Camby Will Be Remembered Somewhere In The Middle

It's been said before. Madison Square Garden is a revolving door, especially with the Knicks. Names like Larry Johnson, John Starks, Bernard King and Earl Monroe still reverberate throughout the ‘World's Most Famous Arena'. And now, we can add Marcus Camby to that mix. In 1999, Charles Oakley, a perennial fan favorite, was shipped to the Toronto Raptors in exchange for the lanky power forward who hadn't seen more than 63 games of action in any season.

Still a diamond in the rough, fans didn't warm up to Camby immediately.

And why should they have? After all, Oakley was the heart and soul of the Knicks, almost the epitome of what the Knicks were in the ‘90s. Certainly not the most athletically talented player on the court, but he'd bump and bang you into the ground, and outhustle an opponent for the rebound.

Camby represented the very antithesis of what the Orange and Blue faithful had come to expect. He didn't possess a low post game. He ran the floor well. He was a good help defender. In those days, the offense worked into Patrick Ewing on the low block in a half court set and the defense fought through pick and rolls. Camby just didn't fit in.

That is, of course, until Ewing's body decided that 15 years of icing and stretching just wasn't going to cut it anymore. Ewing's era set while Camby's was just dawning. Camby slipped through cracks, put back shots, swatted layups on the weak side, and provided just enough power to get the Knicks into the finals. He was deemed the savior of the franchise and the model for the team heading into the new millennium. He now embodied what Oakley once had, a team's persona.

But that run in '99 in hindsight appears now to be more of a fluke than an omen. Things just clicked at the right time and at the right place. While the Knicks kept relying on Camby's frail body, the Boston Celtics and the New Jersey Nets reinvented themselves and made the Knicks look like they were standing still. And because of that, with their lottery pick, the Knicks sent Camby out the door, never to return.

When he was on the floor, Camby provided enough energy and excitement to propel the Knicks into the playoffs. But after missing most of last season with yet another injury, it was time to stop waiting for No. 23 to develop. The only question that looms is whether he'll bring back memories like Herb Williams, who is more known by Knick brass as the human victory cigar, or of busted projects like Don Nelson trying to move Ewing out of the post and Anthony Mason into the block.

But a concluding thought on Camby: he was a tireless contributor to charity and loved dawning the Knick uniform. But the mummers of tolerance and patience that proliferated the Garden would've soon turned into boos and jeers, only reserved now for haunted souls like Scott Layden who is rapidly approaching Charles Smith status.

However, Camby will never be jeered as much as Layden is now for making some terrible offseason transactions nor will he stir memories of Willis Reed hobbling through the tunnel on one leg. Camby's place is somewhere in the middle, exactly where the Knicks were in his stay.

Courtesy of NYKbasketball.Com

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