When I first arrived in the United States 35 years ago, I was introduced to a sport I knew very little about called basketball. In all my life living in Belize the only two sports I played when I was growing up was football -- what the Americans call “soccer” -- and cricket. I played football so much that many times in my life it was like football was my wife. For me, winning was sweet and losing was painful, so I did any and everything I could possibly do to win my games.
Today, when I watch these young players playing basketball in the NBA, the players act as if it does not matter to them whether they lose or win. It is not like the old days when I use to watch my first team that I admired playing basketball, namely, the Boston Celtics playing the Los Angeles Lakers. Larry Bird, the best white man I ever saw playing basketball in my lifetime, was no person to fool around with. Irving ‘Magic’ Johnson was his rival and they competed like good brave warriors from the beginning to the end.
My philosophy of playing and coaching football or any other sport is always to give the game your 100% -- that means you increase your chances to win and if you lose there will be no reason for you to feel guilty about yourself because you did the best you could have done to make your team win.
When the Knicks qualified for the playoffs this year, I was delighted. Since the days of Patrick Ewing and John Starks, I saw a team that had the potential to win the NBA Championship. The series started with the Knicks playing my old team, the Boston Celtics. The Knicks were playing around with the Boston Celtics and should have defeated them in that series by a score of 4-0. The Knicks kept playing around that there were times throughout the series I started to lose confidence in the Knicks and felt that Boston was going to win.
Even though the Boston Celtics lost that series to the Knicks, I respect them for the fight they displayed because anybody could have seen on their faces that they were desperate to win. In the end, the Boston Celtics lost because they just did not have the personnel in place to defeat the New York Knicks.
After the Knicks won the first round, they were preparing themselves to play either the Atlanta Hawks or the Indiana Pacers. Both of these teams have big players compared to the Knicks and they are physical teams. This Knicks team is not like the team of the 1990s, with Herb Williams, Patrick Ewing and Charles Oakley. They were tough players that would go physical with the Pacers, Bulls and Miami Heat back in those days
Indiana Pacers won the series and ended up playing against the Knicks. I watched the first game between these two teams and, from the beginning of the game, I was not impressed with the way the Knicks were playing. The Knicks lost the game and the sports writers were trying to give many reasons why the Knicks lost. They lost because they all didn’t give the game their 100% and they did not play to win.
In the second game, Indiana started the game the right way and were outplaying the Knicks. I started to say to myself if this is the way the Knicks are going to play this game, the Indiana Pacers will defeat them 4-0. In the third quarter of that game, the Knicks finally came to the realization that the Indiana Pacers came to play and were getting ready to defeat them for the second time. The Knicks started playing and took over the game to defeat Indiana by about 27 points. After that game I said to myself there and then that for the Knicks to defeat the Indiana Pacers in this series they must play all the remaining games like this.
Since that game, the Knicks never played another game like the second game. Indiana went on to win two more games at home to make it 3-1. The Knicks came back home and won their second game to make it 3-2 but had to go back to Indiana to win another game, which was difficult. They did not win any game in Indiana this season and I was not too optimistic. On Saturday, Indiana ended up defeating the Knicks by a score of 106-99. This was a game they tried to win but again all the players did not give the game their 100% and played as if they were not hungry to win. Indiana played to win the series and because of that, even though my team lost, I must accept the defeat.
I will have to hope and pray that next year, like all the years since 1973, my team will have a chance to win the NBA championship. I have been a Knicks fan since 1980 and I will not stop being a Knicks fan until I die. I am not like many people out there who do not have a team, change their teams weekly and just claim to be with any team because they want to engage in trash talking. I know how it feels to win and lose games because, as a former player, I have been there several times before. The New York Knicks is a team that has been in a reconstruction stage for many years now.
Bad contracts and trades have plagued this team for too long, which has made it difficult for the team to acquire quality players to win an NBA championship. With the acquiring of Carmelo Anthony and Chris Copeland, they must now build for the future. For many players this will be their last day as a member of the Knicks team. The loss will give the owner and the management the opportunity to add new players who want to win a championship next year. Now that my team has lost, I do not have to worry any more. I am going to leave that up to the fans that still have a team that is competing for the NBA championship this year. In looking at all the teams that are remaining, I like the Memphis Grizzles to win it all this year.