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By Andy Roth, Contributing Editor - Archive - Email
The Pulse of the NBA
New York, NY (Sports Network) - New York Knicks point guard Baron Davis made a bold prediction last week - although I think the psychiatric community would term it "delusions of grandeur" - when he said his team would be hanging its first championship banner to the rafters of Madison Square Garden in almost 40 years at the end of the season.

He doesn't think the Knicks are playing at a championship level yet, but believes they'll be there come playoff time.

"The Heat have an advantage. The Bulls have an advantage. The Orlando Magic have an advantage. ... But I am optimistic, and I believe in what we have here in New York City," Davis told the New York Post. "And I believe in what we have here for the New York Knicks. ... We're gonna get better.

"We can do it. We can do it. And I think that we'll come out of nowhere, and we'll do it."

I'm holding back from bursting out with laughter that Davis also believes that this championship run by the Knicks will be greatly aided by someone who isn't even on the roster.

"I think the Knicks fans are our X-factor," Davis said. "For me, coming to the Garden before, it was like, 'Oh, we're about to come in here, we're about to kick the Knicks' (butts), and the fans are gonna be on our side eventually by the end of the day 'cause they're gonna boo 'em. So imagine if the fans booed the other team, and put pressure on the other team.

"With their energy and their cheering, even if we're down and playing bad - just like (Wednesday) night (against the Cavaliers) - we weren't having the best game, but usually we get down 15, the boo birds come out. And the fans stayed with us and stayed with us because now, when they believe in us, we believe, we have more confidence in ourselves. And when they get loud, that just helps us play with more and more energy.

"I think as deep as this team is, and with the energy of New York, and the crowd - this crowd can take us all the way."

Maybe if the ghost of Wilt Chamberlain was in the crowd and could suit up for the Knicks, I could buy Davis' argument, but otherwise I'm going to remain a firm disbeliever.

There's no denying the Knicks are a deep team and have quickly turned a weak bench into a strong one, but as I've said time and time again, the problem lies in the starting lineup in that their two supposed stars don't bring the necessary talents to the table that win championships.

I think you can easily make the argument that Amar'e Stoudemire, who was an MVP candidate the first half last season, isn't even a top-40 player right now. Aside from his struggles offensively (17.4 ppg, 45 percent field-goal percentage), Stoudemire's rebounding average (7.9 rpg) is at the lowest level of his career and he continues to be a liability on defense.

I have to shake my head listening to sports talk radio in New York and hear the hosts and fans alike talking about how he needs to hit the boards more and play better defense, and I say to myself this is who he is and it's not going to change. He's never been a good rebounder or defender and that's the reality the Knicks and their fans have to live with.

As for New York's other so-called star, Carmelo Anthony doesn't have the multi-talented game you need from your best player to win championships.

Can you win an NBA title with someone who's simply a great scorer? History says the answer is a definitive no. The great offensive players who have also won titles throughout the years, such as Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade, Shaquille O'Neal, Moses Malone and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, also had a high skill level in other areas.

I think Anthony is this era's Dominique Wilkins-somebody who can fill up the scoring column, but doesn't impact the game nearly enough in other areas to win his team a championship. Wilkins played 11 full seasons with the Atlanta Hawks. During that span, they failed to make the playoffs three times and never advanced past the second round.

If you surrounded Anthony with the same supporting cast LeBron James had in Cleveland, do you think he would lead his team to two straight 60-plus win seasons and a trip to the NBA Finals? Do you think the Lakers would have won back-to-back championships if you substituted Anthony for Bryant? I think the answer is way to obvious to even state it.

QUICK DRIBBLES

Amid all the trade speculation and rumors, Rajon Rondo put up some historical numbers Sunday in the Boston Celtics' overtime win over the Knicks. The 6-foot-1, 186-pound point guard had 18 points, 20 assists and a mind- boggling 17 rebounds. The last player to record a triple-double with at least 17 in each category was Magic Johnson, who had 24 points, 17 assists and 17 rebounds in 1989.

Rondo, a three-time All-Star, has a very reasonable contract, as the Celtics will play him $36 million over the next three years. That's why general manager Danny Ainge better think long and hard about dealing such a young (26) and talented player who will be getting paid far less than his market value.

Denver Nuggets rookie Kenneth Faried barely saw the floor early in the season, but has gotten a lot more playing time lately with all the injuries to the team's front line. He's taken full advantage of it.

Faried has played in the Nuggets' last 11 games, averaging 9.9 points and 7.8 rebounds in just 22.1 minutes. The extremely athletic power forward who was the 22nd overall pick in the draft and led the NCAA in rebounding last season, has been a monster on the boards even with his limited playing time. Faried's per-48 minute rebounding average of 17.8 per would rank him fourth in the league if he qualified.

"That Faried kid was blocking shots and running down the court, getting layups, playing with a lot of energy and playing with a lot of passion," Nuggets center Marcus Camby said. "That's something we were lacking tonight."

Andy Roth covered the Knicks for NBC Radio and AP Radio for eleven years and was an NBA Columnist for Celtics Pride Magazine for two years. He's covered many of the major sporting events, including the Super Bowl, World Series, NBA Finals, U.S. Open Tennis and Golf.

Copyright 2012

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