Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Dudley Takes on Tall Order against Spurs

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Dudley Takes on Tall Order against Spurs

Article excerpt

SAN ANTONIO -- With a Yale pedigree and a former diplomat for a grandfather, Chris Dudley is no typical NBA player.

The New York Knicks center probably has never heard this question, posed to Tim Duncan during the NBA Finals: "Do you consider the paint your own territory, your own domain, an area where you feel you can do whatever you want?"

For Dudley, the paint has always been the spot on the floor above which his often futile free throw attempts have soared. He has never averaged double-digit points in his 13 seasons in the league, held back by the uncontested 15-foot shot he has struggled mightily to master.

Now, Dudley's dogged pursuit of competition and a championship ring has led him to the most difficult job in basketball these days. While Patrick Ewing sits on the bench in a suit with a torn Achilles' tendon, Dudley must stand in that paint, between Duncan and the basket, and hope for the best against the San Antonio Spurs.

"I admire Chris Dudley for a lot of reasons," Knicks coach Jeff Van Gundy said yesterday as his team prepared for Game 2 against the Spurs. "The main one is his professionalism. He always is ready, plays hard, thinks team first."

The Knicks need Dudley now, maybe even more than they needed Ewing to fight through his Achilles' injury until the tendon finally gave way in Game 2 against the Indiana Pacers. They need him on the floor, because at 6-foot-11 he is their best defensive weapon against the Spurs' twin towers, Duncan and David Robinson.

Dudley hasn't made even half his free throws in a season since 1995-96 with Portland. He is shooting -- the term used loosely -- 46 percent in his career.

Now, he has a badly swollen, hyperextended, possibly bruised right elbow, further affecting his quirky foul-line delivery.

And yet he continues to do what he has done since Cleveland made him the 75th pick in 1987, the sixth Yale player picked in the NBA draft. …

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