They call this the basketball mecca, but while New York may remain the hallowed ground for the sport, it certainly doesn't produce the way it used to.
The Lakers play at the Garden tonight against the Knicks with two of the most successful New York City products in the current generation: Lamar Odom and Ron Artest.
What has happened to The City Game? The league still has it's share of players who played their High School ball in the five boroughs, such as Sebastian Telfair (Lincoln/Brooklyn), Rafer Alston (Cardozo/Queens), Ben Gordon (Mt. Vernon/Bronx) , Jamaal Tinsley (Tilden/Brooklyn), and Sundiata Gaines (Molloy/Queens) and others such as Charlie Villanueva (Manhattan), Joakim Noah (Manhattan) and Royal Ivey (Harlem), who were born and raised here but attended high school in Jersey.
[And no, I don't count players who were born here -- such as Carmelo Anthony -- but really never spent any of their basketball maturity in NY.]
Cities such as Chicago and Seattle and states such as California and Texas (not to mention, of course, nations such as Spain) are emerging as hotbeds for NBA talent while New York hasn't produced an MVP-caliber NBA homegrown talent arguably since Bernard King.
All-Star caliber? Check my math, but I beleive Artest in 2004 was the last time a home-grown New York City player got that far.
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Three out of four TNT analysts last night chose David Lee as a reserve on the Eastern Conference all-star team. Charles Barkley, Kenny Smith and Ernie Johnson each had Lee on their lists. Chris Webber was the only one who went with Shaquille O'Neal at the center position.
Smith said Lee "deserves to be a center [on the all-star team]. He's the second-best center in the East this year."