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Friday, October 24, 2014

The Good Ward Giveth: A former Knick’s post-basketball odyssey

With many parts of the state at 35 days and counting since the mercury last failed to hit triple digits – with crops and cows succumbing in equal measure to the Biblical combination of scorching sun and wilting earth, and with no relief in sight – Texas would seem ill-suited for planting seeds.

Charlie Ward doesn’t think so.

Ward, the former Heisman Trophy winner and 10-year Knick backcourt staple, is busy preparing for another season at the helm of the Westbury Christian varsity football squad. A few months from now, he’ll be coaching his son Caleb – now in sixth grade and the oldest of Ward’s three children – on the hardwood. Between work and family (wife Tanja, daughter Hope, 8, and son Joshua, 2, round out the Ward roster), any time he allots to a writer – a blogger at that – is purposefully cast beside the good work that defines the better half of Ward’s daily clock. Which is fine by me. Anything, and any amount of time, to not write KBlogger Report Cards for a few weeks.

Photo courtesy of Westbury Christian School

This fall will mark Ward’s fifth with the Wildcats (and his fourth as Head Coach), a position he took after leaving his post with the Houston Rockets, with whom he’d been an assistant since retiring from the NBA in 2004 . Despite a number of other job offers from around the league, Ward decided instead to take on the dual role of Assistant Football and Basketball Coach at Westbury, a 500 student K-12 Christian school in Houston.  Surely, the opportunity to spend more time with his family, and to watch his young children grow up, were motivating factors. But the chance to lead again was anything but a distant second.

“I wanted to have a more hands-on experience,” explains Ward in his characteristically even, calm Southern drawl. “I wanted the chance to put game plans together, implement those game plans, and really mentor kids. Those are the main reasons I am where I am today. That’s my focus.”

Russell Carr, now the Athletic Director at Westbury Christian, remembers Ward’s 2007 arrival fondly. Carr had just been named Boys Varsity Basketball Coach, when he first got word that Charlie Ward — yes, that Charlie Ward — had agreed to join Westbury’s program. Needless to say, the young Carr had to do a double-take.

“I still remember when our School Head, Greg Glenn, told me about it,” recalls Carr. “He said ‘I want you to meet with Charlie Ward. He’s thinking about coaching here.’ And the whole time I’m thinking, ‘I need to be working for that guy! Not the other way around!’ But I remember meeting with Charlie and him saying ‘I just want to learn how to be a coach.’ Which is unbelievably telling as to what kind of guy he is.”

Carr continues: “Some of us would make jokes that, if I’d won the Heisman, I’d have been wearing it around my neck. But that’s what made Charlie so fun to be around — to be so accomplished and yet so humble at the same time. Especially in this day and age, when everything is so sensationalized, it was refreshing to see.”

Refreshing, sure. But it wasn’t as if Ward had somehow snuffed out his legendary competitive fire. Ward himself probably wouldn’t put it quite this way, but to a writer in want of a narrative thread, it was all too obvious: He wanted to be the quarterback again. And who could blame him? It’s what he’s always been, and always meant to be. Born the third of Charlie Sr. and Willard Ward’s seven children in Thomasville, Georgia, Charlie’s leadership – and eye-popping athleticism – was apparent early on. Of course, everyone knows of Ward’s exploits on pitch and parquet, where he doubled as flashy, electric field general and rocksteady backcourt bulwark . Few, however, know that Ward was also twice drafted as a pitcher; once in 1993 by the Milwaukee Brewers; and again by the Yankees in 1994. Even fewer know Ward made a strong showing at the ’94 Arthur Ashe Amateur Tennis Tournament. Differences in both mode and medium aside, all four had one, important thing in common: Where the ball went, was up to Charlie.

“They all go hand-in-hand when it comes to being a leader,” says Ward. “I had the ball in my hand a lot. And when you’re in that position, the choices and decisions have to be good ones in order for the team to be successful.”

*              *              *              *              *

 

For four years at Florida State University, Charlie Ward was the man — pure and simple. The school’s first black starting quarterback, Ward racked up 6454 yards of total offense between his junior and senior year, capping it all off with the second most lopsided Heisman Trophy victory ever in 1994 (area 51 experiment Bo Jackson’s was the widest). That same year, he reeled in both the Davey O’Brien Trophy and the Maxwell Award — the first time in history all three accolades had befallen a single player for a single season’s work.

Perhaps most relevantly, Ward had, along with Nebraska rival Tommy Frazier, helped usher in a new and exciting era of college quarterbacking. Where once stood a wholly demarcated and conservative game – runners run, and throwers throw – a new breed of player, years ahead of its time, had turned synthesis into the game’s new thesis. And the phenomenon wasn’t lost on anyone. Miami Coach Dennis Erickson once called him “the greatest college football player I’ve ever seen.” Ward’s quarterbacks at FSU, Mark Richt, managed to employ the ‘M’ word, referring to the manner in which Ward combined accuracy with catchable loft as being “like Montana,” while former Super Bowl MVP and Redskin trailblazer Doug Williams went so far as to say he doubted there were “four starting quarterbacks in the NFL better than Charlie Ward” at the time.

Given the heady context of his meteoric gridiron rise, Ward’s moonlighting as the steady, flash-less floor general of the Seminole hoops squad seemed more a way to stave off winter boredom than it did a hedging of future prospects. But that wasn’t always the case: As a freshman (when he was used primarily as a punter) and sophomore (the year he redshirted for football), Ward dedicated most of his time to the court, in the process establishing himself as a possible future pro prospect. By his Junior year however, the balancing act became a little more complicated, with Ward having ascended to become one of the most exciting and promising quarterbacks in the country. As could only be expected in the wake of a football season ending in January — like it did for most of the 90s under Bobby Bowden — Ward wouldn’t hit the hardwood until well into ACC play, playing in just 33 games combined his junior and senior years. While to outsiders the double life certainly seemed glamorous, for Ward, the transition wasn’t always an easy one.

“It took more than a couple of games to get back into sync [of basketball], especially with the conditioning,” Ward recalls. “But playing full time those first two years helped tremendously – it made it easier to jump back in than it might’ve been.”

A walking gridiron highlight reel, Ward was more steady than flashy at the point.

In 1993, Ward helped lead a team co-headlined by Sam Cassell, Bob Sura and Doug Edwards to within one powerhouse Kentucky squad of reaching the Final Four for the first time in school history. A little over nine months later, he would lead Florida State to an upending of #2 Nebraska for the football National Championship. After an earlier exit from The Dance the following March, Ward, now stuck between solid draft prospects in at least two sports, had a decision to make (a third, in the form of the New York Yankees, would make itself available a few months later). Despite wildly varying predictions as to where he’d end up, conventional wisdom had it that the newly minted Heisman winner would capitalize on the accolades and declare himself NFL-eligible only.

But as he did so many times in the pocket, Ward knew the scripted play was merely a suggestion – a set of guidelines which he could either adhere to or ignore, and out of which he could always simply scramble his way upfield, towards the light and the noise and the truth. Your typical pocket passer would’ve thrown – or thrown away. Charlie Ward improvised. In a move that shocked many, Ward made it clear that, unless he was guaranteed to go in Round 1 of the NFL Draft, he’d just assume turn to profit what had always been a secondary passion, and enter the NBA Draft.

At the time, it was harder to tell which was weirder: the fact that many NFL experts didn’t have a statistically dominant Heisman winner projected gone until the third round at the earliest; or the fact that, despite modest production, most NBA scouts had Ward gone no later than the late first round, with many billing him as the third best point guard in the draft behind sophomore stud Jason Kidd and Arizona’s Khalid Reeves. But while both Kidd and Reeves offered something in the way of flash and flare – two qualities Ward himself had made his calling card on the gridiron – neither were the raison d’être of Ward’s NBA suitors. Instead, it was the 23-year-old senior’s steady, heady poise, combined with superior decision making, that would attract surprising buzz amongst NBA GMs.

He’d wind up going 26th to the Knicks, mere weeks after the Bockers had succumbed in seven grueling games to Hakeem Olajuwon and the Houston Rockets. He would play just 16 total minutes that first year, learning the ropes from veterans Derek Harper and Greg Anthony. But with Pat Riley’s departure, and the subsequent ascendance of Jeff Van Gundy to the helm (a year of Don Nelson found Ward with only slightly less bench glue about his shorts) Ward played in 62 games in 1995. By 1996, he’d asserted himself as a regular part of the rotation, and one of the most consistent defensive stalwart on a team which lived and died by a manifest, almost savant-like adherence to the craft. Gradually, like the patience and pace with which he steered the offense, appreciation and admiration from the New York faithful buoyed  Ward to the level of bona fide fan favorite.

“Good or bad, I was always going to do what I needed to do as far as little things were concerned to make the team run properly,” Ward reflects. “I played my role. I understood my role. And I think the fans appreciated that.”

He was also omnipresent in the community, dedicating hundreds of hours to countless community services initiatives and charitable organizations. On one Thanksgiving, Ward served dinner to 700 people at a soup kitchen in Harlem. He hosted basketball camps and golf outings. He delivered Christmas gifts. He helped kids learn to read. For Ward, it was all part of the job – one of the many bullet points part and parcel with running point in a city that takes the craft as seriously as seeing amongst them the face, the man above the ball.

More accurately, it was a reflection of a self-honed duty Ward had forged since his days at Florida State. While in Tallahassee, he was a Big Brother for a four year old boy. He donated time to causes ranging from muscular dystrophy to anti-drug campaigns, the United Way to epilepsy. Famously, he had taken a young Warrick Dunn under his wing after the latter’s mother – a police officer in Louisiana – was shot and killed while helping a business woman into a bank while off duty. Keeping with that ethos, Ward believes, was just as important as any clutch three made or pocket picked during his days in New York.

“When you’re putting in that time, both on and off the court, taking the time to meet people and get to know the community – that helps. And when you’re with the Knicks for a long time, and have that fan base to cheer you, that helps too.”

 

*              *              *              *              *

 

Charlie Ward’s been here before. Thirteen years ago, during the last NBA player lockout, Ward – like most Knick teammates of player rep Patrick Ewing – was more than privy to the negotiations.  As such, his perspective on this summer’s equally dramatic redux is, in a word, pragmatic.

“At least they’re talking – that’s always a positive sign,” he says, before a longer-than-usual pause. “But there’s always a lot of posturing in negotiations.”

Of course, that was before August 2nd’s turn for the worst, in which the NBA filed a preemptive lawsuit against the NBPA, citing a belief that the latter had been negotiating in bad faith. Despite this, Ward believes both sides have a ways to go before the shrill pitch and timbre of ’98’s acrimony is matched (Stern and Bill Hunter, after all, haven’t yet taken to full-on shouting matches, as happened more than once back then). Unfortunately, this puts Ward in the minority of former players, many of whom – as with most of the press, blogosphere, and an increasing number of fans – have accepted the grim reality that a full 2011-12 NBA season is about as likely as Westbury’s football squad waking up tomorrow to a 60-and-cloudy practice.

“Both sides,” Ward posits, “are trying to get the fans on their side.” Just like they were back then.

Wow. Steve Nash is old.

Yet for all the similarities between the two lockouts, this year’s second act includes a curious – and decidedly ironic – wrinkle: In large part because of the league’s exploding status — honed despite a bevy of trials and tribulations since the last labor strife derailed the league’s already tenuous post-Jordan popularity– more and more top-flight players (Deron Williams, Kobe Bryant, and Kevin Durant – the list goes on) have openly flirted with the option of taking their talents overseas. In the past two months, Turkey, Spain, China, Greece, Australia – even England – have all been pitched by players as stopgap solutions, if and when it becomes apparent that 2012 is lost for good. Short of saying he himself would’ve held a Europe or Asia’s ace up his sleeve, Ward recognizes the growing trend for the game-changing strategy it’s clearly become — even if it ends up being a limited one.

“Now that it’s an option, there are definitely going to be more players willing to take it,” states Ward. “The guys who are top-flight players in the NBA today, there’s definitely a chance to do some marketing overseas. But not every player’s going to be able to do that.”

As with both the NBA’s last lockout strife and this summer’s just-concluded NFL dispute, Ward doesn’t expect much in the way of progress until the threat of losing games breaches the hypothetical and punctures the probable – by most estimates, sometime in September. That would basically mirror the comedy of errors that was the previous lockout, when the two sides came within 24 hours of canceling the season entirely. (Many fans will recall the process with something akin to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, as it seemed every few weeks David Stern – lockout beard in full bloom – would plod under camera just long enough to declare another block of 90 or 100 games lost for good, like so many appendages.) While he fears the potential fallout amongst fans – at a time when the league is more popular than perhaps it’s ever been – Ward doesn’t anticipate a repeat of both sides bringing it down to the wire.

“I can’t see them losing an entire season,” he exclaims. “But it’s definitely put a hiccup in the whole recovery process with the fans. It’s hard for the average fan to understand why the two sides can’t get together on the issues, especially when there’s so much money with both parties.”

Whenever it gets resolved, for Ward, the next C.B.A. won’t owe its almost certain tenuousness to either side suddenly finding their better, reasoning nature. Rather, the ink will only dry when a higher power casts certain demons aside.

“If anything gets done, it’s by the grace of God,” says Ward, his voice picking up just an octave. “There’s a lot of pride on the line on both sides, so at some point both sides have to say ‘this is what we want, and this is what we’re willing to give up.’ Right now, no one’s willing to give up anything that means something to them.”

Pride. It’s something — in its most baleful manifestations, anyway — Ward hoped he could leave behind when he fled the NBA’s grinding slog and searing spotlight for the purer pastures of Westbury Christian in the summer of 2007. Here, home at night with his growing family, no longer did he count in his company a contentious lot of millionaires and billionaires. Here, Ward needn’t fight nor fret his way up the always-competitive professional coaching ladder. Here, at a small Christian school in East Texas, where God and football leave whatever would be a third passion squarely in the swirling summer dust, Ward found himself astride a rung high enough from which to preach his football gospel — though not so high so as to forsake the eyes above — and low enough for his new found disciples to hear. Loud and clear.

Not because he was Charlie Ward, the Heisman winner and former Knick, mind you. With the exception of a handful of juniors and seniors, few of the players knew much of Ward’s career. The little they did know, they more than likely heard from their parents, who, as Russell Carr recalls, “were the ones who were really star-struck.”

“It was a topic of conversation for a little while. But because Charlie’s so unassuming, it just became normal.”

Indeed, it was that very humbleness Carr remembers seeing thrown in high relief before the two’s first varsity basketball game together. As is customary, the referee approached the two coaches for a pregame handshake.

“We’re at the game, and the ref comes up to introduce himself to Charlie and me,” says Carr. “And Charlie says ‘Hi, I’m Charlie Ward.’ At that point, the ref looks at him and says, ‘The Charlie Ward?’ And Charlie looks at him and says, ‘I don’t know. I’m just Charlie Ward.'”

“That’s Charlie. He’s just such a normal guy.”

 

*              *              *              *              *

 

When I finally get a hold of Ward for the second part of the interview, he tells me he’s in the middle of – what else – drawing up play cards. I ask him how the team has managed to deal with the summer heat – a relentless, near record-breaking stretch that’s caused legitimate water shortages in many parts of the state. Which turns out to be probably the dumbest question of the lot. “Well, we just practice in the mornings,” he says, sans even the most rudimentary ribbing.

Right. Of course.

Since assuming Westbury’s wayward helm, Ward has managed to transform a team that was 0-10 his first year as an assistant into a respectable, .500 program. And while he has yet to tally a winning season, he seems confident in his current group’s ability to turn the tide. Given the measured manner in which he fields any inquiry, it’s impossible not to take his answer to the question “How good will you be this year?” as anything less than a hint of promising things to come.

“We have a chance to be pretty good,” he says, mere weeks before he’ll lead his plastic-padded soldiers into battle for their season opener on August 26th. “We’re starting to get some football players in the program – guys who can really make a difference. We got guys and coaches that are committed to making the team better. So we’re definitely headed in the right direction.”

Asked whether coaching at Westbury was a stepping stone towards getting back into the professional coaching ranks, Ward responds in a way akin to how he played point in the World’s Greatest: cautious, steady, tactful.

“It’s a building block for whatever God has in store for me,” he says, assuredly. “I’m not saying what I won’t do. But at this time in my life, as far my family’s concerned, enjoying the opportunity to watch my kids grow up – being home more – I’m enjoying the time I have now.”

When it comes to his current charges, it’s clear that, today at least, Ward prefers the present company to whatever would await him back in The Show.

“They’re a lot easier to talk with,” Ward says. “I’ve been fortunate to be able to coach some good kids – kids that are tough, who respect you for who you are.”

Respect a former Heisman trophy winner, 10-year NBA point guard, and budding pro coach who chose to leave the brighter lights and fruitful fields of kings for a calling at once more hallowed and humble? You don’t say.

“Sometimes they get it, sometimes they don’t. But It’s all about planting seeds, allowing God to water them, and watching them grow.”

31 comments on “The Good Ward Giveth: A former Knick’s post-basketball odyssey

  1. SeeWhyDee77

    Aw man..I flat out LOVE this one. How about this for ironic, in my younger days (lol) I patterned my playground game after Charlie Ward. For the most part. I’ve always been a PG by trade anyway. Back then, my faves on the team were Ward and Starks. So I would always try to blend the fearlessness of Starks with the steadiness of Ward. I always admired the way Ward went about his job. He did what he had 2 do. Defense? Yup. Sacrifice his stats so the team would run better? Yezzur! Whatever JVG asked him to do, he did it well. Of course, that doesn’t look good on the playground- unless u made a fearless drive to the hoop. What i’m tryin 2 say is Ward is what a PG should be. Defensively capable, heady, a leader, and willing to sacrifice for the betterment of his team. Of course, he coulda shot better, but for the most part he embodies what I would want in my lead guard. I know that in today’s NBA where everybody is a scorer, that Ward would not be appreciated. But if we had a Ward on our current roster, I can guarantee a atmosphere change. And maybe even less of a need to hire a defensive guru. Hmm..maybe Douglas can seek out Ward for some tutoring. Would be nice, and maybe Ward wouldn’t mind since they both played at FSU.

  2. Jim Cavan (@JPCavan) Post author

    Thanks guys. I had notions of asking him a few more pointed questions about “other things” (Robert, you know what I’m alluding to here), but decided against it. Really nice guy though.

  3. BigBlueAL

    Have to admit, I was never a big fan of Charlie Ward at all. I liked Childs alot better even though Ward statistically was a much better player. Plus I will always blame him for pissing off PJ Brown and blowing the Knicks chances of finally beating Michael Jordan lol.

  4. BigBlueAL

    Jim Cavan (@JPCavan):
    Thanks guys. I had notions of asking him a few more pointed questions about “other things” (Robert, you know what I’m alluding to here), but decided against it. Really nice guy though.

    Not to start something but is one of the “other things” his religious views??

  5. flossy

    Yeah… this was a very nice piece of writing, but it’s wasted on a player who… kind of sucked? I mean I guess it’s all relative, but I always thought the Knicks were held back by the fact that they platooned two back-up quality PGs instead of somehow landing a legit starting PG during the latter half of the ’90s. Charlie Ward bore the brunt of my ire for that because Chris Childs was just so much more likeable. Charlie Ward always stuck me as having the personality of a saltine cracker except when saying offensive things about teh jews, which, come on guy.

  6. Mike Kurylo

    As far as the religious controversy, Ward’s apology was accepted by the Anti-Defamation League. So why dwell on it? In today’s society we’re obsessed with the crime, and ignore what happens afterward. People make mistakes, and some learn & grow from them. Who we are today may be entirely different from who we were at our worst.

    As for him being a below average player – he was a pretty good defender, so you have to add that to the mix. No he wasn’t an All Star, but a solid player. Certainly worthy of his time in New York. Was clearly better than Childs (51.4% TS%).

  7. BigBlueAL

    Yeah as I mentioned above I liked Childs alot more because he fit that 90’s Knicks player profile (sticking Kobe in the face was classic) and his emotional style played to the crowd perfectly but after seeing their stats Ward was clearly the better player.

  8. Z

    This is a great piece, not only because it is extremely well written, but because it also made me view Ward in a much more interesting (favorable?) light. As a Knick he really turned me off, not so much by his specific statements, but mostly just by the way he let his religious beliefs trickle onto the court. He got that Chaplain to travel with the team, and he started that annoying prayer circle at center court after games. For me, he was never a good enough player to find those “veiled antics” tolerable, and I’m still kind of surprised Van Gundy allowed it.

    But in this, Ward comes across as more dynamic than I remember him. Good sportswriting!

  9. flossy

    Both of these statements are true:

    Charlie Ward was better than Chris Childs.

    Charlie Ward was one of the worst starting PGs in the NBA for a solid half-decade.

  10. Robert Silverman

    About six years ago, I had the chance to meet Charlie Ward through an odd set of circumstances. He knew the parents of a playwright (from Texas) of a play I was working on and Charlie actually came to NYC to see it. We never got much past my saying that I was a Knick fan and enjoyed watching him play.

    The one surprising thing was that he definitely was a LOT shorter than his listed height of 6’1″. I’m 5’9″ and Charlie couldn’t have been more than an inch or two taller than me.

  11. BigBlueAL

    Z:
    This is a great piece, not only because it is extremely well written, but because it also made me view Ward in a much more interesting (favorable?) light. As a Knick he really turned me off, not so much by his specific statements, but mostly just by the way he let his religious beliefs trickle onto the court. He got that Chaplain to travel with the team, and he started that annoying prayer circle at center court after games. For me, he was never a good enough player to find those “veiled antics” tolerable, and I’m still kind of surprised Van Gundy allowed it.

    But in this, Ward comes across as more dynamic than I remember him. Good sportswriting!

    He practically brainwashed Starks and Houston lol. Any question asked of Houston by Sager/Gray/Rashad after a playoff win on TNT/NBC all he did was thank and praise God for letting him play well and the team win. I specifically remember one time Jim Gray replied it couldnt have been just God helping, you guys mustve done something too lol.

    Of course then LJ started praising Allah after every win in on-court post-game interviews as well. Spree and Ewing never did, it was all them who helped win the games not God or Allah lol.

  12. Brian Cronin

    I dunno, I think a lot of these guys are religious. Ward just gave them an opportunity to express it. Remember how many of the Knick opponents would join in the prayer circle at the end of the game?

    Great piece, by the way, Jim!

  13. Nick C.

    Nice article. I never get why people get so uptight about publicly religious peopple but then again I don’t get why people make public shows of religiousity (glory to God, have a blessed day, point to the skies, etc.).

  14. Jim Cavan (@JPCavan) Post author

    Thanks guys.

    I agree with Brian: I think a lot of guys harbor these beliefs, but don’t really go out of their way to express it or exude it the way Ward did. Funny thing is, reading all these stories about prayers at center court, etc., it’s hard to believe that was the same guy I talked to on the phone. THAT guy was very soft-spoken — shy even. I’m sure some of it had to do with the fact that I was a blogger, and he wasn’t exactly sure what to expect.

    As someone who subscribes fully to the Thompsonian ethos that “there’s no such thing as objectivity”, and that, in fact, a blind adherence to that idea can be dangerous, writing this definitely was an exercise in restraint. But sometimes being completely serious can be fun!

  15. SeeWhyDee77

    I have no problem with guys expressing their spirituality. I’m not a very religious person, but I acknowledge, respect and love God’s work. I think religion only shows part of a person’s character and integrity. So that said I don’t wanna belittle or minimize someone becuz of their spiritual beliefs.
    I also don’t wanna make it seem like Ward was a great player. He wasn’t great by any stretch of the imagination. But I would sure love to have a Charlie Ward on these Knicks. He was tough, smart, and a leader. I for one, believe he could have had better stats if he so chose to. He wasn’t flashy, but he got the job done. He was definitely a better football player tho. But I don’t care what era you play in, I think all PG’s should be tough, smart, and have great leadership skills. I also think they should be able to knock down J’s to keep defenses honest and able to penetrate some lol. That was Charlie’s weakness on the court. But imagine him with Stat and Melo and the rest of the defenseless Knicks who really have no cohesiveness on the court. I do have my doubts about him runnin the P&R tho. He definitely would get others more involved than Chauncey. and maybe with all the open looks he would get, he would knock down more shots. I really appreciate Ward’s Knick career, and after reading Jim’s post, I appreciate and respect the man he’s become. I think he will make a fine coach in either football or basketball.

  16. BigBlueAL

    Charlie Ward was a career 36% 3pt shooter so he could shoot. His first 3 seasons he was a bad 3pt shooter but once he became the starter going into the 1997-98 season he was a very good 3pt shooter for the rest of his career.

    Im not sure how many more open looks he would get playing with Stat and Melo because back then he and Childs used to get a boatload of open jumpers since every team doubled off them to try to stop Ewing/LJ/Houston/Spree.

  17. SeeWhyDee77

    BigBlueAL:
    Charlie Ward was a career 36% 3pt shooter so he could shoot.His first 3 seasons he was a bad 3pt shooter but once he became the starter going into the 1997-98 season he was a very good 3pt shooter for the rest of his career.

    Im not sure how many more open looks he would get playing with Stat and Melo because back then he and Childs used to get a boatload of open jumpers since every team doubled off them to try to stop Ewing/LJ/Houston/Spree.

    Yea..but when I say keep defenses honest, I’m not just talkin about 3’s. But u make a great point. I’m interested 2 see what his percentage was on long 2’s because I can remember him brickin quite a few..not like Greg Anthony tho lol. Unfortunately, working 2 jobs everyday leaves little time to research. Sometimes I forget Ward played with Spree, Houston and Ewing. When LJ was a Knick he pretty much shot jumpers to give Ewing his space so I don’t remember too many double teams goin hin his direction. But I think in today’s game with such dominant scorers as Stat and Melo, a player like Ward would benefit from just as much, if not more double teams. Players don’t play defense as well as they did in Ward’s days. Of course there were different rules then too.

  18. taggart4800

    As an aside reports say that Donnie Walsh is going to return to the Pacers. I cannot fathom how ignorant Jam Dolan must be. His decision making, or lack there of, is incredulous to the point where his stupidity is leading him to become a parody of himself. To all those with no tie, emotional or otherwise, to the Knicks i can understand how it is somewhat entertaining and I have to admit I watch videos like the one posted on this site a short while ago and I chuckle with disbelief. Then however, I stop and think about the vast sums of money he is in control of and the fact that the hopes and dreams of millions of Knick fans are in the hands of someone that I would imagine struggles to tie his own shoe laces.
    I wish Donnie the best of luck and although I will never want the pacer to be any good, for his sake I hope they have some success. In his time as GM of the Knicks he always appeared to me to have worked tirelessly almost to the point of ill health and I hope that if Karma does in fact exist then the balance is reset.

  19. ess-dog

    Eh I say let Donnie go live his life. Turiaf now with a broken hand. How bad does that David Lee trade look right now? Not that Lee has erupted, far from it, but all we got in return was a banged up Ronnie and a piece that was worth unloading fat Eddy on the Wolves in a contract year. We basically traded Lee and Curry for a sampling of games from Turiaf.

  20. Brian Cronin

    The Lee deal was amazingly bad. It was seemed like an example of just total miscommunication between Walsh and D’Antoni. How the hell do you make a player the centerpiece of a deal for your former best player and then not make sure that your coach is going to play that player? Especially when the last coach who tried to bury said player is a similar style of coach as your coach!

    There were so many different places that the Knicks could have sent Lee. Hell, even in the Warriors deal, they could have had Ellis instead straight up. I don’t like Ellis at all, but he’s better than Turiaf and nothing, which is what they got for Lee (and Ellis obviously still has trade value).

  21. BigBlueAL

    Read yesterday’s ESPN 5 on 5 on the Warriors, one of the questions was a fact or fiction about David Lee and if acquiring him was a mistake. 5 said fact, 1 said fiction. Of course if they wouldve used 6 guys from this site it wouldve been reversed lol.

  22. Brian Cronin

    I dunno, I think even most of us thought that it didn’t make much sense for Golden State. I’m pretty sure most everybody figured Lee would go to a playoff team. To wit, Lee would have been a much better fit in Chicago than Boozer.

    And I sort of pish posh the whole “he’ll be due $15 million in 2015″ (or whatever year it is). Yes, that sounds bad, but so does any non-Lebron longterm deal! You think Amar’e is going to be worth $20 million in the last year of his contract?

  23. Brian Cronin

    I disagree. The Knicks held a good deal of leverage from the fact that they had the cap room to re-sign Lee, so they could afford to trade him anywhere. And again, to repeat, they had the option of either Ellis straight up or the combo of Randolph, Turiaf and Azubuike. I thought that the latter combo was an excellent offer and a better one than Ellis, and I was pleased when they did the trade, but only because I thought that they actually planned to, you know, play Anthony Randolph. If they weren’t going to do that (and D’Antoni had to have a pretty good idea that he was not going to do it at the time of the trade) then what was the point of it?

  24. SeeWhyDee77

    Yea..i’m a lil sore that AR didn’t pan out for us too. But flippin him (and some other assets) for Melo is a decent consolation. I am suddenly a huge fan of Melo’s now (bein a lifelong Hoya fan makes it hard lol), he showed me alot that I didn’t think he had prior to becoming a Knick. But in my heart of hearts I would rather develop the youngins around Stat. We were a better “team” that way. However, if we can flip Billups into a better fit at the 1, then it was all worth it.

  25. Brian Cronin

    If he was, indeed, used to get Melo, that’d be one thing. However, he was used to get Minnesota to take Curry’s salary on to their cap for half a season! They didn’t even pay Curry! They just kept him on their cap (and since they were under the cap, they took no cap hit). Was the deal seriously going to fall apart if Denver had to take Curry on to their cap for half a season? I find that extremely difficult to believe, but since the Knicks caved on every other part of that deal (they’re swapping picks with Denver in 2016, for crying out loud!) they probably felt it was their duty to cave in on that part, too.

    Now had they not destroyed his trade value, he actually could have been used to get Melo (or at least gotten the Knicks something from Minnesota. And no, Corey Brewer is not anything).

  26. ess-dog

    It’s easy to play Monday morning QB and it’s also fun.
    In retrospect, it might’ve made more sense to trade Curry’s contract with Gallo the year before to get 3 max slots.
    It might have been better to just sign Lee to play with Amare and maybe get a cheaper pg than Felton, and then traded Curry’s contract with Gallo.
    It clearly would’ve been better to try and flip Ant. Randolph right after the Lee trade to a rebuilding club.
    The Walsh era seems to have been an all-or-nothing regime. Pretty much anyone/thing was expendable for cap space and/or “stars”.
    Lee, Ant. Randolph, Z. Randolph, Felton, Gallo, Chandler, Mozgov and Brewer are < Stat and Melo.
    It's kind of the opposite of the Grizzlies model.
    If we can still get CP3 (which is looking less likely these days) then and only then will I say it was a worthwhile plan.

  27. GHenman

    Brian Cronin: I disagree. The Knicks held a good deal of leverage from the fact that they had the cap room to re-sign Lee, so they could afford to trade him anywhere. And again, to repeat, they had the option of either Ellis straight up or the combo of Randolph, Turiaf and Azubuike. I thought that the latter combo was an excellent offer and a better one than Ellis, and I was pleased when they did the trade, but only because I thought that they actually planned to, you know, play Anthony Randolph. If they weren’t going to do that (and D’Antoni had to have a pretty good idea that he was not going to do it at the time of the trade) then what was the point of it?

    Doesn’t “free agent” mean he decides where he signs? Knicks had no intention of resigning him and everyone knew it. I think they were looking to sign someone else, can’t remember who though.

  28. SeeWhyDee77

    Brian Cronin:
    If he was, indeed, used to get Melo, that’d be one thing. However, he was used to get Minnesota to take Curry’s salary on to their cap for half a season! They didn’t even pay Curry! They just kept him on their cap (and since they were under the cap, they took no cap hit). Was the deal seriously going to fall apart if Denver had to take Curry on to their cap for half a season? I find that extremely difficult to believe, but since the Knicks caved on every other part of that deal (they’re swapping picks with Denver in 2016, for crying out loud!) they probably felt it was their duty to cave in on that part, too.

    Now had they not destroyed his trade value, he actually could have been used to get Melo (or at least gotten the Knicks something from Minnesota. And no, Corey Brewer is not anything).

    Exactly. Well as far as the trade value sentiment goes. I agree that we caved and gave up WAY too much for Melo. And I think that has everything to do with Dolan wanting to pacify some fans and show that he can bring another star in. Walsh wouldn’t cave like that on his own rite? I mean, we were bidding against ourselves in that trade!! Melo had already said no way to Denver, that should have been all the leverage we needed to make the trade. Add that to the fact that AR got no burn pre trade, and it feels like bad negotiating on our part and great opportunistic moving on Denver’s part. They duped us into takin on Billups while givin up Mozgov..whom they didn’t use by the way. That trade should have, and could have easily been Rooster, Curry and AR for Melo. And I wouldn’t have a problem if Walsh threw in a future 1st to get it done as well.

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