On Tuesday morning, I got a chance to interview Metta World Peace over the phone. Metta, an NBA All-Star, Champion, and Defensive Player of the Year, had some great (and funny!) things to say. We talked about Pandas, name changes, Melo, the Knicks, teeth, China, shoes, Kobe, acting, wrestling bears, and more! Sit back, go ahead and give it a read, and enjoy!
By Tommy Rothman
The season is close. Very close. So for those of you who want to follow the team, prepare for the season, feed their excitement for the season, go to some games, watch some games, know what to look for, and have an easy page to reference, read on! This is an “article”, but it will also be posted as a PAGE on our website under the “2014-15 Schedule Guide” tab in our menu, so you can access it easily whenever you want!
This post has game-by-game previews, as well as other information you might want. AND, of course, some jokes!
So to see our schedule guide, click the “Continue Reading” thing, either here or right under the image of Melo below, and enjoy! (I don’t want to clog up the entire front page with one article). You can also just click the image of Melo below. (If you went straight to this article, ignore this paragraph)
Analyzing the Knicks’ qualifications
By Tommy Rothman
ESPN has just released their yearly “Ultimate Franchise Rankings” list, which ranks the 122 teams in the NBA, NFL, NHL, and MLB on a 9-category scale. The rankings implement both statistical data and survey responses from fans. (Link at the end of this article)
The Knicks were ranked 121st on this year’s list, ahead of only the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs and directly behind the NBA’s reigning cellar-dwellers, the Milwaukee Bucks. Rounding out the bottom 5 were the NFL’s Oakland Raiders and the MLB’s New York Mets. The NFL’s New York Jets and the NHL’s New York Islanders also finished near the very bottom of the rankings.
The Knicks ranked last in both “Fan Relations” and “On-Field Player Effort + Off-Field Player Likeability,” second-to-last in “Affordability,” fifth-to-last in “Ownership,” 112th in “Title Track (championships won and expected during life expectancy of fans who responded),” 108th in “Coaching,” 91st in “Stadium Experience,” and 8th in “Bang-For-Buck,” leading to their ultimate ranking of 121 out of 122.
The Ownership ranking jumps out at me a bit. For one, the NHL’s New York Rangers rank much higher in Ownership, despite the fact that, unless I am mistaken, Knicks Owner James Dolan is also the owner of the Rangers. The Rangers also rank much higher in Fan Relations, which seems odd, and they are also significantly higher in Stadium Experience, despite the fact that the Knicks and Rangers share a stadium.
In addition, James Dolan has one vastly under-appreciated trait: his ability and willingness to spend money. Dolan is ranked as the 118th best owner. The Wilpons, who own the Mets, are ranked 119th. As a fan of the Mets, I can testify to the fact that the Wilpons’ tight pockets have sunk their franchise into the pit of despair and it is unclear when, or if, they will spend the money needed to put the Mets back into contention. Of course, the NBA has a cap and the MLB does not. But James Dolan wants to win. Many NBA owners make decisions that hurt their teams to keep their payroll low and stay as far away from the luxury tax penalties as they can. Dolan is willing and able to open up his wallet and, with so many owners who cannot say the same, I think he is deserving of a higher ranking than 118.
As for Player Effort and Off-Field Likeability, it’s hard to look at this when considering “Franchises,” because a team’s roster is one of the things that changes most often, as opposed to ownership, organizational philosophy, pricing, stadium experiences, etc. While certain players put in despicably low amounts of effort this past season, the most glaring examples are no longer on the team, and the Knicks aren’t particularly unlikeable off the court compared to some teams (for instance, all 32 NFL teams).
When it comes to Stadium Experience, the Knicks should probably be higher. Their arena is legendary. Things are pricy, but if you’re in the stadium it means you have and are willing to spend money on the Knicks (although the horrible affordability ranking is completely valid). The entertainment is good, the food is good, the atmosphere is terrific, and it’s right in the middle of Manhattan, rather than a swamp in New Jersey.
The Knicks are probably rated too highly in Bang-For-Buck, if I understand the category correctly. It seems that it is based off of how well the team turns the fans’ money into wins. The Knicks haven’t been very successful, and they certainly reel in a lot of money from their fans. So I would have thought that category would be lower… I’ll look into that a bit more.
I don’t think of the Knicks as having the worst Fan Relations in the league, but it depends how you look at it. The demand for tickets, merchandise, and everything else related to the brand is very high for the Knicks. Thus, they don’t need to be handing out free seats and hot dogs and t-shirts and jerseys, because people are willing to buy them. If you’re running things right in New York, you don’t have to be nice to make money. In a business, kindness is plan B (The aforementioned Wilpons are on plan B). However, the Knicks are not very open with the fans from a management and PR perspective, which is frustrating, even if it is somewhat understandable. I wouldn’t put the Knicks last in this category, but I wouldn’t put them very highly either.
As for Title Track, the Knicks are ranked far too lowly. A team in a huge market (again with the exception of the Wilpons) has an advantage over other teams in its ability to lure in, spend on, and retain top talent. Due to the salary cap, the shaky reputation of the front office (even with Phil Jackson and Derek Fisher— whose low coach rating can’t really be debated against without further evidence— newly on board), the Knicks aren’t as well-positioned as a big-market, properly-owned, non-capped team like the Yankees are to win a title. But they definitely have an edge over more than 7 teams.
Knicks fans are a bit disgruntled these days, and in an entertainment industry, the company charging through-the-roof prices isn’t going to be the most beloved when the survey responses roll around, even if people are willing to pay those prices. But their ranking as the 2nd-to-worst team in American Sports seems a bit harsh.
Rankings aside, the Knicks, of course, are the most valuable team in the NBA, and had the highest revenues last season. The fans who responded to the survey, and all other fans, are spending, and as long as the cash is flowing, the only thing for the Knicks to truly be worried about is their pursuit of a title.
You can read the rest of the rankings here.
By Tommy Rothman
The 2013-2014 season was a very disappointing one for the New York Knicks, who missed the playoffs in a weak Eastern Conference. Many people were at fault for this year’s massive letdown. Some are more culpable than others. A few players had very nice seasons, others had years to forget. In grading each player’s season, I took into account many factors, including the player’s performance, their role, their expectations, their effort level, and, last but NOT least, what they did with the opportunity they were given by Mike Woodson (who also received a grade). So, if I give Jeremy Tyler a better grade than Tyson Chandler, that does NOT mean that Tyler was a better PLAYER than Tyson this season. Think of it as Jeremy getting a certain grade in an easy class, and then Chandler getting a slightly lower grade in the advanced class (to keep in line with the school analogy). Anyway, here we go…
Carmelo Anthony: A
Season Stats (77 G, 38.7 MPG): 27.4 PPG, 8.1 RPG, 3.1 APG, 1.2 SPG, 0.7 BPG, 45% FG, 40 % 3pt, 85% Ft, 2.6 TOPG, 24.4 PER, $21.4 M
Carmelo had perhaps the best all-around season of his career, carrying the team almost every single night, scoring at will, improving on defense and in the passing game, rebounding at a terrific rate, shattering the franchise’s single-game scoring record. In the end, it was not enough, and Melo’s understandable frustration at his teammates’ inability to support him might cause him to bolt elsewhere when his contract expires this summer. Melo’s scoring averages and passing stats could have been even better if his teammates had been able to knock down shots consistently, although his rebound rate might have been a tad lower had other players crashed the boards with intensity. Carmelo is still not a good defender, but his marked improvement on that end of the floor this season made him competent enough that he is probably no longer a defensive liability, at least compared to certain other members of the team. If Carmelo stays with the Knicks, he must continue to improve as a playmaker and continue to show an increased level of effort on defense in order to reach the next level… although it’s hard to not be content with where he is already. Let the waiting game begin.
Amar’e Stoudemire: B
Season Stats (65 G, 22.6 MPG): 11.9 PPG, 4.9 RPG, 0.6 BPG, 0.5 APG, 0.4 SPG, 56% FG, 74% FT, 1.4 TOPG, 18.8 PER, $21.7 M
Stoudemire was limited early in the year by a limits restriction, which made it hard for him to find his rhythm and to put up the gaudy per-game averages to which he was accustomed (keep this in mind when you view his per-game stats). He also found himself unable to guard anybody, and his rebounding was extremely poor. He looked like a washed-up, broken down shell of his former self. And then, a couple months into the season, Amar’e started to hit his stride. Before long, STAT, the rim-rocking, bulldozing big man New Yorkers had fallen in love with a couple months ago, had returned. While he’ll never be as dominant as he was in his first year with the Knicks, Stoudemire had become a legitimate second scoring option, a pretty good rebounder, and a nearly-competent defender by the end of the season. After plodding up and down the court early in the season, STAT started giving 100% every night once he got his legs under him, and it made a big difference. The medical staff’s coddling of Amar’e was frustrating at first, but it seems like it paid off in the end. If Stoudemire can stay on the court and keep adjusting to his new role as a secondary scorer, he should be in for good things next season.
Tyson Chandler: C
Season Stats (55 G, 30.2 MPG): 8.7 PPG, 9.6 RPG, 1.1 BPG, 1.1 APG, 0.7 SPG, 59% FG, 63% Ft, 1.3 TOPG, 16.4 PER, $14.1 M
Et tu, Tyson? The Knicks could always count on Chandler to bring effort and skill on defense and the boards, anchoring the middle of the paint when nobody else was willing to do their part. That changed this season. The lazy, losing culture that clung to this year’s squad seemed to break Tyson, who was also quite literally “broken” early in the season when a collision with the Bobcats’ Kemba Walker fractured the big man’s leg. To be fair, this freak injury was probably a big reason for the fact that Chandler lost much of the spring in his step, as he had looked better than ever during the first 3 games of the year before going down on that fateful night against Charlotte. But when Chandler came back, he looked soft. This wasn’t just a matter of him losing speed or jumping ability; the former Defensive Player of the Year looked like he had both lost the will to run, the will to jump, and the will to win upon his return. Tyson had a few solid stretches despite his disappointing overall season, and his stats ended up being pretty good, so I’m not ready to declare the 31 year-old Chandler a victim of Father Time just yet. Tyson seemingly quit on his coach, as did many members of the team as the season wore on and the losses piled up. With Woodson out, Phil Jackson in, a new coach on the way, and an apparent culture shift coming at Madison Square Garden, I think there is hope for Tyson (and the team). But Chandler just didn’t “bring it” this year, and if the Knicks don’t move him during the offseason, Tyson will have to play much harder (and better) if he wants to help the Knicks redeem themselves.
Iman Shumpert: C+
Season Stats (74 games, 26.5 MPG): 6.7 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 1.7 APG, 1.2 SPG, 38% FG, 33% 3pt, 75% Ft, 1.1 TOPG, 9.6 PER, $1.7 M
After coming on strong as his surgically repaired knee continued to gain strength down the stretch of the 2012-13 season, Shumpert was considered a prime candidate to take a big “leap” this year. That didn’t happen, as Iman struggled mightily for large portions of the season. Shump’s shooting touch, which had improved so much during the Knicks’ 54-win campaign, disappeared this season, and as many fans and some members of the organization started to turn on him, he began to turn on himself. Shumpert’s lack of confidence made things even worse, and before long, he had become completely invisible on offense. Shump woke up a bit in early January, with his performance against the Spurs in San Antonio sticking out as his most memorable game of the year, but he didn’t really get going until reports that Phil Jackson was coming aboard started to leak. Jackson, who is reportedly a big believer in Iman’s game, seemed to give the young guard a big confidence boost. Shumpert finished the season strong, leading to hope (but not necessarily confidence) that he can contribute offensively next year. Of course, offense isn’t Iman’s biggest strength, even when he IS hitting his shots. Shumpert is one of the best wing defenders in the league, and while he had occasional lapses, he was a very solid contributor on defense for much of the season, working to lock down opposing teams even when his teammates often served as the holes in Clyde Frazier’s beloved “Swiss Cheese” metaphor. Shump has to keep working on his shot this summer, and he can’t afford to let his mind get in the way of his game going forward. Shumpert’s performance this year was a letdown, but he still has a chance to become a key player for this team in the future.
JR Smith: B-
Season Stats (74 G, 32.7 MPG): 14.5 PPG, 4 RPG, 3 APG, 0.9 SPG, 42% FG, 39% 3pt, 65% Ft, 1.5 TOPG, 14.0 PER, $5.6 M
JR Smith’s eventful year began in the offseason. After winning the Sixth Man of the Year award in the 2012-2013 season, JR was rewarded with a nice contract extension in the summer. But shortly afterwards, Smith announced that he would undergo knee surgery, and before long, the league announced that the enigmatic shooting guard had been hit with a 5-game suspension for recreational drug use. Due to his injury and his foolishness, Smith was unable to prepare for the season effectively, missed the first few games of the year, and spent a couple months trying to find his rhythm from both a shooting and an athletic standpoint. And then, of course, there were the mental mistakes. Smith got into trouble with the league and his coach for threatening another in a tweet, blasting the organization on Instagram after his brother (whose spot on the roster was nothing short of Nepotism to begin with) was released, and untying opponents’ shoelaces on multiple occasions. Smith’s season hit rock-bottom when Mike Woodson benched him during a winning streak, and reports surfaced that the team was fed up with Smith and ready to trade him. Smith bounced back well from his early-season problems (many of which he had brought upon himself) and had a very nice second half of the season, salvaging his statistics and his reputation amongst Knicks fans. Smith started hitting shots, playing defense, and even moving the ball. If JR had played as well all season as he did down the stretch, things would have been a lot different for the Knicks. However, that ship has sailed, and JR must focus on consistency and responsibility going forward if he wants to truly reach his potential.
Raymond Felton: D-
Season Stats (65 G, 31.0 MPG): 9.7 PPG, 5.6 APG, 3 RPG, 1.2 SPG, 40% FG, 32% 3pt, 72% Ft, 2.0 TOPG, 12.9 PER, $3.6 M
Felton had the worst year of his career, both on and off the court. Raymond was mediocre at best on offense and an absolute disaster on defense. He was arrested on weapons charges after he allegedly pointed a gun at his wife, who filed for divorce. He was caught yawning in an important huddle down the stretch of a close game, he was blasted about his conditioning, and by the end of the year, nearly every Knicks fan wanted him gone. Now, Raymond gets a D- instead of an F for a couple reasons. First of all, if you look at his stats, he was somewhat decent on offense. As for his defense, while there is no denying that he was completely incapable of guarding any of the league’s great (or even good, or decent) point guards, it’s not his fault that Mike Woodson usually ignored all signs of this and repeatedly stuck Felton on players like Kyrie Irving instead of letting Iman Shumpert take a crack at locking them down or turning to some form of a zone. Finally, Felton battled injuries during training camp and throughout the season, which is part of the reason why he looked so slow, especially early in the year. But there is no way around the fact that Felton’s performance this year was unacceptable. The Knicks are reportedly planning to trade their point guard, which I feel might be a mistake (as I mentioned in a post the other day). Felton can still bounce back, at least on the offensive end. But in this day and age, the Knicks can’t afford to have a starting point guard who cannot stay in front of his counterpart, and as such, Felton’s days appear numbered.
Tim Hardaway Junior: B+
Season Stats (81 G, 23.1 MPG): 10.2 PPG, 0.8 APG, 1.5 RPG, 0.5 SPG, 43% FG, 36% 3pt, 83% Ft, 0.6 TOPG, 12.7 PER, $1.2 M
After Hardaway fell all the way to the Knicks at #24 in the draft, he became one of the lone bright spots at Madison Square Garden this season (the other bright spots being Carmelo Anthony and the New York Rangers). Timmy brought energy, athleticism, finishing ability, and a sweet shooting stroke. He made the Knicks fun to watch on occasion, which is pretty impressive considering how badly the team’s season went. But Hardaway took many bad shots (which hurt his shooting percentages), went through a few cold stretches where he couldn’t find the basket, and most importantly, played very weak defense. These are areas in which Timmy must improve going forward. But overall, Hardaway was a pleasant surprise and has the potential to be an impact player in the league going forward.
Pablo Prigioni: B
Season Stats (66 G, 19.4 MPG): 3.8 PPG, 3.5 APG, 2.0 RPG, 1.0 SPG, 46% FG, 46% 3pt, 92% Ft, 0.9 TOPG, 13.0 PER, $1.6 M
Pablo had a nice season as he continued to wreak havoc his pesky, scrappy, energetic style of play whenever he was on the court. He is the team’s best passer, hardest worker, and, from a fan’s perspective, probably the most lovable guy on the roster (seriously, how can you dislike Pablo???). He also made a tremendous amount of improvement as a shooter, finishing the year with a team-high 46% clip from beyond the arc. Pablo can be frustrating at times, as his determination to move the ball occasionally leads him to neglect to take wide-open shots, or to force passes into traffic. On defense, while his effort level is unparalleled, he is generally unable to stay in front of the league’s quicker point guards. Prigioni isn’t a star, but he is a solid role player, a capable floor general, and an excellent example for his teammates. Let’s hope that Pablo’s body can continue to hold up and allow him to continue doing all the things that make Pablo Prigioni, without a doubt, The Most Interesting Man in the World.
Andrea Bargnani: C-
Season Stats (42 G, 29.9 MPG): 13.3 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 1.1 APG, 1.2 BPG, 44% FG, 28% 3pt, 82% Ft, 1.4 TOPG, 14.5 PER, $11.9 M
Bargs, Bargs, Bargs. What do we say about Bargs? Well we can start by saying that he was responsible for the loss of fan favorite and sharpshooter Steve Novak, as well as the loss of our 2016 first-round pick (a trade asset and potentially a valuable player) and the ability to trade our 2017 pick (teams cannot trade their first-round picks in consecutive years). This is why the Knicks were so unwilling to part with their 2018 pick in a trade that could have netted them Kyle Lowry, and why the Knicks don’t have as much firepower as they would like in trade negotiations to bring in significant players. And, obviously, we won’t be able to add a young player in the first round in 2016, unless we trade for a pick… Anyway, enough about the trade, let’s talk about the player. Bargnani was brought in to be Carmelo Anthony’s second scorer and to space the floor for Melo by drawing opposing big men out of the paint. This didn’t happen, because opposing big men quickly realized that they could leave Bargnani open from deep and get away with it most of the time. Bargnani’s team defense was miserable, and he was clumsy with the ball. Even when he did things right, they looked incredibly awkward. His man-to-man defense was better than expected, leading to a couple memorable games such as his lockdown of Dwight Howard, but unless he was bodying up his man and they were both in the post, he was a nightmare on that end. Bargs was pretty good at knocking down the mid-range jumper, and his post presence was something the Knicks needed while Amar’e Stoudemire struggled early in the year, but he is no longer the long-range shooter he once was, and he seemed to always make things go wrong when he was on the floor. When Bargnani went down in comical fashion on a miserably failed dunk attempt in January, many Knicks fans felt more relief than concern. Bargnani was the team’s leader in blocks per game, is pretty good on defense when he is just a few feet away from the hoop, and is a better scorer than most players on the team, but he isn’t the player he once was, and the Knicks might look to move his expiring contract over the summer. Andrea could have a bounce-back season under a new coach in a new offensive system, but don’t hold your breath.
Kenyon Martin: C+
Season Stats (32 G, 19.8 MPG): 4.3 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 1.6 APG, 0.8 BPG, 0.8 SPG, 51% FG, 58% Ft, 0.8 TOPG, 12.2 PER, $1.4 M
K-Mart came into the season hurt, played hurt for a couple months, then gave up and traded his uniform for a suit for the rest of the season. When he was on the floor, he was a tough presence down low, a tenacious rebounder and defender, and, somehow, a decent facilitator when he looked to pass the ball. But he just couldn’t stay on the court, and had very few moments where he didn’t look hobbled. If K-Mart elects to come back to the NBA for another year and the Knicks keep him around, he could have a solid season after a summer (well, really an entire year) of rest. He’ll never be the player he was back in his days with the Nets, but he can bring the veteran leadership the Knicks sorely missed while he was gone, and he’s still one of the best defenders on the team.
Cole Aldrich: B-
Season Stats (46 G, 7.2 MPG): 2.0 PPG, 2.8 RPG, 0.3 APG, 0.7 BPG, 0.2 SPG, 54% FG, 87% Ft, 0.4 TOPG, 19.1 PER, $916 K
Burying Cole Aldrich on his bench for most of the season may have been Mike Woodson’s biggest mistake. Aldrich brought something that Tyson Chandler, Amar’e Stoudemire, and Andrea Bargnani did not: A tall, young, fresh, healthy, hard-working, high-motor, imposing defensive figure under the basket. He also made a slight improvement on offense as the season went on, although his stone-like hands and his general clumsiness limit him on that end of the floor. Cole made good things happen when he was on the court, but Woodson didn’t seem to care. If he stays with the Knicks this summer, and the new coach gives him some solid minutes, he could make a big impact on defense and on the boards. His per-36 stats are pretty ridiculous (remember, one factor in the grading system is how the player did with the opportunity he was given). He has to promise us to never try a hook shot again, though…
Jeremy Tyler: C+
Season Stats (41 G, 9.7 MPG): 3.6 PPG, 2.7 RPG, 0.2 APG, 0.5 BPG, 52% FG, 54% Ft, 0.6 TOPG, 13.0 PER, $557 K
Tyler, like Aldrich, is another young, high-motor big man who looked pretty impressive in limited playing time. Tyler is solid at the defensive end, but looks very raw on offense, although he has more potential in that area than Aldrich. Jeremy spent the first half of the season rehabbing while Chris Smith took his roster spot, but was signed in January and looked good enough to earn a spot on the team next year. Let’s see if the Knicks bring him back.
Toure Murry: C+
Season Stats (51 G, 7.3 MPG): 2.7 PPG, 1.0 APG, 0.9 RPG, 0.4 SPG, 43% FG, 42% 3pt, 59% Ft, 0.7 TOPG, 11.1 PER, $490 K
Murry isn’t much of a shooter, and his 3pt% is quite misleading. But he is a fantastic defender with good size, and if Woodson had let Murry play more, opposing point guards would have had a MUCH more difficult time with the rookie than they did with Raymond Felton. On offense, Murry made a few nice plays and showed decent finishing ability, but his ceiling is probably that of a backup point guard (or, if he can get his jumper down, a point guard version of Thabo Sefolosha). If the Knicks bring Murry back, it will be interesting to see how he does in what is likely to be a slightly increased role.
Beno Udrih: C+
Season Stats (31 G, 19.0 MPG): 5.6 PPG, 3.5 APG, 1.8 RPG, 0.7 SPG, 43% FG, 43% 3pt, 83% Ft, 1.4 TOPG, 12.4 PER, $1.3 M
For all the talk about Woodson to this point, no player was more disliked by the coach than Beno Udrih, who was buried on the bench and then made into a scapegoat before being granted his release, latching on with the Grizzlies, and impressing in the playoffs. The Knicks needed a point guard who could consistently play at a competent level, but inexplicably ignored Beno Udrih. When he was on the floor, Beno looked pretty good. He did what he could with the very limited opportunity he received, before moving on in a move that was probably best for both parties.
Coach Mike Woodson: D-
Team Stats: 37 W, 45 L, 9th in Eastern Conference, Did Not Qualify for Playoffs. 20th Best Offense, 8th Best Defense (PPG).
Was Jason Kidd calling the plays last season? Were Rasheed Wallace and Kurt Thomas holding things down in the locker room? We can’t rule that out, because Mike Woodson had zero control over the team this year. Many players on the team quit on Woody, who made several baffling in-game decisions, senseless defensive assignments, predictably predictable offensive play-calls, and showed an impressive level of stubbornness when it came to managing his rotation. He continually said he wasn’t going to make excuses, then made laughable excuses (the Bargnani one was my favorite). How did he avoid an F? Simple. He didn’t miss a shot all season. The team won 54 games last year. For all his faults, you can only blame so much on a coach, and while Woodson made the least of what he was given and completely lost the clubhouse, the players must be held at least partially accountable (his favorite word) for the debacle that was the 2013-14 Knicks season. Still, Woodson had no business coaching this team, and he should have been fired long before Phil Jackson dropped the hammer on Woody and his entire coaching staff on April 21.
Team Grade: D
The Knicks came into this season coming off of a great year with a talented roster and high expectations. They stumbled out of the gate, and ran out of time despite a strong finish as they failed to make the playoffs. Injuries took their toll, and the Knicks had some bad luck, but they had no business finishing 9th in the East this season. It’s completely unacceptable. With Phil in town, and changes on the way, it’s time to look forward to the offseason and hope that the Knicks can get some much-needed redemption next season.
What are YOUR thoughts? What grades do you agree with? Which do you think I got wrong? Let me know in the comments! -Tommy Rothman
*note: Players who played fewer than 200 minutes (Metta World Peace, Shannon Brown, Earl Clark, Chris Smith, Lamar Odom) did not receive grades.
By Tommy Rothman
Jeremy Tyler might not be a household name yet, but he certainly has the potential to become one. Tyler, who left high school early to pursue a career overseas instead of playing in the NCAA, was drafted with the 39th pick of the 2011 NBA draft by the Golden State Warriors. After seeing limited action in Golden State, Tyler joined the Knicks’ Summer League team. New York waived Tyler after he suffered a foot injury, but brought him back to their D-League team and added him to the NBA roster in January once his rehab was complete. In the past week, Tyler has become a part of Coach Mike Woodson’s rotation, and has showed off his impressive athleticism on both ends of the floor. Tyler is averaging 18.4 points, 10.5 rebounds, and 2.1 blocks per 36 minutes through his first 10 games as a Knick. I reached out to Jeremy through his media team a couple weeks ago, and he was kind enough to agree to do an online interview with New York Knicks Memes. Keep reading to see what Jeremy had to say about himself, his journey, his teammates, his coach’s smile, music, and his first month as a Knick.
Tommy Rothman, New York Knicks Memes: Hi, Mr. Tyler. Thanks for agreeing to do this interview. Your path to the NBA was a bit more complicated than the standard prep-to-college-to-pro journey. Even before making your NBA debut with the Warriors in 2011, you had already played in a professional setting. But the NBA and the bj league (in Japan) are two very different things. What was the most difficult part about the transition to the NBA?
Jeremy Tyler, New York Knicks: The pace of the game is a little faster here and [there are] more athletic players. And the seriousness of each game [is higher].
Tommy: Have there ever been times where you have felt that having experienced professional basketball outside of the NBA has helped you handle the pressures and the spotlight of the NBA?
Jeremy: Yes, it definitely has, and it’s been really good taking the experiences I have over there and [using] them in everyday life here, and [it’s] helped me become a better person.
Tommy: You landed a spot on the Knicks’ summer league roster and were very impressive. You earned yourself a contract and then, just when it seemed you were a lock to make the team, it was announced that you would miss several weeks with a foot injury. How did you respond to that mentally? What was it like rehabbing an injury while trying to fight for a roster spot, physically and emotionally?
Jeremy: It was hard at first but I learned the injury might have came to teach me patience. And with patience it taught me to use each setback as a comeback. I think because I had my head on straight and a good support system, I was able to get through it.
Tommy: Immediately after the Knicks waived you, they expressed interest in bringing you back to their D-League team to give you a chance to prove yourself. You were very impressive in the D-League (your final game with the Erie Bayhawks having been a 21 point, 15 rebound performance). The Knicks decided you’d earned a shot on the NBA roster, and you recently signed an NBA contract with the team. So after a half-year of uncertainty, you are finally a New York Knick. How did it feel when you finally got signed? How has your first month as a Knick been?
Jeremy: It felt great. It felt like I accomplished the first step of my big goal. With the first month being here, I found myself. I’ve been learning, getting in great shape and working on my mental and physical performance.
Tommy: Playing in New York City is no small matter. Do you feel ready to handle the pressures of playing in the most famous arena and the largest media market in the NBA?
Jeremy: Yes, I am ready to accept any challenges that come my way. I am well-prepared for adversity and am excited.
Tommy: There are a lot of fans who haven’t gotten much of a chance to see you play. Which part of your game do you think Knicks Fans should be most excited about? What should we expect from you on the court going forward? What do you try to bring to the table? In other words, who are you when you step on the floor?
Jeremy: My sense of urgency. I like to play at a high level energy wise. I am a very fun and outgoing player to watch whether on the court or supporting my team on the bench. On the court going forward, I’m going to [give] 110% every time and take advantage of any minutes I can get.
Tommy: Which NBA players did you idolize growing up? Who did you try to model your game after?
Jeremy: Growing up I idolized Amar’e (Stoudemire) and Hakeem Olajuwon.
Tommy: You are playing with one of the game’s elite scorers in Carmelo Anthony, and a premier post defender in Tyson Chandler. You will be around veterans famed for their toughness, such as Metta World Peace and Kenyon Martin. How much do you think you can learn from your new teammates as you try to develop as an NBA player?
Jeremy: I can learn a lot like I have been. They have been in the game a while and they help a lot everyday and I feed off their positive projections.
Tommy: Eventually, we will get to know you as a player. But what do you want Knicks fans to learn about you now, as a person?
Jeremy: I am very family orientated and I’m extroverted and like it do a lot of things.
Tommy: Have you ever seen Mike Woodson smile? Be honest. It’s OK if you haven’t.
Jeremy: Yes. He smiles all the time. He’s a very happy and outgoing standup guy.
Tommy: Iman Shumpert and Metta World Peace have both dabbled in the rap game recently. Do you have what it takes when it comes to rap? Should one of your new teammates put you on a track?
Jeremy: Yes, I love music. I do music. Maybe one day we will all be on a track together. I can rap, but I prefer to sing and play the piano. I taught myself to play the piano while I was playing basketball in Japan.
Tommy: What advice do you have for young basketball players?
Jeremy: Always play and always have fun. But know that if you want to accomplish something big, you have to put in the work. As a young player you have to put even more work than any of the older players.
Tommy: What goals do you have for yourself as an NBA player?
Jeremy: To be an NBA All-Star and be an icon one day.
Tommy: Last question: You have shown that you can comfortably play either position, but do you view yourself as a Power Forward, or a Center?
Jeremy: I can play either. I am both. Wherever they need me, I am ready.
Special thanks to Jeremy and to his media manager, Leslie Strauss.
It was fun while it lasted, guys. But what does this mean for the Knicks, and the NBA as a whole?
1. The guys at NBA 2K are going to HATE Iman Shumpert. Last year, Shump revealed his fresh new hairstyle JUST after the guys over at 2K had finalized their game, meaning that the Shumpert seen in the video game would not look like Shumpert in real life. This year, they finally put Shump’s flat-top in the recently-released NBA 2K14, and now…. it’s gone. Expect to see Shumpert demoted to a 55 overall in the next roster update.
2. Shumpert is much more aerodynamic. The flat-top created a ton of air resistance. Expect this new, clean-shaven style to solidify the Knicks’ spot amongst the NBA’s elite.
Earlier this week, I reached out to Metta World Peace’s brother Daniel Artest, asking if I could ask him a few questions, and he kindly agreed. Daniel Artest is a former basketball player himself, having played some college and semi-pro ball until 2012. Born 3 years to the day after his eccentric All-Star brother, Artest is certainly an outspoken character himself. But he is definitely down to earth. As Daniel puts it in his twitter bio, he is “just a man with an unlimited iPhone data plan and an opinion.” After doing this interview, I can conclude that the two apples fell approximately 3 inches from each other. Here is what Daniel Artest had to say in his interview with New York Knicks Memes.
Tommy, New York Knicks Memes: Hi, Mr. Artest. Thanks for agreeing to do this interview with New York Knicks Memes. Let’s start with the name. Your brother recently changed his name from “Ron Artest” to “Metta World Peace”. Was it just for fun? Does he expect his family members to refer to him as “Metta”? Does he expect people who work for him to refer to him as “Mr. World Peace”?
Daniel Artest, Metta’s Brother: He doesn’t mind being called “Ron” in public. I call him “Ron”. People who work for him calls him “Metta”. I guess it depends on the person.
Tommy: Growing up with “Ron”, one of the most outgoing guys in the league, what was that like?
Artest: Growing up with Ron was just your average brother relationship but we rarely got into disagreements. I just followed him to his basketball games back then. He had a name hooping and I looked up to that. Even to this day I look up to my brother.
Tommy: As we know, you played a bit of ball yourself. How close were your pickup games with Ron? Did you ever win?
Artest: Ron was physical but we both can say I was the more physical one. I won my fair share of games. I was really good at basketball before I got hurt. I can still play now. Just can’t jump as high.
Tommy: Was he as physical in the backyard as he is on the NBA court?
Artest: We are from Queensbridge. We had no backyard man. We hood!!!
Tommy: You guys were all born in New York, and Ron grew up a Knicks fan. Emotionally, what was the experience like for him and for the family when the Knicks passed on him in the 1999 NBA Draft, one pick before he was taken by Chicago?
Artest: I was 16 years old at the time. I wasn’t thinking about what team he got picked up by. We as a family was just happy he was in that fortunate position to live his dream.
Tommy: Things did work out in the end. Ron is a Knick now. Did you all see this coming once he was let go by the Lakers? What does it mean for Ron and the family for him to be playing his home games a subway ride away from where he grew up as a kid? Other than location, what were the other factors in his decision to join the Knicks?
Artest: I honestly thought the Clippers was the team he was going to end up with. Me personally as a Spurs fan… I tried and failed to get him to San Antonio. I guess the NYC factor was the main factor. And he wants to [beat] Miami to get that title.
Tommy: Going back to the earlier days of his career, Ron let his explosive nature get the best of him at times, most notably on November 19, 2004. How much of a setback was the brawl for Ron… how tough was it for him to overcome the consequences of his actions that night?
Artest: I figured you was going to ask about the brawl. I praised Ron for his actions. At the end of the day. NBA or not… You are human. If you threw something in my face… I’m sure I’d react the same way. People, especially media, makes it seem like just because you make millions you’re supposed to deal with actions of jerk fans like John Green. I bet if I threw juice in David Stern face… He would probably attack me too. I’d beat his ass though. [Laughs]
Tommy: It is clear that Ron has changed since he jumped into the stands. Aside from one incident a couple years ago, he has learned to harness his energy and toughness and use them to become a dominant defensive player in the NBA, while keeping his emotions under control. What did Ron have to do to turn things around?
Artest: I’m proud of his change, but I miss the edge he played with. Not saying he’s soft now… But players aren’t as scared as they used to be. I want that Ron back.
Tommy: Ron finally won an NBA championship in 2010 with the Lakers… he even hit the series-clinching shot. Obviously, winning a title is the main goal for any athlete. What did it mean for you when your brother became an NBA champion?
Artest: It was cool. As a fan you are happy when your team win a championship but to experience it firsthand and being around Ron during the ups and downs… I was overcome with emotion. I’m glad he can say he’s a champion.
Tommy: What do you see Ron doing for the Knicks this season? Obviously, his prime years are a bit behind him, but he has shown that he can still be a very impactful player, especially on defense. What do you see his role being on the team? What do you see the Knicks as a whole doing this season?
Artest: Ron will do the little things that makes a big difference. He may not score 20-30 points no more but y’all Knicks fans will understand his left hand. I won’t explain it. You’ll have to see for yourself.
Tommy: What is the craziest Ron story you have that you think you are allowed to tell us?
Artest: I wasn’t cleared to tell that story. [Laughs]. But other than that. Ron really didn’t have crazy moments. That’s just media blowing things up.
Tommy: Thank you for your time, Mr. Artest.