Nineteen Nineties Knicks icon John Starks takes a shot at some playoff Q&A with Post columnist Steve Serby.
Q: What do you want finest about this Knicks workforce?
A: I like their struggle and their grit. It simply form of jogs my memory of the groups within the ’90s that I used to be on, the way in which that they’re scrapping for each single win … having a pacesetter like Julius [Randle], who is really coming into his personal this 12 months, clearly. And then to have veteran guys like Derrick Rose, Taj Gibson, these guys who’ve been via the battles … been via the wars with Thibs [coach Tom Thibodeau] in Chicago. It simply makes for a tighter workforce. I feel it represents New York in an enormous approach, the way in which that they go on the market and play each single evening, they usually play exhausting. It’s simply thrilling simply to observe them battle each single evening.
Q: What impresses you in regards to the enhancements Randle has made this season?
A: I feel he got here again this 12 months on a mission to show himself. His conditioning was an entire lot higher this 12 months. He was in a position to maintain huge minutes, and that claims loads about him and his dedication to get higher. And the enjoyment that he performs the sport with, I really like essentially the most, and his teammates have been feeding off of him.
Q: What do you keep in mind about your first playoff video games?
A: Just anxious (chuckle). Just the joy figuring out that you just’re within the playoffs, figuring out that it’s a do-or-die scenario, and also you need to play your finest basketball. Once the playoffs come, it’s a must to take your sport to a different degree. You acquired the most effective 16 groups in there, and you understand it’s a must to come to compete each single evening. You can’t have any lapses in your play.
Q: What is the distinction between this Derrick Rose and the younger Derrick Rose?
A: I can’t even inform any distinction. After his MVP season, he’s been coping with leg accidents, and now that you just see that he’s recent now, it makes an enormous distinction in his sport. And you may see the arrogance that he has on the market on the court docket, and that spreads all through the workforce when you could have a man like that that’s been via it, that understands the second isn’t too huge for him. It has been unimaginable the way in which he has reinvented himself, and for us, it’s been a blessing simply to have him right here.
Q: How many of those present Knicks may have performed along with your Knicks?
A: I might say all of ’em (chuckle), to be trustworthy with you. I feel Thibs and his teaching fashion performs it out of you. He’s like Coach [Pat] Riley: He’s gonna push you, and he’s gonna maintain you accountable. And all these guys have responded to his fashion of teaching. And so, I’d like to play with any considered one of these guys on the workforce.
Q: What do you keep in mind about Thibs as a younger Knicks assistant coach?
A: He’s acquired that intense look, with a toughness about him. He was a scholar of the sport, at all times watching movie. It’s nice to see that he has parlayed that into what he’s doing right now. He hasn’t modified one bit. He nonetheless has that stern look on his face, and depth and I feel the gamers are responding to that.
Q: Does he remind you of Riley or Jeff Van Gundy?
A: They coached beneath Riley, and each of ’em have that DNA. They’re gonna push you exhausting, they’re gonna see when you’re gonna reply. Those that don’t reply, then they received’t be right here. When you study from the most effective ever, you may’t assist however be who you might be as a coach.
Q: Would Riley have favored this Knicks workforce?
A: Oh yeah. He positively would. Just the temperament of this workforce and the way in which they struggle and scratch and claw for each single win. And they’re everywhere in the court docket defensively. They have one another’s again on the market and also you see these canine flying round, diving on the ground for unfastened balls, taking costs, blocking photographs. … You can’t assist however love this workforce. Riles would have cherished a workforce like this.
Q: Describe Van Gundy.
A: Commitment to excellence, dedication to working exhausting, dedication to getting essentially the most out of his workforce. Long hours that he put in, clearly you may inform by the luggage beneath his eyes (chuckle), as a result of he’s been up all evening watching sport tape. A variety of respect for Jeff, as a result of he got here a good distance.
Q: What distinction do you see this season in RJ Barrett?
A: You see the arrogance, and also you see the sport has slowed right down to him. He’s enjoying at a unique pace now. The confidence in his shot, the arrogance in going to the basket. Defensively, he even took it to a different degree this 12 months. He’s a younger man that I say needs to get higher, needs to be nice at this sport, and he works on it each single day.
Q: Whatever involves thoughts: Taj Gibson?
A: A consummate employee. A man who’s gonna go on the market and lay it on the road. He’s gonna rebound, he’s gonna block photographs, he’s gonna take costs, he’s gonna rating when he has the chance to attain … only a chief.
Q: Nerlens Noel?
A: What are you able to say about him? He’s simply been wonderful this 12 months. Coming in right here on a one-year deal, and simply proving himself. … Shot-blocker, defensive-minded particular person … he covers for any errors that you’ve got on the market on the court docket. He’s been a blessing ever since Mitch Robinson went down.
Q: Reggie Bullock?
A: A sharpshooter. His taking pictures has actually helped to the place we acquired to right now, pulling down huge photographs. Cool underneath stress. Good protection. He simply does all of it on the market on the court docket.
Q: Alec Burks?
A: Coming in right here and choosing up the slack once we wanted to select up the slack from the offensive space of the court docket. Can play a number of positions from 1 to three. Cool underneath stress too. Big-time shot maker. Great defender. Can’t say sufficient about him.
Q: Immanuel Quickley?
A: (Laugh) Old soul. Had that confidence coming into the league on the point-guard place. I feel the workforce and Thibs have a whole lot of confidence within the younger man. Can knock down huge photographs. Just getting higher each single day.
Q: Obi Toppin?
A: I’m impressed together with his enchancment from Day 1. Coming in right here, being a excessive draft choose, loads is placed on his shoulders due to that, and he’s simply taking it in stride, and you may see the development and the arrogance, and the sport is beginning to decelerate, too. His shot has improved a fantastic deal … nice rebounder … nice shot-blocker … good defender on the market on the court docket … can defend a number of positions, too. I simply actually like his toughness, the way in which he’s not afraid to go on the market and compete.
Q: Hawks star Trae Young?
A: Trae Young, he’s an issue (giggle). He is certainly an issue. He’s shifty, clearly he can shoot it like no different. Has really improved as a pacesetter for that workforce. He can take the ball to the opening, get his teammates concerned. Just actual impressed with him as a younger participant.
Q: How would your Knicks have defended him?
A: Probably approach we performed again then and the way in which the foundations had been again within the day, we might most likely preserve a physique on him and play him as bodily as attainable and attempt to knock him off his stride. Because he’s so shifty, you do need to hit him as a lot as attainable. I feel the blokes do a fantastic job of enjoying workforce protection towards him and attempting to maintain a physique on him, however that’s the one approach you may really have an effect on him.
Q: How does he evaluate as a Madison Square Garden villain to Reggie Miller?
A: (Laugh) Reggie was extra of a villain than Trae Young. I used to be at [Game 2 this past week], and the followers went somewhat overboard, I felt. I really feel that we’re extra of a cultured kind of fan base, and we simply need to get again to that. I do know it’s playoffs, and the Knicks followers are excited to be within the playoffs, however now we have to indicate somewhat bit extra class than that. But he’s not like Reggie; Reggie was a unique villain.
Q: What prompted you to headbutt Reggie?
A: ’Cause we wanted to get one thing straight on the market on the court docket (giggle). During that point, in contrast to right now’s sport, you needed to earn your respect, and what I imply by that’s form of like: If you’re going into another person’s neighborhood, they usually don’t know who you, and so it’s a must to get your respect. And again then, it was a a lot older league than it’s now, the veteran guys weren’t supplying you with any respect, you had a whole lot of fights again then from a whole lot of younger guys with the veteran guys as a result of they weren’t giving it up. So, you needed to present that, hey, I would like my respect similar to I respect you. After that incident, me and Reggie by no means had any extra issues after that.
Q: What did he do this was disrespectful?
A: He was hitting me with elbows, and you understand you may’t do this. He was testing my manhood, and so I needed to let him know.
Q: How would you describe your mentality on the court docket?
A: I might say my mentality was like a Russell Westbrook in right now’s sport: You simply go on the market and also you simply play exhausting as attainable. You don’t again down from no person, you’re taking me on the problem, and also you attempt to be as efficient as you may on the market on the court docket any approach attainable.
Q: Whatever involves thoughts: Anthony Mason?
A: Just powerful, gritty particular person. New York participant, via and thru. Great ball-handler, may see the court docket in addition to any level guard that I ever performed with, and only a nice teammate.
Q: What are you able to say about Patrick Ewing?
A: Just every part. Great teammate, nice buddy … warrior. I keep in mind many a nights the place he shouldn’t have even took the court docket, however he was devoted to us as gamers as a pacesetter, in addition to to the fan base to go on the market each single evening and lead us into battle.
Q: Why did he have such an issue getting a head-coaching job within the NBA?
A: I’m undecided. In this sport proper right here, you bought to earn the stripes. I feel finally he most likely will be capable to get that head teaching job within the NBA. He’s doing a terrific job with Georgetown, he ended up successful the Big East [tournament] this 12 months, first participant to ever do it from a training standpoint, and received it as a participant. I feel the radar is on the market on him so far as being an NBA coach, and one say that chance’s gonna come to him.
Q: Describe the 1994 Game 7, 90-84 loss at Houston within the NBA Finals.
A: The worst evening ever (chuckle) for me as a participant [2-for-18 shooting]. Toughest evening to have the ability to swallow that. Even as much as right now, I nonetheless take into consideration that every now and then, as a result of so many individuals was relying on me — the teammates, particularly the fan base, I needed it so unhealthy for them as a result of they’ve been so supportive of us as a workforce all through the years. I needed it so unhealthy, and sadly, I didn’t have the evening that I shoulda had. But in life, it’s a must to take a look at these powerful instances and study from them, and it’s a must to transfer on and proceed to dwell your life.
Q: How lengthy did it take you to recover from that loss?
A: You by no means recover from it. You by no means recover from it. It at all times sticks behind your thoughts. It took an entire summer season for me simply to love get again to work. It by no means goes away. You at all times take into consideration that behind your thoughts, if I might have accomplished this or I might have accomplished that. But hey, it’s a must to transfer on.
Q: Do you keep in mind the flight again from Houston?
A: It was silent. Quiet. You may hear a pin drop on the aircraft.
Q: What was it like eliminating the Bulls with an 87-77 win in Game 7 of the 1994 Eastern Conference semifinals?
A: It was satisfying. We want we may have accomplished it whereas Michael [Jordan] was there (giggle), would have made it much more satisfying. They had been clearly our nemesis, they had been the workforce that you just needed to undergo. Even although Michael wasn’t there, they nonetheless had Scottie [Pippen] and nonetheless had [Toni] Kukoc, B.J. Armstrong. … They had a crew that we needed to undergo.
Q: How typically are you requested about The Dunk, over Jordan within the 1993 Eastern Conference finals?
A: Every single day (giggle). Up till today, I get requested about The Dunk.
Q: How typically have watched it over time?
A: It’s proven fairly a bit. People will come as much as me, they’d be speaking to me after which took out their cellphone, and pull up The Dunk video and present it to me.
Q: What made you resolve to do it at the moment?
A: It simply occurred. You actually don’t say, “I’m gonna come down and take it to the basket. I’m going to dunk on Horace Grant and Michael Jordan.” You don’t even take into consideration that. Fortunately that second was captured in an enormous approach.
Q: How loud was the Garden?
A: The feeling that I had sitting there in Game 2 [Wednesday] was the identical feeling that I had in Game 2 again in ’93. Same pleasure, identical vitality.
Q: Do you could have a relationship with Jordan right now?
A: Yeah, we’re good pals. I acquired a whole lot of respect for him, as a result of most individuals would assume that we might be enemies and what have you ever, however he revered you as a participant, and that’s why I respect a lot about him. As nice as he was, regardless of who he was enjoying towards, he gave that individual respect to that particular person.
Q: Describe being traded to Golden State in January 1999.
A: That was like a demise sentence (chuckle) to me, to be trustworthy with you. Obviously, I didn’t need to go on the market, and I didn’t need to depart the Knicks. But on this league, something can occur, and also you perceive that as a participant. It was worse figuring out that, particularly when Michael retired that 12 months within the lockout season that we had been gonna go to the  championship, so I gotta get an opportunity to redeem myself. I used to be proper, that we [the Knicks] went to the championship, however I wasn’t there to redeem myself. That form of caught with me.
Q: You coached within the USBL. Do you could have aspirations to be an NBA coach?
A: I might by no means say by no means, however proper now I really like my place with the Knicks [alumni relations]. It’s excellent for me as a result of I actually get pleasure from being amongst the general public and coping with our sponsors.
Q: Describe Cheyenne Park in Tulsa, Okla.
A: Oh, man, that’s the place I discovered the sport. Many days on the market on the court docket, many hours on the market on the court docket on my own simply envisioned myself convey a fantastic basketball participant, and dealing at it 5, six hours a day. That’s the place everyone in Tulsa who may play got here to play basketball. So I had a whole lot of battles down there.
Q: What drove you as a child?
A: I feel my brothers and the competitors that they put within me at a younger age to compete each single day, and to not again down from something. And simply my household construction. We didn’t have loads, and so we needed to struggle for each single factor so far as meals and garments and no matter. We needed to scrap. Also we needed to bond collectively as one to be able to get via that interval in our life.
Q: What was it like working at Safeway?
A: That was an eye-opening scenario for me. It really helped me see that I wanted to do one thing somewhat bit extra in life, and that most likely helped propel me to the place I acquired to right now, working a job bagging groceries for $3.35 an hour. That isn’t one thing that you just need to do for the remainder of your life. So that truly energized me to get again at school and do one thing for myself.
Q: Playing within the CBA in 1989-90?
A: That was an excellent expertise from the standpoint of it was humbling, as a result of I got here proper out of faculty and proper to the NBA, and swiftly I used to be down within the minor leagues. But it gave me an opportunity to evaluate what I wanted to do to be able to get higher, as a result of having that style that first 12 months and noticed the gamers and the expertise degree, I noticed my weaknesses that I wanted to work on. It gave me a chance to do this.
Q: Do you keep in mind the primary time you performed within the Garden?
A: I keep in mind the primary time that I got here to the Garden was after I was with Golden State [in March 1989]. I by no means acquired within the sport. … The Garden has a particular vitality to it, and that’s why gamers love enjoying within the Garden. That’s why we at all times, after I was with the Knicks, at all times acquired the opponent’s finest sport, as a result of they know they’re coming to the Mecca of basketball. No matter what the workforce file is, it’s a must to throw that out, as a result of their workforce is coming there to show one thing. Whatever it’s, the vitality degree in that Garden is simply completely completely different from some other enviornment that I ever performed in.
Q: What’s it like when the Garden begins chanting “Dee-fense, Dee-fense”?
A: (Laugh) It will get within you, and also you simply play at a unique degree. Obviously you may inform the way in which the blokes reply to that, and while you begin listening to that, your vitality degree simply goes up. New York Knicks followers can sense the second, and after they want you. They do a fantastic job of telling you to play at one other degree.
Q: Three dinner company?
A: Barack Obama, Muhammad Ali, Dr. J [Julius Erving].
Q: Favorite film”
A: “The Fish That Saved Pittsburgh,” (chuckle) with Dr. J. in it.
Q: Favorite actor?
A: Denzel Washington.
Q: Favorite actress?
A: Cicely Tyson.
Q: Favorite meal?
A: Steak and potatoes.
Q: Tell me in regards to the playoff present packing containers.
A: We’re handing out present packing containers with Knicks merchandise in it at sure areas all through town for anybody who’s getting a vaccination.
Q: Why does New York City have such a love affair for the Knicks?
A: I feel everyone loves basketball. Everybody within the metropolis it looks like they grew up enjoying basketball, and basketball is king right here. It’s The City Game, they usually’re obsessed with it. The workforce takes on the mentality of New Yorkers. That’s the way in which the sport was performed within the parks even to today, and they also simply grasped a maintain of that.
Q: What does it imply to you to be remembered as a legendary New York Knick?
A: It means loads. It implies that the followers mirrored the way in which I competed each single evening, not solely me however our groups, attempting to win each single ballgame at any price. I feel they recognize the way in which I performed the sport.
Q: What recommendation would you could have for these Knicks?
A: I might simply inform ’em to go on the market and play the way in which you’ve been enjoying all 12 months lengthy. Go on the market and have that defensive mindset. You have to have the ability to shut down gamers down at key moments. And these guys have confirmed that they will do that every one 12 months lengthy.