Malik Rose was drafted in 1996, spent his rookie year in Charlotte and then played for San Antonio for eight years, winning two NBA titles in the process.
Then he went to New York, and his eyes opened – and not in a good way.
The Knicks were dysfunctional, yes. But why?
“That is such a great question,” Rose said on CBS Sports Radio’s The DA Show. “They say you never realize a sunny day until you’re in a rainstorm, and that is so true. I was in San Antonio for almost eight years, and that San Antonio way just became a way of life. It was like what we did every day. Everything we did was about winning, getting better. I thought every team did that and then when I got to the Knicks, I saw things that were different. Not that these guys were bad guys, but the main thing that I saw that was different was nothing was about winning. It was about how can I make more money off the court? How can I get more endorsements? The rapper I hang with, his music is the only music that can be playing in the weight room when I’m in there working out. Everything that had nothing to do with winning was what was on everybody’s mind, whereas in San Antonio nothing was on our mind (except) winning and getting better each and every day. I didn’t realize that until I got to New York.”
Contrary to popular belief, the problems in New York – at least in Rose’s opinion – were not Isiah Thomas’ fault.
“It’s not Isiah,” he said. “If you think about it, he gets a bad rap for a lot of things, but as far as a GM or a talent evaluator, the man knows talent. He had some bad picks there – Renaldo Balkman or whatever – but he has Wilson Chandler. He picked Trevor Ariza in the second round. Look at some of those rosters on the Toronto Raptors. The guy knows talent. But as far as the other stuff – the off-the-court stuff at Madison Square Garden – that was the ultimate downfall of Isiah Thomas. But the main thing with the Knicks during those times, it was just the players. It was a bad mix of guys. Talented guys. Very talented. But (they) did not get along on the court, man. It was ridiculous.”
So, Thomas could identify talent, but he couldn’t create a winning atmosphere?
“I guess,” Rose said. “If you talked (to Stephon Marbury) now, he’s a totally different person – I guess going to China for a decade will do that to you – but a lot of it stemmed from him. He was a certain type of individual, and it was just his world. A lot of guys didn’t get along with him. I know Kurt Thomas didn’t really get along with him, Tim Thomas didn’t get along with him, Jamal Crawford – as talented as he was – he didn’t want to ruffle any feathers. So it was a tough time in New York. Not necessarily like anybody was at each other’s throat all the time. There were like six or seven agendas and it didn’t mix. It just didn’t mix. We were really talented. We had a lot of guys there, but it didn’t mix.”
Marbury didn’t just spar with teammates, either. He sparred with the coaching staff.
“Larry Brown, who is one of the greatest coaches this game has ever seen – him and Marbury were at war during that time,” Rose said. “Isiah did his job. He got the talent there. We had a lot of people there that could play, but it was like a little bit of a war between Steph and Larry Brown. That was well-documented. And then it went between Steph, Larry Brown and Isiah. It just got ugly there. But again, getting back to the original point, as far as management and picking talent – which is the general manger’s primary job – he knows talent, man. He picked David Lee, Channing Frye. He picked a lot of guys that are still having great NBA careers. But to your point, it just didn’t match. The talent and the central figure couldn’t get it all together.”