By Jason Shoot
Much has been made of my distaste for over-the-hill baseball players, as well as the East Coast, which for too long has garnered unneeded attention while the rest of the country sits idly by without a voice.
Now, yet another voice from the Big Apple is speaking too clearly, and much like the voices of other New Yorkers, this one is loaded with incomprehensible babble and arrogance.
New York Knicks shooting guard Allan Houston, a free agent entering this offseason, has been awarded the maximum amount of money allowed under the NBA's collective bargaining agreement by his employers $100 million over six years.
As we've witnessed on countless occasions, players who collect their millions can let their contracts go to their head. Houston, however, takes that to a whole new level.
In fact, I'd be surprised if he can play the entire 82-game season next year simply because the weight of his ego may be too much for his neck to support.
At the press conference to announce the signing of his ludicrous contract, the 6-foot-6, 200-pound Houston said, "I don't think there's (another shooting guard) better at doing the things that I do."
Fair enough, but let's go ahead and argue that point anyway.
This past season, Houston shot 44.9 percent from the floor and averaged 18.7 points, 3.6 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 0.7 steals per game the five categories that most likely dictate a shooting guard's effectiveness on the court.
Those numbers are certainly strong enough to start for most teams in the NBA, but let's make this very, very clear. Those numbers are not good enough to start for as many as 10 teams throughout the league.
Evidence? How about league MVP Allan Iverson, Los Angeles Lakers' Kobe Bryant, Milwaukee's Ray Allen, Orlando's Tracy McGrady, Detroit's Jerry Stackhouse, Portland's Derek Anderson, Houston's Cuttino Mobley (oh yeah, check the stats), Miami's Eddie Jones and Chicago's Ron Mercer.
Houston isn't even the best shooting guard on his own team. If Latrell Sprewell hadn't assaulted former coach P.J. Carlesimo, would there be any argument who is the better 2-guard between those two players?
Houston finished last season ranked 31st in the league in scoring. He also ranked 39th in 3-point shooting in the NBA last year with a mark of 38.1 percent. Raise your hand if you're blown away with admiration.
Is that kind of production worth $16.6 million a year? Add into the fray that he's 30 years old and will be 36 by the end of the deal and I just can't figure out what the Knicks were thinking.
Just as shocked as me, sadly enough, was Houston, who said, "For them to offer me what they offered me, there was really no thinking. They exceeded my expectations." What I'm left wondering is if Houston wasn't thinking, who was exactly?
Cablevision chairman James Dolan, who has moved into the head honcho spot after Dave Checketts stepped down as Madison Square Garden president early in the offseason, had little problem accepting no responsibility for the signing.
Instead, Dolan shipped the onus onto general manager Scott Layden, head coach Jeff Van Gundy and president of team operations Steve Mills.
I have no idea if Dolan was thinking, Uh, you think we really ought to be doing this?' or if he really had no say in the matter. But I have no doubt he took no responsibility for it now so he can repeat the same words when this contract blows up in the team's face in a couple years.
And in a city like New York, I don't imagine fans are going to simply accept above-average numbers forever. Will Houston ever lead the Knicks to a world title? Will he ever be a perennial All-Star?
The numbers don't lie, folks. The league is loaded with players with more explosive legs, quicker feet, better handles, a smoother jumper, play better defense and can lead their team with an authority teammates can follow.
I suppose New York players can still follow Houston if they so choose right down the proverbial toilet into the sewage of mediocrity.