Houston's Jordan Hill tries to defend against the Knicks' Toney...

Houston's Jordan Hill tries to defend against the Knicks' Toney Douglas during a game at Madison Square Garden. (Mar. 21, 2010) Credit: Jason DeCrow

OAKLAND, Calif. - It has been a long time since the Knicks' championship era. But it feels even longer when words such as these are spoken by rookie Toney Douglas: "When I came here I was like, 'Clyde? Who is that?' "

Walt Frazier smiled when the words were relayed to him. He told of his recent visit to a Staten Island school, where he talked about Michael Jordan as the player most people say is the best to ever play the game. But the kids disagreed with him.

"They said, 'No, no! LeBron! Kobe!' " Frazier said. "I was flabbergasted. None of them said Jordan. Times change. So why should I feel bad about it?"

Actually, Frazier feels good about Douglas. The two had a private conversation after the Knicks' loss to the Jazz on Monday - the second game of this five-game trip, which has started out 0-3 and continued here Friday night against the Warriors - and Douglas came away wanting more. He hopes to get together with the Knicks legend and pick the brain of a Hall of Fame guard who, of all the luxurious resources this franchise has, is perhaps the most overlooked by the players who have come through here.

Frazier has been a Knicks broadcaster for almost two decades and therefore is part of the traveling entourage. He is there on the team charter, available to anyone who wishes to talk basketball, strategy and history. But during his time on the media side of things, Frazier can count on one hand how many players have sought him out for advice.

"Allan Houston, Larry Johnson and Greg Anthony are about the only guys that have ever wanted to come talk to me," he said.

Frazier won't take the initiative because, as he said, "people might get the wrong impression . . . I don't want that negativity."

On occasion he'll interject a word or two of advice. For example, he recently told foul-prone Bill Walker: "Hey, man, you've got to stay in the game. You're stopping yourself with the quick fouls." But it will never be more than just encouragement.

That's how it began with Douglas, whom Frazier appreciates because "he likes defense, like me." And after All-Star Deron Williams had the confused rookie literally spinning in circles on the court, Frazier and Douglas had a conversation. Frazier told him he has to "get a book on the players, know their weaknesses and force them to their weaknesses."

The two spoke briefly and planned to set aside more time in the near future. "He's a great source to talk about what things he sees and things I do good and that I do bad, things I can work on," Douglas said. "That's just a great source and I'm going to take advantage of that."

The first thing he did was learn about this dude named Clyde. "I did some research and watched films," Douglas said, "and I was like, 'This was a special player.' "

Notes & quotes: The Knicks added some much-needed size by signing 7-footer Earl Barron to a 10-day contract out of the D-League. Barron, who played for the Iowa Energy this season (16.2 points, 10.2 rebounds in 47 games), played 82 games with the Miami Heat from 2005-08. Barron was in uniform for Friday night's game.

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