FEATURE: The Veteran Effect

Jonah Ballow


Rasheed Wallace has an answer to every question.  Whether it’s a short or long response, the 38-year old will always provide his unique view on the situation at hand.  In fact, he is the perfect player to inquire about the Knicks strong start to the season and why this specific team is displaying championship characteristics through 21 games.

“Veteran guys and perseverance,” Wallace confidently stated after the Knicks topped the Nets in Brooklyn behind a game-winner from 39-year old, Jason Kidd.  “Right now, [Marcus} Camby is down but he’ll be back soon, myself, J. Kidd, Kurt [Thomas], it’s a veteran group.  We’ve been through pretty much every situation in a basketball game throughout our careers.  So, we’ve seen a lot of things, like tonight being down big and being able to come back and win or sometimes you comeback and you might fall short a point or two.  But, we’ve seen every situation in our careers.”

Obviously, the incredible play of MVP candidate Carmelo Anthony is a major reason the Knicks own the top spot in the Eastern Conference.  One can’t overlook the veteran crew surrounding Anthony as he is off to an explosive first two months of the season by averaging 27.7 points per game.

Tuesday night was a perfect example of how the Knicks benefited from veteran leadership and poise down the stretch.  Trailing by 17 points in the first half and 10 in the second, New York found a way to fight through adversity inside the Nets brand new building. 

7-year pro, Raymond Felton explained the final play and why the Knicks are executing at a high level.  “I penetrated, J. Kidd slid to the right spot, he was wide open, kicked it to him, and he hit a big three.  That’s something you can’t teach and a rookie wouldn’t understand at first, how to position yourself in the right spot.”

Kidd drilled a game-winning 3-pointer in the final seconds and Anthony dropped a season-high 45 points to lead the Knicks to an exhilarating 100-97 victory over the Nets.  Through 21 games, Kidd is defying his age at the point and shooting guard position.  He is hitting 52.8 percent of his 3-point attempts and is averaging a team-best 1.9 steals per game.

New York has its share of marquee wins this year: Dismantling Miami twice, a 12-point comeback victory in San Antonio, and another thrilling game-winner from J.R. Smith in Charlotte.  This squad is taking care of business against teams below the .500 mark and at home with an undefeated 8-0 record.

"These are the games we have to win,” Anthony declared following the win in Brooklyn. “We claim to be a great team and good teams win basketball games like this."

Walking inside the locker room, it’s easy to see the affect of the veterans.  Let’s not forget, Wallace is an NBA champion, Kidd participated in two NBA Finals and won a title next to Tyson Chandler in 2011, and Camby appeared in the 1999 NBA Finals.  While Anthony is only 28-years old, he helped carry the Nuggets to the Western Conference Finals and 30-year old Amar’e Stoudemire was on the door step of the Finals with the Phoenix Suns. 

“It’s a great thing to have all these veterans on this team,” Felton beamed.  “You know, everybody is trying to talk all that junk that they are all old and this and that, nah, we are proving them wrong.”

The bond is strong and the mixture of youthful star talent and veteran leaders are carrying the Knicks to an impressive start to the 2012-13 campaign.  Wonder how this will continue?  Just ask Rasheed Wallace.

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