With the many off-season rumors of free agent signings and trades, the New York Knick 2010-2011 roster had a great deal of uncertainty. While at the New York Knick Media Day on Friday, September 24, 2010, I asked Danilo Gallinari, entering his third season as a Knick, how he feels to still be with the team. He confidently replied “I feel pretty good.” Wilson Chandler had a similar response, saying it “Feels great.” When I asked Mr. Chandler what he worked on during the off-season from a basketball standpoint to make him a better player, he responded “ball handling and spot-up shooting. I think that was two of my biggest weaknesses last year.”
The returning Knicks welcome a talented, but significantly different roster for the upcoming season, led by five-time all star power forward Amar’e Stoudemire. With the new additions, expectations for the 2010-2011 New York Knicks have grown. When asked about the goals of the team, Mr. Stoudemire stated “Trying to get back to the playoffs. Anything less than that would not be a success. We all have to have the same mentality.”
Earning a playoff berth is a goal that many of the Knicks mentioned. “For the team our goal is to get to the playoffs for sure” Mr. Gallinari expressed. Off-season acquisition power forward/center Anthony Randolph had similar thoughts, saying the team’s “ultimate goal is to make it to the playoffs”, a statement that was repeated by another new Knick, point guard Raymond Felton, who experienced the NBA playoffs for the first time in his career last season.
Leadership is something many of the Knicks discussed as being important to the team’s success. “I know that the team and the organization, coaches trust me and want me to be a leader” said Mr. Gallinari. Raymond Felton went back to his younger years. “My Mom told me a long time ago ‘son you’re not a follower you’re a leader.’ “I’m always going to be a leader.” When I asked Mr. Stoudemire about being the most experienced Knick and the best player, and the opportunity to take on a bigger leadership role, he said “It’s a great opportunity for me. I have studied leaders in the past…world leaders, not just basketball leaders.”
I asked many of the Knicks about their personal goals for the season, but most talked about team aspirations. Mr. Randolph stated he would do whatever is best for the team, “whether it’s rebounding, blocking shots, or scoring.” Mr. Felton stated his goal “is to make sure I make everybody better on this team. Everybody, I don’t care if it’s a guy that plays two minutes a game, or a guy that don’t play at all. I’m looking forward to bring a defensive attitude. That’s one thing I love to do. If you play defense, you are going to win games. You are going to win a lot of games you aren’t suppose to.” Mr. Felton will be joined in that thinking by power forward/center Ronny Turiaf, who gave me a more direct response. “I’m trying to have my best season so far in the NBA. I’m trying to get all of my career highs. I expect this team to have success and bring joy and happiness to the city of New York.”
Joy and happiness is something Knick fans haven’t experienced in a while, but there is reason for optimism. If healthy, this team has the talent to make the playoffs, and will not be an easy out. But with the Miami Heat signing LeBron James and Chris Bosh, the Chicago Bulls signing Carlos Boozer, and returning powerhouses like Boston and Orlando, the Eastern Conference will be tough. If Mr. Turiaf gets his wish, Knick fans will joyously celebrate in late April for the first time in seven years.