Kenyon Martin is street-ball-tough, cocky, defensive minded, crowd pleasing, passionate, and energetic- basically everything that New York loves in basketball player. How did K-Mart not end up here earlier?
Since he was signed by the New York Knicks in February, the 35 year-old big man has given life to a defense that started out the year strong, but tailed off towards the middle of the season. Tyson Chandler has been dealing with a neck injury, which led to other problems like his conditioning, Rasheed Wallace retired, Kurt Thomas was waived, and Marcus Camby hasn’t played since March.
That has left a hobbled Chandler and a rejuvenated Martin to man the paint for the surging Knicks, who have a 2-0 series lead against the Boston Celtics in the first round of the playoffs.
K-Mart played the entire fourth quarter in Game 1 of the series, and then in Game 2 came up with two huge blocks in the final period as New York pulled away en route to a 87-71 win.
Martin fits in perfectly with the arrogant, fearless mentality of the Knicks, which is best embodied in the team’s superstar tandem of (NBA scoring champion) Carmelo Anthony and (Sixth Man of the Year) J.R. Smith, who were teammates with Martin on the Denver Nuggets.
K-Mart is giving New York 25.5 minutes per game this series, averaging 6.5 points, 10 rebounds, and 3 blocks per night in the team’s opening pair of postseason games.
“I know what I can do. I know I can play the game,” Martin said after New York extended its series lead to two games. “I’m a competitor, man. I always show up when the stakes are high.”
The deeper the team goes, the higher the stakes will get. That must mean that this is just the beginning for K-Mart and the Knicks.