- Last Updated: 3:53 AM, November 25, 2012
- Posted: 12:48 AM, November 25, 2012
Are you cheering the Knicks in November for what you criticized the Yankees for in October — namely being too old?
By average age, the Knicks are one of the oldest teams in NBA history. They have the two oldest active players in Kurt Thomas and Jason Kidd (though that will change when the Clippers’ Grant Hill returns from injury) and four of the top five with the inclusion of Marcus Camby and Rasheed Wallace. Plus, the Knicks also have 35-year-old Pablo Prigioni.
I have written often about the problematic nature of having too much age on a team, usually in association with the aging Yankees, and most frequently in this period of more dedicated testing for performance-enhancing drugs. And, obviously, it would be best — no matter the sport — to have as many great players in their primes as possible.
But to me the real problems with older players come if:
1) They are signed to large, long-term deals like Alex Rodriguez. Because then an organization is tied to the fade — and the issues surrounding it — for many years. Andruw Jones and Freddy Garcia wilted as the 2012 season progressed, but they were supplementary parts that could be discarded after the season, much like Thomas and Wallace if necessary.
2) Older players are injury prone. Obviously, with age comes a greater risk of injury — but also a greater knowledge of how to eat, sleep and train to make it through a season at a high level. Nick Johnson was a bad risk at any age, kind of like Amar’e Stoudemire — and maybe Iman Shumpert. However, dedicated players such as Raul Ibanez, Ichiro Suzuki or Kidd have shown durability even later in their careers.
3) They are blocking the progress of a promising prospect. With the Yankees, the veterans actually are helping them stall for time in hopes one day soon Michael Pineda or Manuel Banuelos could work back from arm surgeries to help the rotation, or touted outfield prospects Tyler Austin, Slade Heathcott or Mason Williams can vault to the majors.
4) The roster lacks prime-aged stars. But in the case of the Yankees (Robinson Cano) and Knicks (Carmelo Anthony), the best player is in his prime.
In fact, one of the enduring myths of the Yankees’ postseason meltdown was that it was caused by too much age. This mainly is about how Rodriguez dominates every storyline. Yes, at age 37, his bat and body looked old and slow in the playoffs. But Cano, Curtis Granderson and Nick Swisher were in their primes and performed dreadfully while the Yankees’ three best hitters in October were Jeter, Ibanez and Suzuki — each of whom was at least 38.Follow @NYPostsports