Taylor Armosino (@tarmosino): My ex-Knick of the week is David Lee! Over the past week, in the case of the All-Star Game a little past a week, Lee participated in his second career All-Star Game and helped lead the Warriors to a 3-1 record. Lee recorded 21 points a game and 13.8 boards over those four games. Lee’s best game came in the most extravagant of the three Warrior victories, a 107-101 victory over San Antonio. Against the team with the best record in the NBA, Lee scored 25 points and pulled down 22 rebounds. The Warriors have been struggling as of late, especially on defense, but Lee continues to produce at an all-star level and is my pick for ex-Knick of the week.
James Griffo (@J_Griff): If you ask any die-hard Knick fan about which decade is the most forgotten, the 80s would suit that forgotten decade characteristic, besides the majority of the 2000s, well, we want to forget about the mid-2000s, but it’s so damn difficult to forget about them. I talk to my dad about the Knicks all the time, and one time, I brought up the Rick Pitino coached Knicks teams of the late 80s, aka The Bomb Squad; a Knick name that was given to the Knicks due to the countless amount of three pointers they attempted and drained. Because the three ball is such a significant component of the Knicks offense this season, I sometimes call them The Bomb Squad 2.0.
Prior to the 1987-88 season, the Knicks posted a dismal 24-58 record under Hubie Brown and interim coach, Bob Hill. If you ever have one of those I-heard-his-name-somewhere moments, you may know Hubie Brown as a commentator on ESPN and Bob Hill was the Spurs coaching predecessor of Gregg Popovich, before he took over and turned the Spurs into an under the radar powerhouse virtually for every season he has coached them.
While talking about the Pitino Knicks with my dad, I brought up “Hot” Rod Strickland, not “Hot” Rod Williams on the Cavs (people sometimes get perplexed with the nicknames). “Ah! Roddy Strickland!” said my dad. “It’s too bad he got traded.” Strickland was drafted in 1987 out of DePaul University, just like Wilson Chandler (ex Knick segue?). He was contained in a trade as a draft pick that sent Bill Cartwright to the Bulls for Michael Jordan’s only real friend while playing with the Bulls at the time, enforcer Charles Oakley. He started 10 games in his rookie year, and also appeared in 81 games, mostly as a backup guard to assist master and current Warriors coach, Mark Jackson, who was the 1988 ROY. Strickland was the rookie Bomb Squad member, along side Trent Tucker, Johnny Newman, Gerald Wilkins and I’ll say him again, Mark Jackson. Charles Oakley even partook in some Bomb Squad activities, but rarely made threes ( he shot 25% that year). Even though Strickland shot a measly 32% from three, he still paid his dues as a viable bench threat and was quite the passer as well, especially later on in his career.
During the 1988-89 season, Coach Pitino decided that trying to play Jackson and Strickland in the same lineups were not going to pan out, hence why Knick fans were skeptical about drafting Strickland since Jackson was going to be the Knicks’ primary starting point guard. So, in the midst of the season, Strickland was dealt to the Spurs for a grizzled Maurice Cheeks, in which Strickland was finally opened up to a primary starter role in San Antonio. That trade made him thrive as his own kind of assist master. However, in the 1991-92 season, Strickland pulled off an 80 day holdout a la Darrelle Revis and ended up playing only 57 games that season. I wonder if Strick held out because of Sean Elliott shouting his now heinous commentating phrases at him while on and off the court. Strick was a free agent after his one year deal with the Spurs expired, and signed with the Blazers, where his assist totals skyrocketed, averaging 8.6 assists in his four years at Portland, leading to a flurry of first round playoff eliminations. Four years later, Strickland was traded to the Wizards then Bullets (Bullets changed their name to the Wizards the very next year) with Horace Grant’s brother, Harvey, for a rookie Rasheed Wallace and Mitchell Butler aka the filler in the trade. This was the peak of his career, leading the league in APG with 10.5 in the 1997-98 season, along with an AST% of 43.1%. You can cherish Strick owning the lowly Warriors coached by P.J Carlesimo while Juwan Howard was sitting out with an injury by watching this game from Strick’s best season of his career in 1998.
Rod Strickland’s mainstays were San Antonio (sort of), Portland, and the Nation’s capital. He went on to play for the Heat, Timberwolves, Raptors, Rockets, and Magic. Strick’s short lived stint in New York was essentially folk hero status that possibly could of been turned into rock star status in New York if not for Mark Jackson being drafted the year before him. But that’s ok, though. At least we have the best high school picture ever consummated from Hot Rod.