GREENBURGH, N.Y. - Allan Houston laughed, shook his head and laughed some more.
As hard as it might seem to believe, it's been eight years since the now 37-year-old represented the Knicks in the 2001 All-Star Game in Washington along with Latrell Sprewell, who was handpicked by NBA commissioner David Stern to take the spot of injured Grant Hill.
Houston, who is the last link to a Knicks' era that seemed to always have at least one player chosen to play in the midseason contest, couldn't help mustering a smirk and let out a few more laughs when asked if the Knicks' All-Star drought is a little surprising.
"When you think about New York, yeah, you think that that's one of those markets that is going to be represented," Houston, now a special assistant to team president Donnie Walsh, said after the Knicks practiced yesterday. "But we'll be back there again. We'll be back there again pretty soon."
Possibly as early as this season, and the Knicks will know for sure sometime tomorrow. That's when the reserves for both conferences will be announced, so David Lee has one more game to show his skills, which comes tonight against the Hawks at the Garden.
Lee has been the focus of All-Star chatter for the last few weeks after every double-double. He's averaging 15.7 points and 11.5 rebounds and leads the league with 33 double-doubles. When you compare his numbers with other Eastern Conference forwards -- such as Toronto's Chris Bosh (23.3 ppg), Indiana's Danny Granger (26.1) and Orlando's Rashard Lewis (19.2) -- his prospects for being named to the team don't look good.
However, Lee sees significant time at center, and only the stats of Orlando's Dwight Howard top those of Lee. So he could be named as a reserve at that position. Still, Houston wasn't quite sure if Lee should be packing his bags for Phoenix.
"I don't know," Houston said. "I think he has definitely had a breakout year for himself; I think mentally his confidence, his consistency with what he's shown. I think he has shown a lot of leadership in the way he approaches the game. He comes in and he really cares about how he performs. He real ly takes it seriously."
Lee's pick-and-roll mate doesn't think there should be any debate. Chris Duhon has watched Lee's game blossom since the preseason and said he's noticed Lee is more in control of things, and how his game isn't all about easy putbacks and dunks.
"For him to have a new role, a big role this year, I think he's taken the most advantage of it," Duhon said. "He's one of the top leaders in rebounding, double-doubles. He's consistent every day. You know what you are going to get from him every day. So he's definitely deserving of making it."