More Than A Rose Deal Throw-In
By Marc Berman NY Post
Photo Credit – Edmund J. Coppa
When Justin Holiday flew from Southern California to New York on Wednesday, the new Knicks shooting guard wore the 2015 championship ring he captured as a fringe player for the Warriors.
Holiday, 27, donned it symbolically. After increasing his role last season with the Bulls, Holiday, the older brother of injury-prone Jrue Holiday, wants to bring to New York the aura he absorbed in Oakland, Calif.
The 6-foot-6 Holiday became the added piece in the blockbuster deal that brought Derrick Rose to the Knicks in late June. Holiday figures to be the club’s backup shooting guard — mostly because of his length and defensive prowess.
It has been a long, winding road for the undrafted guard out of Washington — now with his fifth NBA club (121 career games). After finding a small niche in Chicago, he hopes to better that as a Knick.
Holiday’s experience with the Warriors is something he treasures and invokes often in an interview. He started four games for Golden State when Klay Thompson went down, played 59 total games and got spot duty in five playoff contests.
“The Golden State experience was amazing,’’ Holiday told The Post before appearing at the Knicks’ kids camp Friday in the Hamptons. “[For] a group of guys [to] come together the way we did and win a championship was a great experience for me that I’ll learn from — their maturity level. I learned firsthand what it takes to win games: The understanding the team comes before yourself. It was great to be part of team like that.
“You know on the floor when a team comes first, everyone looks good that way. To be on a championship [team] in my first full year in the NBA was a blessing. Sometimes I don’t have words to explain what a great experience it was.’’
Holiday and shooting guard Sasha Vujacic, who won with the Lakers in 2009 and 2010, are the only Knicks with rings and they may fight for time behind Courtney Lee. But Holiday, the Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year as a senior, has a leg up because he is viewed as the wing stopper off the bench the Knicks need.
“I think we have a great team, especially looking at us on paper,’’ Holiday said. “What’s going to be make us successful is putting the team before ourselves individually. As far as talent goes, I think we’re one of the more talented teams in this league, especially in the East. Hopefully we do some stuff [the Warriors] did.’’
He’s not known as a scorer, but posted his career-best 3-point shooting percentage in Chicago (43.3) and notched a career-high 29-point game. But he wants to be known for his defense.
“The one thing I hate the most playing basketball is getting scored on — regardless if it’s a good shot or not,’’ Holiday said.
“That’s been my mentality since I remember. The way you win games is with defense. The reason the Warriors team was successful is we played defense well as a team and individually.”
Holiday has begun voluntary workouts with four other young Knicks at the Tarrytown facility with the start of training camp looming Sept. 26.
“I’m going to make sure I contribute that to this team,’’ Holiday said of his defense. “I’m here to help — not make myself be the star. That’s not my role or why I’m here. We have enough of those players.”
Rose is one of those stars, and Holiday witnessed a different player late last season.
“I don’t understand that people didn’t see that Derrick was hurt and he hadn’t had a full year back being healthy,’’ Holiday said. “He now has a full year and full summer. I think he’s going to be dangerous. Being with him by the end of last year, I saw things I didn’t really know he could still do. I didn’t think he’d still be as fast as he was. He’s still explosive, strong, still one of the fastest people in the NBA even after the injury. He’s going to surprise a lot of people.’’
Holiday, 14 months older than his more famous brother Jrue, just might, too. Knicks coach Jeff Hornacek was emphatic during July’s summer league that Holiday was no throw-in.
However, he has been on a slow, D-League-plagued path.
“That’s how God wanted it for me, to go this route, to have a story to tell to encourage others to keep pushing on for what you want,’’ Holiday said. “Now I wouldn’t change it. I fought for everything I got. I’ve been through a lot of bad in this profession. So something that happens on the court, it’s not going to stop me because I’m going to come back harder.’’