In an interview with GQ, the New York Knicks’ RJ Barrett said he is prepared to learn if the team loses and hopes to return the team to its old heights.
Part of the weight of New York Knicks basketball will sit on RJ Barrett‘s shoulders. As the No. 3 pick of the 2019 NBA Draft, he is one of the team’s building blocks for an unknown future, one that just featured one of the worst seasons in franchise history.
Barrett, of course, does not just have this responsibility; Mitchell Robinson, Kevin Knox and Julius Randle are among the Knicks who will carry the load. However, the new guy in the room will receive a spotlight, warranted or not, as the fresh face to provide hope for a team without a playoff appearance since 2013.
Barrett is prepared for whatever happens, though, despite winning following him at every basketball level, per his interview with GQ.
I’m not going to lie to you, I haven’t really lost. Maybe nine or ten games in the past five years. And even when I was younger, I was always winning championships. But losing is just a way to learn. It exposes your flaws.
These Knicks are nowhere close to contenders, but Barrett can contribute to at least making this a fringe playoff team. They will not have the high-flying, exciting antics as at Duke in 2018-19, but Madison Square Garden will provide an electric atmosphere for him to work in.
The Knicks were once a perennial playoff team. That takes fans 20 years into the archives, but the 1990s teams had some of the franchise’s best success, with two NBA Finals appearances, Patrick Ewing and a fun team behind him. They did not win a title, which goes back to the 1970s when Walt Frazier and Willis Reed dominated the league.
Barrett, despite being born in 2000, knows how special those teams were. One of his favorite players was actually in New York in the ’90s:
“John Starks is one of my favorite players,” Barrett told GQ on an afternoon in late August, showing canny understanding of how passionately local fans lionize cult heroes from the team’s glory days. “To see what the Knicks were able to do in the past, and how the city really got behind them—you want to get back there so badly.”
That awareness from a 19 year old is a positive. The 2019-20 Knicks are far away from that level, but Barrett can play a role in making them a group remembered in franchise history, rather than a forgettable footnote like the past seven iterations.
The future is bright for Barrett with the New York Knicks. How much he can achieve remains unknown, but his rookie season will be intriguing.