sportstapas
A little dishing on sports

Prison Break

Now that we’re old friends, I have a confession to make.  I’m writing from prison.   I was sentenced here in 1973.  I recognize that I wrote a whole long post about accountability just a few days ago, but my crime was not my fault.  I blame my older brother.  You see, I committed my crime when I was just four years old, goaded into it by my revered brother who insisted that doing it would make me feel great.  With all due respect to my brother, boy was he wrong.  I’ve rotted here for the last 36 years, struggling to maintain hope.  There were a couple of years in the mid-80’s when I thought my crime might have been worth it; then in 1994, it looked like I might be paroled.  But when you commit the heinous act that I have, you don’t really deserve mercy.  I had a remote chance for release in 1999, and it was quite a roller coaster ride, but ultimately it didn’t work out.  Since then, things have gone from bad to worse.  I’m older now, more jaded.  I’ve become institutionalized like Brooksie from The Shawshank Redemption – I don’t even know what I’d do if I got out.  Worse still, in 2003 my prison hired a warden who wrapped his fingers around the throat of hope and squeezed the life out of it.  He’s gone now, but it felt for a while like he took my capacity for optimism with him.

However, this weekend, for the first time in a long time, I had genuine pleasure within these prison walls.  It actually felt good to be a Knicks fan.  After 36 years in prison – 36 long years and counting without an NBA title — it’s not easy to recognize encouragement, but I felt it.  I know what you’re thinking; these guys are going nowhere fast and with the limited talent base, there’s no way Warden Donnie Walsh will be able to recruit top tier free agents around whom to build.  I’m not so sure anymore.  On Sunday, I watched David Lee, long a fan favorite because of his energy, rebounding and dexterity around the basket, but not really taken seriously around the league as a potential star, a reality he discovered this off-season as a restricted free agent.  He could have fashioned a nice career for himself as what he was – already the best player on a bad team.  But no, he took his rejection on the market as a personal challenge and worked on his game.  Now David Lee has a pretty reliable spot up 18 foot jumper and a developing low post game.  He’s becoming a guy you could see being the 3rd best player on a contender, right?  And Danilo Gallinari.  He spent his rookie year running around the court like an Italian Fred Sanford.  Only 20, though, and looking healthy again, we’re starting to see the fluid moves, court sense and flair that accompanied his dead eye shooting in Italy.  How good will he be?  I don’t know, but I’m encouraged.  And what about Wilson Chandler, a chiseled 6-8 silent killer, who has begun to showcase an all court game I didn’t know he had.  And what about Nate Robinson?  He was the best player on the court Friday, a guy who I knew was going to score every time he got the ball in the 4th quarter.  When was the last time you thought that way about a Knick?  If Coach D’Antoni can harness that young man’s talent, look out!

On Sunday, the Knicks crushed a hapless, tired, undermanned Pacer team, which probably shouldn’t be huge cause for celebration.  But this is the same squad that laid down for a 2 win Nets team a couple weeks back, so winning games they should win is a milestone.  Throw in the fact that the young blue chippers are just scratching the surface of their considerable skills and let me tell you, my Knick Prison is a slightly better place today than it was last week.

LeBron could win with these guys, couldn’t he?  D-Wade could win with these guys, couldn’t he?  Or am I just being…obtuse?

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