Steve Novak was beaming with excitement just minutes after slipping on a Knicks practice jersey for the first time in late December last year. In fact, his first words to reporters after being claimed off waivers by New York truly displayed his joy to join the 2011-12 squad.
“You get a call from New York, it’s something you dream of as a little kid, no matter where you are from and this is a special place to be,” Novak smiled at the first day of practice in 2011.
Roughly eight months later, the Wisconsin high school star holds the same type of feeling for one of the most historic franchises in sports. Novak resigned with the Knicks this offseason fresh off a spectacular campaign last year where he finished as the NBA leader in 3-point percentage.
“I was obviously very hopeful that this is where I would be coming back to this year and to get it done early this summer was just unbelievable, so I have some time to prepare and have my mind ready. There was nowhere else I wanted to be and it worked out, so I’m very happy.” Novak described his reaction to the deal.
At 28 years old, Novak is entering the prime of career and ecstatic to be a part of the direction of the team moving forward. This offseason, the Knicks adjusted the roster, acquiring a group of experienced playoff-proven players. Jason Kidd, Marcus Camby, Kurt Thomas, Ronnie Brewer, Raymond Felton, and Pablo Prigioni are some of the new faces that will join Novak in 2012-13 to go along with J.R. Smith, who was also resigned this summer. Novak believes the focus for New York is right on target in order to compete for a title in the near future.
“Because I think we are being built to win right now, win in the next few years, it makes a lot of sense to me,” Novak stated. “I think the fans understand and I think people have really embraced the direction we are going and you can feel it. We have become a little more veteran with Jason Kidd and Marcus Camby and those guys. They are great additions, they are going to help us win, they’re leaders, and I just think it’s going to make our bench deeper. I think we have really built a team that can make a long run in the playoffs.”
The 6-year pro found a home last season by jumping off the pine for the Knicks and instantly generating offense behind the arc. In the month of February, Novak averaged 11.7 points per game in 20.5 minutes of court time, including an impressive 47.7 percent from downtown. The “stretch” small forward also drilled six 3-pointers against Portland in March while the Knicks blasted the Blazers 121-79 in Mike Woodson’s head coaching debut. During a memorable victory over the Celtics in April, Novak connected on 8-of-10 long bombs en route to a 25-point performance in just 28 minutes.
Novak gained national notoriety for his ability to splash all over the floor. Fans tagged him as “Discount Double Check” due to his Aaron Rodgers inspired celebration and “Novakain” quickly caught fire during the Knicks run to the postseason.
Always a humble individual, Novak is more comfortable shifting the focus to his teammates and he was a fan of their work this summer. While his son was sleeping, the 6-10 sharpshooter caught a glimpse of Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler in action across the pond.
“My little guy was napping while the game was on and my wife kept saying that I need to be quiet because I was yelling at a big play or they were flopping and I was getting mad or something like that,” Novak laughed. “Carmelo played so well and Tyson, every time you hear a report about the team it was Tyson being one of the intangible guys as the core of that team.”
Novak also kept an eye on Amar’e Stoudemire and his work with the legendary center Hakeem Olajuwon.
“We all know that if he is working that hard and he is with Hakeem and he doing two-a-days, we all need to fall in line,” Novak emphasized.
He’s already gearing up for a highly anticipated training camp by spending time with Felton last week. Novak proved his worth last season and there is no doubt the 2012-13 Knicks will need a 3-point specialist when the opposing teams collapse on Anthony and Stoudemire in the paint. From day one of practice last year to the moment he resigned with the Knicks this summer, Novak is relishing the opportunity to play in NYC.