Archive for the ‘Knicks’ Category

Enter the Hengst: Malik, D-Lee, and The Rise of Small Bigs

July 9, 2008

When it came to writing my first official post for Blogjammin, I found myself choosing a topic that is very dear to my heart: Undersized Power Forwards [The Garbagemen! — ed.].

As far as I’m concerned, hustle is more than a skill, its a habit. Hustle is a way of life. David Banner knows this. So does Rick Ross. But I’ll tell you who really knows this better than anyone in the NBA: Malik Rose. He has the distinction of being one of my favorite players of all time, and his hustle earned him a very un-Spurs like salary of 7 years and $42 million.

Any Spurs fan can tell you, we all thought he deserved it. We were insane for the guy. There were bobble heads and shirts, not to mention the number of Malik jerseys at most games rivaled the starters. When he was traded for Nazr Mohammed (a savvy move, I had to admit), local TV news ran weepy specials. It was like we traded an all-star.

But this is what happens in the NBA. We want the lunchpail guys, the guys we can relate to. During the NBA lockout, Malik was supposedly sleeping on the floor of his mother’s house in a Rugrats sleeping bag. Haven’t we all done that during our own respective professional lockouts?

Today, as Malik rides the pine for the Knicks and imparts Hustle Truisms, one who has probably caught his ear is David Lee. Lee’s value to that often miserable franchise can’t be overstated. Seemingly no one else cares like he does. And for this sole reason, Knick fans are blinded to his real value.

Scan the comments on any Knicks draft story, and you’ll find that New York fans refuse to trade him for anything. Danilo Gallinari was probably booed in relation to his potential to supplant Lee. I can probably admit that Lee is not worth max money or even may not be more than a great sixth man, but as a proud fantasy owner, I say: screw Gallinari.

As long as there are spiritless rosters filled with Starbury’s and Darius Miles-type guys, the fans will always be hungry for their polar opposites. If you check out the top 50 rebounders of last year, you will see plenty of big names like Stoudemire, Howard, KG, and Duncan. But you will also see David Lee, and guys like Nick Collison, Paul Milsap and Chuck Hayes. You can ask Matty what their +/- means to a successful team.

What I have to say is that, fantasy stats or real ones, I celebrate the Hustle Guy, the Energy Guy. They help win championships. Just ask Reid if he remembers Malik’s signature 25 point effort in Game 2 of the ’03 Spurs-Mavs series. Actually, I’m pretty sure that was taped over with the searing memory of Steve Kerr draining three after three. But Kerr never would’ve been in that position without Malik.

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