LeBron James remains on the mind of every Knick fan hoping this season's MVP becomes a free agent in 2010 and packs his bags for New York.
But Michael Jordan, the ultimate Knick killer, threw a wrinkle in the die-hards' wishful thinking Friday afternoon, essentially saying don't hold your breath - or think James can make the Knicks instant contenders.
"He's made his mark in Cleveland. I know New York fans would love to have him, but you need a lot more components than just one player," Jordan said after playing in a celebrity golf tournament at Bethpage Black in Farmingdale, L.I., leading up to next week's U.S. Open there. "He's done a heck of a job in Cleveland and they deserve to have him there. He's from that area.
"In terms of the game itself, small markets can benefit from it a lot more than the big markets can. That's not a discredit to New York at all."
Jordan, of course, still went out of his way to tweak Knicks fans.
"You're asking me to talk about the Knicks and I own the Bobcats," he said. "I want to beat you guys every day."
Jordan finished with a 16-over-par 86 to take second in the four-player tournament. It will air June 21 at noon and lead into the final round of the Open on NBC.
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger won with an 81, while singer Justin Timberlake (88) and Larry Giebelhausen (101) - a police lieutenant from Arizona who won a contest to play alongside the celebrities - both trailed Jordan, who admitted to being out of his element.
Here's a quick clip of Mike & Justin on the green.
"The doubt creeps in there a lot more than it did on the basketball court. On the basketball court I never thought about it," he said. "When you step outside of your field, it's a whole different atmosphere; you become human, you become normal, and you deal with the expectations and effects of being normal. And I was nervous."
He also said he was surprised by the ovations James and Kobe Bryant received at the Garden over the winter, attributing their historic performances to "no defense, no defense."
On Feb. 2, Bryant scored 61 points and set the Garden's single-game scoring record. Two days later, James had 52 points and what appeared to be a triple-double until a rebound was later taken away after a league review. Both were serenaded with chants of "MVP!" and given standing ovations.
"It had a lot to do with what they were seeing. New York fans are very respectful for the game," Jordan said. "They recognize talent, but ... back when I played, anytime I'd go in the paint I'd have scratches and the possibility of some stitches. I'm not criticizing the game, but in essence it's not the same Knick team that it was when I played. They recognized good basketball. They're very respectful of the game, but I don't think you can compare the two."
Thank HoopedUpOnline & NY Daily News for the story.