"The finest trick of the devil is to persuade you that he does not exist. The second-finest trick of the devil is to resurrect washed-up former Knicks, give them a new name, and make them useful contributors for the Miami Heat."
- Charles Baudelaire
Pat Riley has haunted the New York Knicks for the past two decades, and from the look of things, he will continue to do so for another century. Not only did he beat New York to the punch in trading for Goran Dragic (I'm happy the Knicks kept the assets, mind you -- I'm just saying), he has started targeting players from the very bowels of Knicks history.
You may have already heard the story of Henry Walker, the inspiring D-League call-up who helped Miami get to overtime with two clutch three-pointers on Wednesday night:
If that guy looks familiar to you, it's because he used to be Bill Walker, of the New York Knickerbockers basketball club. According to the South Florida Sun Sentinel, the artist formerly known as started using his middle name last year: "I'm just trying to mature and just trying to grow up, trying to change the perception about me."
Change the perception about me. Make no mistake, folks -- Pat Riley is behind this 100 percent. He's tried trolling the Knicks before by signing cast-offs like Toney Douglas and Josh Harrellson, but was always thwarted by the fact that players cast off by the Knicks tend to be horrible. (Shawne Williams was pretty good before getting traded to Phoenix, I suppose) What Riley needed -- and what Walker needed as well -- was to remove the stink of Knicks brand from the player...and that can only be done with a name change.
Bill Walker? Ew, he played for the Knicks. No thanks! Henry Walker? Sounds like a good kid; I bet he can help our second unit.
And Riley is far from finished here. We here at the P&T investigation department have learned that Riles intends to field an entire bench unit of former Knicks under new monikers. Here is the lineup:
SG -- Henry Walker
Bill was never terrible for the Knicks -- particularly by the standards we've become used to -- but when you get the chance to sign a stud like Dan Gadzuric for the playoff run, sometimes sacrifices have to be made.
Leading up to this week, Walker hadn't played an NBA game since 2012, so it certainly should be a heartwarming story. On the other hand...Pat Riley.
SF -- Leonardo Balkman
If you check the official D-League website and wander over to the "Prospect Watch" list you will stumble upon an old friend around the No. 25 mark: Renaldo Balkman. Our old friend Humpty has been doing work for the Texas Legends.
Like Walker, Humpty was waived during the 2011-12 season. The Knicks signed J.R. Smith in his place -- certainly a momentous move in recent history, as they eventually flipped J.R. for the dynamic duo of Lance Thomas and Lou Amundson.
Personally, I feel good for Leonardo. His public image took a bit of a hit during that unfortunate "getting banned from Filipino basketball for choking a guy" incident. If anyone could use a new name, it's him.
C -- Jehoshaphat Jones
Honestly, I'm not quite sure where former Knick Solomon Jones went after getting waived by the Bulls in October. But Riley knows...oh yes, Riley knows.
Of all the kings of Israel and Judah, there was only one with a name more bad-ass than Solomon, and that was the mighty Jehoshaphat. A center with a name like Jehoshaphat Jones could melt steel girders with laser beams from his eyes.
PG -- Buli Ma
...or, if you prefer the traditional Chinese nomenclature, Ma Buli.
I first stumbled upon Mr. Ma last summer in Beijing, where he was playing for the Shougang Ducks. The man is something of a national hero, so I was surprised to learn he supposedly had ties to the Knicks organization. You ever see this guy before?
Nope. Doesn't ring a bell.
PF -- Mortimer Morris
Randolph Morris was supposed to be this tremendous find when he first came to New York, but he crashed out of the league after four uninspiring seasons.
In hindsight, it was to be expected. The Knicks have a checkered history with the name Randolph (see: Randolph, Zach and Randolph, Anthony).
If Morris is to make his NBA comeback, he'll need a better name. And what better name to pick than Mortimer? Trading Places fans will remember him as the smarter of the Duke brothers -- doing his best to corner the frozen concentrated orange juice market while that idiot Randolph was worrying about Nobel prizes.
America is the land of second chances. No player should be forever bound by the stigma of playing for the New York Knicks. Personally, I wish Henry, Leonardo, Jehoshaphat, Buli and Mortimer the best of luck.