Charles Oakley was the ultimate role player. He recognized that Patrick Ewing and John Starks were the Knicks' go-to scorers and playmakers, and he needed to make his mark with rebounding and hustle. Together, they reached the 1994 Finals.
Speaking to the New York Post about this year's Knicks, Oakley said that Carmelo Anthony, Amare Stoudemire and Tyson Chandler have to understand their roles better.
While Chandler has more specific duties (defend and rebound), Anthony and Stoudemire are faced with more responsibilities. They can score, like Ewing and Starks, but can they become better playmakers this season to help the entire team? That's what Oakley is waiting to see.
"I think it's all about how you view your team and everybody knowing what their roles are," he told the Post. "You look at Miami. The first year together they made the Finals, but the second year they won it. They had a better understanding of their roles together. I think that's what the Knicks need to do and players need to understand if they're the first option, second option or third option. When a team is paying you $100 million, you shouldn't be arguing over who is first."
Oakley said Anthony and Stoudemire need to focus on making plays for others, like LeBron James and Dwyane Wade do.
"You see it with the Miamis, the Oklahoma Citys, the Bulls -- their top guys make others better," he said. "If that's the case, I'm going to make sure that my top two guys have the ball at all times."
Regarding roles, Oakley has been impressed with Stoudemire working with Hakeem Olajuwon to develop more post-up moves and an improved defensive presence.
"He's looking to fine tune his game, because if you want to be successful in this league you have to change up your game," he said. "Amare is just doing whatever it takes to make himself better, and for that I tip my hat to him."
With Mike Woodson planning to use Stoudemire more on the block this season, that should boost the opportunities for the Big Three to play off each other better, instead of encountering spacing issues on the court, forcing the ball to stall at times. The best teams in the league are able to find an almost rhythmic, pre-programmed balance between passing and scoring, and that's the Knicks' biggest task offensively. On the defensive end, they're locked and loaded.
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