In the NBA today, the league is watching as some of its bigger stars look to team up on the same squad for a quest to bring home the championship trophy.
The New York Knicks are certainly among teams with that same hope, pairing together two of the league’s best in Amar’e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony.
Despite the NBA lockout, there is still a lot of optimism surrounding the Knicks as of late. After all, who can remember the last time two true superstars donned orange and blue together?
The truth is that it has in fact happened before, but it may difficult to recall. Former NBA great Bernard King actually spent two seasons on the same Knicks squad as a young Patrick Ewing.
Unfortunately, injuries limited the pair’s time on the court together, and fans have not been treated to such a dynamic duo since.
As fate would have it, the time for greatness again appears to be now for the Knicks. Could STAT and ‘Melo be the second coming of Ewing and King?
Anthony has actually beamed over King time and time again, as he, the fellow Brooklyn native and star small forward, is ‘Melo’s boyhood idol.
With the Knicks on the verge of great success for the first time in years, King spoke to “Knicks Journal” during an appearance at the Steiner Sports store in the Roosevelt Field Mall on Long Island.
King spoke about the honor of being looked up to by the Knicks’ new resident star, talking about just how far back the two happen to go.
“Carmelo is a wonderful person. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting him in the past. I actually did a Nike commercial with ‘Melo at his own request some years ago in Baltimore and we had a chance to talk. When Nike called me and said he wanted to do the commercial with me, I said ‘Absolutely. I enjoy watching him play.’
“Carmelo is a great player. The Knicks organization is very fortunate to have him, and I think fans will begin to enjoy him more and more as the years progress. By the time he arrived in New York, I was aware that I am the player he considers to have modeled his game after, and it’s a tremendous honor given his skill set, talent level, and his ability to dominate the game.”
Just days ago at a press conference, Anthony talked about the skills that made King what he called “one of the league’s few true small forwards.” During his appearance at Steiner Sports, King returned the favor, singing praises for ‘Melo.
“Carmelo truly has all of the skills. He can shoot the three-point shot, he can put the ball on the floor and go to the basket. He runs well and can score the ball in transition too. He’s just a great player who’s very difficult to defend. He draws double-teams which definitely opens up his teammates for easy shots.”
Of course, Anthony’s right hand man, Stoudemire, is the benefactor of many of those passes after ‘Melo draws in defenders. But are STAT and ‘Melo enough of a foundation to take the Knicks to the next level?
With all the rumors of another superstar like Dwight Howard or Chris Paul flocking to the Big Apple, King addressed what he thought could help the team improve, adding “That’s something the front office is going to have to take a look at, but the team has to get a stronger bench support. I’m sure they are going to look to address that.”
Not having the luxury of being able to play with a fellow star as he led the Knicks, it makes sense for King to emphasize and value team play as well as depth.
The Knicks great revisited his playing days as he found himself at the MSG Training Center earlier in the day. He was filming first-person accounts of his back to back 50 point performances, as well as his strong playoff series that same year against the Isiah Thomas-led Pistons, in which he averaged 42 points. They are expected to air on the MSG Network sometime in November.
“Every night created a favorite moment for me,” King said of playing for the Knicks. “Growing up in Brooklyn, and having rooted for the Knicks myself, it was a tremendous honor just to put on the uniform. I took representing that ballclub very seriously. Being named captain during that time was very special to me. “
Looking back at his accomplishments, King added, “When we won games one and three against the Pistons during the 1984 playoffs, that was big. I averaged 42 points in the series, but those two games were particularly huge because my teammates put in a tremendous effort. We were able to push the Celtics to seven games in the next series as well.”
“Certainly, my 60 point game was a special game too, but what left a sour taste in my mouth about that was the fact that we lost! But scoring 60 is not an easy feat, and I thought it was even more special that I had scored 40 points by halftime.”
While he met fans, King greeted each and every one with a wide smile, thanked them for coming, and posed for multiple pictures as he signed autographs. Similar to other Knicks greats such as Walt “Clyde” Frazier and Earl “The Pearl” Monroe, King has been celebrated with continued support, appreciation and gratitude. As he made an effort to engage in personal conversations with all the fans, King represented his legacy well, setting a golden example for today’s NBA stars.
King proved thankful, saying, “Well I think fans really appreciated my style of play. They obviously recognized the fact that I played the game each and every night with the same level of intensity and passion. I laid it on the line every time I took the court. I think people identify with that because it represents a New York type of effort. Every time I return to the city, the fan base often makes it feel as though I was here yesterday, and that’s always truly appreciated.”
Though NBA legends are certainly even more so appreciated now as fans are left with nothing but nostalgic feelings during the lockout, it’s clear that the stars of New York are admired well after their playing days are over.
Though Carmelo Anthony may note King’s on the court contributions as a means for his own admiration, King is also proving he should be an icon when it comes to transitioning from star into a legend.
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