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September mailbag, part two: David Fizdale, the point guard scrum and the sexiest Knicks of all time

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You know damn well which one you’re most excited about.

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2019 FIBA World Cup - Third Place Game: France v Australia Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images

Part one of the September mailbag delved mostly into Karl-Anthony Towns, which became a delve into whether Carmelo Anthony was better in 2011 than KAT is now. We also talked a bit about which Knick player from the past 10 years we’d wanna add to this season’s squad. That led me to offer y’all a question: what’s the greatest single season any Knick player has had? Carmelo Anthony’s 2014? Patrick Ewing’s 1990? Bernard King’s 1984? Micheal Ray Richardon’s 1980? Willis Reed’s 1970? Walt Frazier’s 1970? Check the stats if you want, but remember I am a lover of narrative over numbers. If you’re partial to Amar’e Stoudemire’s 2011, don’t sweat the pocket protector brigade shouting you down. I got your back.

Let’s get to part two.

1) Can you name five current NBA head coaches that would give you less confidence than [David Fizdale]?

— felinequickness

Yes.

Luke Walton

For a sliver of time after finishing my first grad school studies, I lived in Wilmington, North Carolina. I subletted an apartment near downtown Wilmington until it turned out the girl renting it to me was actually renting me her boyfriend’s apartment. And he was in the military, stationed in Iraq. And she had dumped him and not told him she was renting his apartment to me. Didn’t end well. Not the point.

The apartment was STUNNING. Cathedral ceilings. Fully furnished, including a twelve-piece leather sectional. Jacuzzi tub — not a regular tub with some jets. A full-ass jacuzzi in the master bathroom. The kitchen island was literally bigger than some actual islands. Perhaps most exciting to me, at the time: the washer and dryer were neatly stacked in a closet. I just opened a door and there they were. Having always worked with washer/dryer sets housed in dank, dark Bastille-like basements, this was sick. The apartment was $350 a month. For everything.

One day I sat in the living room, smoking a bowl, thinking “This is a cosmic oversight. I don’t belong here. Like, someone belongs here. But not me.” Shortly thereafter a sheriff showed up to notify me I had to pack up immediately and leave. I think of that time when I see Luke Walton on an NBA sideline. Walton was Golden State’s interim head coach for the first half of the 2015-16 season while Steve Kerr recovered from offseason back surgery. The Warriors got off to a 24-0 start and were 39-4 when Kerr returned, en route to their record 73-win season.

I don’t know how much credit Walton deserves. I don’t know how much blame he deserves for what the Lakers became during his three years at the helm. I don’t know what Sacramento sees in him that they didn’t see in Dave Joerger, whose reward for leading the Kings to their most wins since 2006 was a pink slip. I do know Walton’s career record has him 50 games below .500, that Fizdale is 49 under, and that lineage and skin color are why Walton could fail in Sacramento and still get a third crack somewhere else. You think Fiz is getting another go If the Knicks finish 27-55 and fire him in May?

Ryan Saunders

Until proven otherwise, the Minnesota Timberwolves are Madison Hotels and Ryan Saunders is Billy Madison.

Jim Boylen

As much as the Knicks struggled last season, a season that featured a 7-48 stretch, there were never issues with any player not nicknamed “Penis Cancer” publicly griping. Values show their value when times are tough. So I have more faith in Fiz than a coach whose first week on the job led to this:

“Saturday night’s 133-77 loss to the Celtics was followed with another set of pointed postgame comments by Boylen and the promise of another grueling practice session Sunday — this one after back-to-back games. Those events led to a tipping point that could either lead to positive results down the road or a complete mess of a season.

That grueling practice never took place Sunday because the Bulls players discussed a boycott of practice, multiple sources told The Athletic. Veteran players spent Saturday night trying to talk Boylen out of a Sunday session, sources said, and when their pleas were rejected, they began bouncing around other ideas in a team-wide group text.

The texts started Saturday night and carried into Sunday morning. One idea that had significant support, according to sources, was the players simply not showing up to the Advocate Center on Sunday. A preliminary plan was to gather at one player’s house and wait for the phones to begin buzzing...Another idea discussed centered on players walking into the practice facility Sunday morning as a unified group before turning and immediately walking out.”

James Borrego

I don’t trust Borrego more than Fizdale for two reasons. First, Charlotte hired him. Which means Michael Jordan hired him. You remember Jerome Jordan? Saw some time with the 2012 Knicks? Jerome Jordan the ballplayer > Michael Jordan the owner. Second, you know the Evil Kermit meme? That’s Borrego and David Schwimmer.

Those are actually both D-Schwim. Still, truth is truth.

Freddie Stubbs

Freddie Stubbs is the Grizzlies’ head coach. Did you know that? I didn’t. Here are some other facts about Stubbs you may not know:

— He earned a B.S. in Economics from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School.

— His wife’s name is Chantall.

— He gained his first 15 minutes of fame in last year’s playoffs, when as a Milwaukee assistant he single-handedly prevented the Bucks’ pacifist, fully-seated bench from stepping onto the floor during a non-fight.

— Stubbs’ first head-coaching gig was leading the D-League’s Austin Toros in 2012-13.

— Freddie Stubbs is actually the given name of the character Rerun on the old sitcom What’s Happening!!, one of the first TV shows I remember. The big man could move.

The Grizzlies’ real head coach is named Taylor Jenkins; the bio stuff above is all his story. If you’ve read this far, you now know as much about him as 99% of basketball fans. I don’t distrust the man. But I’m not putting him above Fizdale.

2) Can you give a breakdown of the point guard position going into the season? What does each of the four (four!) candidates bring?...Has Frank’s FIBA play changed the odds?

— home made pizza?

OVERVIEW: The position is not a position of strength. This has been the overview for 40 years.

WHAT DO THEY BRING: Dennis Smith Jr. and Frank Ntilikina bring hope. Elfriid Payton can do a few things, sometimes, which by Knick point guard standards is acceptable. Kadeem Allen brings defense and smiles a lot. These traits are also welcome.

The hope is that a year from now Smith and Ntilikina are established players, ideally both starters, that Payton enjoyed his time in New York and is happy wherever life leads him next, and that Allen has either cemented a spot as the Knicks’ emergency back-up point or a spot with another NBA team. Smith has as much offensive potential as any young Knick guard in 15 years. Ntilikina’s performance in FIBA is hopefully parallel to how Rudy Gobert used the tournament as a springboard in 2014. We’ll have much more on this question at P&T as the season nears, but I’m sure if the Knicks had their druthers, assuming Trump hasn’t slapped a tariff on druthers making them prohibitively expensive, it’s DSJ and Frank by a country mile ahead of Payton and Allen.

3) Why is Emmanuel Mudiay...your favorite Knick of all-time?

[The] Pelicans call you up and offer Brandon Ingram for Dennis Smith Jr. and the 2023 protected Dallas pick. Do you do it?

— The Ghost of Kristaps Past

I spent a lot of my childhood and young adulthood hearing and thinking about potential, and the potential wasting of that potential. Anytime I see someone who was hyped and then stumbled pull themselves up, my heart opens. Ever since I wrote the Mudiay KTP piece before the 2015 draft and learned more about this life story, including surviving charlatans like Deion Sanders and Larry Brown, I’ve rooted for him. And he’s not my favorite Knick ever. That’s still this guy.

I come close to agreeing to the Ingram deal. But I still have faith in Knox and DSJ, and Ingram’s health issues are a big red flag. No dice.

4) Because of similarity in either playing style, name, appearance, draft class/position, what two players (excluding brothers) do you always mistake for the other?

— Walt Clyde Phraser

My fiancee would tell you I’m much better at remembering numbers than almost anything else, especially complaints she’s made over and over. I asked her to share what annoys her the most about me. I asked this while she was filling out super-important medical forms for our daughter and calculating critical financial information for our family, so she was succinct and somewhat bothered (which I find to be her sexiest state). So what bothers her most about moi?*

  1. “Stop walking through the fucking wet grass with your dog and tracking it through the goddamned house.”
  2. “Stop trimming your mustache in a way that causes lacerations when we kiss.”
  3. “Anything. Everything.”

*I already forgot what the initial question I asked her was. So she spent five minutes actually considering what I asked, only to come out and have me change it up. Twice.

As for WCP’s actual question: when Langston Galloway was here, I always initially thought he was Raymond Felton. The most jarring mix-up? Seeing a Knick in No. 20, associating that with Allan Houston (who could shoot from anywhere), then realizing it was Jared Jeffries (who couldn’t shoot from anywhere).

Here’s a trivia question to flip this game: before Patrick Ewing wore 33, another Knick wore it, a Knick who’s in the Hall of Fame and who wore a different number that’s also up in the Garden rafters. Who was he?

5) Are Melo fans the dumbest fans in the world? Let’s say you’ve got Sopranos fans at A+ intelligence and MCU fans at F-. Where do they rank?

— James Marceda

6) Top five all-time hottest Knicks?

— AJ_in_VA

AJ always scratches right where I itch. I’m only going to cover the players I actually saw enough to register, so this list only runs back to 1990. First a few honorable mentions, before we go in ascending order of sexy.

HONORABLE MENTION: Brian Quinnett

NBAE via Getty Images

Quinnett reminds me of a boy I met in 7th grade science class. This boy was the first boy that made me realize I could “Ooooh...” about boys. A few years later, in high school, we played on the same baseball team. He was a starting pitcher and I played first base. My dad coached the team that year; teams were assembled via a draft, basically, and he didn’t know any of the kids in the league, so when we had our first pick he asked me who to select. There were many better players. I picked this boy. Our team stunk, and he wasn’t a very good pitcher. In a playoff game, with a runner on second, this boy threw a pickoff. To first base. Where no one was. Still, I never regretted choosing him first.

HONORABLE MENTION: Nazr Mohammed

I don’t know why the Knicks trading Mohammed for Malik Rose and a couple of draft picks has always bothered me so much, especially since one of those picks later became David Lee. I was absolutely furious when the deal went down, and whenever I’m reminded of it I get what feels irrationally angry. Taking another look at Nazr now, maybe that anger is reasonable.

HONORABLE MENTION: Qyntel Woods

Woods didn’t do it for me at all when he suited up for the Knicks in 2005-06. But I’m a water sign, and my libido is equally fluid. There’s something about the right touch of gray on Q’s beard that puts the “OK!” in Koszalin.

Now, your sexified honorees:

5. Dennis Smith Jr.

Not this DSJ:

This one.

Look at that look. I’m dreaming of a 360, and it’s got nothing to do with slam dunks.

4. Allan Houston

When Houston first signed with the Knicks and took free throws, I was enraptured with his face. Is it super symmetrical? I don’t care. I was stunned by how beautiful I found him. Look at that photo. Sweet Jesus.

3. Alexey Shved

I’ve mentioned lefty Eastern European guards are my kink more than once. Shved hits a lot of right spots for me. He pleases my ego by looking slightly reminiscent of what I looked like at 16.

But lo! Even as he matures, he retains a certain sexy je ne sais quoi.

And completing the trifecta, he even sates my lifelong love for androgyny. Whether this is an NBA or WNBA player, with a baseline this bonita you just can’t go wrong.

2. Maurice Ndour

Whatever he’s about to cry about, I can and will make it better.

1. Frank Ntilikina

No words need apply.

Sports Illustrated

Stay thirsty, my friends.