Golf & New York sports don't mix Part II: Was a Knicks star traded because he played too much golf?

October 22, 2015

This one hurts on a personal level. It turns out that John Starks, my favorite athlete growing up as a kid, may have been traded by the New York Knicks because of his love for my favorite thing to do. It was a move so devastating, it caused a certain high school junior (and future Golf Digest staffer) to stay home "sick" from school. True story.

ESPN's Ian O'Connor, who was a columnist at the Daily News and the Journal News in New York during Starks' nine-year Knicks career, shared this stunning revelation:

O'Connor mentioned something that had happened 16 years ago during Wednesday night's Game 4 of the NLCS because Mets star Yoenis Cespedes was being criticized/questioned for playing golf before the game and then leaving in the second inning with an injured shoulder. Cespedes said after the game that his injury had nothing to do with his round at Medinah.

Back to Starks, the fiery Knicks guard was arguably the team's second-best player behind Patrick Ewing during a '90s decade in which the team usually came up just short in the playoffs -- usually against Michael Jordan's Bulls. He was also arguably the team's most popular player having been the first guy to make an NBA All-Star team after being un-drafted out of college (Starks!). Surely, you remember "THE DUNK" (Yes, the Knicks still lost this series):

Did Knicks coach Jeff Van Gundy, now an analyst for ABC and ESPN, really banish Starks to Golden State because he played too much golf on the road? If so, that's GOLFism!

And speaking of the Warriors, they are the defending champions and they also happen to be the league's most golf-friendly team with Stephen Curry and Andre Iguodala being allowed to hit the links during the playoffs. Lucky for them, they don't have that anti-golf tyrant Van Gundy as their coach.