Slamadamonth, SLAM #74: Steve Francis

Originally published in SLAM 74

The word came down to Steve Francis from above: the big guy is gonna be running things in H-Town next year. It was not Yao Ming who decreed this—it didn’t come from quite that high above—but from new Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy. Pat Ewing’s old coach saw the 7-5 man in the middle, and realized that in order for Houston to not have a problem, Yao would have to be given the rock. Often. Getting touches off of Franchise and Cat misses just wasn’t going to be enough anymore.

Now understand, Stevie is a team player. Always has been. But he’s also averaged 20 ppg over the course of his four-year career—and he’s never had trouble getting to the rack. Well, that can all get tossed out the window. It’s kind of hard to get into the paint when it’s full of 7-5 center (who you’re supposed to be giving the ball to anyway). So, what to do? Take out any lingering frustrations—and make your point—in an offseason charity game, of course.

The Wheelchair Charities presents the New York All-Star Classic at MSG is always one of the best games of the year, with president Mark Jackson, vice president Kenny Smith, and committee members Ron Artest and Stephen Marbury delivering a star-studded cast. This year was no different, as Franchise was joined by Kenyon Martin, Alonzo Mourning, Sam Cassell and Nick Van Exel, whose presence left Stevie free to do what he does best, one last time.

Russ Bengtson