You could tell Donnie Walsh was already getting his strength back after last week's hip replacement surgery when he already started growling about we media types and the crazy ideas we come up with. Like the notion that he and Mike D'Antoni may soon need the divorce law firm of Parker & Nash to settle irreconcilable differences over the raising of their troublesome son, Anthony Randolph.
(As you can see, anyone can write in that silly old school style if you didn't care to make any damn sense).
During our conversation Monday, which you can read in today's Newsday, Walsh was quick to cut me off when the topic of A-R's MIA by way of DNP-CD (this style is actually fun) was broached by apparently the only reporter who dared to test Walsh's Percocet levels (seriously, don't take my shenanigans seriously, I'm just in throwback mode):
"I have never told Mike to play anybody. I don't know where that comes from. It's been said about other guys before this and I'm always like, 'What are they talking about?' I don't do that. I don't go and tell the coach who to play."
[By 'other guys' is he referencing Al Harrington? Eddy Curry? Jonathan Bender?]
"This specific thing, I think everybody that's involved in basketball operations believe Anthony has a wealth of talent. I also think we all know that he needs work in order to know how to use that talent," Walsh continued as he showed the snarl of a Scott Skiles, who, I've heard, after a rugged playing career may possibly one day need knee replacement surgery, which means he must be headed for immediate retirement.
"It does him no good to go in and repeat mistakes before he's coached to a point where he knows how to use that talent," Walsh added of Randolph. "So I think that, in a funny way, this is a good thing for Anthony to spend time and get down the different elements of his game that he can go out there and use and be successful with."
Randolph, to his credit, went from petulance to patience within a 24 hour span out West, between his first two nights riding the cushion (they don't make pine like they used to, do they Fixers). I'm not as old as this silly style of writing, but I'm old enough to remember when rookies and young players came into the league without a sense of entitlement or any entitlements at all. If you were good enough, you played. If you weren't ready, you sat. This notion that a young player "needs" to play and get game experience as if that is more important than the game-winning experience for the other 14 players came in around the same time as body art and compression sleeves for every limb on the body (seriously, if the league allowed it, I think some players would wear a full face scarf with just the eyes and mouth cut out).
Randolph is getting his work in at the most optimal time: practice scrimmages. Let him make all the mistakes he can there until he figures out his role and, more importantly, the coaching staff figures out his role. When I chatted with Anthony on Friday morning in San Francisco, I told him about when Marcus Camby first came to the Knicks in the Charles Oakley trade. Camby already had the ghost of Oak to deal with, not to mention Jeff Van Gundy's disapproval, so he spent the beginning of the season in Chateau Bow-Wow. By the end of the truncated 1999 season, Camby was seen flying down the lane, dunking on Mt. Mutombo. And Camby was a major reason why that Knicks team played into June.
Randolph nodded. "You take your lumps and bruises and wait your time," he said. "It's a long season and anything can happen . . . It could change by this week. It could change tomorrow. You never know."
Along with making the playoffs, Walsh and D'Antoni need to accomplish something else this season for it to be a success: develop Randolph into a contributing NBA player.
"I'm glad that he seems to have accepted that he's got to learn how to use his talent," Walsh said, "because he's really got a great future if he focuses on what he can do."