Q&A: Modi from Sports On My Mind

I'm always happy when the Warriors face off with the Knicks because it gives me a great opportunity to mic up one of my favorite blogger buddies Modi from the super power Sports on My Mind.

Jump from the Bay to NY!

Atma Brother #1 (Golden State of Mind): You've written several incredibly perceptive and counter hegemonic pieces on Stephon Marbury that pose a plethora of valid challenged to the Starburry Cancer rhetoric prevalent in the NBA media landscape.

 

 

What do you predict will happen to Marbury for the rest of this season? How about this offseason and for the remainder of his playing career? When it's all said and done what will be his legacy?

Modi (Sports on My Mind): First of all AB1, I want to say that I love your work (and others) at GSOM, and it is a shame that you must be burdened with so much team turmoil. I thought that was just reserved for Knick fans! So I feel your pain. And I understand the hi-lo feeling of seeing Jamal drop 50 one week, and back-to-back 4-point games another week. There are three certainties in life: Death, taxes, and Jamal will end the year shooting 41%. But moving on…

As for Marbury, it is hard to blame the Knicks for keeping him through the Feb. 19 trade deadline, but if nothing happens there is an 11 day window where he could get bought out and play for another team. My guess? James Dolan will not buy him out for spiteful reasons dating back to the Anucha Browne Sanders trial. It’s too bad because he would be an absolutely perfect fit for Orlando after Jameer Nelson went down. A strong low-post player, and three point shooters like Hedo and Rashard are a perfect match for a penetrate-and-dish guard, and could do for his career what coming to Golden state did for Baron Davis’ career.

His legacy? Unfortunately, it will probably go down as a "selfish, spoiled loser", and that is a shame for two reasons. First of all, Marbury is much more complex than the mainstream media image. I know of no athlete who has been more of a humanitarian and community activist than Marbury. Guys like Derrick Brooks, Warrick Dunn, Steve Nash, Alonzo Mourning, Mutombo, and  Yao Ming are right up there, but Marbury is far ahead of all of them. It is so much more than the low-priced shoes, which is why I felt compelled to document much of his incredible off-court selflessness in "You Don’t Know Stephon Marbury". This is not to suggest that Stephon is blameless for some of his immature behavior, but when you add up all the positives in one column, and the negatives in another: Marbury is a hero. 

On-the-court:  Marbury won only 41% of his games post-Minnesota, but his teams only won 29% when he was out of the line-up during those same years (sample: 214 games). He has never really been surrounded by the type of players or system to suit his talent. Certain point guards thrive in certain systems, but enough about Baron Davis! Same with Steve Nash who numbers this year are a mirror-image of his last Dallas year. So what if Nash never had Mike D’Antoni? We would never know how good he can be. Nellie was smart to let Baron call his own plays, and now Rick Carlisle has just done the same with Kidd with nice early results. What if Elton Brand played his whole career in Phile’s system? How would we view him? Systems matter. The crime of Marbury’s career is that he had no real low-post force after Garnett, and no 3-point shooters to spread the floor considering his penetration.

 

Atma Brother #1 (Golden State of Mind): We're not even at the All-Star break and the New York Knicks have already come close to matching their win total of last season. What's the single biggest reason for the improvement? 

Modi (Sports on My Mind): Coaching.

Part of it is that D’Antoni’s system is a nice fit for the current Knicks squad who are allergic to defense. D’Antoni’s system hides defensive flaws – somewhat anyway! The Knicks made the Crawford/Zach trades with an eye on 2010, but had they stayed with D’Antoni’s system, I’m confident that the Knicks would be at least .500 right now. I still agree with the trades though. Also, it is hard to overstate how poorly the Knicks were coached the last three years. First mad scientist Larry Brown had 42 lineups in one year, and then Isiah would stubbornly stick to terrible duplicative line-ups. It was evident after 10 games that the Curry-Zach frontcourt pairing was a defensive disaster, but Isiah stayed with it forever. He inexplicably kept playing QRich, never gave David Lee enough minutes, and his only play with 30 seconds left was "can Jamal take his man off the dribble". People tend to believe that Isiah was a terrible GM, but that is just not true. He made some mistakes, but terrible coaching and his inherited roster would have made any GM become a failure (see "Isiah’s Suicide Mission" for explanation)..

 

Atma Brother #1 (Golden State of Mind): LeBron James. Dwyane Wade. Amare Stoudemire. Chris Bosh. Tracy McGrady. Dirk Nowitzki. Who's coming to the New York Knicks in 2010?  

Modi (Sports on My Mind): As you know, I think free agency is a horrible strategy, but 2010 might be that one exception. I think that there is a 50-50 shot at LBJ, and that is enough to roll the dice. The man wants to become a billionaire, and NYC is the place to do it! After LBJ, Chris Bosh is probably the next most likely candidate. Rumors persist that he wants out of Toronto, so my guess is that he is traded before then. An older Steve Nash will also probably be signed on the cheap. But this is really about LBJ.

Fingers are crossed AB1. Fingers are crossed!

Thanks for the questions, and good luck with the Warriors. If Phil and Kobe can reunite, so can Baron and Nellie! Good luck.

*****

Just wanted to thank my man Modi for the valuable insights from the East Coast! Definitely make sure to bookmark Sports on My Mind to read up on Modi's latest.

From the archives: Q&A: Modi from Cosellout (1/26/08)

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