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20.09.2018

Knicks’ top pick needs to be ready for NYC pressure cooker.

Shortly before the Knicks picked fourth in 2015 — their highest selection since they won the first NBA lottery — the grand prize from the 1985 draft, Patrick Ewing, was asked about playing in New York. “Whoever they get,” Ewing said, “tell him he better have a thick skin. A really thick skin.” No one...
Time: 20:24     Date: 22.06.2018
Last US Sport News: Knicks’ top pick needs to be ready for NYC pressure cooker. NY Post 24 - US News

“Whoever they get,” Ewing said, “tell him he better have a thick skin. A really thick skin.”

No one would know that better than Ewing who left gallons of blood, sweat and tears on the Garden floor every night and still heard boos. That 2015 pick was Kristaps Porzingis, whose selection was met with boos. Fast forward to Thursday at Barclays Center.

“With the ninth pick in the 2018 NBA draft, the New York Knicks select Kevin Knox of the University of Kentucky.”

Boos. TV cameras showed a guy in a Porzingis jersey giving two thumbs down and a kid looking he was just received lifetime latrine-cleaning duty. Welcome to New York.

“It was cool. I’m not going to be upset,” Knox said Friday at his introductory press conference in Tarrytown, alongside second-round pick Mitchell Robinson and Knicks brass. “I’m not going to cry about it. The only thing that was going through my head was, ‘I got drafted by the New York Knicks,’ and how happy I was for myself and my family. I wasn’t paying attention to boos. … I got motivation. It’s fuel to the fire. It just motivates me to get in the gym more.

Fans wanted Michael Porter Jr., the preseason consensus No. 1, whose back issues frightened off more folks than IRS agents. If not Porter, then the safe pick, Mikal Bridges, a do-it-all, older, two-time NCAA champ with Villanova was desired. In what could be an enormous reprieve for the Knicks, Porter (Denver) and Bridges (Phoenix) ended up in the Western Conference. Better to see them once a year at the Garden than twice, in case they become celestial sorts.

Coach David Fizdale, president Steve Mills and general manager Scott Perry raved repeatedly about Knox’s skills. He can shoot. He has length. He can handle. He is athletic. Name it, he’s got it. As Fizdale said, he “checked every box for us.”

That included the hardest boxes, like physicality — which some observers at Kentucky questioned — and the mentality to play in New York, which Doc Rivers once described as performing “in a fish bowl during rush hour with all the lights in the world trained on you.”

Knox said the high-profile Kentucky program prepared him for New York. But many times, it’s that Kentucky prepares players for the NBA and the NBA is needed to prepare for New York. Fizdale, though, loves Knox’s mental makeup.

“He wanted to be at Kentucky,” Fizdale said. “That’s a tough place to say, ‘I’m going here and I’m going to flourish in this place.’ You have to have a certain type of attitude, a certain confidence, a certain competitive edge to want that.”

Unlike, say, the Yankees pitcher way back who would only start games on the road.

The Knicks were impressed with Knox’s drive because he wanted to do 3-on-3 workouts, not individual.

“The fact he chose to come and do a 3-on-3, a six-person workout, said something about what he was willing to do in terms of compete and be a competitor,” Mills said. “That stood out to us.”

Among so much else.

“We had been watching him since high school, really,” Perry said. “He represents a lot of what we want to be about and how we want to play the game.”

And he might not even need to wear a Kevlar uniform.

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Business

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Sport

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