A Kid From Kansas Turned New York Knickerbocker
The Knicks’ season started last month after a roster shakeup in late September that saw them losing two big names from the starting lineup. Instead of succumbing to being deemed hopeless, it led the franchise to embrace an optimistic outlook on what this year can hold for them. Young players have the chance to embrace coach Jeff Hornacek’s philosophy of capitalizing on players’ individual strengths rather than playing a formulaic offense strategy. Among these athletes with many opportunities ahead: sophomore point/shooting guard Ron Baker.
Baker, from Hays, Kansas, played his college years at Wichita State after he walked on as a redshirted freshman. His senior year he averaged 14 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 3.2 assists, but it wasn’t enough to get him drafted into the NBA. He joined the Knicks’ 2016 summer league team and, after success there, was signed to the opening night roster last fall. In his rookie season, he scored a career high of 13 points and showed a lot of potential, leading the Knicks to re-sign him to a new two-year deal.
With a resurgent energy to them, the New York Knicks are staying positive that this season’s youthful squad will unite to be a team worth taking notice of. To that end, we got a chance to talk with Baker to get his feelings on what he personally has to offer this season and on the loyal New York fans, and just for fun, we asked which NBA legend he’d like to play against one-on-one.
You recently signed a new two-year deal with the Knicks. Looking ahead, what are your long-term goals with the team and being in New York?
Looking ahead to this year, my long-term goals with the team are [to] get everyone unified, be a good team leader, be relied on, and just enjoy the year. Not a lot of kids my age get to be a part of something special like this, especially in the city of New York.
With some recent changes to the roster, what are you hoping that means for you this season?
It’s always good to get some different faces in your franchise. [There was] a lot of bonding this [preseason] at camp, and hopefully that means this season we can gel even better than we have in the past.
What’s been your most memorable moment at The Garden to date?
The most memorable moment for me in The Garden in my career was starting my first game against the Atlanta Hawks. That’s always been a dream – to play in the NBA – but to be able to start in the Mecca, for the New York Knicks, was pretty special to me.
When you’re playing on the road, what do you realize and appreciate about the NY fan base?
When we’re on the road, obviously, there is a lot of blue and orange in the crowd. The New York fan base is everywhere, not just in New York. For that, we are very grateful as players in this organization.
If you could pick any basketball legend to play one-on-one with, who would it be and what would you want to learn from him?
If I could play against any legend, it would probably have to be Dr. J. He’s one of the most crafty players that has ever come through the league, and he played a lot of years. His experience in the league could be something I could benefit from if I had the chance to sit down with him.
Then, if you had the chance to go out for a bite to eat and a beer after, where in the city would you take him?
If me and Dr. J could go out after a game and get a quick bite to eat, and maybe a beer, I’d have to say Soho House.
Which is more satisfying, to make a three-pointer or a big-time assist?
I’d have to say a big-time assist. Being a point guard in the NBA, creating for others is always looked highly upon, and I enjoy making my teammates happy.
Pick one song that’s gotten you pumped about the 2017- 18 New York Knicks.
Wokeuplikethis by Playboi Carti