Hard Road to Glory

The Minefields That Lurk Between the Knicks and a Conference Title

If Ewing is determined to carry the team on his back to assuage his ego or prove his longtime critics wrong, the Knicks are in trouble. As Raftery says, "Patrick's days of being the go-to guy are long over. He has to realize that."

  • Exploding tempers: When Chris Childs made like Oscar De La Hoya instead of Oscar Robertson and fired a right-left combination to Kobe Bryant's beard in L.A., one couldn't help but flash back to those other times during the Van Gundy Era when a Knick bearing a shoulder chip gave new meaning to the term swing man. Remember Charlie Ward versus P.J. Brown and the resulting free-for-all? How about L.J. versus Alonzo Mourning?

    Childs's willingness to get tossed out of an important, nationally televised game and incur an automatic suspension raises questions about some Knicks' judgment and discipline even now, three years after the Ward-Brown fracas cost them a trip to the conference finals. There will be plenty of opportunities for mayhem during the Toronto series when bodies are banging, elbows are flying, and Childs and fellow hothead Kurt Thomas are hearing trash talk. What happens when Oakley tries to send a message that the Raptors won't be bullied? Or the Knicks get overzealous in their attempts to put Carter on the floor a few more times to rattle him?

    The Knicks must maintain their composure and consider the consequences of another temper tantrum, especially if they meet the hated Heat in the second round. And that's no small feat for a team for which valor has too often been the better part of discretion.

    How the Knicks negotiate that minefield and the others will be the difference between another shot at a ring and a summer of second-guessing. Or as Clyde Frazier might put it, we're talking about the difference between Ewing stewing, Childs riled, and Latrell catching hell, and the Knicks dishing, swishing, and sending the Pacers golfing and fishing.

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