Why did Lebron James sign with the Heat in 2010? It's easy now to say that Miami gave him the best chance to win, but at the time that wasn't the case. Sure the Heat had just re-signed Dwyane Wade and added Chris Bosh, but the rest of their roster was Carlos Arroyo, Joel Anthony, Mario Chalmers, and Dexter Pittman. Seriously, that was their entire roster. If the decision was solely about winning, Lebron would have chosen Chicago, where he could have teamed up with Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, Carlos Boozer, and Kyle Korver to form an unstoppable starting five. No, I don't think Lebron signed with Miami because he thought it gave him the best chance of winning a title. Instead, I truly believe he took his talents to South Beach because of the presence of one man: Pat Riley.
In the week leading up to The Decision, James took meetings with six different teams. The Knicks meeting was an unqualified disaster. It began with an old man in a wheelchair (Donnie Walsh, who had just had surgery) giving a presentation about how playing for the Knicks would help Lebron's brand, and ended with James Dolan handing his band's CD to Lebron and his representatives. On the other hand, Lebron's meeting with the Heat was no more or less than a three hour discussion between James and Riley about how Lebron would help Miami as a basketball team. There was no entertainment, no talk of brand and no nonsense; just an intense basketball discussion between the best player in NBA and one of the most respected minds in the NBA. It was this meeting that prompted Lebron to sign with Miami. The Knicks meeting involved a Sopranos cameo and the Nets brought Jay-Z, but no suitor could match the basketball star power of Pat Riley.
On Tuesday, the Knicks introduced Phil Jackson as the new President of the franchise. While the move has been hailed as a major step in the right direction, there are a few naysayers. After all, Jackson has never worked in a front office before and there is zero evidence that he understands the newfangled analytics by which great general managers like R.C. Buford, Daryl Morey and Sam Presti have built contenders. Well I can tell all you Knicks fans that you need not worry. It doesn't matter if Jackson ever learns what PER stands for or what True Shooting Percentage means. All that matters is that he is one of the few men who can match the presence that Pat Riley had when wooing Lebron James four years ago. The best of the best will want to play for Phil Jackson, and as we've seen in Miami, once a superstar comes aboard, a championship-level supporting cast is quick to follow.
Player of the Week - Tim Hardaway Jr.
Hardaway had his worst shooting day of his young NBA career on Wednesday, when he went 0-7 in the six point win over the Pacers. How does this make him better than his father and Kobe Bryant? Well he's certainly better than his father, who holds the NBA record by shooting 0-17 from the field in one game. On the other hand, Kobe has never shot more than 4 times in a game without making a FG. The last time he was 0-4: March 15, 2013, in a...six point win over the Pacers! In this instance, Tim Hardaway Jr. is not better than Kobe Bryant, but there's no shame in matching Kobe's output.
The three previous games were much kinder to Hardaway. THJR was 9-13 for 28 points against Philly, 7-11 for 22 points vs. Boston, and 8-12 for 20 points against Milwaukee. In doing so, he became the first Eastern Conference reserve to score at least 20 points while shooting at least .636 from the field in three straight games in almost thirty years. The last player to accomplish this feat was Ricky Pierce, in November of 1986. Hardaway also joined Eddy Curry as the only Knicks since Ewing to shoot over 60% and score at least 20 in three straight games.
Side note: I seem to mention Curry's name nearly every week. With the way his tenure in NY ended, it's easy to forget that there was a stretch when Knicks fans were clamoring for him to make the all-star team. He couldn't play defense or stay in shape, but for at least part of his Knicks tenure, Curry wasn't the disaster that we all seen to recall, especially since he provided this moment:
Opposing Players of the Week - Henry Sims, Kris Humphries, Zaza Pachulia, Roy Hibbert
The Knicks are on a roll right now, so I'm going to use this segment to highlight the futility of the Knicks opponents, as opposed to their accomplishments. Henry Sims, Kris Humphries, Zaza Pachulia, and Roy Hibbert are the last four opposing starting centers against the intimidating duo of Tyson Chandler and Cole Aldrich. All four players failed to grab more than five rebounds in their respective games against NY. It is the first time that the Knicks have held four consecutive opposing starting centers to five rebounds or fewer since November of 2010. The opposing centers back then: Darko Milicic (four rebounds), Brad Miller (three), Nene Hilario (five), and Samuel Dalembert (three).
Bluecheese's Rambling Stat of the Week - (WARNING! May not end in a coherent thought)
Tim Hardaway Jr, Carmelo Anthony, Amare Stoudemire, and J.R. Smith all scored at least 22 points against the 76ers last Monday. It was the first time four players all scored at least 22 points in one game against the 76ers since April 18, 1997, when David Wesley, Antoine Walker, Marty Conlon, and Todd Day all did it in a Celtics 119-113 win. It would be another nine years before an Eastern Conference team won a game 119-113, when the Sixers beat the Wizards by that score on March 3, 2006. Allen Iverson had 47 points and 12 assists for Phildelphia that night. Since then, only one other player has reached both those numbers in a game. On March 9, 2009, Dwyane Wade had 48 and 12 to help the Heat beat the Bulls 130-127 in double OT. The next Bulls double OT game came nearly a year later, on January 15, 2010, a 121-119 win over the Wizards. In another game that night, the Knicks lost to the Raptors 112-104. The Knicks had 29 three point attempts and 5 steals in that game. The next time the Knicks had exactly 29 three point attempts and 5 steals came almost exactly a year later, in a 131-125 loss to Utah on January 12, 2011. The four leading scorers for the Knicks that night, Shawne Williams, Raymond Felton, Bill Walker, and Amare Stoudemire, all had at least 22 points. It was the last time four different Knicks had ever scored at least 22 points in one game...until Tim Hardaway Jr, Carmelo Anthony, Amare Stoudemire, and J.R. Smith all did it against the 76ers last Monday!
Last Week in Jared Jeffries History
On March 15, 2001, Jeffries was held to just 9 points on 4-10 shooting as his 4th seeded Indiana Hoosiers were upset in the first round of the NCAA tournament by 13th seeded Kent State. The Golden Flashes were led by 6'1 guard Trevor Huffman, who scored 24 points in the 77-73 win. Two years later, Huffman was a member of the Knicks Summer League team, where he played well enough to earn a training camp invite by the Phoenix Suns. Huffman currently plays pro ball in France, where he is teammates with former Knick center Mouhamed Sene.
Last Week in Jared Jeffries Shot Tracker History
On March 18, 2013, Kurt Thomas helped the Knicks snap a four game losing streak with some gritty bench play. The win, forever known as the Kurt Thomas Game, was the start of a thirteen game winning streak that propelled the Knicks to the number two seed in the East. After the game it was revealed the Thomas had played on a severely injured foot. He never played again. In honor of his heroics, the JJST Memorial Fun Fact of the Night was briefly renamed:
Movie of the Week - The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
There cannot possibly be a more apt movie title to Phil Jackson's return to the Knicks. Us fans can only hope that the Zen Master will work his magic and soon add yet another ring to his already massive collection.