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Rough...but Ready?
Jack McCallum
February 01, 1993
The hardscrabble New York Knicks are still Patrick Ewing's team, which may—or may not—allow them to earn the NBA title
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February 01, 1993

Rough...but Ready?

The hardscrabble New York Knicks are still Patrick Ewing's team, which may—or may not—allow them to earn the NBA title

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The New York Knicks, led by one of the NBA's most outstanding centers, are the only true title threat to the Chicago Bulls this season.

The Knicks might be able to contend for the championship if they would stop throwing the ball to that stiff-kneed, one-dimensional seven-footer in the middle.

The Knicks play the toughest defense in the NBA, and defense wins titles these days.

The Knicks don't have two guys who can throw the ball into the Hudson River, let alone score in the clutch against a real team. They'll be lucky to get out of the first round of the playoffs.

The Knicks are an intelligent bunch of players who know how to win.

The Knicks are a collection of thugs whose team symbol should be a tire iron.

The Knicks' president, Dave Checketts, and their coach, Pat Riley, did an outstanding job of turning a solid roster into a championship roster.

The Knicks' brass gutted a promising team and acquired a bunch of old stiffs.

Yes, the Knicks are up, they're down, they're all around the town. They've been scrutinized more than Amy Fisher, and the season, like Amy, is still young. They're good enough to beat the Bulls by 37 points (112-75) at Madison Square Garden but bad enough to lose to the mediocre Los Angeles Clippers, also at the Garden. They've got the NBA's best defense, holding foes to 93.3 points a game through last week, and one of the league's worst offenses (98.4 points, 26th among the 27 NBA teams). They collect flagrant fouls like dogs collect fleas—forwards Charles Oakley and Anthony Mason, both aptly named, had seven flagrant fouls between them—and some observers see the Knicks as calculating offenders who use intimidation as a psychological ploy. Truth be told, with New York's record at 24-14 at week's end, no one is quite sure what the Knicks are—including the Knicks.

"I look at us and see a puzzle," says veteran point guard Glenn (Doc) Rivers, one of seven new faces on the 1992-93 roster. "I picture a little kid sitting on the floor with all these pieces, and he has to figure out where they go. All the pieces are there, though. And that's what sets us apart from a lot of others."

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