TNT held a media luncheon yesterday to discuss the NBA season that starts tonight and the Knicks were a topic of discussion for Charles Barkley, Kenny Smith and crew. Barkley sounded quite positive about the chances for improvement at MSG and likes their chances of making the playoffs. A reporter reminded him that he made the same prediction before last year's miserable campaign and Barkley went topical to explain his bullish prediction.
"Well at least this coach ain't trying to kill himself," Barkley said.
Joking aside, Barkley seemed like he was on the same page with Mike D'Antoni and Donnie Walsh. When Smith questioned the wisdom that placed Knicks best players, Eddy Curry and Stephon Marbury, on the bench when games start, Barkley disagreed. It's about who is best for the system, not who may have the most natural talent. That's exactly the vibe that Walsh has been trying to instill, a far cry from the Isiah era when players were piled up because of their names and not their value to building a better team.
Barkley and Walsh don't see eye to eye on another point, however. TNT won't be broadcasting any Knick games this season, which seems odd given Barkley's feelings about their postseason chances. Walsh isn't surprised by that omission.
"That's OK, we haven't earned it,'" Walsh said. "We don't deserve to be on national television."
The fact that a marquee franchise in the nation's largest media market can't get one game on national TV underscores how massive a project Walsh has undertaken. If the team makes good on Barkley's prediction, he'll be clearing space on his mantle for an Executive of the Year trophy.