Links: Live From New York…

by Lang Whitaker

OK, first of all, let’s pick some winners for our Gunnin’ For That #1 Spot DVD/t-shirt contest. I read through all the entries and I’m going with: Miguel Rodriguez, Homie, Eboy, Carlos Rhodes, and Dwyane. I’ll be getting at you guys in the next week or so to get your addresses. Thanks to everyone for entering.

• Got another thing to plug here: Our man Joel Kimmel, the official illustrator of The Links, has released a book of all his NBA Friday drawings, and he’s calling it Portraits In the Paint. Joel blessed me with a copy and it’s really fresh. It’s dope for the coffee table or just to have around the crib, and it would make a great gift for any NBA fans out there. For more info, check it out here.

• Linkstigator Jared emailed with a great Separated At Birth:

Sup, Lang. Someone on /sp/ pointed out how striking the resemblance between Al Horford and Nien Nunb. I got a kick out of it and thought you might like it. Also wanted to say thanks and keep up the good work; absolutely love SLAM and The Links.

Thanks, Jared. I had to look up who Nien Nunb is, but man if you aren’t correct.

• I went to the Knicks game last night, but I left at halftime, when the Knicks were down by a staggering 58-34. (As I told Russ and Sherman when I left early, it’s the preseason for me, too.)

As we walked to the press room at halftime, the PA announcer yelled out that they were about to have a halfcourt shot contest. “Your first contestant,” he blared, “all the way from Italy…”

And Russ and I finished the sentence in unison: “Danilo Galinari!” We were wrong, but it would’ve been nice to see him on the court at The Garden.

Watching the same Knicks players who spent all of last season methodically throwing the ball into the post to Eddy Curry instead playing D’Antoni ball last night was simply jarring. It reminded me of playing NBA Live or NBA 2K with a team other than the Suns but trying to make them play like the Suns — running, passing, getting up as many shots as possible, etc. It’s fun to do for about a quarter or so, but then you start missing shots, and you fall behind and you realize there’s no possible way your team can play like the Suns and actually score as many points, which, or course, was the entire point of playing like the Suns played.

Before the game I hit the locker rooms. The Boston locker room was pretty empty, except for Kevin Garnett, who loved the new covers, and my main man Tony Allen, who was remarkably subdued.

The Knicks locker room was a lot more lively than in years past, I suppose because the Isiah era hath come to an end. I spent some time talking with Nate Robinson about his hometown Seahawks’ problems with their receiving corps, when someone came over and told Nate that earlier in the day the Kings had cut Bobby Jones, who played with Nate at the University of Washington. Nate was devastated by this news and immediately suggested the Knicks should sign Jones. Sitting to my right was Patrick Ewing Jr., who is fighting for his life for the final roster spot on the Knicks. When Nate Dogg said the Knicks should sign Jones, Junior Ewing didn’t say anything, but I imagined a voice in his head saying, “Um, no, no we shouldn’t sign anyone else. We’re good just the ways things are right now.”

But the truth is, these Knicks as they’re constructed right now are not a good fit for D’Antoni’s style of play. What made Phoenix so amazing was Steve Nash’s ability to penetrate, draw defenders and then kick the ball to open teammates. The closest thing to that the Knicks have is Stephon Marbury (honest), but the Knicks are using Steph in odd positions — he started at small forward last night. Nate loves to shoot but he can’t get to the basket and get his shot off. Jamal Crawford never drives to the rim. And we haven’t even touched on the Knicks lacking anyone resembling a big man.

Right now D’Antoni’s trying to squeeze a bunch of square pegs into his offense. And it ain’t fitting.

(BTW, I know Steve Nash is under contract for two more seasons in Phoenix, but you know which coach he’s experienced the most success under? And do you know where Steve lives in the summers? D’Antoni and New York City are your answers, respectively. I’m just saying…)

And check out Sherman’s game notes here.

Finally and completely unrelated to anything, if you have problems with this sort of thing, here’s your answer (via Gawker)…

Let’s hit The Links…

“The flying dog, or whatever that’s called? No, I’m not good at it.” — Roger Mason Jr., on Gregg Popovich having the team do yoga together.

This is a heckuva story.

• Nearly a decade ago, Stephen Jackson was barely hanging on to the NBA and was scratching his way onto the Nets. Now he’s working without an agent and negotiating his own contract extension directly with the Warriors president. Chris Mullin must love not being involved in that.

• I have no doubt whatsoever that any beef between Josh Smith and Mike Woodson was a joke. But I’ll let everyone else out there say they hate each other, blah, blah, blah.

• Luckily for Blazers fans, apparently Rudy Fernandez is the greatest basketball player who ever lived. Is this story for real?

• Good stuff from Houston about a kid (he’s 26!) named Sachin Gupta, who used to work for ESPN, where he invented the trade machine, who went to work for the Rockets. How did ESPN get scooped on this story?

• Finally, let’s give a shoutout to the retiring Elmer Bennett, the former Notre Dame PG who had a legendary career in Europe. When I went over to Barcelona to do the Ricky Rubio story last year, Elmer was playing on Juventud with Ricky. My main man Pat Burke got me touch with Elmer and we exchanged some text messages while I was over there, but we never ended up hooking up. He made himself into a superstar in Europe, and I regret we never gave him proper love in SLAM. But here’s just a little bit, and hopefully this helps make up for it.