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The Right Randolph

The headline in Saturday's New York Post regarding the Knicks newest acquisition was "Will He Randolph?" and that actually segues well into something I've wanted to write about for awhile.

But first, let me say that this recent Knicks trade has me a little skittish. As if things couldn't get worse for that team, the faces of the franchise are now:

* An owner, with a self-destructive nature, who can barely complete a sentence in English
* A president/GM/coach who has been accused at various times of excessive gambling, sexual harassment, and extremely poor management of other people's money
* Two players, one whose heart health is such that some had concerns that he'd drop dead at any moment, and the other for whom we have to bring out the "Do Not Disturb" sign that we'd supposedly retired when Latrell Sprewell left town.

Isiah Thomas seems to think that he's the guy who can change Zach Randolph. I'm not convinced that Isiah, based on his history, would be a good influence, unless he can find a way to keep Randolph away from all of the following things:

* Guns
* Women
* Other basketball players
* Basketball fans
* Gangs
* Cars
* Strip clubs
* Alcohol
* Pot
* Merchandise

(You can see a full list of Randolph's transgressions here: http://chicagosports.chicagotribune.com/sports/columnists/cs-070524smith,1,7873729.column?coll=cs-columnists)

In order to turn his life around for the better, Randolph needs a much more positive influence than that which the New York Knicks can provide.

However, there is someone with whom Zach shares the bond of a last name who can help. Zach, meet your new adopted uncle, Willie.

It's my understanding that Willie Randolph is a big Knicks fan and for the good of the franchise, he should be the leader of the Zach Randolph Intervention Brigade.

Willie could teach Zach a lot. Isiah Thomas likes to talk about how things were tough for him growing up. Willie faced some rough times too, and, in my opinion, came out of a much better person than Isiah Thomas did. Zach Randolph doesn't need basketball lessons. He needs life lessons and Willie Randolph can best provide them.

Willie could give Zach the kind of pep talk he gave TV talk show host (and Randolph neighbor) Kelly Ripa when she was nervous about becoming Regis Philbin's sidekick on their morning TV show (she's been quoted as saying it was the best she'd ever heard).

He and his wife could impart the same wisdom they've provided for their four children, all of whom have attended college with degrees earned from the likes of Columbia, Fordham, and Seton Hall.

He could teach Zach respect for people, which goes both ways. He treats his players right and they do right by him.

Willie Randolph has grown on me in the last couple of years, as I'll admit that I was a little skittish when he came to this team. But the concerns are long gone and I think one of the reasons for that is watching the way that he celebrates walk-off wins.

Willie is usually the first or second person out of the dugout, and always has a big congratulatory hug for whichever player got the game-ending hit. I think that's awesome.

I think the best thing I could say about Willie Randolph as a manager is that he cares and he's able to convey that to other people in a positive way. Isiah Thomas would be smart to give Willie a chance, as Omar Minaya did a couple of years ago, to work his magic and provide a fix for the misery that now surrounds one of the sport's most prominent franchises.

Comments

Anonymous said…
Great column. Worthy of wider distribution.
metswalkoffs said…
Thank you. And thanks for posting the link on Digg.com
Unknown said…
Great read today. I'd be in a better frame of mind to praise Willie if the Mets weren't spending the weekend making my Phils look like a celebrity softball team.

Willie is a top-notch manager and a quality human being. Zach is a dirtbag who still after 6 years in the league has some upside.

I'm not hopeful that he can turn things around in The City That Never Sleeps.

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