Knicks in the Midst of a Quarterback Controversy

By Jerald Levon Hoover
Updated: October 19, 2004

Alan Houston

NEW YORK, NY � One is young and sleek with the dribble. The other is more methodical and not very athletic as two guards go these days. One can break you down off the dribble with a sleek crossover. The other can pull up anywhere from 15 feet to 30 feet and drain a jumper that would hit nothing but the bottom of the net. One is already a fan favorite. The other got booed during a free open practice while he was in the midst of answering a question from an innocent fan.

Such is the life these days with the new and improved New York Knicks. Incumbent shooting guard and former All-star Allan Houston and the deliciously gifted newcomer swing guard Jamal Crawford have made this seasons training camp exciting although only one of them (Crawford) has been able to �lace them up�.

Crawford has shown in his very short time here a brand of flashiness and savvy from the two-guard position not seen probably since the days of Earl �the Pearl� Monroe. No, I�m not suggesting that Crawford is a Monroe clone or that he even deserves to be mentioned in the very same breath, but what I am suggesting is that when you watch this kid play you see that he plays at a much different speed than any of the two-guard the Knicks have had in recent memory.

Sprewell was a speedster in getting down court with the ball on a fastbreak but his handle in general terms left an awful lot to be desired. In other words, Sprewell handled the ball as if it were a hand grenade while Crawford handles the ball as if he has it dangling by string.

Houston and his trademark jumper would be a welcomed sight to the Knicks provided that he comes back ready to play and be at at least full strength if not the standard 100%. It would behoove him to wait until he is at full strength before attempting a comeback. Either way he will have mounting pressure placed upon him. The longer Houston sits out and the more Crawford endears himself to the fans and to his new teammates with his so far sizzling play the harder it will be for the shoe to fit once it�s ready to be worn.

You could see it now, Houston is called out in the starting lineup at the Garden and a smattering of boos will be heard. But, the moment the game is in full swing and Houston misses two jumpers in a row and the Knicks are down by ten points to a much weaker (on paper) team, the boos will cascade from the rafters much like when Pat Riley made his first appearance to the Garden as the Miami Heat coach.

Houston is truly a nice guy and a real gentleman for what it�s all worth. But, for those who pay to see him play and in their minds wait for him to earn the 100 million dollars he signed for a few years back, �nice� guys finish last.

In Crawford the Knicks see a budding super star. They see someone to whom they realize that the sky is the limit. Crawford is not only gifted athletically but he�s also coachable. This goes an awful long way when you have the likes of head coach, Lenny Wilkens and Knicks President, Isiah Thomas at your disposal. How many young guards can boast that they have 2 Hall of Famers around to talk to each and everyday in practice and in games?

In Coach Lenny Wilkens, Crawford is unguardable. In Isiah Thomas, Crawford in some ways is the second coming of himself, just a taller version.

Michael Jordan thought a lot of Crawford also. He fell in love with him while playing with and against him at Hoops the gym in Chicago during summer pick up games and workouts. Jordan lusted after Crawford so much that he tried on several occasions to trade for him (Crawford was with the Chicago Bulls) while he was the GM for the Washington Wizards. But, there was no former Chicago Bulls GM Jerry Krause was going to trade with Jordan.

One thing is for sure, if the Knicks manage to stay fairly healthy this season they will have at least 48 minutes of solid two-guard play. Competition can be good, if it�s in the right circumstance.