Monday, December 13, 2010
Charles Oakley on the Knicks' turnaround
By Jared Zwerling
On what motivated the Knicks after their sluggish start: "Ever since [Amare] Stoudemire made that speech about stepping up [after the Knicks' 104-96 loss to the Rockets on November 14, their fifth in a row], he's stepping up and they're stepping up. They're playing great. My thing is, sometimes when you're a leader, you've got to make statements like that. Everybody said he needed to be motivated, and I think when you're trying to motivate the 11th or 12 guy, you've got to let them see it for themselves. I think it was a great adjustment by him. They were saying that he shouldn't have gone to the [news]papers, but sometimes in New York, that's a statement. I mean, when you go to the papers in New York, you've got to stand behind it, and the talent has to go up because of what the people in the city stand for and what they know about sports."
On the adjustments Stoudemire and Raymond Felton have made: "When you make an interview statement like that in the paper, after your team drops to 3-7 on the season, you've got to step your game up and let everybody else follow. And that's what he did. He's been a great player -- he's making his jumpshot and he's making the adjustment playing with a whole new team. I think he enjoys playing for coach [Mike] D'Antoni, since he coached him in Phoenix. But, most of all, they're winning and it's positive. They needed a change and Raymond [Felton] and the whole team is playing well. Raymond is coming from the Bobcats and he's getting a chance to play his style of basketball, because I think Larry Brown was too much controlled. Now he's got a little more freedom, and I think when people get freedom, they show you what they can do. He was the number five pick in the  draft, so he had to have some kind of style of play to make him number five in the draft. He's playing ball."
On Felton playing at a career-high level: "He's a fast guy, he's fiesty, he's a strong guy -- you can't take that away from him. He's making them go and Amare is really making them go."
On the surprising rise of Landry Fields: "My thing is, sometimes you do the background on people and when you go to a school like Stanford, a lot comes with being a smart guy and being determined. Some guys can catch on quicker. You don't have to be at a big-time school, like North Carolina, Duke or Georgetown, to understand the game. I mean, when you understand books, sometimes books can carry over to the court, because it's all about knowing what you're doing, studying."
On the Knicks' tough upcoming home stretch, starting with the Celtics on Wednesday and then the Heat on Friday: "Well, when you're on the road like that, [winning eight road games in a row], it's perfect timing. I mean, that's when you want [that challenge], when you're clicking. If you ain't clicking, you don't want to see that. Now they're clicking and it's just like, 'Hey, our record speaks for itself and when you come to our house, we're going to show you what our record means.'"
As a prelude to the Knicks-Heat game, Oakley and former Heat point guard Tim Hardaway will reminisce with me about the teams' historic rivalry from the late 90s. Stay tuned later this week.