he True Fans Bleed Blue and Orange: Francis Challenged to Lead the Knicksh

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Francis Challenged to Lead the Knicks

Wednesday night against the Raptors Steve Francis and Eddy Curry got into a shouting match on the court, because Curry felt that Francis was not getting him the ball enough. Curry finished the game with 13 points and 6 rebounds. Last season that line would have been just another night at the office (in 05-06 Curry averaged 13.6 ppg and 6.0 rpg), but the new Curry took exception to not getting the ball enough. On Thursday, the day after the Raptors game, Isiah Thomas had an intense practice, a rarity for an NBA team this late in the season. However, Isiah was trying to prove a point: "get the ball to Eddy!" One game later Curry returned to form scoring 18 points and grabbing 6 rebounds on 14 shots (compared to his 9 shots the game before). Now Isiah has another challenge for a Knick.

Early in his career Steve Francis was called everything from a ball-hog to a cry baby, and now Isiah wants Francis to be called something else. A leader. Isiah Thomas challenged Steve Francis to become more of a leader within the Knicks team. According to the New York Times Isiah Thomas said of Francis:

“In terms of being a leader, I want more out of him.” Thomas added that he
wanted Francis “to be a more vocal part of the group, not just a part of the
team; I don’t want him to take a back seat to anyone.”

It is unclear if Isiah simply wanted Francis to step up and lead the Knicks, or if he was simply saying that Francis was not doing a good enough job of being a leader. My guess is a mixture of both, and time will only tell how Francis responds. To Francis this may mean that he has to put the Knicks on his back on a nightly basis, like Marbury did for a 6-7 game stretch two weeks ago. Or this may show Francis that he should try and be more of a distributor on the floor, and lead the Knicks with his voice and, when needed, his play. The Knicks play the Raptors on Sunday in a mattinee game, a game that is a must win for the Knicks. The Raptors are a better team, but at home the Knicks can beat the Raptors, who are a poor road team. Should the Knicks lose they would fall 1.5 games behind the 7th seed Indiana, and a full game behind New Jersey. Plus there are two games against the Mavs leering right around the corner. The spotlight is on the Knicks to do well.

Below is a highlight video of Steve Francis ups and downs of his career before he became a Knick. I felt it was appropriate because the video has highlights from newspaper articles that diss Steve Francis and show some of his faults. Some faults highlighted are the opposite of what you want from a team leader, but the player the Knicks have is an older, and hopefully, wiser player.

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