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Friday, November 28, 2014

Top 25 Favorite Knicks of the Modern Era: #12-9

We continue our look at who you voted for as your top 25 favorite Knicks of the Modern Era (1979-present, also known as the “Three-Point Era,” as that is when the three-pointer was adopted by the NBA)! Every weekday we will reveal two more Knicks until we reach #1! Click here for a master list of all Knicks revealed so far!

For the Christmas weekend, here are the next four Knicks on the list!

Enjoy!

12. Amar’e Stoudemire

Brought in during the 2010 offseason for a big-money contract, Amar’e Stoudemire has been every bit of the superstar player that the Knicks thought they were getting when they signed him. After playing with Steve Nash for a number of years as both he and Nash proliferated on offense, Amar’e has brought the same level of energy and dynamic scoring ability to the Knicks.

Currently second in the league in scoring, Stoudemire has solidified himself for real consideration for the Most Valuable Player in the NBA – something the Knicks haven’t had since the days of Patrick Ewing!

In his third of a season with the Knicks, Amar’e Stoudemire has produced 3.1 win shares. For more of his stats, check out his profile at Basketball Reference!

11. Mark Jackson

Few players know better what Amar’e Stoudemire is going through right now than Mark Jackson, who was drafted by the Knicks with the 18th pick in the 1987 NBA Draft. Jackson was a major part of one of the most dynamic Knick teams in years, starting 80 out of 82 games in his rookie season and averaging over 13 points and 10 assists a game in the 1987-88 season! For his efforts, Jackson was rewarded with the NBA Rookie of the Year Award, giving the Knicks two Rookies of the Year in a three season span!

Sadly, after an even more impressive 1988-89 (where Jackson averaged nearly 17 points and over 8 assists per game for the Knicks on route to sweeping the Philadelphia 76ers in the first round of the NBA Playoffs), Jackson’s career as a Knick began to peter out. In 1988, the Knicks drafted another point guard, Rod Strickland, who began to share time with Jackson. The Knicks then traded Strickland in 1990 for another point guard, Maurice Cheeks, who flat out took the starting job from Jackson. Jackson would regain the job the next season, in Pat Riley’s first year as Knick coach (in a bizarre season for starters, the Knicks had the same starting five in 81 of 82 games! The only game with a different starting five was a game Jackson missed entirely).

However, the Knicks decided to flip Jackson for an upgrade at small forward, so they dealt him to the Los Angeles Clippers for Charles Smith and Doc Rivers. Jackson had two good years for the Clippers before being dealt to the Indiana Pacers, where he bedeviled his former team in the playoffs. After being traded to the Denver Nuggets, the Pacers quickly re-acquired Jackson, and he was the starting point guard for the Pacers when they went to the NBA Finals in 2000.

The next year, though, the Pacers blew up their team, so Jackson found work in Toronto. That was short-lived, and he actually was traded back to the Knicks, where he would be the starter for the rest of the 2000-01 season and all of the 2001-02 season. Upon his retirement two years later (after backing up John Stockton in Utah for a year and being a reserve in Houston), Jackson has the second-most assists in NBA history (he has since been passed by Jason Kidd – interestingly enough, the 1988-1990 Knicks’ point guard combo of Jackson and Strickland are both in the top ten all-time in assists – Strickland is #9).

In his six and a half seasons with the Knicks, Mark Jackson produced 37.7 win shares. For more of his stats, check out his profile at Basketball Reference!

10. Larry Johnson

It is fitting that Larry Johnson and Mark Jackson are back-to-back, as they both did this bit where they would do hand signals after hitting a big shot. You know, the sort of thing where you would love it if you were a fan of the player, but hate it if you were a fan of the opposing team (Jackson would cross his arms into an “X” while Johnson would bend his arms into an “L” shape).

In any event, also like Jackson, Larry Johnson won the NBA Rookie of the Year Award, although Johnson had a lot more hype coming into his NBA debut, as he was drafted by the Charlotte Hornets with the 1st pick in the 1991 NBA Draft.

Johnson was a prolific scorer in his early years in the NBA, making the All-Star team in his second season (he also made the All-NBA second team). He was a charismatic guy, creating a character “Grandmama” for a popular sneaker commercial (Johnson in a dress and a wig pretending to be an old lady). Before this third season, Johnson signed the most lucrative contract in NBA history (at the time). He then proceeded to injure his back. He would deal with back injuries the rest of his career.

Now, for many players, a significant back injury would ruin their career, but for LJ, he just adapted his game. He became more of an outside shooter, and he was basically just as good as he was before the injury – just in a different way. He made the 1995 All-Star team. However, friction between Johnson and his star teammate, Alonzo Mourning, led to Johnson’s exit from the Hornets to the Knicks for Anthony Mason before the 1996-97 season.

LJ quickly began to adapt his game to fit his new role as the #3 scorer on the Knicks, and he handled himself very well. In 1997-98, when Patrick Ewing was injured, Johnson stepped up and became the Knicks go-to post player (even though Johnson, as mentioned before, had lost a lot of his post skills due to his back injury).

Johnson played really well for the Knicks in 1999, as well, as the Knicks made a run to the NBA Finals (LJ hit some sort of shot people sometimes talk about – I am unsure exactly what it was) – however, by the time the playoffs ended, LJ’s back had begun to become such an issue that he really was a shell of his former self. That was quite apparent the next season, when he had his worst year as a pro yet. He would only manage to play one more year before finally retiring due to his back problems. It’s really a darn shame.

In his five seasons with the Knicks, Larry Johnson produced 28.6 win shares. For more of his stats, check out his profile at Basketball Reference!

9. Marcus Camby

Imagine trading in a tank for a tricycle – that was what it seemed like to many fans when the Knicks traded stalwart enforcer Charles Oakley for the seemingly fragile Marcus Camby before the 1999 NBA season. Coach Jeff Van Gundy was right there with most fans, as he seemed utterly disgusted by the deal himself, as Camby struggled to find minutes for the Knicks (Camby was in his third season, after being drafted with the 2nd overall pick in the 1996 NBA Draft), averaging under 21 minutes a game.

Eventually, though, Camby’s dynamic style of play was just too much for Van Gundy to keep away from, and soon the Knicks were basically built around the amazing Camby, whose ability to control the game on the defensive end while still being a force on the offensive end, made him basically the only really great Knick until David Lee and Amar’e Stoudemire came around (unless you want to sort of squint and say Marbury’s second season with the Knicks was great), and the only Knick to average a WS/48 over .200 since Patrick Ewing.

The problem was that while most of the fan concerns about Camby were ridiculous, and the trade by Ernie Grunfeld was an absolute steal (to get an absolute beast for a player a decade older than him is amazing – and Grunfeld was actually fired that year! He picked up Latrell Sprewell for Chris Mills and John Starks and gets Camby for Oakley and he’s fired!), it was true that Camby had a hard time staying healthy. In his four years with the Knicks, he missed four games his first year, twenty-three his second, twenty his third and fifty-three his fourth (six of those games in his second year were due to a suspension for taking a swing at a Spurs player).

With that in mind, Knicks GM Scott Layden traded Camby (and the Knicks’ #8 overall pick in the 2002 NBA Draft) for Antonio McDyess. Suffice it to say, it did not work out. It is now nearly a decade later and Camby is still a productive player in the NBA (McDyess is, too, actually, he just never was for the Knicks – and the pick ended up becoming Nene Hilario, who is also a productive player – three productive players and none of them did anything for the Knicks. Joy).

In his four seasons with the Knicks, Marcus Camby produced 21.8 win shares. For more of his stats, check out his profile at Basketball Reference!

MERRY CHRISTMAS, EVERYBODY!!

10 comments on “Top 25 Favorite Knicks of the Modern Era: #12-9

  1. latke

    (six of those games in his second year were due to a suspension for taking a swing at a Spurs player)

    . This was the punch that was aimed at danny ferry but actually hit van gundy?. (Check the vid for van gundy dangling from mourning’s leg too).

    Christmas! I should be asleep!

  2. BigBlueAL

    If we re-voted again today I think Amar’e would finish alot higher, he know he would on my ballot. lol

  3. Z

    We have the advantage in this game because Amar’e since learning he was Jewish, stopped celebrating Christmas, so he won’t be distracted by sugar plums dancing in his head…

  4. hoolahoop

    I wouldn’t use the words Camby, Knicks, and great in the same sentence unless you included the word “not”.

  5. rama

    Hilarious review, Brian. Posting and toasting with the best of them.

    Oh, and that shot LJ was famous for – it was this really nifty head fake on the block where he got his defender in the air and then hit a reverse layup. Pretty sweet. i THINK.

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