In the latest edition of the BetUS Unfiltered podcast, our gridiron greats took to the hardwood, as New York Knicks legend John Starks joined the program to talk about his lengthy NBA career, including an iconic run with the Knicks that began with a 1-on-1 matchup with Hall of Famer Michael Jordan.
“He posted me up and all of a sudden I gave him a forearm shiver in the back,” said Starks, who works with the Knicks in alumni relations. “And he looked at me, like, ‘All right, before the game’s over, you’re going to be calling me Mr. Jordan.’”
Starks finished with 4 points on 1-of-2 shooting, but ultimately averaged 14.1 points and 4.0 assists in 602 games with the club (including 275 starts) between 1991-98. Today, however, Starks says the game is different than it was in his era.
“All throughout sports, it’s totally different now,” Starks said. “We had three-a-days. We had to go through it. And under Coach (Pat) Riley, those are practices. No walkthroughs, practice. Even on gamedays, sometimes we’d get taped up and go through a whole hour of practice.
“The way he envisioned us as a team back then was that we had to take on the spirit of New York. New York is a blue-collar city, and he wanted a team that represented that.”
And New York, Starks said, isn’t for everyone.
“New York is a different animal,” Starks continued. “ You’re under scrutiny every single time, and the heat is always turned up in the city. It’s not ‘What have you done?’ It’s ‘What have you done for me lately?’”
Later, in the Unleashed segment, Starks, Warren Sapp, and Brian Jones broke down the blitz that cost Gregg Williams his job with the New York Jets, plus took a close look at Carson Wentz’s struggles, which led to his benching for Jalen Hurts in the Philadelphia Eagles’ last game.
“He’s surprising me right now,” Starks said. “I’m seeing things that rookie quarterbacks do, where he locks into his receivers, he doesn’t come off his receivers and scan the field like you’re supposed to.”
Later, the crew shifted back to basketball and the topic of whether the types of “superteams” that have taken over could become the norm in the NBA.
“It didn’t happen like that back then,” Starks said. “When I came into the league, guys wanted to compete against each other. They wanted to beat the best. Plus, AAU has entered the NBA. … That’s just the way it is now. That’s just the way the league is and we have to accept it.”
Game of the Week
“The one thing the Dolphins do very well and Kansas City’s not doing well right now is red zone,” Sapp said when asked about this week’s Game of the Week between the Chiefs (-7) and the Dolphins (O/U 49). “That’s going to be the key to this game, red zone third down. If you can get off the field and get Tua (Tagovailoa) and that offense over there — because I don’t like Kansas City’s defense at all.”
And that, Starks argued, could be enough to justify betting Miami, despite Kansas City’s recent run of success.
“Miami’s playing well and they’ve played especially well at home,” Starks said. “And Tua, he’s showing me something. I wasn’t sure about him and what he could do in the NFL, but he’s showing me that he can pass the ball, he’s mobile, he makes great decisions, he’s accurate with his passes. … I’m rolling with Miami.”
Starks, Sapp, and Jones revisited the topic of social media in this week’s Huddle Up segment, with the former Knicks All-Star recalling the advice that kept his head on straight before social media emerged as a distraction.
“The best advice I ever got when I came to the Knicks was from (former New York guard) Trent Tucker,” Starks said. “He always told me, he said, ‘John, you’re probably going to have some success in this game. Whatever you do, don’t listen to talk radio and don’t read the newspaper.
“That was our social media back then,” Starks continued. “That plays on your mind for guys that can’t handle all that. You’re going to get criticized. … You get paid a lot of money to go out there and win ballgames, and you can’t be coming into the game with other things on your mind than X’s and O’s and executing.”
Starks also praised some of the top young talent in today’s NBA.
“(James Wiseman), I love him as a player,” Starks said of the No. 2 overall pick in last month’s NBA Draft. “He’s perfect for this league and I know Golden State was ecstatic when the kid out of Georgia (Anthony Edwards) was called with the No. 1 pick. This kid is 7-foot and can do it all.”
In Uncovered, after Kenyon Rasheed joined the program, the guys took on a series of controversial topics, ranging from changing rules on the football field to Michigan’s cancelation of this weekend’s game against Ohio State.
“Mama said never run to an ass-whoopin’ … but they did not concoct this situation to avoid Ohio State,” Jones said of the Covid-related cancellation. “This is real, this is legitimate.”
To hear the whole episode, including a holiday ‘99 Seconds’ with Warren, listen below: