Amar’e and the lockout

To this day, Knicks superstar Amar’e Stoudemire is still feeling the effects of the injury he sustained during the first playoff series the Knicks have seen in almost a decade.

With the NBA lockout possibly cancelling a few dozen games (going on the 30 that were lost in ’99’s lockout), could this be a blessing for certain Knick veterans such as Chauncey Billups, a player whom, although a few younger than 2011 champion Jason Kidd, came up short during a time he is known to often shine: during the playoffs.

There is also the train of thought that the players need time to gel together, particularly with the addition of the best pure scorer in the NBA, Carmelo Anthony (sorry Kevin Durant, you are a close second, melo has more game on the block).

With so much in question, including what role rookie Iman Shumpert and sophomore Landry Fields will play in perhaps Mike D’Antoni’s final year as head coach of the Knicks, the lockout must be a double-edged sword, especially since the Knicks did not look like a team with much chemistry after the trade, only talent.

Still, I’d rather have this talent than any talent on south beach. It took a while for me to see it, but the Knicks are better off in the long run.  They need role players now.  If they can find another 6’10” enforcer from Virginia Union and Toney Douglas learns everything Chauncey can teach him, the knicks won’t have to wait until next season to do some damage in the playoffs.

The knicks need a training camp to work out their new guns.  Can David Stern and Billy Hunter quickly put together an agreement everyone can live with for the sake of professional basketball in the United States?

Juan from Uptown

I ran into a Knicks fan the other day down by the Brooklyn Bridge. Shout out to Juan.

We talked knicks for what seemed like an hour, everything from Carmelo, to Amar’e, to Zach Randolph, to Isiah Thomas. Very valued opinions, I shall try to recapture them here undistorted.

Isiah gets a bad rap in NYC. The venom directed at Isiah stems from the sexual harrassment trial (Marbury was more in the wrong than Isiah) more than his basketball-related decisions while in New York. Said decisions must be taken with a grain of salt because he inherited garbage from the previous regime.

Toney Douglas is a guy you keep because of the way he sacrafices his body when he plays. Juan thinks Billups could do a good job mentoring Douglas, because Billups has a ring and is a good player. I was reminded of when, after the trade was made, Billups said to Douglas, “don’t worry about those two big-stats, big-contact, big-ego players, you are the point guard, you arrange your team accordingly.

He also said of Billups, that the players were responding more to his teaching than that of Mike D’Antoni at some point late in the season. Of course, Billups has the ring, Mike’s rings are all from Europe. I think Mike will get one in the NBA, maybe not while with the Knicks. We both agreed Mike is on very, very thin ice here in New York.

He wasn’t surpised by Barkely’s remarks, that D’Antoni should be fired (remarks made just prior to the end of a regular season in which the knicks would be going to the playoffs for the first time in nearly 10 years). I thought the comments were a low-blow because D’Antoni is still the head coach at this moment.

Juan thinks we should sign Kurt Thomas because he is a throwback to an old-school Knick: Charles Oakley. We need a locker room leader who will threaten to beat Stephon’s–I mean Carmelo’s ass if he gets out of line.

He can’t stand Mike D’Antoni, wants his no defense bullshit to go. he’s had it with d’antoni. Many fans feel the same way. I still think his best coaching days are ahead of him, but of course, maybe not here in New York, where his time is running out.

He loves Shumpert, thinks Shumpert will have a good future with the Knicks. Thinks Shumpert was under-rated in college because he played with no one for several years.

Thinks we gave up way too much in the Carmelo trade, blames Dolan for forcing Donnie Walsh’s hand. Thinks Donnie should have stayed, that it was Dolan’s idiocy that made him leave.

Was a big fan of Wilson Chandler’s. So was I. We were both loving Felton. Juan thinks his career is in trouble now after all this mess, he’s out in Portland?

Didn’t think we should have given up Gallinari and Chandler. I said the trade sucked because, not only did we give up too much, we gave them a center and didn’t get one back. Not only that, did we give up draft picks in the Carmelo trade?

Unlike myself, he was not too big on Mozgov.

Thinks the other rook Josh Harrellson could produce for about 10 minutes off the bench next year as a clogger with a little skill.

Wants us to go after Samuel Dalembert. I told him that should have happened five years ago by now. Particularly with the manner in which Amar’e plays d. We need someone else down there. Obviously Tyson chandler or Marc Gasol are now both unavailable, with their stock rising in these most recently past playoffs.

No, we’d be lucky to get Dalembert at this point. Might have to settle for KT, and even he would be an upgrade at this point.

He thinks Zbo was a keeper. We both agreed the best Knick game of the season was the the post-trade game down in Miami, one which was promising in terms Amar’e, Carmelo and Chauncey’s potential as teammates. I think they’re still trying to figure it out, with or without D’Antoni.

Lockout Post #4: Saxophone Player Sam Rivers

“What?” You ask?

“An interview with Sam Rivers posted on a Knicks blog?”

I know.  It doesn’t make sense.

With people heading overseas, everyone doing their own thing, might as well put up something of interest from another realm of the NYC experience.

The following is a LA Times interview with jazz master Sam Rivers.

For Sam Rivers, both art and life are long
Nearing 80, the jazz saxophonist with an abiding passion for ‘spontaneous creativity’ opens at the Bakery.
By Don Heckman
Special to The Times

September 23 2003

Ask saxophonist Sam Rivers about his impending 80th birthday on Thursday and he just laughs.

“I don’t think about it much,” he says. “I’m feeling fine and my son is a doctor. That always helps.”

Ask about his music, however, and the epigrammatic responses quickly expand into thoughtful explanations of his lifelong fascination with the improvisational processes of jazz.

“I’ve been through a lot of different phases,” Rivers says. “I’ve played bebop and I’ve played avant-garde, and I’m still learning something new about it every day.”

“Still learning” to the extent that the trio he brings to the Jazz Bakery tonight for a six-night run will incorporate sounds, rhythms and improvisational techniques stretching across stylistic boundaries, embracing every segment of his long career.

“Spontaneous creativity” is how he describes the music he performs with bassist Doug Matthews and drummer Anthony Coles (with each playing three or four other instruments). It is jazz in which preset harmony and melody have been abandoned in favor of completely spontaneous improvisation — jazz not based on anything.

“I’ve been doing spontaneous creativity so long that it’s like second nature,” Rivers says from his Florida home. “Basically what it means is that we create everything on the spot — the melody, everything, even the rhythms.”

What is an audience to make of jazz without the familiar reference points of harmonies from standard tunes and the blues?

“At the bottom line, art is all about feeling and emotion,” he explains. “In rock, they substitute volume for emotion. We try to do it with color, tempo and so forth.”

The keystone of Rivers’ fascination with spontaneous creativity is the ’60s, when jazz — and popular music and the nation — went through a series of titanic upheavals. Ornette Coleman, Albert Ayler, Cecil Taylor and others proposed new ways of approaching jazz, often abandoning the art’s long association with the process of theme and invented variations.

“When you think about it,” he says, “[Charles] Mingus, Cecil and Ornette were already stretching out before the ’60s. They really led the way into the rebellion and the iconoclasm in the music that happened in the ’60s.

“Not only in jazz but in the other arts as well. Changes everywhere — painting, photography, writing, pop music think about Jimi Hendrix — directly reflecting everything that was happening.”

Oklahoma-born Rivers was working with Miles Davis in the early ’60s. By middecade he was involved with activities surrounding Bill Dixon’s edgy Jazz Composers Guild.

“People couldn’t quite figure out where I was coming from,” he says. “When I came to New York, I was playing with Miles Davis. Then I went with Cecil Taylor, and everybody seemed to think that was what I did. Then, later, when I went with Dizzy Gillespie, they said, ‘What is Sam Rivers the avant-gardist doing with Dizzy?’ But I think I really benefited from the different things I did. I’m one of the few players who felt comfortable about crossing back and forth.”

His own recordings began to be released in the mid-’70s, including the highly regarded “Fuchsia Swing Song.” In 1970, he and his wife, Beatrice, founded Studio Rivbea, a pioneering location in the Manhattan loft-jazz scene that became a vital part of cutting-edge jazz for the balance of the century.

In the ’80s, after returning from yet another lengthy tour — this time with Gillespie — Rivers decided he’d had his New York experience and began to think about moving. Serendipitously, he received an offer to move to Orlando, Fla.

“I was offered an orchestra to work with,” he says, “to play my music, try new things, the sort of orchestra we’d had at the studio. And sure enough here I am, pretty much working with the same musicians I’ve had for more than a decade. They’re all teachers at various universities along with some studio players and some musicians from Disney too.”

“It’s a good situation, very conducive to my ‘creative posture,’ ” he adds with another laugh. “I get a lot of work done, I have a group of good players that play my music every Wednesday night and I occasionally get out on tour with my trio.”

Given the effect that the ’60s had on his creative development, has Rivers’ comfortable life in Florida affected his interest in stretching the envelope?

“Not at all,” he says. “The orientation may be different, but creativity is creativity. You start with nothing, no plan, and you make something out of it. Back in the ’70s, I had a group — with [bassist] Dave Holland and [guitarist] Barry Altschul doing exactly that: performing 2 1/2 hours with no music, just spontaneous creativity, making cohesive performances. And that’s still where my heart is. Sometimes I do it on the spot with the trio. Sometimes I write it down for a large group.

“After all,” Rivers concludes, “composing — by any composer — is really a matter of writing down the improvisations that you hear in your head. And those spontaneous creations just keep on coming.”

Will Danilo Gallinari’s book now be published with an post-trade addendum?

Summer of 2011: NBA Locked Out

The Knicks…

The Lockout…

If this were any other year, we’d be talking about the draft, the Vegas Summer Pro League, possible free agent signings, possible trades involving Landry Fields (that they’ll now shop Fields is how I interpret both his fizzle out ending to the season and the selection of Iman Shumpert rather than Chris Singleton).

But no, we can’t really talk about new developments in Knick land because the very essence of the lockout is that the league is frozen, and nothing can resume until the labor disputes are resolved.  I can’t tell if this is just posturing by both sides, but it appears the lockout will last the whole year, and these young athletes will lose out on one full year of their prime.

This is what the owners have on their sides: time.  Well, that, plus the billions in the bank earning interest that each owner possesses.  Amar’e is 28-29 years old.  Melo obviously felt he didn’t want to wait on his dream of playing in a Knick uniform any longer.  CP3 said they’ve been preparing for this, and the players have the advantage of tweeting and all the other social network stuff (still not sure that’s to their advantage).  The owners get to hide in the shadows while all this drama plays out.

NBA Players go bare during 2011 NBA lockout

With Amar’e, Carmelo, Fields, and what’s left of Billups, we have a good future here in New York, but how much time will the window for a championship be open?  How old was KG when he was traded to the Celtics?  We don’t have our third of the “big three” trend started by the Celtics and copied (almost to complete success) by the Heat this past season.  New York wants in on this.  Billups, or what remains of him, says the Knicks need better role players not another star.  Clearly he’s wrong if you look at the winning trend that includes the Lakers.

We have cap room to go after another big time player such as Dwight Howard, if he indeed does not want to play for the Magic long term.  Otis Smith is on the hot seat just about as much as Mike D’Antoni or Erik Spolestra is.  Those guys are all out soon unless something miraculus happens.

Or is the lockout a blessing in disguise?

Land of the free, home of the brave

Welcome to the 2011 NBA Lockout

Pictures have been removed from the player profiles online.  On the website, all that remains are pictures from the past such as Stockton, Oscar Robertson, and Michael Jordan.

The NBA needs this lockout to set the record straight.  I hope the new CBA is one that everyone can live with:  players, owners, and fans.  They are arguing about revenue sharing, a hard cap, and a 30% reduction in payroll.

I think the NBA should include some new rules about leeches, I mean “talent agencies,” this is NOT AAU basketball.

The league has to get this right.  Maybe this is the time for another league, a more grassroots league, to start here in America.  There is no reason for the NBA to monopolize basketball here; there are too many basketball junkies, some of which can’t get into college because it is far too transitory these days.