Knicks 'zzone

Newsday's Al Iannazzone takes you inside the Knicks.

On a mission from God

Monday morning we hit the road to start a new season. A bunch of sportswriters will pile into my Jeep and head up the New York Thruway to a place called Saratoga Springs to begin writing the first chapter of the 63rd season in New York Knicks history.

Me: It's 173 miles to Saratoga, we got a full tank of gas, half a pack of Slim Jims, it's a new era but we're still writing about Marbury.

Starberman: Hit it.

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On a serious note, it was interesting to see that the story behind Donnie Walsh's health issues were revealed Sunday by Peter Vescey. He had a piece of his tongue removed in late June because of cancer.

We all noticed that Donnie was slurring his speech at the Chris Duhon press conference back in July and we politely kept it out of print. Walsh seemed worn down in Vegas at the NBA Summer League and Vescey's story explains why.

Throughout the ordeal, Walsh and his staff -- credit Glen Grunwald here -- were still able to get some things done, such as Duhon and also dealing Renaldo Balkman to create space for promising rookie legacy Patrick Ewing, Jr. It's still one of the most notable trades in recent history because the Knicks were actually able to make something useful out of the Freddie Weis draft disaster.

But Walsh was not able to get that Clipper deal done, which was something discussed in mid-July. Walsh wouldn't talk about it on Friday and made reference to how "Mike" (as in Clips coach Mike Dunleavy) was a friend and he left it at that. Clearly something bothered him there with the Clips doing an about-face and taking Marcus Camby from Denver instead of Zach Randolph.

The good news that came from the story is Donnie says he is cancer-free and has finally kicked a decades-long smoking habit.

Here's to hoping the coming season doesn't test his will power.

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Media Day is Monday afternoon. I'll check in here at the Fix afterwards to give you a little taste before we all jump into my ride and do the Saratoga Shuffle.

Tags: donnie walsh , saratoga springs , blues brothers

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@Al_Iannazzone

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