Chris Duhon has friends in high places. While Duhon was starring as a collegian at Duke, one of his teammates was Reggie Love. Love, who also played football for the Blue Devils, now works as a personal assistant to President Obama. That meant Duhon played pick-up hoops with the new President on the campaign trail and got an invitation to Washington for the inauguration.
He passed it up, though. Despite the enormity of the event, Duhon had other things on his mind.
"I want to do some stuff for my back and it's going to be a little crazy out there," Duhon said. "We have a game the next day, so I want to make sure we don't have any episodes like I've had in the past with the back."
The back held up long enough for him to score 12 of his 19 points in the fourth quarter to help beat the Bulls 102-98 on Monday afternoon. He played just 34 minutes, however, which is well below the 40 minutes he's been averaging thus far this season. Those minutes indicate how much the Knicks need a backup point guard, but also illustrate how well the Duhon signing has worked out.
When he signed with the Knicks as a free agent, there wasn't much fanfare about a guy who scored fewer than six points a night as a Bulls reserve in 2007-08. In Mike D'Antoni's system, however, an unselfish point guard who can hit an open shot can become a real weapon. Duhon's proven to be that and more.
He's the first real point guard the Knicks have had since Charlie Ward and, along with David Lee, a consistent performer on a team filled with streaky ones. The decision to skip the inauguration, which would have been a relatively easy round-trip, shows that he's a leader as well.
Duhon's emergence been one of the best developments of the season for the Knicks. Their naked pursuit of LeBron James can't succeed without having a supporting cast worthy of his abilities. Duhon is proving that he qualifies, as a player and a leader.