Since their rookie years with the Knicks David Lee and Mark Jackson have been fan favorites. Decades have separated David Lee and Mark Jackson, but one thing they hold in common? They were once NY Knicks and were groomed into the player and coach they are today during their early years in the Big Apple.
Mark Jackson, drafted 18th overall to the Knicks, came out the gate a stud. Winning rookie of the year and creating awesome chemistry with all-time Knick great Patrick Ewing. His career averages are 9.6 pts. 8 ast. and 3.8 rbs. per game over a 17-year career. His tough mentality and wisdom on the court made him a well-known commodity in the league. In his career he was the floor general for great teams and even better coaches. He is currently 3rd on the all time list of assists ending his career at number two before being passed by NY Knicks guard Jason Kidd.
His love for the game took him to the broadcasting booth after his playing days, where he schooled us in basketball and defensive mentality during the playoffs. While waiting for his coaching chance to come, many jobs came and went, Then the perfect job came his way. The Golden State Warriors (who were a mess) were under new management. They were looking for a fresh face and an outside the box choice. Their choice? Action Jackson.
In Golden State he changed the culture instantly. From a reckless run and gun system to a system where all players are held accountable and are committed to defense. They have put together a roster of rookies, 2nd and 3rd year players and a touch of veterans, led by none other than David Lee. They currently are 12 games over .500 and rising in the West to a stunned fan base. The sky is the limit with this young nucleus of players and coaches. Their strong record and commitment is a testament to Mark Jackson and his coaching staff.
David Lee drafted by the NY Knicks 30th overall in the 1st round was an underrated pick from the start. He slowly worked his way into the Knicks rotation with his hustle and rebounding ability. From day one on the court I noticed his ability to use both hands and find the ball at all costs. Over a 3-year period David worked his way into the starting line up with an improved jumper and never ending motor. His love from the fans was building, as he was turning into a crowd favorite and an NBA All-Star. His last 2 years in NY he averaged 16 pts. and 11 rbs. and 20 pts. and 11 rbs. to become the Knicks franchise player.
Unfortunately for David the Knicks were in transition and he was the odd man out. I know this sounds crazy and impossible, but the team was purging it’s roster and looking to bring in LeBron James or other high profile names to start the franchise in a new direction. David wanted a max deal and the Knicks gave it to him then traded him to Golden State for some expiring contracts and 2nd round picks. At the time it was not a popular move, but necessary to make at that moment with their eye on the 2010 prize.
The Warriors welcomed David with open arms and from then on he has become “Mr. Consistent”. He is a double-double machine and one of the faces of the franchise. This year David is averaging 20 pts. and 11 rbs. with a solid jumper extending out to 18 feet. His defense has improved over the past year as his ambidextrous skills are what cause opponents to have fits against him.
The end of this story is just the beginning. David and Mark are joined at the hip in Golden State. They are enjoying success and nobody knows what the outcome could be. I know one thing, they were raised as Knicks and were groomed in New York. Be proud of what New York has produced. Once a Knick always a Knick.
Peter A. Knickswag Chief
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