Gentle(Man) Ben Comes Up Big At The Garden

By Jerald L. Hoover
Updated: January 19, 2005

Ben Gordan
Ben Gordan

NEW YORK, NY – Just like a shot he’s made time and again in practice at the Southside Boys and Girls Club in Mount Vernon, NY and in the famed gymnasium of Mount Vernon High School, Ben Gordon’s running one hander floated over the top of Knick reserve forward, Mike Sweetney with 0.01 seconds left and won the game for the visiting Chicago Bulls, 88-86.

Gordon, who scored 17 points in only 19 minutes, including 13 in the fourth quarter, hails from nearby (also my hometown) Mount Vernon follows in a very long line of former Mount Vernonites that made it to the pros. The list includes: Gus and Ray Williams, Scooter and Rodney McCray, Loews Moore, Earl Tatum and Rudy Hackett. But, that list does not include those that have been drafted by NBA teams but did not make it such as: Bill Pleas, Richard Garner, David Williams (Gus and Ray’s younger brother) Curtis “Smiley” Moore (Loews’ younger brother). And that list of course does not even include some that had stellar college careers and did not get drafted but were on full scholarships: Lewis Hill (who is now an assistant head coach at UNLV under former Knicks assistant coach, Lon Kruger) Anthony Taylor (the nephew of Gus and Ray) Jeffrey “Cornbread” Russell and Rickey Burton just to name a short few; there were dozens more. Rasul Salahuddin of the undefeated 1988 Championship squad is honing his basketball skills overseas.

Gordon in becoming a “lottery pick” and third pick overall joined Rodney McCray for the honor of the highest picked Mount Vernonite during the NBA draft. Rodney was drafted out of the University of Louisville in 1983 by the Houston Rockets behind Ralph Sampson and Steve Stipanovich.

Gordon who also starred at UCONN and won MVP Honors in the Regionals en route to the NCAA Championship this past season was no stranger to Sweetney. “He just floated it right over me and hit a great shot. I played against him in college and I know he can hit those types of shots.” Sweetney said.

We’ll have to do a lot more research to see if any of the aforementioned legendary Mount Vernonites have had the spectacular homecoming (playing the Knicks for the very first time in their pro careers) that Gordon has had. Gordon did however journey during the game from bad to great, “I thought he was a little nervous tonight, and rightfully so. We saw him kind of stumble a couple of times but he is always able to shake himself out of that and make big plays.” Bulls coach Scott Skiles said. Skiles also reiterated, “He has done it so many times now, and the players look to him for that now.” Not bad for a rookie.

The way Gordon is playing there’s no doubt that he will be a part of All-star weekend in Denver in February. No, he may not be an outright All-star, “this year” but there’s very little doubt that he’ll be in the Rookie Challenge. That’s the game that features NBA rookies competing against NBA sophomores. Gordon also mentioned, “I don’t care what they want me to compete in, slam dunk, 3-point shooting, whatever, just to be there will be an honor.”

There’s also has been talk around the league that Gordon could be in line for the NBA’s Sixth Man Award. That’s if Skiles keeps him on the bench. With the way that Gordon is finishing and winning games for the Bulls, Skiles will have a very tough decision to make in the very near future. After all, how many rookies can also claim to scorch Allen Iverson and the Sixers for 31 points which included 19 points in the forth quarter? Not too many that’s for sure, but Ben Gordon of Mount Vernon can.

GAME NOTES: The Knicks are now 17-20 overall and 11-8 at home this season. They however are currently tied for first place in the Atlantic Division with the Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers. The Knicks are now 0-2 this season versus Chicago with losing both ends of the home and home series. The Knicks are now 87-90 all-time versus the Bulls. Jamal Crawford was activated prior to today’s game and played 27 minutes and scored eight points. He has missed the prior 10 games. Tim Thomas returned to action after missing the last three games and played four minutes. He was booed after he missed his two shots and botched a couple of rebounds.