Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The Injustice of Iron Mike Tyson

Before Kid Dynamite went Kaboom and essentially detroyed a once all time great career, boxing historians, fans, and boxers alike were clamoring to predict where young Michael Gerard Tyson would place when he ended his promising career. The youngest boxer ever to win a heavyweight title at the age of 21, Tyson's reign was ended on a Februrary night in Tokyo at the ripe age of 23. By the age of 25 the faded Young ex-Champion was sent to prison a convicted rapist. The same experts that predicted greatness, were now predicting a erosion of skills due to the inactivty Tyson would experience from being incarcerated in a penile sysytem that had no boxing program. His record was still an amazing 37-1.
While Tyson was not the same fighter that showed the awsome abilty to throw four punch power combinations on a bob and weave counter, he still diplayed awesome power generated from his abilty to comand punching angles. Don King laid out a plan to get Tyson ranked and then lined up marginally talented boxers with the alphabet belts to get Mike Tyson back his two of the three titles he had held before his loss to James "Buster" Douglas in 1990. Tyson in his second title defense as Champion, was exposed as a unprepared fighter whose skills were greatly eroded. Tyson was defeated by Evander Holyfield, in a fight he lost more due to his time away from his proper training regime and time away from the ring. It would be Tyson's last fight as Heavyweight Champion of the world.
Tyson's career was then beset with streches of inactivity, suspensions, and a jail term over a traffic dispute. With his personal life deep in turmoil for over 10 years and Tyson openly taking multiple anti-depressents. The former Champ was a shell of former self. He would go one to fight for the Heavyweight title twice more getting disqualified for bitting Evander Holyfield's ear in a fight that was still up for grabs. Then at the age of 36, losing to Lennox Lewis by KO. Tyson looked like a old and out of shape impersonation of self-proclaimed "Baddest Man on the Planet".
The rest of Tyson's career was a global tour in which Tyson fought to pay back the Internal Renvenue Service for 22 million dollars in back taxes. After coming out strong against journeyman Danny Williams, Tyson tore the Medial Collateral Ligament in his knee midway in the first round. While most people after sufffering the injury to the ligament that pads the thigh bone from the shin bone in the knee would be unable to stand due to extreme pain and instability the injury causes, Tyson slugged out for 4 round until he could no loner defend himself and was knocked out.
Tyson in his return against Kevin McBride was so uninspired to train that he quit on his stool, after being ahead for 5 rounds. Tyson retired immediatly after the fight, claiming he had disrespected the sport he loved so much. His career record would stand at 50-6 with 44 KO's.

There are three ways Tyson is often observed:
1 The Boxing Historian- Generally a sports jounalist with a expertise in boxing or a Boxing novelist often rank Tyson far behind fighters like Joe Louis, Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier, Jack Dempsey, Evander Holyfield, Rocky Marciano, Lennox Lewis, and George Foreman. The great Boxing historian Bert Surgar has Mike Tyson ranked as the 100th greatest fighter of all-time, he also has Roy Jones Jr. as the 88th greatest fighter but that is a seperate crime. He points out that Mike Tyson's resume resembles that of Joe Louis' "Bum of The Month Club". You cannot fault a fight for the era that they fight in, they train to be the best fighter, period. Mike Tyson dominated his era, he beat every champion and top contender of his time in more than convincing fashion. the fighters that survived rounds with Iron Mike, more often lost the rounds on the scorecards. If Mike Tyson didnt knockout his opponant, he built up huge leads on scorecards to make the decision a forgone conclusion.
HBO boxing commentator Max Kellerman said of the young Mike Tyson "He had 9 quick title defenses before the of 23, you can't take anything away from him on that. It's pretty impressive."
The same Historians that consider Evander Holyfield a better fighter base it on these few factors;
A) The courage he displayed against bigger fighters, often going deep into battles with more natural heavy weights.- Holyfield had the amzing ability to counterpunch at heavyweight which made him dangerous, he made fighter pay for bad punches. He also was semi elusive that though he moved slightly side to side, he slipped his head when he threw punches, making him hard for the bigger fighters with lees boxing skills to find with their premenditated bombs. The slugfest that he got into were never adivised by his corner and were at times a act of desperation to win close fights. Holyfield was actual;lly most under control against Tyson, a fight in which he did little brawling and alot more combinations to clinching and pot-shoting (Punch and clinch).
B) What he accomplished in the ring- Evander Holyfield for the four times he has worn the Heavyweight Crown, has only 7 totla title defenses. Mike Tyson had 9 title defenses in his first go-around as heavyweight Champion of the world and 7 defenses ass the Unified Heavyweight Champion of the world. Holyfield's career record at Cruserweight and Heavyweight is 42-9, but only 24-9 as a heavyweight. Mike Tyson has more Knockouts in the Heavyweight division than Evander Holyfield has wins in his professional career. Holyfield also fought fighters that Tyson fought, often fairing better, but fighters were considered never the same after being hit by Tyson. Holyfield also lost to John Ruiz (who Tyson probably would have beaten had he not ducked Mike Tyson), Lennox Lewis ( He should've lost twice to Lewis had it not been judged by complete incompetant judges), and Riddick Bowe(The owner of one unsuccesfull title defense). Bowe gave alot of credibilty to the Warrior image that affectionaly given to Holyfield due to the size and power differnce Evander overcame in their wars. Bowe was simply not that good, he padded a nice record and then was unimpressive against the top contenders of his time, before eventually getting in top notch shape to squeek out a decision against the champion Evander Holfield. Holyfield won his title three times by beating fighters who took him lightly and didn't train right; James Buster Douglas (showed up for their fight at 246 lbs, 15 lbs heavier than his previous fight against Mike Tyson), Riddick Bowe ( was a very soft 246 lbs, 11lbs heavier than the lean 235lbs he weighed when he beat Holyfield), and Mike Tyson (weighed 5lbs above his regular fight weight of 217 and who was so eroded and fixed on fight for his third belt that he looked past Evander).
C) Holyfield is well-regarded for his conquering of Tyson in their first fight- While the recent fights in which Holyfield has shown a erosion of skills are often scratched for his record when spekaing of Holyfield, it is the bond that hold truth for theargument against Tyson. Holyfield will never be remebered for the fighter that was fighting to salvage his once championship career that November night in 1996 against Tyson. Holyfield is not remebered for his loss against Michael Moorer (Who made the larger jump from Light Heavyweight to Heavyweight) and two to Riddick Bowe. The second loss to Bowe was after Big daddy's skill had faded past the point they were even respectable on a championship level. Bowe soon showed this against Andrew "The Foul Pole" Golota in his next two fights by getting daved by the refereee from sheer dimination. The Fole Pole earned his name by losing both fights on low blows after dominating the faded champ.
Tyson on the other hand in his prime before the spit from his Cus D'Amato team of Kevin Rooney (trainer) Steve Lott (Assistant trainer), Jim Jacobs and Bill Cayton (Managers) had compiled a undefeated record 35-0 and was 14 wins away from tying Rocky marciano's heavyweight unbeaten streak. While Tyson won his next two fights, he was not the same fighter in his approach. New trainer Richie Giachetti, a Don King henchman, had Tyson utilizing a more straight up orthadox stance. No more was he fight out of the crouch bobbing and weaving, counter punching four punch combinations with "bad intentions". Tyson was now parrying punches (blocking with his gloves) and looking to land the one big punch. Tyson could still command angles better than anyone before him he was 6-1 between the split from his dream team to his incarceration.

2 The fan.
Fans who observed Mike Tyson are seperated by two generations; Fans who saw Ali fight and fans who were born after Ali's Era. Lucky for the modern fan Ali was on television and his accomplishments can be judged and disected by video. The fan of Ali will tell you Ali would have gracefully danced aroud the ring and peppered Tyson with jabs until Tyson faded and then surprised the tired champ with his unforseen power much as what he did to Sonny Liston. Muhammad Ali is generally regarded as the top heavyweight for his prime and his few losses during his prime are blamed on the inactivity during his suspension and a erosion of skills due to the lay off. He is excused for the losses to Ken Norton and Frazier because of this. If you do this for Ali then you have to do his for Tyson against Holyfield. Ali lost to Spinks in a fight a did not take serious most observers point to, other speculate Ali wanted to win the title a third time to pass Floyd Patterson as most time won Heavyweight title. Max Kellerman points out when determineing Ali's greatness that he fought George Foreman, Joe Frazier, and Sonny Liston six times. Any of those fighters are better fighters than most fighters fight in a career. Ali had a record of 5-1 in those fights. When Ali beat Foremaan to regaint the Heavyweight title, he then defended it 11 times.
This only pads Ali's resume, it does not mean he was better than Tyson in Tyson's prime or would've beat Tyson. What it shows is that Ali was the best fighter of the greatest modern Heavyweight era, and this can be stated by his record against the top fighters of the era.
The problem with comparing Tyson to Foreman, Liston and Frazier is that in his prime; Mike Tyson was simply a much better fighter than all three of them. This also does not dtermine what would have happened had Ali and Tyson fought in thier primes if they were in the same era.
Comparing Tyson to Ali's best opposition side by side is how Tyson would fare.
1)Against Frazier Tyson had more power, threw better combinationations, better defense and would have made quick work of him like his son due to the ability to match up against him like he did with Marvis Frazier. The 30 second KO of Marvis was no fluke, The Frazier style was tailor-made for Tyson and D'Amato knew it.
2) Foreman. against George Foreman Tyson would essentially be facing a similar fighter that he beat in Razor Ruddock. A tall, heavier punher albiet, but a stand still sluugger that was looking to walk his opponant down. Mike Tyson was the owner of a 23 inch neck, no single punch was going to knock out Mike Tyson fighting out of the Cus D'Amato peek-a-boo crouch stance. The Chin was tucked too deep. Tyson would have slipped and ducked Foremans bombs and tested a chin that was exposed way too often (ask Ali). Foreman did not punch correctly and would have never touch the defensive minded Tyson and would have paid for his wide punches with hooks to the body. Foreman was also 221lbs when he fought Ali, that would be considered small in Tyson's era.
3) Sonny Liston. SONNY LISTON WAS TOO SLOW. PERIOD. Tyson would have to be in a coma for Liston to hit him. If Liston couldnt hit a blind Ali, then he couldn't hit a weaving Tyson.
The problem with comparing Tyson to Joe Louis or any other fighter of the Stone Age Era (Before Ali) is that fightrers back then were more one demensional than any other era. Louis basically used his right hand to paqw the other fighter and set up his left hook. Tyson could punch with both hand so effectivly that he would dominate the stone age era on that ability alone. Louis fought a lesser degree of talent and was unimpressive inside the ring often getting knocked down or losing rounds before he finally landed that big left. While both are regareded for having fought in the Bum of The Month Club to pad their record, Tyson displyed awesome skills against what his era had to offer. Rocky Marciano is often compared to Tyson for his style of fighting out of the crouch and punch ferosity, but Marciano in his quest to 49-0 fought in only 3 title fights. Marciano at 6'0" and around 195 was too small for Tyson as were a lot of fighter in any past era.He also fought a 36 year old washed up Joe Louis. Marciano fought in the real Bum of the Month Club.
The so-called bum of the month club that Tyson beat were fighters that he fought to get a top ranking or fighters that held belts. After quickly disposing of these fighters, Tyson also would publicly diss' their skills as inferior, leading to perception he really was fighting bums. Against 1984 Superheavyweight Olympic Gold Medalist Tyrell Biggs, Tyson chose to punsh him, for 7 rounds beating him bloody, for winning a medal. Tyson wanted to beat all the Olympic fighters to prove he was the greatest and he should have been there though he lost to Henry Tillman in the qualifiers. Biggs was later regarded as a fighter who should've never been in the ring with Tyson, still at the time, the undefeated Biggs was considered the best shot to beat Tyson after Tyson's previous win. Tyson beat who ever was top ranked at the time during his era or whoever held a belt during his era. The 91 second demolition of Michael Spinks solitified Tyson as the most Brutal Champion of his era. Michael Spinks beat Hall of Fame Heavyweight champ Larry Holmes twice en route to his 31-0 record before the Atlantic City Massacre. Tyson would later say the look in Spinks' eye "didn't look too kosher" that night.
Most Mike Tyson fans either never saw Ali or saw him as a shell of his former self. regardless he is still considered immortal by all, including those who think Tyson was as great or greater in his skill set. Tyson fans are of biased opinion, that is fact. Tyson's 9 title defenses of his first reign also compare to ali no matter the opponant is also fact. The focus and dedication it takes to become Champion puts the top percentile of talented boxers over the edge from just being the elite to being Hall of Fame Champions. Tyson had that focus through 9 defenses and was able to regain it after prison under a lesser skill set. Ali was able to muster that focus and dedication twice in his career for long strecthes, Ali held the belt for 9 defenses before being stripped of the belt for not joining the military. Truly amazing.
Not to compare Ali and Iron Mike Tyson to decide the better fighter, but Tyson's title defenses put him in that company when you comsider his record and skill set (power, speed, defense, ring I.Q., counterpunching, intimidation factor, stamina,footwork,heart,preperation, focus, and training). They fought in different eras when fights were different lengths. Would the Superheavyweights of today be able to go 15 rounds like the fighter of Ali's era? Probably not. The fighters couldn't carry the extra weight into the 14th and 15th round without it taking a physical toll on their stamina. Tyson before his split from Kevin Rooney was still a very sound fighter deep into the 12th round in his few fights he had against James Smith, James Tillis, Mitch Green, and Tony Tucker.
It would be impossible to argue the number of times that Tyson won the title compared to Evander Holyfield and Ali, because Tyson was ducked by many champions he publically dismissed, he was suspended a few times and incarcerated during his career twice. had Tyson had as many shots or rematch clauses as other fighers he would have won the title more times. Tyson would have probably won his titles back from Douglas had he had a rematch clause to invoke. Then you test the chins of Michael Moorer, Riddick Bowe, and John Ruiz aganst Tyson's power and you have to assume he would have won another belt.
Tyson would have beat Foreman in his older years on by volume punching with power against Big George. Even at his best, the man who has sold the most electric grills, couldn't adecquetly guard his own grill.
The fighters that Tyson fought to rise to a quick top contender ranking were the usual tomato cazns that fighters pad their record with to get ranked. Unless the fighter is Pernell Whitiker and a few others, most management teams rpotect their young fighters from any danger in thier first 20 to 30 fights. Tyson fought for his first title in his 27th fight; which is right on par with any fighter with a knowledgable corner. No matter the opninion, the stradegy worked and the previous experience helped Tyson in his conquest of the alphabet belts.
3 The Fighter
Mike Tyson is most reveared by boxers around the world, from the once a week cardio fitness freak to the amatuer boxer to the professional boxers. Boxer's are drawn to Mike immediatly in envy over his power, Tyson's knockout punch was the ultimate exclamation point in sports. With the exception of Teddy Atlas, almost every trainer and ex fighter has high level of respect for Tyson for the the skill set he displayed in the ring.
Tyson was world renowned for his workout that he did in prepration for a fight. For 6 days a week Tyson ran 3 miles in the Catskill Mountains with a 50 lb vest. After the roadwork he rested for 3 hours and then ate oatmeal with a glass of OJ. He then did his 45 minutes of Jumping rope,45 minutes of Heavy Bag Work, and 45 minutes of speed bag work. Then Tyson had his Lunch of Pasta and/or Steak and OJ. Tyson did 10 rounds sparring without headgear on alternate days and worked on a slip bag ( a leather bag the size of a boxing glove that swings on a chain at the height of the fighters head)to master the art of illusion in the ring. Then Tyson did 30 minutes on a excercise bike. The floorwork that Tyson did daily was the most impressive of all. 500 shoulder shrugs with 20lb weights, 500 push-ups, 2500 sit ups with a 20lb weight on his chest and 500-800 dips. This was topped by a painful 10 minutes of neck exercises and another Steak and Pasta dinner with a glass of OJ. After dinner Tyson would ride the exercise bike for 30 minutes and then watch boxing films before going to bed to do this again.
These workouts wre ran with a military like percision in that Tyson was tought to do things within Cus D'Amato's systems of a punching number systems. Tyson was not only becoming a physical boxing machine, he was being taught to recognize how to throw combinations in all situations a fighter would encounter in the ring. His boxing I.Q. was off the charts for such a young fighter. Most fighters don't have the physical tools of a 21 year old with the mind of a ring veteran like Tyson had. This was most apparent after Tyson left jail and he went with the corner of Jay Bright (() fights outside of Tyson, was actulally a friend outside of boxing) and still regained the Heavyweight title.
While boxers such as Floyd Mayweather and Oscar DeLaHoya get HBO documentaries series to chronicale their intense training camp, it was Iron Mike that first garned attention of his era for his hard training. HBO first showed Tyson training often before his fights. While Mayweather smartly builds a uncanny marathon-esque training camps to buold stamina in preperation for a fight, Tyson was as fit with the explosive power never seen before in boxing. After his fight with Jesse Ferguson, he was asked how after 6 rounds he is not the slightest bit winded to which he responded that he wanted to strech it out to 12 and he was ready.
Boxers are also enamored with Tyson's ability to throw punches in bunces like a middleweight. Rarely has Boxing seen a fighter at 217lbs throw 4 punch combinations under one second. Tyson could flatten opponats with both hands. He had several Knockout combinations he used, the uppercut to left hook. Tyson often used the uppercut to throw the head back and follow with a brutal left hook. with his power this one was unstoppable. The Lefthook to the body and the hook to the head. Tyson used this after a jab, right combo and this was his deadliest, though later in his career opponants caught alot of elbows with this one, Tyson's hook to the body is not to be confused with a punch to score points.
Tyson in his earlier years was also a excellent defensive fighter for a heavyweight. He could slip jabs and straight rights and duck under and out of the way of power punches. He often came out of these illusive moves with a powerful two to four punch combination. Tyson worked hard on these moves, training rounds after rounds daily on the slip bag.
No fighter in recent memeory threw all their punches with the ability to maime the opponant. Tyson modelled this after watching Jack Dempsey. He threw his punches with what his camp called "bad Intentions", all of Tyson's punches were meant to knock out his opponants. With his style of bobbing and weaving out of the crouch and exploding out with power combinations in a style boxing historians hadn't seen in the modern era.
Mike Tyson was the fighter that influenced multiple fighters from champs to contenders and pretenders to enter the ring with the all black shorts and shoes. Tyson was so influential and charismatic that he grossed over $300 million in the ring. Mike Tyson was the top grosssing fighter in the history of boxing. That feat alone stands by itself atop of boxing. Mike Tyson also bookends the top earners list in sports between Michael Jordan's reign.
While Tyson did not accomplish enough to warrant the top slot in the all time boxing list or the top Heavyweight of all time, he certainly does not deserve to get dropped so low below fighters he was simply better than. During Kid Dynamite's reign he was certainly on of the top 5 pound for pound fighters of his era along with Roy Jones Jr. It is a injustice to consider Mike Tyson as a overhyped and over valued fighter. It is a crime to base Mike Tyson's place on his merits after his incarceration when his skills had so deteriorated from his championship form of 10 years earlier. If what Sugar Ray Robinson and Joe Louis did inside the ring to eat is all but forgotten about, If we coould forgive fighters like Roberto Duran for fighting past their prime and quiting, then we could forgive Iron Mike Tyson for letting Don King ruin the most promising heavyweight champion since Muhammad Ali. We could recognize Iron Mikle Tyson for his accomplishments during his reign as the Unified Heavyweight Champion of the World and his 7 defenses of the belts he unified. Tyson may be guilty of manny things he did outside the ring, but he is not guilty of being only the 14th best heauyweight of all time. If baseball stat-god and historian Bill James histically places value on a players peak and career to deterine value and give fans a understanding of the plyers value Iron Mike Tyson while flawed for career, in his peak was if not the greatest heavyweight then one of the greatest heavyweights. His career was also excellent at 50-6 with 44 Knockouts.

Monday, April 7, 2008

How to Fix the Knicks. A Blueprint for Donnie Walsh.

When the season ends and the James Dolans regime concludes another season of Unablevision's reign of mediocracy, Knick fans will look foward to a off-season of hope following the hiring of former Indiana Pacers executive Donnie Walsh. For many Knicks fans Walsh signals an end to the Isiah Thomas tragedy of 33rd street. The Knicks currently sit tied for 4th worst in the NBA with the Memphis Grizzlies as the season wraps up, assuring them the 4th most ping pong balls in the Michael Beasley (the Kansas State Freshman Foward) Sweepstakes.
While the Knicks do have a wealth of young talent and a a free-spending owner in James Dolan, they have spent a king's ransom to bring in, what has so far proven to be, a bad mix of players, unable to win together. Walsh must assess what to do at each position, and what roles he needs to fill and ewhat roiles the players he plans to keep will fill and what players to get rid of. While this task seems to be something the right basketball mind can fix, lets remeber only three years ago when it was thought that the addition of Eddy Curry, the three first round Picks in Channing Frye, Nate Robinson, and David Lee, under the teachings of Hall of Fame coach Larry Brown would put this franchise on the right path to a much coveted NBA Championship in New York.
It was only one year ago that Isiah "Zeke" Thomas was given a 4 year contract extension to run the Knicks sidelines and front office. Even with the Anuca Browne Sanders Sexual Harrassment case looming on Thomas and the Knicks organization, James Dolan had seen enough improvement that he felt warrented extending Thomas' contract.
Then the Knicks went 21-56( and counting), and everything not named Jamal Crawford fell apart. Hampered with the NBA's seconed largerst payroll(behind only Mark Cuban's Dallas Mavericks)and 58-plus loss season, change is needed throughout.
Former CBA coach and basketball author/journalist Charley Rosen of to mention the best basketball mind in print offers his fix the Nix in his column on the website.
"What do the Knicks need that they don't have?

A high-quality point guard, which immediately rules out Sebastian Telfair.
A rugged, defensive-oriented, rebound-hungry power forward.
A lively and creative small forward.
A savvy draft.
To make LeBron an offer he can't refuse when his rights are up for grabs."

Rosen's keep list includes Curry, Lee, Crawford, Robinson, Jared Jeffeies, Fred Jones, and Renaldo Balkman.
His maybe list consist of Randolph Morris, Mardy Collins, and Wilson Chandler.
Rosen's Must get rid of list includes Stephon Marbury, Jerome James, Zack Randolph (No surprise), Quentin Richardson, and Malik Rose to get younger.
While Rosen offers up great reasons why to retain and rid these players, it is worth examining each position to determine what to rid and retain to right the Knicks ship.

Fire Isiah!!! Those have roared thoughout the Garden since early in the Knicks season. While Thomas did coach the Indiana Pacers to the NBA playoffs for three straight years under Donnie Walsh, he lost the Knicks respect and attention in the Locker room after the team voted to bench Marbury during a west coast trip after he went home to New York before a game against the Pheonix Suns. The lack of command Thomas had from the moment he chose to ignore the vote he chose to give the team and start Marbury, doomed the 2007-08 season early on. Isiah must not return to the sidelines next year.
The luck for all Knicks fans is that Isiah has stated that he wants to honor his contract and would be willing to stay with the organization in any capacity that Donnie Walsh sees fitting. That role would be best suited as a high profile scout in charge of the draft. As a excutive Isiah Thomas is one of the best in the game at choosing players, as skill that many execs don't pocess. His record includes Marcus Camby, Tracy MacGrady, Damon Stoudomire, Trevor Ariza, Lee, Nate, Frye, Balkman, Collins, and Chandler. While most execs considered those picks a reach (except Camby) Thomas proved them all wrong.
Who to hire?
The canidates include: Herb Williams, Scott Skiles, Rick Carlisle, Mark Jackson, and dark horse Jaff Van Gundy.
While the popular choice is Jackson for his ties to the organization and hot name due to his greatness at the point guard positon, the right choice would be Carlisle. Skiles had a bad History with Curry and Crawford when they played for him in Chicago, that would give Walsh a harder task of getting rid of two more large contracts. The Knicks would be taking a huge gamble on Jackson who has no coaching experience at any level. The theory that he would make a natrual transition from borderline Hall of Fame point guard to coach holds a lot less weight when you remember that Isiah Thomas was a shoo-in Hall of Fame point gaurd who failed at coaching. The biggest difference are that Jax was a past first player the raised the value of his team with his leadership abilities and Zeke was a two time champion who carismatically contolled the locker room and ruled the Pistons with a iron fist.
Rick Carlisle on the other hand is a no nonsense coach, who has taken two teams to the NBA Eastern Conference finals in Detroit and Indiana. He turned the Pistons from draft lottery caliber to championship caliber. Carlisle is a proven winner at the coaching position and would be the best choice for the sideline outside of Phil Jackson and Gregg Popovich.

It is at the point Guard position that the nightmare begins for Walsh. The nightmare is not exactly Marbury, but more the role of Franchise Player. With the Knicks the role of the Franchise player is a Three Headed Monster; The Player they Think should be the Franchise Player (Eddy Curry), The Player they pay like a Franchise Player (Marbury at 19 million), and The Player that thinks they are the Franchise player because his former employer overpayed him at 13million (Randolph). The problem is that Randoplh and Curry are really not good enough for that role despite Curry's ability to score with a toe in the paint. Neither have ever embraced the team concept of sharing the ball equals slower double teams.
The enigma that is Stephon Marbury.
When looking at the talent and skills of Stephon Marbury, they scream FRANCHISE PLAYER.He has amazing handle and dribble ailities, and can pass the ball on a dime. Due to his strength and superior conditioning Marbury receives the inbound pass and get the ball above the timeline at will. Steph can choose to shoot,pass from the parimeter and curl around screens for a open shot, fake and drive, crossover and then hesistate and drive, or just stick his head down and power his drive past his man. Marbury is strong enough to withstand all contact he endures when he drives the ball to the basket and atletice enough to alter his plans when the defense rotates. He has the court vision to spot open men in a instant and executes a almost perfect Screen and Roll when given the partner to work with. Marbury also can deliver no assist passes and power his way back to quickly reset the offense when all options are defended good.
When Marbury is motivated, as he was during the 2006-07 season, Marbury fronts his man well on defense and stays in front of his man. His quick hands result in steals, but Marbury will tend to drift in the lanes. Under Isiah, Ron Artest would do the same. Marbury will be as physical with his man as the referee will allow, meaning he is not Greg Anthony, but you will not face him and shoot buckets after the game to refine your stroke with the energy you reserved. Steph at his worst tends to stray away from this nasty defense to charge his man on th eperimeter and watch as he is past for a edrive to the basket. In all Marbury due to his power offense game and physical defense is hell, with winning basketball being about creating mismatches, this guy is almost nightly a mismatch. Marbury is best defended by letting him get shot happy and not getting his teamates involved.
Marbury's issues are more to do with if he does not get his number called in the offense he will call it himself outside of the offense. Marbury is not suited for a strict offense where he is not the 1 or 1a option, he was lost under Larry Brown and will continue to only play for coaches who massage his massive superstar ego. Marbury also tends to overhandle the ball leading to unnessesary turnovers, that would be rid of by a good coach. Even during his best defensive games, Steph tends to deefend the screen and roll poorly by going under the pick and letting up long range jumpshot, or going over the pick and chasing his man on a drive. With his size and strength, it is a wonder why Marbury does not blast thurough the screen on a consistant basis. It would lead to a lower shooting percentage for his man and multiple away from the ball fouls giving Knick fans flashbacks of another New York Knicks number 3, John Starks. This can be fixed with a coach who belives in teaching in practices, like Larry Brown was supposed to be for the Knicks. These are tendencie that Steph has, he also will blast through screens in the 4th quater of close games making Knick fansclamour for more. Marbury also tends to sulk when not happy and will speak his mind to the press, even when he should just tote the company line. He is considered a cancer to chemistry due to this, even though he is the team captain and was the most respected player on the Knicks when he was healthy.The former NBA iron man at almost 5 season without missing a game, Steph has missed large parts of the last two seasons due to knee and ankle surgery.
To win with Steph, Marbury need defensive minded athletic shot blocking frontcourt player that can play the pick and roll and catch lead passes to the basket when Marbury gets fronted by a big man on a rotation. Marbury would also need a outside shooter and a passer from the post. A good available player would be Ron Artest who makes excellent passes out of the paint when all of his options toward the basket are defened. Artest would give the Knicks another perimeter defender to play alongside Marbury.
The problem with getting rid of Marbury, beside his skill and talent, is he is in the final year of his contract that pays him 21million. If the Knicks want any shot at getting Lebron James it starts here. The Knicks must get the 20 million a year they pay Marbury off the books. If they decide to retain Marbury after this season it must be for a lot less money and only for the short term (2010).
If the Knicks decide to keep Marbury, and talent at the Point Guard position is not in abudance around the NBA, they must suround him with players that he can suceed with. A small foward with a mid range jump-shot willing to operate the pick and roll and receive the ball in the post, A power foward that is defensive minded, athletic, and looks to set picks on offense, rebound on defense and rotate to protect the basket when the perimeter defender looses his man. This player should be able to hit the 8-12 foot jumper (15ft if they want Big Dolan $$$) and catch ally-oop passes from the Guards. A shot blocking Center to patrol the paint and contest lay-ups. A big man that rotates to scare any perimeter player on the offense driving the ball makes for a easier time for the perimeter defenders. In a perfect world the Knicks would get Ron Artest, Emeka Okafor, and Marcus Camby.
If the Knicks land a top pick in the 2008 NBA draft, then University of Memphis' Guard Derrick Rose would be the best choice for the Knicks. Compared to a stronger and slower Chris Paul, he would be a ideal replacement for Marbury. This would give the Knicks a lot more flexibilty with Marbury, now the Knicks would have a young elite point guard learning for a year while Steph's contract expires. If Rose shows enough to take over the helm at the point then you let Steph walk. If he is not ready for primetime, Steph's value would be diminished in the long term, but increased greatly on the Knicks in the very short term.
There is also no available free agent at the point better than Starbury, that would be willing to accept the Knicks only bargaining chip, the mid-level exemption.

In business, the most common practice to suceed is Sell when your commdity is high and buy when other commodites are low. With Stephon the Knicks would receive maybe ten cents on the dollar, if they were to take on a long term headache they could get sixty cents on the dollar. Marbury's talent and expiring contract almost command a even-up exchange. Can Marbury return to form after a season in which he had surgery to remove bone fragments from his ankle and on which the Knicks did not support him enough in his mind after his father Donald passed away from a heart attack suffered while attending a Knick game. The selling low only gets worse for the Knicks when the other heads of the monster emerge.

While the Knicks appear set with the 27 year old Jamal Crawford's breakout season of 21ppg, there is nothing of any value behind Crawford. If Crawford were to miss a chuck of games as he usually does every season, the Knicks are forced to use Fred Jones or Quentin Richardson. Fred Jones has never shown anything but amazing athleticism and solim defense for a player barely 6'4". He is too short for shooting guard on a regular basis and too inconsistant to be relyed on for valuable minutes.
Q-Rich has got to go!
Q-Rich has a bad back that limits him to around 50-60 games, he does not get along with his teammates. His vertical leap is inconsitant, and that is a main part of his game. Without Steve Nash, Richardson couldn't throw a rock in the ocean. But the biggest reason Richardson has got to go is he gets along with no one and is a coach killer.
Richardson didn't play for Larry Brown.
Richardson fought with Isiah Thomas, Zack Randolph, and anyone else.
Richardson was one player seen by Roy Jones Jr. in a 10 mintue visit to a Knicks practice as one of two players standing up his coach.
Q-Rich has got to go.
The right coach can get Jamal Crawford to play defense the right way as Larry Brown would say, fight through picks and curbing his lane diving; the way he played for Larry Brown. The problem is Jamal Crawford is so slight, he lacks the strength to effectively fight to picks on a consistant basis during a 82 game schedule and still be effective on the offensive end to pour in the more glamourous 20ppg stats. Playing basketball the right way does not show up in the stat sheet, thus negating getting players like Utah Jazz foward Matt Harpering the large contract.
The Knicks need a tall, pass first defensive mind guy off the bench to spell Jamal Crawford of some minutes. Is Mardy Collins that guy? they can wait and find out. One thing is certain, this guy must be found for relitivly cheap. The Knicks could also use a outside shooterin the Trenton Hassel mold to spell Crawford of minutes. Eddie House, and anyone else in the NBA who can consistanly hit the money ball please apply. If only Allan Houston could find the fountain of youth.
A long baller could easily stech the floor for the Knicks, who search their line-up for a lucky hand nightly. This would lead to less blown fourth quarter leads.

Get Ron Artest! While this is the Knicks deepest position when it comes to bodies, it happens to be the thinnest position when it comes to talent. Renaldo Balkman, Jared Jaffies, and Wilson Chandler all make for great guys to fill in on a bench unit. Jared Jeffries is a stud defender and the best on the current Knicks roster. He does not shoot the ball and move the ball on offense well by dribbling into the paint and passing out of the free-throw line. the Knicks play better when Jeffries gets his minutes, when getting over 20 minutes a game, Jeffries is a lockdown defender, who at 6'11" is impossible to drive around or shoot over.
Hustle is word most commonly used when describing Balkman, Often compared to a young Dennis Rodman, until he shows a old Dennis Rodman basketball I.Q. and defense/rebound prowlness, Balkman should be used as much as needed. 20 to 25 mpg.
Wilson Chandler has shown flashes of quality basketball. He has put up good point and rebound totals when given the minutes. he is still on his rookie contract which pays him in the million dollar per year range. Chandler as of now is a valuable commodity going into his second year. The 6'8" athlete must develop enough versitility and defense to crack the 12 man rotation though if the Knicks plan to keep Chandler. Chandler must be able to play and defend either both foward spots or the taller wing players.
Ron Artest would change the whole complextion of this team. You now add a legitimate low post scorer and passer. The Queens, New Yorek native would bring his lockdown, physical perimeter defense to a team that sorely needs guys stopped. He would make Marbury's defense much more threatning now with two physical guys on the wing. Artest would be able to stop the other teams best offesive player letting the easy defensive assignments trickle down. With a defensive/ rebound minded power foward that can block shots, the Knicks would be able to entertain keeping Eddy Curry. Artest would give the Knicks a nice group of defensive minded fowards, that a versitle enought to play the floor together as a stopper unit for short strecthes. With Marbury, Artest, Jefferies, and Balkman. the Knicks would be a shot blocker away from creating a effective defensive unit. You can plug in players such as Nate Robinson,David Lee and Jamal Crawford for more emphasis on there respective roles.
Offensivley Artest would give the Knicks a low post scorer and passer. Artest is so effective at passing out of the paint, he would remind the Knicks fans of Larry Johnson. He can make a pass for an assist or pass out to re-set the offense.
Artest, who refind his game on the playgrounds of the dangerous Queensbridge Housing project would also bring his swagger of a go to scorer when the game is on the line, something only the Knicks need in the post to complement Jamal Crawford. If Crawford is double teamed in the final seconds, Artest would welcome the ball in the paint for a last shot.
Artest also sets massive picks, has led the NBA in steals, and is a absolute massive mound of muscle at 6'7" and 260lbs. The fans at the Garden would cheer the return of the St. John University product, invoking memories of former New York bred former Knick defensive bully Anthony Mason (only on the perimeter and not in the paint).

The second head of the three headed monster emerges in Zach Randolph. This is the ugliest head of them all. Randolph might post better rebound numbers than Curry, but he gives absolutly no effort to fight for those rebounds. His height, ability and positon on the floor lead to these high rebound numbers. Randolph is a ball hog with no intrest in sharring with the four other guys on the floor with the same shirts on. He would much rather share with the five guys closer to him with the other color shirts.He is turnover prone.
Randolph also plays absolutly no defense, which combined with the Knicks weak perimeter defense makes for no last line of defense. Randolph makes no attempt to block any would be scorer, there is no defensive rotation. Randolph also does nothing without the ball, no picks, no movement. He will wait for the ball and then front his defender.
Randolph also does not get along with his teammates, coaches, or the salary cap for that matter.
So why with all the problems of Zach Randolph is David Lee sitting? Money. Randolph makes 13million a season compared to Lee's rookie contract extended. While Lee is better in all facets for the Knicks, he is a much more fluid offensive player with his passing, he rotates on defense, and anticpates plays much better, Lee is still a poor defender with a still raw scoring game. Lee is slightly undersized for the bigger fowards at 6'9", but can leap out the building and always gives a A effort.
If the Knicks can rid Randolph and get a player such as restricted free agent to be Emeka Okefor from the Charlotte Bobcats, Lee and Okefor would create a nice frontline rotation. Lee is best suited as a role player for rebounding. He can move a bigger defensive minded four to the five for short spurts, and even play the three for 5 to 7 minute spells.
Donnie Walsh need to find the second coming of Dale Davis, that would be Okefor. Walsh must make Okefor a offer the Cats can't refuse. WAlsh should also trade Randolph for a bottle of Murphy's Wood oil polish to clean the Garden floor; If only finding a taker for Z.Randolph would be that easy.

The third head has emerged.
The enigma that is Eddy Curry. The massive 6'11" near 300lb center for the Knicks. Curry can bull his way to get position, but turns the ball over in the slightest touch. He has a nice array of offensive post moves, but is way too prone to commit offensive fouls. He is that big but give you about 7 rebounds a game. he shoots 58% and scores 19 meaningless ppg at his best. Curry is 25 years old and still has time to show he can change, but at best Curry is a second option in todays NBA.
Donnie Walsh sees the center position as a defensive position, he envisions Tyson Chandler and Marcus Camby as the protoypical centers. The Knicks got the wrong Baby Bull big man when they traded for Curry. The Knicks also traded this player when they shipped Marcus Camby to Denver for Antonio McDyess.
Curry also cannot co-exist with Randolph, but does get along with his teammates and his lo-key demenor makes for a better teammate.
If the Knicks were to keep Eddy Curry, a talented backup would have to be acquired. Jason Collins would fit this mold nicely. While Collins is not the Shot Blocker savaant that would idealy fit this mold, Collins bullies his man around the paint, set massive picks and rebounds with authority. Collins can be had for the mid level if the market for him dosn't grow and he gets paid beyond his talent. Jerome James' services would have to be terminated.
The Knicks could also trade Curry for a role playing defensive minded Center like unrestricted free agent to be New Jersey Nets big-man Dasagna Diop, but they would have to back up this player again with a Collins type of backup.
The only solution for the Knicks here is to get bigger faster, more atheletic, and most important defensive minded. If Curry is to stick around, the Knicks must invest in teaching him how to play the Center position the proper way. They must send him to a big man camp every summer and hire Patrick Ewing to teach him during the season. Curry must show up in prime shape at about 260 lbs of muscle. Eddy Curry would also have to wake up and develop a fire to get the ball and do what ever it takes to win. If Curry does not have that commitment, then he must go.

Isiah built a solid bench in his tenure as President of the Knicks. Robinson, Jefferies, Lee, Balkman, Morris, Collins,Chandler, Jones and Malik Rose make for nice peices to a solid bench. The Knicks lack a outside scorer like a free agent to be Brent Barry and a playmaking point guard like Carlos DelFino. Guys to bring in a team first attitiude without commanding too many minutes from the starters, ROLE PLAYERS. It is also a must to sign these guys to short term contracts to breed competion to fill those rolls out of the young bench players. DeSagna Diop would fit nicely into the big man rotation and could eventually start but that is a luxury the Knicks might not be able to afford. If Thomas remains as a scout, there should be no worries in this department. The Knicks biggest bench problem is getting the right guys on the floor at the same time, and getting enough minutes for this many talented players. If the Knicks can add a talented long baller, this only becomes harder when these players heat up.

While the Knicks maintain they are looking at this with a plan for the next few years, the real year in mind is 2010, when Lebron James can be wined and dined at New York's finest Steakhouses and nightclubs. King James will never try to rescue the Knicks from any worse then they are now. It would be hard to imagine Donnie Walsh wooing Lebron with Zach Randolph, Quenton Richardson, and Eddy Curry.
Change is needed in this group.
The Knicks continue to show up the most out of shape and least prepared team in the NBA. They do not practice hard or effective. The New regime, starting with Donnie Walsh has got to change the routine the Knicks have become so accustomed to in practicing and preparing for a game.