knicks Archives - The Jose Vilson

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Dear Carmelo Anthony,

Let’s start out with the easy stuff. Congratulations on another gold medal at the 2012 Olympics in London. You impressed us with your usual array of offensive weapons, specifically the hot 3-point shooting. At some points, it really seemed like you flicked the ball off your fingers and it would still go in. You seem to thrive in international play, impressing the world in the 2006 World Championships and the 2008 Olympics as well.

Those of us who followed your career since your freshman year in Syracuse wanted you to mature into that Carmelo.

We begged for one of the top pics in the 2003 draft, back when you declared on The Best Damn Sports Show … that you preferred the Knicks. No, you weren’t picked by the dysfunctional Knicks then, but we knew it was just a matter of time (and free agency) before you went from the Nuggets to the Knicks.

Yet, when you did, it didn’t feel exactly right. The trade was messy. Your relationship with Amare was messy. Your relationship with Jeremy Lin was messy. Actually, it felt like you had a weird adjustment with just about everyone in the organization. You looked right in the orange and blue uni, but you almost felt like an island unto yourself, with sparks of brilliance, but not enough to get the Knicks any notoriety.

That’s the thing with the Olympics too: we expected you to get better after coming back. Way better. Like LeBron did at his defense. Like Dwyane Wade did in his tenacity. Like all the other major stars did from the 2008 USA roster did.As a matter of fact, Kevin Durant did after international play,

I know you were battling injuries this season, and I know that the Knicks haven’t had a steady roster for the last four years (and still have players to move before the trading deadline), but we need something from you that we’ve lacked since #33 was traded to the Sonics: leadership.

I don’t mean the leadership in scoring, taking the most shots, or most endorsement deals. I don’t mean siding with management against a player you don’t perceive wants to stay with the Knicks. I mean improving on both sides of the court. Some might try to convince me (and other Knick fans) that you’re not a natural leader, so you need a coach who can play to your strengths, but I have yet to see one championship-winning team where the best player on the floor didn’t upgrade on their strengths and weaknesses.

Shaquille O’Neal made free throws down the stretch. Kobe Bryant passed the ball. Magic Johnson played out of position. Michael Jordan developed an outside touch. Even guys who people considered complete at their positions (like Hakeem Olajuwon and Isiah Thomas, for instance) played out of position when the game mattered. Even Patrick Ewing and Charles Barkley, who never won a championship, pushed their games to the point where everyone excuses their ringless exploits with “It was Michael Jordan, after all,” not “Well, if they had worked on this part of their game, they would have …”

Carmelo, you’ve made some of the most thrilling plays in all of New York last year. You have these moments of brilliance that keep Knicks fans hoping. You have the coach you like with the players you wanted back. The Knicks now have to get through The Heat, Thunder, Lakers, and a bunch of other teams that could sneak up on the Knicks with their additions. Yet, there is no other major team sport where the efforts of one individual matter more than basketball per play.

Now, you’re the leader. Step up to it. We’ve been waiting.

Jose, who is holding this book giveaway ’til Thursday

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Short Notes: Square Dance

by Jose Vilson on April 20, 2008

in Short Notes

Eminem

My notes for Sunday:

1. Isiah Thomas is FIRED! Out, out, out! I haven’t wanted a former All-Star point guard out of the Knicks since … Stephon Marbury. No really, there’s too much clutter in that team. With Patrick Ewing and Pat Riley’s inductions to the Hall of Fame, I’m about 99% sure that I prefer to make it really close and fail than never to have even been in consideration for a championship at all. How’s that for dedication?

2. I can’t conceive any scenario where someone marries into a rival team. Let me explain. Hypothetically, let’s say that there was a lady who went from a Knicks fan to a Heat fan in the middle of the 90s just because the husband was a Heat fan. Sorry, but that just doesn’t fly with me, not that I want to control who cheers for what, but there’s just something … wrong about it. Same goes for Red Sox to Yankees transfers, etc. If the teams aren’t intense rivals, though, I’m not mad at the switch.

3. I don’t know about you, but I just love watching square dancing.

No, really, it’s interesting. At first, it’s all about showing everyone that you can really dance all by yourself. Then, you get into a few formations in the hopes of courting the partner across from you, and hoping to avoid the partner adjacent to the one you want. Then, for a few seconds, if you succeed, then you get a good 5-6 seconds to dance with them, and then you gotta let go of them. Of course, there’s also a subtle dance-off between different people in the group trying to show off who’s the best dancer in the crowd, and who has the best move, but it’s so subtle because there’s all this activity happening on the floor already. Meanwhile, outside observers are all either impressed by the intricacies of the whole dance or confused because they wonder how they’ll participate in this mess.

I bring this up, because that’s pretty much how I felt this week. Not just crazy insane, but insane crazy. I’m just trying to do my job, but of course, everyone wants to get into a square dance. We can twirl and spin around the issues all we want, but when the dance is over, reality sets in, and we gotta face each other. I’m all for square dancing, but at the cost of what our focus is? No. Apropos metaphor? Definitely.

Off to the gym. I’ll be commenting on your pages soon. Peace …

jose, counting down to the Glow In The Dark tour …

p.s. – To interested parties: I’m not saying you can’t read my blog, but I am saying that you’re not going to find anything here that you can’t just straight ask me. As many confessions as I have here, this is not a confessional. It’s a blog. Check my rights.

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Ewing and I

by Jose Vilson on January 31, 2008

Patrick Ewing, Arms Stretched Out

An idol.The biggest of superstars.

A warrior and a man all the same.

That sweet fade-away.

The sweat-drenched NY Knicks jersey, emblazoned with the number 33 in the back.

The custom sneakers.

The Georgetown alum with 2 gold medals, part of the historic Dream Team, 11-time All-Star, Rookie of the Year from 1985-86, sure Hall of Famer, and part of the NBA 50th anniversary’s All-Time Team.

The man who carried the most prominent franchise in one of the grandest stages in the world for over a decade.

No NBA championship rings. Thus, less respect.

Patrick Ewing is probably my favorite player from any sport ever. He symbolized everything the Knicks and NYC were for a decade and a 1/2. My thoughts turned to him after watching how he’s helped Dwight Howard develop into the monster MVP candidate he is. A little greyer and bereft of that signature flat-top with the notch in his hair, and a few pounds overweight, he still had that smile that reminded me why I became a Knicks fan to begin with. At the very least, you knew each night, he’d get up into that court and play his hardest. He helped instill that gritty, hard-nosed, defiant, me-against-the-world mentality many of us had laced into our DNA since child birth. Even in defeat, Knicks fans always felt we would have another run at another great season, and another championship run.

Yet, there are those who believe we shouldn’t be attached to celebrities and sports figures, asserting we don’t need to follow these idols. In many ways, I agree. Does Patrick Ewing care whether or not I follow him or not? Probably not. I still remember times when he would end up on the back pages of the Post (ugh!), the Times, or the Daily News, heckled on his own home floor mercilessly for his reactions to the lack of fan support. While he’s out drinking his high-priced alcohol in a big house with his plethora of stats and awards, I’m somewhere in an apartment writing about how much I love him as a sports figure.
That might be the reason why we idolize them in the first place. Kids from my neighborhood look at these Black and Latino men living their dreams out for millions to see and envision themselves doing likewise. Sports and other competitions for that matter are emblematic of the struggles the common man and woman face in real life. How interesting is it that we latch ourselves onto sports teams and players in the hopes that even as superficial and capitalist these victories seem, we too feel like we won or lost depending on the outcomes. Some of us hook ourselves onto these figures so much that they become part of our lives. Their struggles become ours. Their hardships become ours.

Even without the multimillion dollar price tag strung on these players’ ankles, we still see a little of ourselves in the players we witness so much. That’s why I write about Alex Rodriguez and expectations leveled on him, Patrick Ewing and his greatness contrasted with his shortcomings, or even The Rock’s ability to carry such braggadocio and still be considered the “People’s Champion.”

We can even extend that to the celebrities of today, from Denzel’s refined passion to Morgan Freeman’s mature wisdom. Even the recent death of Heath Ledger reminds people of the shortcomings and tragedies of a bright present and a brighter future. And I hate to say this, but I suspect that people follow Britney Spears as much to see whether she’ll get out of her misery than to witness her downfall. We cheer as much for comebacks as we do the underdog. We oscillate in adulation. People took 7-8 years to realize that Al Gore was the best choice for President (out of the 2-party system we have now), but people hated him for the same reasons they love him now, only he had 7 years to prove to everyone he was right.

The figures that certain populations decide to prop up are accurate representations of the ideas and feelings that society has about themselves. If we look at New York City in 1977, we can sum up NYC’s population with three people: Reggie Jackson, George Steinbrenner, and Billy Martin. Reggie represented Blacks’ and Latinos’ dreams of upward mobility (for more, see The Jeffersons circa 1975 – 1985). George Steinbrenner represented the cantankerous bosses NYC became renown for. And Billy Martin represented the working class people in NYC, struggling to keep their jobs in a recessive job market.

Patrick Ewing, thus, represented so much of what I grew up knowing about NYC, but more importantly about myself. I grew emotionally attached to his victories and losses as a kid, and haven’t been quite as passionate about anyone outside my home or classroom in ages. I can still remember how shocked I was to see him traded to the Seattle Sonics, and subsequently came back to beat the Knicks with 18 points and 10 rebounds, but time had already taken a toll on his weak knees and other joints. His run down the court was then a lumpy jog in some stranger’s uni.

While I watch my Knicks go through this miserable stretch, I wonder how they lost that edge that made the rest of the league hate the Knicks and make us love them. The Knicks these days have a few scrappy players (Lee, Balkman, Robinson, Crawford), but in general suit up sleep-inducing and lackluster players who, leadership included, have no common mission. They really look like they’d prefer to be at home than actually representing NYC’s grand basketball history properly. It’s like watching million dollar zombies out there. Then I look at the city the team is now, and I see the same can be said for many of the people who inhabit it now.

Fuck that. Bring back Patrick. Kneepads, missed finger rolls and all. I’d rather be a contender and lose than to have never had the chance.

jose, gave away his authentic Patrick Ewing jersey to my younger cousin after he got too big to fit in it, but definitely has the 15th anniversary Team USA Ewing jersey ready for all occasions …

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Short Notes: Or You Got A Wicked Jump Shot

November 18, 2007

Sunday’s a great day to write these random thoughts: – Soul II Soul’s “Back To Life” is a really great song. I didn’t realize how dope it was until I went out last night and actually took a listen to it. I downloaded it off iTunes, and have it on my iPod nano a.k.a. “Knight […]

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Shooting Airballs at an Imaginary Basket

February 25, 2007

As my first decree of totally partiality, I am a Yankees, Knicks, and Giants fan, and when I’m in the mood, the Rangers, too. Yes, it’s a bias that I assumed environmentally; I live in / love Manhattan, and even if the rest of the city treats the Lower East Side like an annex of […]

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