Larry Johnson, John Starks
Photo credit: Eliot J. Schechter / Stringer

ESNY’s Rob Lepelstat former New York Knicks staple Larry Johnson is looking forward to the 2019-20 season due to the group of players. 

The New York Knicks 2019 offseason didn’t go the way many fans hoped for. The Knicks missed out on the Zion Williamson sweepstakes, ending up with the No. 3 overall pick despite having the best odds to grab the first selection.

To deepen the wound, top free agents Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving opted to sign with the crosstown rival Brooklyn Nets instead of the bright lights of Madison Square Garden.

Knicks legend Larry Johnson spent six seasons in the Big Apple before retiring in 2001. He was a two-time All-Star and Rookie of the Year in 1992.

Fans will remember his heart, energy and iconic four-point play in the 1999 Eastern Conference Finals vs the Indiana Pacers.

When speaking at Derek Jeter’s annual Turn 2 Foundation Gala, he took a different approach to the Knicks highly scrutinized summer.


“It wasn’t a rough offseason. Everybody had their hopes up. We’re fine with what we’ve got. I was speaking with young guys, who want to be stars. Want to play here. That’s half the battle. Just wanting to be a Knick and wanting to play in New York. Working hard. Playing hard. I think we’ll definitely be better than we were last year.”

One of those new “young guys” for the Knickerbockers is No. 3 overall pick RJ Barrett. Barrett averaged 22.6 points, 7.6 assists and 4.3 assists in his one season at Duke. He was also ranked the top player in the country going into his freshman year of college. Then, Zion Mania happened.

Jonson has been through the ups and downs of New York City. He had some advice for the rookie.

“Yeah, it’s navigating New York. For real brotha. Keep your head on a swivel. Keep good people around you. RJ’s throughout his short career has always made the right decisions.”

Marcus Morris and other Knicks have discussed the team possibly turning the clock back to the 1990s Knicks, defined by hard-nosed defense and physicality.

As he put it, “Old school Knicks. Protect the Garden.”

Twenty-nineteen basketball is different now compared to the 1990s though. A style of play that was once embraced is no longer the case, in addition to the removal of hand checking.

“That will be welcomed but as far as the Knicks go, the whole league needs to do it. The whole league has changed. If the whole league isn’t on board, they’ll run into some problems.”

Morris was ejected from the Knicks preseason opener versus the Washington Wizards on Oct. 8 when he hit Justin Anderson in the head with the ball.

To put it simply, these are not your father’s Knicks or dad’s NBA. For a Knicks team that was the worst team in the NBA one year ago, a change of scenery and style of play in the Bronx couldn’t hurt.

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