Photo by Bruce Bennett | Getty Images
By Ciaran Gowan
After a short stint away in New Orleans working on his new project – a remake of the 2003 film Oldboy – Spike Lee is back.
The legendary director took his courtside seat at Madison Square Garden for the first time this season during Sunday’s matinee win against the Phoenix Suns. While his presence filled a void that had been missing during the first six home games, there was one thing still missing:
His signature jersey.
Besides his passion for the blue and orange, Spike is known for adopting a player whose game-worn jersey he will rock all season, and he has been doing it for years. From the electric John Starks in the 90s, to the high-flying Nate Robinson in more recent years, Spike always warms up to one player slightly more than the rest.
But there are some new faces in town for the 2012-13 season, and it’s time for Spike to add a new addition to his wardrobe. On the MSG broadcast this Sunday, he told us that we’ll get our first glimpse of the new jersey on December 11th in Brooklyn, but whose jersey will it be? Let’s take a look at the likely candidates:
Spike went with the Starks jersey back in the 90s, so perhabs J.R. Smith, a player who mirrors the Knicks’ legend in a lot of ways? Like Starks, Smith has the ability to be a lights-out shooter from outside, and is a threat to go off on any given night. With his improved shot selection and focus, Smith is becoming a serious contender for the Sixth Man of the Year award and may just have attracted Spike’s attention with his recent play.
Smith’s partner in crime off the bench, Steve Novak, could be another option. “Novakaine” has one of the purest outside shots in the league today, and when he’s hot, the Garden – Spike included – gets absolutely raucous. When Novak brings out the championship belt, you know it’s going down, and Spike wearing a Novak jersey opens all sorts of avenues to integrate the belt. I can just picture Spike getting in on the Discount Double Check (http://youtu.be/j9Rv7czl9cU), as Novak comes running back up the court after yet another long range make.
If Spike Lee is looking for a “glue guy” to represent this season, there is no need for him to look any further than Ronnie Brewer. An excellent passer at small forward and a genuine team player, Brewer brings a lot to the table that just makes this team click. Brewer’s timely cuts to the basket and improved shooting touch have been invaluable to the Knicks at this early stage of the season, and he provides a great option on offense. Defensively, Brewer is arguably one of the best stoppers in the league out on the wing, and this quality has clearly contributed to New York’s dominance on D. What’s more, Brewer is the type of guy who Spike has chosen before; He’s an unsung hero who does the little things that often go unnoticed.
In the past, Spike has steered away going with jerseys of the Knicks’ big men, famously avoiding Patrick Ewing’s jersey because it would have extended to his ankles. That said, if there’s any player on this team who he’d likely make an exception to the rule for, it would be Amar’e Stoudemire. As the Knicks’ longest-tenured player and the man who brought basketball back to New York in 2010, it would be nice of Spike to pay homage to STAT as he nears his return from injury. Stoudemire will have a major impact on the Knicks when he finally hits the floor – whether that be off the bench or as a starter – but he surely would welcome some encouragement from the Knicks’ most famous fan.
Scrappy, passionate and short enough for his jersey not to fit like a dress on Spike Lee, Raymond Felton would make a lot of sense. Spike has favored players with grit and toughness in the past, and there is no player who personifies that more than Felton. Though Spike didn’t wear a Felton jersey during his initial stint with New York, the fact that Felton was so motivated to return to the Mecca may change things. The new slogan on the collar of these uniforms is “Once a Knick, Always a Knick” and there’d be no better way to prove this than by Spike donning the name and number of a returning fan favorite.
So, what do you think Knicks fans? Plenty of options exists on this deep roster, but whose jersey should Spike wear and why? Let us know in the comments section!