Analysis: Isiah Will Soon Have Some Decisions To Make

By Jerold LeVon Hoover
Updated: November 21, 2006

NEW YORK– The Stephon Marbury and Steve Francis back court may be nearing its inconsistent end.

For all of those that tried to compare the Marbury-Francis pairing (i.e. Larry Brown) to that of the legendary backcourt of Walt Frazier & Earl “The Pearl” Monroe, think again.

Marbury and Francis will never be mistaken for the Hall of Fame pair that won the last championship for the Knicks in 1973.

It�s not for a lack of talent per se; Steve and Steph by all accounts �can go� and can get things done. They could both be ranked (as they were perennially in the past) among the top 10 in point guards in the NBA if both were on different teams and running the show.

But, with the Knicks; together and starting?

Lets just say that the jury is either hung or is still out. Marbury, the kid from Coney Island comes home (after a few failed marriages out in Minnesota, New Jersey and Phoenix) to his beloved team with a mountain of expectations only to fail to deliver in big situation and then make matters worse whenever he made a vile prediction or declared something derogatory towards an opponent.

One must not forget the declaration of, �I�m the best point guard in the NBA?� the night before having to face Jason Kidd and the New Jersey Nets only to have Kidd invade the Garden to the tune of a win and a triple double.

Francis, while in Houston fell out of favor with former Knicks coach Jeff Van Gundy over his point man acumen or lack there of was subsequently shipped to the Orlando Magic in the blockbuster trade that also included All-star Tracy McGrady.

Francis�s starting spot and stay in Disney World was pretty much short lived once management saw the potential in their current starter Jameel Nelson. Shaquille O’Neal once recently stated that, �Francis pounds the ball too much to be considered a point guard�.

In other words what Shaq said was, �Francis can never play for me.� But, recently Washington Wizard All-star guard, Gilbert Arenas said, �Steve hasn�t been the same since he�s not playing with his boy Cuttino Mobley. Because with Mobley he was able to isolate on one side while Mobley stood on the other side and waited to pop a three from the corner.�

Francis and Marbury or Marbury and Francis headline the starting unit but far too many times they are stale and energy less; even when they come back in games after prolonged sits.

But if Isiah were to listen to Arenas who said, �the Knicks have a load of talent and they have athletes. I would make them run, run, run and run some more,� things may get interesting.

The stellar play of the second unit of little big man, Nate Robinson and big game hunter Jamal Crawford who recently has come forward as possibly the best player on the team is going to cause problems.

With that being a case of debatable fact that will no doubt force Isiah who has constantly stated that, �I do not plan to make any changes to the starting unit�, to rethink what�s best for the team.

It is widely known that Marbury and Isiah are as thick as thieves and they are neighbors in a city just outside of White Plains. But, for the overall benefit of the team will Isiah be willing to sit either Marbury or Francis if it means a few more wins?

Robinson who should NOT be considered for a starting position because he is simply too small and the Knicks do not have a shot blocker to protect the paint when the guards get beat, early and often.

Although Nate the Great can occasionally bring fans to their feet with a crazy athletic play, ala blocking Yao Ming�s shot, a man that almost stands two-feet taller than he and out weighs him about 90 pounds.

Those spurts though as affective as they are are basically what they are�spurts. And for a change of pace for opposing tired starters and or fellow second unit types Robinson�s gifts are invaluable.

Crawford on the other hand can be like Robinson and change the pace of a game with his machine gun like scoring but he can also be valuable as a starter; his desired position.

Overall the Knicks at this time aren�t as bad as most people thought, but they�re not as good either. Their recent loss to the Houston Rockets left them with a 1-5 record at home clearly is an indication that there is much work to do before even thinking quietly about making a run at the playoffs.

The overall record for the Knicks is 4-8 and you almost have to wonder if somewhere in Philadelphia, Larry Brown is smiling.