And you thought the Knicks' roster was old.
On Thursday, the team unveiled its long-awaited new uniforms and the look can be best described in one word: Classic. In fact, this welcomed return to the traditional style -- a throwback to the one from the beloved championship era from four decades ago -- actually predates even the oldest player on the team.
Kurt Thomas, now 40 and in his second stint with the Knicks, initially arrived in 1999, in the early years of the angular, black-paneled uniform that was a good look for the time (so were Luke Perry sideburns and hypercolor t-shirts, but we don’t rock those anymore). This season, Thomas, fellow ‘99er Marcus Camby and their teammates will wear a much cleaner, traditional version, rid of the side panels, stripes and heavy black banding.
Coincidentally, the black was replaced by a thin grey stripe; fitting for a team with an average age well north of 30.
Overall it is a subtle change, with NEW YORK still prominent across the chest for both home and away, and orange & blue as the main colors. A rounded-neck style has returned to replace the v-neck that was introduced in 1997. Yes, these are subtle changes when you consider what replaced the championship-era style when someone in the marketing department came up with the bizarre maroon-and-navy look in 1979.
This is a jersey loaded with subtractions, but the lone notable addition might be the most significant difference. On the collar of the game jerseys (and authentics that can be purchased by laymen like you and me) is a motto the franchise has adopted over the last few years:
Yes, of course, for some, the first thing that comes to mind is, “…unless you’re Jeremy Lin.”
“That Jerome James contract literally NEVER ends.”
The jokes are endless. When you haven’t won a playoff series in over a decade, jokes are inevitable. And that won’t end until the current core of stars take on the challenge of changing that perception. It’s something that Willis Reed had to do. It’s something Patrick Ewing had to do. It’s somethingAmar’e Stoudemire said he’d do that day he pulled on the cap and announced, “The Knicks are back.”
They’re not there yet.
One of the most understated contributions Donnie Walsh made during his tenure was to reconnect the franchise to its past. Of course, the Knicks don’t have the championship legacy as in Boston or Los Angeles, but this is still one of the NBA’s original franchises. The Knicks, Celtics and Warriors were charter members of the Basketball Association of America, which was formed in 1946 as a precursor to what is now known as the NBA. The Knicks played in, and won, the first-ever game in BAA history, which is also considered the first NBA game. So, yes, there is a “storied” tradition. It just doesn’t have as many, you know, really good chapters.
But the motto isn’t intended as an attempt to revise history, but instead to continue an effort to embrace it in a way it wasn’t for far too many years. This isn’t a marketing tool. And, this might offend some of you, it’s not really for fans. This is for those who will wear the jersey. For those who wore the jersey.
It’s providing a perspective to a player who instantly becomes part of a club that has been around for almost seven decades. As the MSG Network commercial says, “From Dick McGuire to Stoudemire.”
And no, Once a Knick, Always a Knick, doesn’t mean you’re forever employed by the team. It simply means you are forever remembered.
How you’re remembered, of course, is up to you.
FIRST ON … LAST OFF?
With less than a month to go before training camp begins, almost all of the Knicks' players have arrived in New York this week to begin pre-camp workouts at MSG Training Center. Steve Novakrevealed to ESPNNewYork.com that the players have committed to regular conditioning and skills workouts as a group starting next week.
“We just want to make sure we hit the ground running,” Novak told the website.
Stoudemire wanted to host a similar minicamp in Florida last fall to get an early start on training camp before the 2011-12 season, but the NBA lockout put those plans on hold. By the time the lockout ended, there wasn’t enough time to organize workouts. Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler both took some time off after the Olympics to rest and vacation with family, but both are back in New York -- it’s Fashion Week, of course they are back in New York -- and will be at the training center along with Stoudemire.
FREE AGENCY WIRE
The Knicks have 13 players on guaranteed contracts, with two others (Chris Copeland and Chris Smith) on non-guaranteed deals, which opens up the possibility of adding one more guaranteed contract before camp opens. Expect the team to leave one roster spot open to allow for flexibility during the season, but the team is still considering options among the remaining veteran free agents.
The depth chart is full everywhere except power forward, which leaves names such as Kenyon Martin, Lou Amundson and Shawne Williams as potential targets. Williams, who reclaimed his career with the Knicks in 2010-11, would be the most logical fit because of his ability to not only hit the three-point shot as a “stretch-4,” but also defend the post and play with toughness. Williams had the chance to re-sign with the Knicks, but chose to take more money from the Nets and then endure an injury-riddled season that resulted in a trade to Portland and a subsequent waiver after the season.
Considering Melo’s success and comfort at the power forward position during the Olympics, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him slide to the four when Stoudemire goes to the bench. But it wouldn’t hurt to add some insurance depth at that position.