Issue 7: 2020-21 Knicks: Character Needed, Not Just Wins
As the New York Knicks embark on the 2020-21 season Wednesday evening, they’ll face more questions for which they have answers. Just as they have for the better part of the last 20 years.
Such is life for a franchise once revered, but now reviled.
The throbbing absence of expectations on Knicks players and coaches should, however, be replaced with harsh and honest evaluation of their character.
And because we know that the true character of a person reveals itself in challenging times and not only in times of comfort, these Knicks are ripe for analysis.
Let’s call it the Marty Glickman theory.
Allow me to explain.
A contemporary of Howard Cosell, the morality-driven Glickman — the antithesis of the bombastic broadcaster — still lives on through many of today’s generation of sports radio and television voices.
I first learned about him in 2013 when I was interviewing Glickman filmmaker James Freedman about his documentary.
Preceding his mark and legacy on sports broadcasting, Glickman was a superstar athlete. In Freedman’s documentary that chronicled the Jewish-American phenom, Syracuse standout and Hall of fame running back Jim Brown said of Glickman:
“Before any of us [Brown, Floyd Little, Jim Nance, Ernie Davis] you had the great Marty Glickman.”
And before that, an 18-year-old Glickman had earned a spot on the United States track and field team at the 1936 Olympics. It was in Berlin at those Games that he would face irreversible prejudice.
President of the U.S. Olympic Committee and famed antisemite, Avery Brundage would pull Sam Stoller and Glickman (the only two Jews on the team) from the 4 x 100 meter relay on the morning of the race.
The baseless change was done to appease Adolf Hitler.
Stoller and Glickman were replaced by Ralph Metcalfe and Jesse Owens. Albeit brilliant athletes, neither had trained, or been scheduled, to run that race.
Despite the late shake up, the United States won in a world record time of 39.8 seconds. Germany placed third at 41.2 seconds. Yet, it was believed that the Germans were never a threat to win had Stoller and Glickman run as planned.
A Jew being recognized at “Hitler’s Olympics” was deemed more embarrassing to the vitriolic leader of the Nazi party than the Germans losing the race.
Glickman never received a medal and would never get another chance because of the 12-year Olympics hiatus as a result of World War 2.
Shortly following the 1936 Games, Hitler systematically ordered the mass-murder of six million jews from 1941 to 1945 in the Holocaust.
Highlighted by those events and rampant anti-semitism around the world, Glickman was “never unaware” that he was Jewish, as he stated in Freedman’s documentary.
So the fact that he not only had a successful post-athletic career, but ultimately pioneered the sports broadcasting landscape, is incredible.
While Glickman served as the voice of the New York Giants and later the Jets, as well as local high school and college basketball, it was over the course of 21 years broadcasting Knicks games on the radio where he coined phrases that are now embedded into the language of basketball.
The key, the elbow, the wing, the mid-court stripe, the lane, the top of the circle, and swish!
Current Knicks television play-by-play man Mike Breen recalled, “It was like his voice was attached to the ball.”
Marv Albert, former Knicks play-by-play personality and the voice of my childhood, simply said, “There was no one better.”
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