsoe. For coach Negro to keep him in the game down the stretch and run screen and roll isolations for him. Wow. Good for him to stick to his gun. Having someone in your corner, both literally and figuratively, makes a difference. Baron Davis had around 14 points and 14 assists through three quarters. He finished with 16 and 16. Why? Because he deferred to Foye in the fourth, and didn’t mind doing so. He looked to set him up when he had the ball and got out of the way when he didn’t. And finally, Bledsoe, who had 15 points and 7 rebounds through three quarters. Who outplayed Foye, and is directly competing with him for playing time. He could have easily pouted on the bench, but instead was the first out of his seat jumping and cheering as Foye made big play after play down the stretch. That is what being a team and a family is all about. I don’t care what their history (or record) is.

Foye is a talented basketball player, and apparently a great person. From my quick assessment, he is not a point guard, although he is shorter that Davis. He is not a spot up shooter either. He is the type of player who needs the ball in his hands so he can dribble a few times and dance around to find his rhythm and groove. Then, he becomes the type player that can make plays and beat you. Like most people, especially in the NBA, he just needs an honest shot at the title. I came to the garden that night with my dad hoping to see the knicks win. But to be honest, as a player and coach myself, I couldn’t help but root for the local kid in the fourth. Foye got his shots and he made them. It was a story fitting of Hollywood, or at least a team from L.A.