Knicks legend Walt “Clyde” Frazier and novices RJ Barrett and Kevin Knox appeared to promote the new PUMA Clyde Hardwood and talk basketball.
Knicks fans have been praying for a positive new era of Knicks basketball to dawn upon them for quite some time now, but Monday night at PUMA Hoops’ “Puma Clyde Hardwood” sneaker release, a couple of new Knicks seemed eager to usher in that bright new future themselves.
Walt “Clyde” Frazier, the inaugural PUMA signee who now has a lifetime deal with the shoe company, passed the torch to R.J. Barrett and Kevin Knox to continue his PUMA and Knicks legacy.
“I expect you guys to carry on the legacy, the tradition of the Clyde’s,” the Knicks legend said to the young guns Barrett and Knox. Clyde wanted them to further his Knicks legacy as well by rounding themselves into good players (in due time), and helping the ‘Bockers restore their former glory.
The invite-only event was headlined by a panel with the three Knicks and hosted by Kazeem Famuyide. Players were asked anything, spanning from their offseason, to their goals, to moves the team made in the offseason, and how they decided to sign with PUMA in the first place.
The @PUMAHoops lineup.
OG Clyde, Barrett, and Knox ? pic.twitter.com/mDvcHvW4z1
— Mags Van Vleet ? (@kylemaggio) September 16, 2019
Kevin Knox loved PUMA because they were the new brand in the basketball sneaker business, and wanted to “build from the ground up, and start something new.” Most rookies are eager to sign with Nike, Air Jordan, or Adidas, but Knox loved the idea of taking on the challenge of joining a new, growing company.
Barrett seconded this sentiment and stated that Knox was crucial in recruiting him to PUMA. Barrett stated Knox was “hyping them up during practice” at the NBA’s Summer League in Las Vegas, Nevada, telling Barrett “Hey R.J., you look good in them PUMAs,” which helped him make his decision more easily. Barrett, New York’s third overall selection, also said he knew PUMA wasn’t targeting many rookies from the 2019 NBA Draft class. Barrett liked that and wanted to be part of the brand.
When the Canadian-born Barrett was asked about his goals, and if he had his sights set high on the awards and accolades a rookie season can bring, the rookie played it cool; “I just want to play in an NBA game.”
Finally, when asked about the Knicks’ free agent acquisitions, the third-year forward Knox implied no spot is guaranteed to anybody. “It’s going to be great for us. I don’t think nobody is guaranteed [playing time]—no starting lineups, no minutes, none of that. (Knicks head coach) Fiz kind of voiced that in the message he sends us.”
RJ Barrett was asked why he wanted to be a Knick… pic.twitter.com/m5WARu1Mu4
— Chris Iseman (@ChrisIseman) September 17, 2019
This isn’t too surprising. When David Fizdale was hired, he boasted a “keep what you kill” mantra for his young roster. The second-year head coach is bringing that same mindset for training camp this year, with all positions outside of power forward and center open for competition. While Dennis Smith Jr. is the favorite for the starting point-guard job, journeyman Elfrid Payton was brought in to compete for it. While Allonzo Trier and Damyean Dotson have proven capable shooting guards, the Knicks brought in Wayne Ellington, and drafted Barrett, who figures to compete for both the shooting guard and small forward positions. Knox spent time at both forward slots a season ago, and will now be competing with Barrett and Marcus Morris for minutes, too.
The Knicks have had an interesting summer, to say the least, and desperately need to show improvements this season. Hope is easy to sell in NYC, but Barrett and Knox are trying to restore the luster to this once-proud franchise.
Here’s to hoping the bright young faces of PUMA Hoops, and the Knicks, pull it off.