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John Starks, 46, is nothing short of a legend in the eyes of New York sports fans. He played eight years for the Knicks and never gave the team anything less than his all.
If the Knicks needed a big defensive stop, a loose ball, or a big shot the odds were that Starks would be the one to come up clutch for the orange and blue.
Starks is now nearly a decade removed from the NBA, but he is still coming up clutch for New York. This time it isn’t on the court, it is in the hearts and minds of young children.
Yesterday the John Starks Foundation teamed up with the Manhattanville College Sport Business Management Program at the Kennedy Gymnasium to give dozens of young kids a little joy this holiday season. Featured students from Westhab and the New York Junior Tennis League got to participate in the event because they excelled in the classroom and in the community.
Starks and company hope events like this will encourage the children to keep up the good work.
“Jennifer Alpert, the director of my foundation, teaches a course up here and she gave her students a project, they created an event and they did a beautiful job.” Said Starks, “It’s something kids can really enjoy and get the fruits from it and they will brighten up their holidays.”
Starks and his close personal friend Santa Claus sat down to sign autographs and take pictures with the young children. Smiles were plentiful as child after child stood next to the Knick legend and St. Nick. Then Starks took the group onto the court for a quick demonstration.
“I think being a part of a team teaches you about working together and motivation, what it takes to reach a goal.” Starks said about the importance of athletics and community service in a young life. “Making sure that they understand that you have to give back to their community, you can’t always take, you have to give back.”
Starks and his foundation continue to give back by providing high school students with scholarships. Throughout the year, the foundation hosts events including a golf tournament and casino night to raise funds used to give kids better lives.
“It’s something that I wanted to do to give back to high school students,” continued Starks, “I wanted to provide kids with an opportunity that I didn’t have coming out of school. Scholarships were the best option because a lot of these kids don’t know where to look, don’t know where to find money, and for me personally it gives me a chance to really help kids jump start their career.”
The 1994 All-Star did take some time out with me to discuss the current Knick team, and while he said he likes the off-season moves the Knicks made he offered some cautionary advice to the players about to embark on the 66-game abbreviated season.
“Get your rest.” Starks said, “Get your rest because it is going to be taxing on your body. It probably took a year off my career if not more. You play game after game and you really don’t have time for practice anymore, so you play the game then you rest then you go back and play the game.”
Starks has been a head coach for USBL’s Westchester Wildfire but right now he says he hasn’t thought about returning to the bench anytime soon because he enjoys his free time and helping young kids reach their goals.
Sport: Ice Hockey
Game: Rye Country Day vs. Rye Town Harrison
Score: Rye Country Day Won 2-0
Highlights: Zachary Coppola and Henry Beshar each scored in the win.
In Boys' Swimming, Rye and Westlake will meet up at Hommocks middle school at 4:30 p.m.
In Girls' Basketball, Rye will host a tournament tonight starting at 5 p.m.
In Girls' Basketball, Blind Brook heads to Byram Hills at 7 p.m.