Archive for New York Knicks

PTRW #868 JERRY KRAUSE

Posted in Jerry Krause with tags , , , on February 3, 2015 by hoopscoach

On the Triangle Offense:

“It’s really hard to run the triangle with bad players because most bad players don’t understand the game. You’re not going to win with bad players running any system. But with the triangle you particularly have to have intelligent players who can be patient. And I’m not talking about math intelligence. I’m talking about basketball intelligence.”

PTRW #836 DEREK FISHER

Posted in Derek Fisher with tags , on December 25, 2014 by hoopscoach

“Winning seems like it’s so far removed from where we are, but it’s really not. It’s easy for us to forget that. When you only see the success part of people’s journey, you forget about days they experienced before success. Before you get into position of success, you have failed and made mistakes. The ones who are winning and successful still keep their chin up and work through this. Other people give up. We’re talking about not giving up and becoming a winner. Even though we’re not there now, we will be if we don’t give up on the process. Whether succeeding or not, trying to bring mindset to each day to find ways to get better on what you’re doing. That’s challenging in the face of struggle. I think the guys have done a good job of that — honestly. We’ve been competitive. That just doesn’t mean we’ve gotten wins. In this business that’s the final result is whether you won or lost, you got to get wins in order to feel better on what we’re doing.’’

PTRW #763 THANASIS ANTETOKOUNMPO

Posted in Thanasis Antetokounmpo with tags on November 6, 2014 by hoopscoach

“I can bring a good attitude, good work ethic, be a good teammate, be a good defensive player.”

PTRW #757 DEREK FISHER

Posted in Derek Fisher with tags on November 2, 2014 by hoopscoach

“We’re becoming a team that’s committed to being a team first. We’re not going to be focused on how to make things work just for certain guys.”

PTRW #749 CARMELO ANTHONY

Posted in Carmelo Anthony with tags on October 30, 2014 by hoopscoach

After a Knicks opening night, home loss to the Chicago Bulls, 104-80. 

“We have to ask ourselves about effort. We got to get better bringing energy.

BACK PEDAL: BILL RIESER

Posted in Artie Green, Basketball, Bill Rieser, Earl "The Goat" Manigault, East Harlem, Foul: The Connie Hawkins Story, Herman the Helicopter, Julius Erving, Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Schoolyard, Sidney Moncrief, Stan Dinner, Vincent Malozzi, White Jesus with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 11, 2014 by hoopscoach

Back in the day in my early 20’s I played on a travel basketball team, Brooklyn USA. My guy Ziggy ran the team and would gather up basketball players from around New York City.  We would compete in summer leagues, tournaments and there were times we played in State prisons against the inmates. The prisoners loved us. 

On a hot Saturday afternoon in July, we had a game at Rucker Park.  As we sat on an empty, uptown D-train headed to Rucker, Ziggy was telling me the guys he had coming to the game.  While he ran off the names, I recognized all of them except for one; Billy Rieser.

“Who’s Billy Rieser?” I asked Ziggy as our train pulled into 125th street.

“You never heard of White Jesus?” 

“Nope…”

Ziggy didn’t bother to explain. 

Well after two hours at Rucker, where we lost the game, I headed back to Brooklyn knowing all about Billy Rieser.

I recently caught up with Billy and asked him about his life of growing up in East Harlem, basketball and his life today. Here is part one of my four-part interview.

Bill Rieser dunking

When and where did you first start playing basketball? 

I remember playing in the 5th grade at the Boys Club in East Harlem. I played on my first team in the 6th grade for Our Lady of Mount Carmel. I recall playing at a high level out-playing everyone and scoring at will.

My 6th grade teacher gave me my first book to read and it was, Foul: The Connie Hawkins Story. He became one of my first idols and someone I tried to emulate.

(Editor’s Note: I too read ‘Foul’ when I was a kid. I highly recommend it, it’s one of the best books I have ever read.)

What do you recall about that first experience with the game of basketball?

I fell in love with the game of basketball and knew early on what it meant to dominate games and humiliate my opponents.

I remember playing in the 8th grade championship game at the PAL gym downtown and putting on a dunking exhibition during warm-ups on the lay-up line. I imagine it was quite the surprise to see a six-foot nothing white kid who thought he was Connie Hawkins play like that.

We won the game before the jump-ball.

As time went on, I grew four more inches to 6’4″ but never had big hands required to palm a basketball the way I wanted.

I had strong thick hands but short fingers. My forty-four inch vertical and speed made up for my height and small hands.

I learned how to tomahawk a basketball with two hands with a ferocity in addition to learning how to cup a basketball between my hand and forearm. This made for some really hard dunks over people as I learned by watching the Hawkins, Julius Erving, Herman “Helicopter” Knowings and Earl “The Goat” Manigault (who went to my high school, Benjamin Franklin).

The bar was raised and the example was set for how I wanted to play by studying how all these players graced us with their remarkable basketball skills.

What was your high school experience like on the basketball court? What are some of your favorite memories?

High School basketball for me was all about being patient for two years until I transferred from St. Agnes Boys High School on 44th street and Grand Central Station to Ben Franklin; which happened to be located in my neighborhood.

Word on the street was Ben Franklin was making a comeback.  There was a buzz around the city about our team and this kid (Billy Rieser) who had respect on the asphalt and ran with some of the best in Harlem.

I remember stepping on the court for my first practice and the gym was packed with people wanting to see me.  I was blown away by how a different culture than my own loved and adored me and my game.

All I knew was to play hard, not even realizing that we were the hottest basketball ticket in town.

The first significant moment on the court was against Taft at City College. Taft had someone who went by “Cornbread” and a guy named Artie Green.

The gym was packed and before the opening tip I told my point guard that I was going to out-jump Cornbread and tip the ball to him.

“When you get the ball hand it off to me and I will thrown it down to get us off on a good start,” were my exact words.

I won the tip and the ball was handed off to me while Cornbread was guarding me. I remember not even making a move, just driving toward the basket from the left side of the court. I took off with Cornbread on me and in one of those moments you wished they had caught on film I took off in the air and can remember being so high above the rim that my eyes looked down and I threw down a two-handed  “Sidney Moncrief” type-dunk over Cornbread.

(Editor’s note: For all who are unaware of a Sidney Moncrief dunk, it’s a two-handed, tomahawk. The day Billy and I played together at Rucker, he threw down the Moncrief)

Then something happened that I never expected. A block party broke out on the court and I was swarmed by people celebrating; It was over, we won the game on that play.

Despite the dunk, I didn’t have a great game.

I rarely dunked the ball on breakaway lay-ups because for me, every dunk had to have a purpose and the purpose of a dunk was to throw it down on somebody and humiliate them.

I can remember throwing it down so hard on people my wrists would bleed. Vincent Malozzi, a New York Times writer and the author of “Asphalt Gods” called me the “hardest dunking white boy in the history of New York City.”

My most memorable game was a loss that devastated me at the time but looking back on the game it might have been my best game ever. We played against Morris at Madison Square Garden.  I was matched up against my good friend David Crosby. David was a slick, tall, power forward who had me by three inches.

For me this game meant the world to play on the court where my Knicks played.

I was a huge Knicks fan and here we were about to play on the Garden floor right before the Knicks were to play.  The Knicks had guys like Walt Frazier, Dave DeBusschere and Willis Reed. DeBusschere wore number twenty-two, which also happened to be my number.

My teammates got caught up in the moment and did not play their best game. As a result I hardly touched the ball.

But if there was ever an equivalent of having a perfect game, that would be the game. I don’t recall missing a shot that night and scoring 36 points on moves I never knew I had.

I had one of those “in the zone” type-games where I could have scored 70 points if I had the touches.

I remember hitting bank shots from tweny-five feet out and going off the dribble past my man David but he and Morris got the best of us that day even though I had one of my best games ever.

One other game worth mentioning is when we played Lehman in the Bronx. I remember this game vividly because I was in so much pain. My knee shut down with a case of tendonitis. I was in bad shape.

I could hardly walk but nothing could keep me off the court in those days.

I had nothing through the first three quarters of the game.  We found ourselves trailing by a lot. My coach, Stan Dinner broke his foot at halftime kicking some weights during his half-time tirade and speech.

We got down by 25 points early in the fourth quarter; I was in excruciating pain. As I pressed on, thinking I could not move an inch, all of a sudden the pain left my knee and during the next six minutes my teammates knew I was back.

I took over with a barrage of dunks and blocked shots. I scored our last 26 points of the game.  We won the game by one as I swatted a lay-up off the rim at the buzzer.

(Editor’s Note: Clearly a game for the magazine, Basketball Digest: “The Game I’ll Never Forget.”)

Looking back on those days, it was amazing to me how basketball created an opportunity for me to be a central figure in a different culture.

(NEXT UP: DECIDING ON A COLLEGE )

BROOKLYN’S IN THE HOUSE

Posted in Basketball with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 2, 2012 by hoopscoach

The year was 1970, I was six-years-old living in Brooklyn, New York. It was the first time I fell in love; in love with the New York Knickerbockers.

That was forty-two years ago. It was also the year the Knicks won their first of two NBA championships.

How can a young boy growing up in the schoolyards of Brooklyn not be affected by the way the Knicks played the game?

“The New York Knicks in 1970 had a team that a college coach could take his team to see and say, ‘now there’s the way the game is supposed to be played,” said the late Pete Newell.

Walt Frazier, Bill Bradley, Willis Reed, Phil Jackson and Dave Debusschere were together for both titles and all likable guys.  The Knicks hit the open man, defended well and played the right way. Red Holzman was the head coach who made it all happen. Red’s assistant coach was Danny Whelan, he was their team trainer.

In 1973 the Knicks had a starting five that all came from non-high major colleges: Frazier (Southern Illinois), Earl Monroe (Winston-Salem), Bradley (Princeton), Debusschere (U of Detroit), Reed (Grambling). I’m not sure you will ever see that again.

The Knicks were a team dedicated to one common purpose: Winning a championship!

It’s now 2012 and there’s a new kid on the block. The Brooklyn Nets will begin play this season on Flatbush and Atlantic Avenues. Some of my friends, who USED to be Knicks fans have switched over and will begin to root for the Nets and they have asked me to join them. It must be noted that some have said to stick it out and be loyal.

I have a tough decision to make, I know.  Do I hang with the Knicks or change my allegiance and go with the Nets?

As a kid I watched the Knicks on television and listened to the games on the radio. Marv Albert doing the play-by-play alongside Cal Ramsey who handled the analysis. I can’t forget the night while watching the Knicks play in Phoenix where Suns guard Ron Lee crashed into the press table after diving after a loose ball and spilled soda all over Cal’s new sport jacket.

The Nets of the 70’s were a fun team to watch. The ABA had the red, white and blue ball and the three-point shot. They had the dunk contest and some really cool team nicknames. The Nets had Julius Erving, Larry Kenon, Brian Taylor, ‘Supa’ John Willamson and the ‘Whopper’, Billy Paultz. They were coached by one of my favorites of all-time, Kevin Loughery. His favorite play was ‘LA 23′. In 1976, the Nets defeated the Denver Nuggets in the final championship before the merger.

On Christmas night in 1976 I attended my first Knicks home game; I was 12.  My older brother and I sat in the red seats just a few feet from the court. It was Erving’s first season as a member of the Philadelphia 76ers after coming over from the Nets. Philadelphia, behind Brooklyn native Lloyd Free led the Sixers with 30 points leading them to the 105-104 win. I rode the ‘A’ and ‘F’ trains back to Brooklyn heartbroken.

Brooklyn has always been a great place for basketball. Back in the day the schoolyards were filled with outstanding players.  You could find a good run almost anywhere. High school basketball both the CHSAA and PSAL in Brooklyn was king. Outdoor summer league action was also very popular.

In 1978 the Knicks drafted Micheal Ray Richardson, an unknown, but very talented point guard from the University of Montana.  ‘Sugar’ quickly became my favorite player. I loved the way he defended and shared the ball. In the schoolyard I would emulate his game; including the “over-the-head” finger roll on a lay-up.

In 1982, after four seasons that saw the Knicks make the playoffs just once (losing to the Bulls 2-0) Sugar was gone; traded to Golden State. I was bitter for a short time but something positive came out of the trade; New York received Brooklyn native Bernard King.

Hubie Brown was the new Knicks head coach. The energetic, hard-working, passionate coach got the Knicks to the Eastern Conference semi-finals in his first season. Scraping up money to attend as many home games as possible was the norm for me. Reading about my team every single morning in the New York Post, New York Daily News and the New York Newsday; I became an expert. I also came around to embrace Hubie and even memorized his legendary “POWER RIGHT” call on offense.

Scrounging up loose change to buy Basketball Digest each month kept me up on not only the Knicks but the entire league. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Pete Vecsey of the Post providing the best coverage around the league.

As a teen, my love for the game was growing. I began to feel like an expert by taking notice of other players and teams. I became a huge NBA fan, I was so into it that I could tell you where every player attended college.

My life-long friend Glenn and I went to the Garden on Christmas night in 1984. MSG was sold out. “This place is electric,” he said as we watched both teams warm-up.  King dropped 60 on the Nets. Little do people realize the Nets won the game and Michael Ray, playing for the Nets scored 36 points, including 24 in the second half.

While Sugar was a member of the Nets, I loved watching them play too. I would catch a bus at Port Authority and make the short trip over to the Meadowlands. At first there was no stop for the arena, I was left off at the racetrack and had to walk through the grass and the mud to get to the game.

One night I missed the bus back to the city and Darryl Dawkins gave me a lift.

The highlight of 1984 came when the Nets upset the defending champs Philadelphia 76ers in the first round of the Eastern conference play-offs. Before the series Erving announced, “You might as well mail in the stats.”  OK Doc, whatever! That’s why we play the games.

The Nets won the series (3-2) and beat the Sixers in the fifth and deciding game on the road at the Spectrum. The place was stunned; as well as the rest of the league.

After Knicks home games we would wait outside the Garden for the players to get autographs and try to get their sneakers. One night we walked with Hubie from the Garden to the parking lot across the street where he kept his car. Hubie had a stat sheet in one hand, a can of diet soda in the other, a black leather bag over his shoulder. He talked to us like we were his coaching staff.

One season I attended 39 of the 41 home games at the Garden. You could use your high school student I.D. card to get half off of a ticket. We bought a ticket for $8, sat in the blue seats but snuck down after each quarter. By the fourth quarter we were sitting behind the Knicks bench. Being a die-hard hoops fan cost me my first girlfriend too. I put the Knicks ahead of a wonderful girl. Big mistake.

During the 80’s, (one the best decades of pro basketball) the NBA scheduled pre-season doubleheader exhibition games at the Garden; 6PM and 8PM. It was there, in 1986 that I first caught a glimpse of a future Hall of Famer, Dennis Rodman. The ‘Worm’ minus the tattoo’s and body piercings was a rookie with the Detroit Pistons in the six o’clock game. There were about 400 people in the stands.

This year’s Knicks squad has gone back to an “experience” philosophy with guys like Jason Kidd (39), Kurt Thomas (39), Rasheed Wallace (38), Pablo Prigioni (35) and Marcus Camby (38).

I lived through Pat Riley, who came on board in 1991. Riley brought a different brand of basketball than the one he used in LA. Instead of the fast-breaking, up-tempo style, Riley came in with the “tough-guy” approach. The Knicks had guys like Charles Oakley, Xavier McDaniel, Anthony Mason and Greg Anthony to provide the muscle. They battled every night.

Riley coached the Knicks for four seasons reaching the finals in 1994.  Assistant coach Jeff Van Gundy took over after Riley left.  JVG is a grinder, one of the hardest working guys in the profession. Five years later the Knicks made it to the finals against the San Antonio Spurs (the strike season). New York’s regular season record was 27-23. But they came up short in the finals four games to one.

Things have not been the same since.

Lenny Wilkins, Don Nelson, Herb Williams, Larry Brown and Isiah Thomas all tried to bring the glory days back to the Garden. Since Holzman stepped down in 1982, the Knicks have had 16 head coaches.

The Nets made it to the NBA finals twice (2002 and 2003) only to find themselves on the losing end. It’s been five years since they have tasted the play-offs.

Mike D’Antoni arrived in New York in 2008. His uptempo style called “.07 seconds or less” in Phoenix was met with mixed emotions in the Big Apple. Some said that style was only good for the regular season and would not work in the playoffs. D’Antoni was gone after three and half years, making the playoffs just once.

D’Antoni gave Jeremy Lin a chance last SEASON. Lin brought excitement to the Garden. The Harvard graduate who was cut by three teams, played in the D-League and was sitting at the end of the Knicks bench when D’Antoni called his number. In 35 games, Lin scored 14 points per game and dished out 6.2 assists per game. Lin wound up getting hurt and missed the last part of the season, including the playoffs. No offense to Carmelo Anthony, but Lin was by far the most popular Knicks player.

This past summer the Houston Rockets (a team that cut him last year) signed him; the Knicks refused to match the offer. Fans were ticked off, including me. When I think back to the Knicks of the early 70’s, Lin is the one player who would fit in rather nicely with them.

The past twelve years the Knicks have been difficult to watch. They have not won a playoff series during this stretch. From 2001 to 2010 they managed to make the post-season just once! This is NEW YORK CITY…THE MECCA OF BASKETBALL!

A few months ago Phil Jackson was interviewed on HBO’s, Real Sports. The former Net and Knickerbocker said of the Knicks “the pieces do not fit.”

I have been with the Knicks for a long time. I have a chance to switch teams.

Athletes file for free-agency and leave their team, right? Why can’t fans switch teams?

Here’s the deal; I’m a basketball guy, not a fanatic that dresses up in a jersey, attends games and screams like crazy. I don’t call into sports talk radio shows and place blame on the coach for the team’s loss.  I coach high school basketball and enjoy players that play the right way. I don’t live and die with the Knicks results anymore. I think it’s great that Brooklyn has a team to call their own. It’s also fantastic that New York City now has two NBA teams.

I welcome the Nets to Brooklyn with open arms and will still keep a close eye on the Knicks.

From this day on… I will root for both teams!

Yes, you read that right.  I will cheer for both New York basketball teams. (On nights they play each other, I will sit back, relax and enjoy the game.)

So good luck to both the Nets and Knicks. I hope to see you both in the Eastern conference finals someday.

-Coach Steve Finamore

HOOPS135@HOTMAIL.COM

TWITTER: @CoachFinamore

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 39 other followers