FOCO releases 5 Knicks bobbleheads including 3 legends

Marking the New York Knicks and NBA’s 75th anniversary, FOCO launched five bobbleheads featuring their current and past stars.

RJ Barrett and Julius Randle represent the current Knicks generation. Patrick Ewing, Walt Frazier, and Willis Reed — three of the greatest players ever to wear the orange and blue jersey — complete the collection.

Barrett and Randle’s bobbleheads are portrayed in an action pose wearing their alternate city jersey with the cityscape in a thematic, team-colored as backdrop. Both bobbleheads stand atop a Madison Square Garden-themed base with the Knicks logo (circa 1995-96, 2010-11) displayed in front.

Ewing, Frazier, and Willis bobbleheads have a distinct feature of a diamond-themed base to show off their exclusive status as being named to the NBA 75th Anniversary team. All three legends are in an action pose wearing the classic orange and blue Knicks jersey with a diamond basketball. While Ewing and Reed sport the present Knicks logo, Frazier has the 1964-65, 1978-79 Knicks logo in front of his diamond-themed base.

Each bobblehead is individually numbered, handcrafted, and hand-painted. They are now available for pre-order at FOCO’s official website.

Extension eligible this summer, Barrett has recently inked a three-year commitment to represent Canada in all FIBA tournaments with an eye on the 2024 Paris Olympics. His goal next season is to become an All-Star.

On the other hand, Randle hopes to bounce back from a lackluster season after leading the Knicks to their first playoff appearance since 2013 in the previous season as the Most Improved Player, All-Star and an All-NBA Second Team member.

Ewing was the last Knicks’ first overall pick and carried the franchise to their only successful stretch over the previous four decades. Frazier and Reed are vital cogs of the Knicks’ two championship teams in the early 70s.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

Julius Randle becomes first Knick to win NBA Player of the Month since Carmelo Anthony

Julius Randle’s best NBA season yet has reached another new level.

After being named to his first All-Star Game and getting recognized with a Player of the Week honor recently, Randle got another feather on his cap.

Randle was named Eastern Conference’s NBA Player of the Month after leading the New York Knicks to an 11-4 record in April.

The Knicks’ hottest stretch in eight years saw Randle averaging 27.1 points, 9.0 rebounds, 6.3 assists, and 1.2 steals with 44/43/86 shooting splits. In that span, he had two 40-point games and seven games with at least 30 points.

He is the first Knicks player to average at least 25 points, five rebounds, and five assists, and 40 percent on three-point attempts in a calendar month, per Elias Sports Bureau.

The Knicks have won nine straight in April and have stayed hot, winning 12 of their last 13 games to firm up their hold of the fourth seed in the East with seven games left in their schedule.

Randle beat Washington’s duo Bradley Beal and Russell Westbrook, Atlanta’s Clint Capela, Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid, Cleveland’s Darius Garland, and Boston’s Jayson Tatum (BOS) in the East. Stephen Curry was named the Western Conference Player of the Month.

The 26-year old Randle became the first Knicks player to win the award since Carmelo Anthony did it in January 2014. Anthony made it twice as a Knick, while Patrick Ewing won the award five times during his illustrious run with the Knicks, making Randle just the third player in franchise history to get the award over the last 35 years.

This will not be the last time Randle will be recognized for his quantum leap this season. The Knicks’ All-Star forward is the frontrunner to win the Most Improved Player of the Year and is in the conversation for one of the All-NBA teams and perhaps can squeeze a few MVP votes.

Randle acknowledged the MVP conversation though he made it clear his focus is on leading the Knicks back to the playoffs after seven years of misery.

“For sure, I’m not going to shy away from it,” Randle said after he scored 28 points in the Knicks’ 14-point win in Memphis. “For me, it’s about getting better from game to game, improving as a player. I’m not focused on it. The praise obviously is great and everything but I’m not focused on it. For me, all I’m worried about is getting better, keep leading the team from game to game. Like I said before, our team, I feel like we can compete against anybody.”

The Knicks (37-28) currently have 1.5 games lead over the Atlanta Hawks (36-30).

Randle will have a chance to bolster his resume when the Knicks square up with the Denver Nuggets and MVP frontrunner Nikola Jokic on Wednesday.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

Knicks coach Thibodeau: Randle, Ewing cut in the same cloth

More than three decades ago, Patrick Ewing fell into New York Knicks‘ lap with a stroke of luck in the 1985 Draft Lottery.

Ewing’s star had the staying power that made the Knicks relevant in the 90s.

Ewing had been the face of the Knicks for already a decade when Tom Thibodeau, a young and a rising star assistant coach in the NBA, joined Jeff Van Gundy’s coaching staff.

Thibodeau saw up close Ewing’s blue-collar approach to the game. He was there at Van Gundy’s side when the Knicks 1997 season crumbled with Ewing suffering a career-threatening wrist injury. Thibodeau saw how Ewing survived that fall and rebounded, leading the Knicks to a Cinderella run — becoming the first eighth seed to reach the NBA Finals — two years later during the lockout-shortened 1999 season.

More than two decades later, Thibodeau found his way back to New York, this time at the helm of an incredible rise from seven long years of misery.

Thibodeau has brought New York basketball back on the map. He’s made the Knicks relevant again like the Ewing-led teams in the good old days in the 90s.

Thibodeau found his Ewing in Julius Randle, a 6-foot-8 bruiser that has evolved into a sweet shooter and undisputed leader.

Randle’s combination of bully ball and sweet stroke from the perimeter is currently leading a nine-game winning streak, the franchise’s second-best stretch in the last 25 years.

Before Thibodeau took the Knicks coaching job, he laid out his blueprint on The Platform podcast in May last year.

“How you build a culture is you have to sell your vision to your best players and your best players have to sell it to the rest of the team,” Thibodeau said. “Your first meeting is the most important meeting of the year. You have to begin with the end in mind. What wins in the playoffs, these are the things that you have to do, building habits.”

Culture is the buzzword that hasn’t been associated with the Knicks since the 90s. Not even the brief success they’ve had with Carmelo Anthony at the beginning of the last decade had a culture set in place. It was tumultuous at times. Dysfunction blurred the Knicks’ vision.

Thibodeau changed everything right on his first meeting.

He sized up Randle. He came away impressed. And that set the tone for the amazing season the Knicks are having.

Thibodeau was sold on Randle as the team’s best player. He sold his vision to him, and all the rest followed like dominoes.

“It always starts with your best players,” Thibodeau said after the Knicks beat the Toronto Raptors for their league-best ninth straight win. “If they work like that and it sets the tone for the team. He’s relentless. It’s not an accident that he’s having the type of season that he’s having. His commitment — I saw see it from the moment I met him how committed he was in turning this around.”

A year ago, Randle was the most vilified Knicks player. The fan base was ready to move on from him when the Knicks front office took the slam-dunking Obi Toppin with their eighth pick in the Draft.

But as it turned out, the Knicks were not as ready as their fans to move on from Randle. In fact, the new front office led by Leon Rose, who is close to Randle’s CAA agent Aaron Mintz, was planning to hand the keys to the enigmatic forward.

When Knick’s new VP and senior advisor William Wesley aka World Wide Wes, called up Randle to ask his input on the coaching search, it was clear Randle’s words carried weight like the stars in the league.

That seminal moment empowered Randle’s incredible turnaround, which mirrored the Knicks’ success this season. No one saw it coming except for Randle, Thibodeau, and the front office.

Randle asked for a coach who will make him accountable. He got it.

Just like when Randle came to New York, Thibodeau’s return to the Knicks organization was met with mixed reactions after his flameout in his last stop in Minnesota.

But it took two polarizing figures — Randle and Thibodeau — to galvanize a Knicks team that looked lost for years.

“I think it’s critical for success, and I saw that right away,” Thibodeau said when asked to comment on Randle seeking accountability. “I asked him when I first got hired to come in for a few days because I wanted to see where he was conditioning-wise and get to know him a little bit. When I saw the way he came in and I saw the way he worked, and we had our first conversation, I pretty much knew. And I worked him out, so I felt like ‘OK, this guy has a great capacity for work, he has the ability to concentrate, he’s in great shape and you start there. He’s been tremendous. I’ve said it many times: he’s our engine. He’s been a great leader right from the start, and he’s growing. He’s still getting better.”

Thibodeau had seen that kind of leadership before. Ewing was the engine of Van Gundy’s Knicks teams. He was at Van Gundy’s side, having a courtside view of Ewing terrorizing the league. It can be argued he was the best player in the Eastern Conference, not named Michael Jordan during his time. And that also didn’t happen by accident, even though Ewing was gifted with the size and talent.

“I can recall back in the ’90s when I first arrived here as an assistant, the thing that blew me away was Patrick Ewing every morning in the offseason he was the first guy in the building,” Thibodeau said. “He worked like crazy. He got himself ready, and the rest of the team did the same. That’s leadership. It’s not what you say, it’s what you do. When you see an example like that it gives you confidence and it gives the team confidence.”

Randle was just five years old when Ewing led the Knicks’ improbable run to the NBA Finals in 1999. Ewing was already a decade removed from the league when Randle rose into a future NBA lottery pick in Dallas.

Randle wasn’t into Ewing. He grew up in Kobe Bryant’s era. He played with the Los Angeles Lakers legend who patterned his game after Jordan, Ewing’s tormentor.

But on his quest for his own greatness, moving from West to East, Randle finds himself having to hold up to the standard of the former Knicks great.

“It’s amazing,” Randle said when he was told of Thibodeau’s Ewing comparison. “I’ve asked him to talk about that before. He kinda gave me insight into what he saw first-hand. I pride myself on my work ethic. The greats, they did that before. The guy I idolized the most, the guy I look up to, is Kobe (Bryant). His work ethic was top-notch. There’s nobody better at putting the time in than him.”

Randle learned from one of the greatest in LA. He also yearns to learn from one of the best players ever to set foot in New York through the lens of Thibodeau.

The Knicks never had the luck of the draw again to find a franchise-changing player like Ewing. Their constant chase for stars that never came made them the league’s laughingstock and meme.

They always settled for the next best available talent but never panned out in New York.

As their targeted stars — Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving — shunned them again two summers ago, they had Randle as a consolation.

Consolation was even an exaggeration at that time as media and fans alike frowned upon the three-year, $63-million signing of Randle.

But little did they know, what they had could be their next Ewing.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

Patrick Ewing fan Isaiah Stewart’s toughness is made for New York Knicks

Nba draft prospect Isaiah Stewart’s game evokes a throwback feel. He plays a lot like former New York Knicks‘ franchise big man Patrick Ewing at the post.

In Stewart’s lone season with the Washington Huskies, the 6-foot-9 forward/center from upstate Rochester routinely beats his man with fundamentally sound footwork that usually ends up with a monster slam, a leaner on the glass, a baby hook, or a smooth turnaround jumper.

Shades of Ewing, right?

Because Stewart grew up idolizing the Knicks Hall of Fame center.

“The reason why I wear 33 is because of Patrick Ewing. Growing up, he’s the player I used to watch a lot. I was always on youtube, arguing with other people about Patrick Ewing,” Stewart said on a zoom call with reporters.

His Jamaican heritage is the ties that bind him with Ewing. He’s heard Ewing’s exploits from his father, Dela Stewart, a Jamaican who emigrated to the United States in the 1970s originally in Florida for farm work and later on moved to Rochester, New York, for construction work.

Stewart’s affinity to Ewing grew even bigger when a family friend and area youth coach in Rochester, Dr. Michael Maloney, a Georgetown graduate, introduced him to the Knicks legend.

Although Stewart ultimately decided to take his talents to the Huskies because of his close relationship with coach Mike Hopkins, who’s been scouting him since his freshman year at McQuaid Jesuit High School, he said it was a tough decision.

“It was hard for me to say no to Georgetown, especially with Patrick Ewing recruiting me. Him having that Jamaican background, and my dad is Jamaican, they connected pretty easily. That was a great visit, and he was recruiting me hard,” Stewart recalled. “I definitely considered Georgetown.”

He made waves as a 6-foot-7 freshman in Rochester that registered back-to-back 40-point games. That put him on the scouts’ radar ever since.

After two seasons at McQuaid, Stewart transferred to La Lumiere School in Indiana, where he blossomed into a consensus five-star recruit and a top-five player in the 2019 class.

As La Lumiere’s double-double machine (18.1 points, 11.3 rebounds, and 2.9 blocks) that powered the prestigious prep program to a 30-1 record, Stewart won the Naismith Prep Player of the Year, Mr. USA Basketball awards. He played in all top high school camps (McDonald’s All-American Game, Jordan Brand Classic, and Nike Hoop Summit).

Even as a college freshman, Stewart’s 7-foot-4 wingspan and his 250-lb frame was an imposing presence under Hopkins’ zone. He averaged 17.0 points on 57 percent field goal shooting, 8.8 rebounds, and 2.5 blocks to earn All-Pac-12 selection.

If this was the late 80s or 90s, Stewart should be a surefire lottery pick.

But times have changed. The NBA game has evolved.

And Stewart, just a 19-year old kid with a grown man’s body, found the global pandemic an opportunity to expand his game and hopefully rise in the NBA teams’ boards as the Draft Day approaches.

“Shooting has been one of my main focuses. I’ve come a long way to that,” said Stewart, who shot 25 percent from deep in college.

Stewart played a traditional big man role under Hopkins and only attempted 20 triples in 32 games, making five of them.

Ewing may have strongly influenced his game, but Stewart said he’s been watching a lot of today’s NBA big men too as he prepares for the next level.

“With today’s generation of people at my position, some of the guys I’ve been watching a lot are Bam Adebayo, Montrezl Harrell, guys that feel like the same mold as me,” Stewart said.

If he can combine Adebayo’s playmaking skills with Harrell’s brute power, Stewart can thrive in the modern NBA.

“People know I bring, at the end of the day, my motor — hard work, run the floor, rebounding, and just doing the little things that may not show up in the stats sheet. To put my game in a nutshell, I’m the person who just does anything it takes to win. But the one thing that I think I’ll show you is my shooting ability,” Stewart said. “That will surprise a lot of people.”

Mostly mocked from mid to late first round, Stewart has both interviewed with the New York teams — the Knicks and the Brooklyn Nets though he declined to reveal which teams he had an in-personal workout with.

Stewart is an option and could be a steal at No. 27 if he’s still available and if the Knicks decide to use their eighth pick at drafting a point guard.

“I think that will be great—definitely a lot of Knicks fans from Rochester. With New York not being that far away from Rochester, I’m sure if the Knicks draft me at [No.] 27, I’ll have a lot of fans come up here and support me. That will be great,” Stewart said.

He sees no problem playing alongside Knicks’ current big man Mitchell Robinson, claiming his toughness is tailor-made for New York.

“[I can fit] easily [with] my physicality right away. In order for you to play in New York, you have to be tough. That’s who I am,” Stewart said. “I feel like I can play next to a big with me getting to shoot the ball and stretch the floor.”

But regardless of who picks him, he said they would get an NBA-ready player.

“I expect to be impactful and be able to go from Day One,” Stewart said.

Like Ewing did in New York.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

New York Knicks: Patrick Ewing calls Tom Thibodeau a ‘great coach’

New York Knicks, Patrick Ewing

Tom Thibodeau has been linked to the New York Knicks‘ head-coaching position from the moment Leon Rose took over as team president. Rose, the former head of Creative Artists Agency (CAA), has worked with Thibodeau in the past.

Knicks legend Patrick Ewing called Thibodeau a “great coach” in an interview with SiriusXM NBA Radio’s Frank Isola and Sarah Kustok (quote by means of Forbes’ Adam Zagoria).

“I think Tom’s a great coach. I had the opportunity to him being on the staff when he played, and also work with him. He’s been around for a lot of years, he knows the game in and out. He’s gonna do everything that he needs to do in terms of having his team prepared to play every night. I think he’d be a great candidate for that job.”

Thibodeau was an assistant coach with the Knicks from 1996-2003, which included four seasons of coaching Ewing. Thibodeau was previously an assistant for the Minnesota Timberwolves, San Antonio Spurs and Philadelphia 76ers. He joined the Houston Rockets as an assistant for the 2003-04 NBA season and was present through 2007.

Thibodeau was hired by the Boston Celtics as an assistant in 2007, where he’d reside for three seasons before becoming head coach of the Chicago Bulls. He spent five seasons in Chicago, winning Coach of the Year honors in 2011. Thibodeau was fired after the 2014-15 season and named the Timberwolves head coach in 2016.

The former Knicks assistant spent two and a half seasons in Minnesota, making the playoffs in his second season. Prior to his 2019 termination, Thibodeau was also Minnesota’s president of basketball operations.

The Knicks fired head coach David Fizdale in December 2019, and named assistant Mike Miller as interim head coach. President Steve Mills was axed in February and replaced by Rose. New York has hired Brock Aller as a chief strategist, Walt Perrin as assistant general manager and William Wesley as executive vice president/senior basketball advisor among other front-office hires under Rose.

The Knicks are reportedly considering 11 people to be their head coach for the 2020-21 season.

Patrick Ewing downplays former Knicks teammate Charles Oakley’s comments

New York Knicks, Patrick Ewing

New York Knicks legend Patrick Ewing may have retired in 2002, but his playing days have been in the news quite a bit in the past few weeks. Michael Jordan’s Last Dance documentary has sparked conversations about both Jordan’s Bulls and the teams he had to face in the 90s, including the Knicks.

Ewing’s former teammate Charles Oakley had some harsh words about Ewing. Oakley told Marc Berman of the New York Post,

“Patrick, at the end of the game, he’d get double-teamed, He’d shoot fadeaways on double-teams and that hurt us as a team… “We didn’t make shots and played into their hands. With defense, they played a zone and built a wall. They knew Patrick wasn’t going to pass out of the double team. Phil watched a lot of film. We watched a lot of film, but we were playing checkers and they were playing chess.”

When asked to comment, Ewing said, “I have nothing to say about what Charles has to say,” Ewing said. “He’s one of my best teammates. We went into a lot of wars and a lot of wars against the Bulls. So everyone is entitled to their own opinion.”

Former Knicks head coach and assistant on Pat Riley’s staff Jeff Van Gundy chimed in and said,

“I think we have amnesia, sometimes, as Knick people, just to how good Ewing was and how well he played. If you’re going to be compared to Jordan, then everybody’s going to come up short. But if you’re compared to a level of greatness?”

Oakley’s comments about his former teammate have rubbed many the wrong way. Ewing and the Knicks got close, but never delivered a championship. With that said, Ewing’s heart and passion shouldn’t be questioned, and he was the reason the Knicks ever got that close. Oakley chose to make cheap comments, Ewing chose to take the high road.

Former New York Knick Charles Oakley rips former teammates, including Patrick Ewing

New York Knicks’ legend Charles Oakley may have retired over 15 years ago, but he’s frequently found himself in the news in the last few years. Oakley and Knicks’ owner James Dolan had a widely publicized feud that originated on February 8th, 2017 when Dolan kicked Oakley out of Madison Square Garden for disorderly behavior, eventually leading to Oakley’s arrest. The two have been involved in an ongoing legal battle since. Now, it appears as though Oakley could be picking a fight with his former teammates.

Oakley has already made it clear he wasn’t fond of his former teammates Larry Johnson, Latrell Sprewell and Bernard King hanging out with Dolan just a few days after his arrest. On a radio interview with CBS, Oakley made some more comments about his old Knicks teammates:

“I just don’t want to be around these guys…A lot of guys I played with, I just lost respect for them because I went to war for them. I protected them, from Patrick (Ewing) on down.”

Oakley had more comments about Ewing in particular. Oakley said,

“He was a high maintenance player… As a team, we’re supposed to be close and together. It wasn’t that. We had to make sure he was happy. He didn’t care if we was happy or not. That’s a sad situation, and I see why the Knicks won’t give him a job. He treated them bad – inside out… He never put us on his back like he should have because every adversity he ducked away from.”

Those are harsh words to put on a Hall of Fame player like Ewing, who gave the New York Knicks some of the best seasons they’ve ever had. These comments surely won’t sit well with Knicks fans and former players.

Charles Oakley is taking shots at New York Knicks great Patrick Ewing

New York Knicks, Charles Oakley

Former New York Knicks forward Charles Oakley is back in the news. T his time he’s taking shots at his former teammate, Patrick Ewing.

Oakley went on the DA show talking ‘90s Knicks and their play.  Oakley bashed Ewing’s leadership style saying, “He never put us on his back like he should have because every adversity he ducked away from.”

He continued to take shots calling Ewing ‘high maintenance’ and that players had to be ‘special’ to play with Ewing.  He brought former Knicks Anthony Mason and Chris Childs into the mix as well. Ewing would treat Childs poorly and Mason would cursed and yell at Ewing.

Oakley said the ‘90s Knicks were ‘held back’ cause of Ewing.  And this team got the same answers from Ewing when the times were tough that they would ‘get ‘em next time’.

Oakley needs to just stop all of this now.  He’s in the media limelight again after his feud with the Knicks owner.

If there was no, alleged, leadership from Ewing then why continue he step up?  He was also one of the leaders and forces for the team so where was his leadership?

Oakley continues to bring negative attention to the Knicks organization when they’re trying to rebuild the team and their image.  It’s not necessary and draws more negative criticism to himself.

Ewing may not have brought a championship to New York but he did elevate the players around him, no matter what Oakley says.  Those were the glory days for the New York Knicks and Oakley is trying to ruin it.