Posted by Sean Doyle, February 1, 2010.
Indeed your dancing days are done
Oh (Anthony) I hardly knew ye
- Old Irish Folksong
In the summer of 2010, the Knicks traded their star player David Lee to the Golden State Warriors for three players, the most prominent of which was Anthony Randolph. (The other two were Ronny Turiaf and Kelenna Azubuike, thrown in for salary cap purposes.) At the time, Randolph was considered the second biggest "get" of the 'Bockers offseason and had many NYC hoop aficionados buzzing about his singular game. As a power forward with an uncommon skill set he was revered by many perceptive NBA observers. Bill Simmons listed Randolph along with LeBron, Wade, Paul, Duncan, Kobe, Durant, and Howard as one of only eight players on his "There's no way I'm missing them if they're in town" list. That is heady company when you consider every one of those players is a near certain first ballot Hall of Famer, and at least three of them (LeBron, Kobe, Duncan) are top ten all time players!
So just how did Randolph fall so far so fast? Many theories abound...
Theory #1: 20 Games.
According to Coach Mike D'Antoni it takes about 20 games for a player to adjust to the pace of the Knicks' offense. Therefore given the fitful nature of Randolph's feast or famine game the Knicks just couldn't risk putting him out there for a quarter season while he adjusted his unique skill set to the stylings of the infamous "7 seconds or less" offense.
Theory #2: It's The Attitude, Stupid.
When Randolph first entered the NBA, he often butted heads with Warriors head coach Don Nelson. (Nelson, who by the way has quite an enormous head. I know this because I once sat directly behind Nellie and the visitors bench at a Knicks-Warriors game and requested to be moved up to the nosebleeds so I could get a better view of the action. That cranium is so immense I still have sweat-strewn nightmares about it. But I digress...)* However, when he came to the Knicks last summer, Randolph was quoted as saying, "It's all on me right now. If I don't succeed it's my fault. It's not on anybody else." Hardly sounds like a hard case right?
Theory #3: The Hyperbole Factor.
Perhaps we as fans just got ahead of ourselves. It wouldn't be the first time. (Think Darius Miles) We hoopsters often go ga-ga for the "Undiscovered Country," that elusive multi-positional, omnidimensional, raw heap of super-potential prospect who will pass like Stockton, bound like Rodman, shoot like Miller, guard like Artest, all while playing point-center on his tippy-tippy toes. Maybe Randolph was just another long-on-potential, short-on-ability prospect who we badly over-hyped. Or maybe he's just a good all-around baller lost in system that doesn't allow him reach his full potential.
Theory #4: Respect The 'Stache.
Mike D'Antoni likes his rotations tight and closed. Just ask Nate Robinson, Larry Hughes, Roger Mason, Al Harrington, Andy Rautins, Tim Mozgov, Jordan Hill, etc. It takes a lot to break into a D'Antoni rotation. If you don't show Coach something, you ain't getting in and that's that.
In the final analysis, it's probably some combination of all four theories, and then some. While we now lament never witnessing a Randolph dunk on the hallowed floor of the Garden, sending us fans into a tizzy of ecstatic joy, we should appreciate the fellow who was a throw-in in the deal and now has become an indispensable stalwart of the Knicks rotation...Ronny Turiaf, this bud's for you.