Sunday , Dec , 05 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

Amar’e Stoudemire and Ray Felton saving New York Knicks

After a difficult start to the 10-11 season, Amar’e Stoudemire and Raymond Felton took control of the Knicks’ locker room and the team responded with a five-game winning streak.
 
 
HoopsVibe’s Very Quick Call: Talent matters. So does chemistry.

For instance, the New York Knicks once spent a fortune amassing a roster of fantasy players. These players were individually talented, but never made those around them better.

Stephon Marbury was worried about his brand. Zach Randolph was worried about his statistics, while Eddy Curry was worried about, well, something other than basketball.

Other Knicks were also guilty of me-disease. They played basketball like it was an individual sport. The four other guys wearing the same uniform were a nuisance to achieving their goal.

Much of this goes back to the Isiah Thomas era. Zeke’s get-mine approach in the executive suite trickled directly down to the players.

It has taken years to rid Madison Square Gardens of this dysfunction. Now the Knicks are flying high, though. They’re playing team-first basketball. They’ve won 8 of 9.

Their recent success is due to the leadership of two players: Ray Felton and Amar’e Stoudemire.

Not long ago, the Knicks were struggling. They weren’t together. They were disjointed. And they were 3-9.

The media was circling. Executive Donnie Walsh and Coach Mike D’Antoni were on shaky ground. And Stoudemire, who signed a $100 million free agent contract this summer, seemed like a mistake.

Felton and Stoudemire stepped up on-and off court. They took control of the locker room by challenging others to improve their play. They started using the pick-and-roll to terrorize opponents.

It’s ironic that the change started with these two.

Before signing with New York this July, Felton had a mostly mixed run in Charlotte. He wasn’t a bust; however, he was behind other point guards from the 2005 draft like Deron Williams and Chris Paul.

Fair or not, Stoudemire also had a mixed reputation. He gave himself the nickname Standing Tall and Talented, and has been known to call himself Black Jesus.

Individually great, Stoudemire never made those around him better. His gaudy numbers were seen as a result of Phoenix teammate Steve Nash.

Well, Felton has taken a giant step. As has Stoudemire. Together, they’re creating a new era of Knick basketball.

–Oly Sandor.

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