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Jordan Brand Classic: Allan Houston

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As part of our Jordan Classic coverage, Finish Line polled some of the finest up-and-coming players in America about what it means to them to play in the game that bears Michael Jordan’s name, among other topics. We also solicited perspectives from Knicks executive and former All-Star Allan Houston, plus ESPN national recruiting director Paul Biancardi.

Allan Houston (@ALLAN_HOUSTON)

Houston is best known for his nine-year stint with the Knicks, which included two All-Star appearances and a trip to the 1999 NBA Finals. Houston’s signature moment came in the first round that spring, when he hit a runner with 0.8 seconds left to beat the Heat by one point in the decisive Game 5. Houston is now the assistant general manager for the Knicks and serves as GM of the Westchester Knicks.

A quick anecdote: When I was a senior in high school, I went out and bought your jersey to sit on the couch and watch the Knicks play the Bulls. That was the Charlie Ward-P.J. Brown year

Oh man. That was … that was a memorable year.

Photo by Bryan Horowitz

Photo by Bryan Horowitz

It certainly was, for a lot of reasons! Competing against Michael back then, how impressive is it to see that all these years later, his brand has this much cache to have his own game, his own court, events like this?

Well, it’s amazing. When you talk about legacy, it’s a big word that I’ve always learned that was important for me, my father and my family. And when you think about his legacy, it’s pretty incredible what his brand has been able to attract. And it’s amazing to see some of these young, talented players, and the fact that they can align themselves (with Jordan), it’s got to be pretty special for them.

Putting yourself in their shoes, what mindset would you bring to an event like this with so many other top players and scouts and everything?

I think just some leadership. If you’re in this environment, I think everyone knows how talented you are, and I think you just want to enjoy it — enjoy the moment, enjoy the situation you’re in. But also, just try to learn from your peers and just try to bring some leadership, and try to figure out what you can bring to your next school or the next environment you’re going to be in.

Events like this have kind of gone from mostly college people here to mostly pro people, scouts and such. What do you make of the fact that things are kind of sped up in that regard?

From our perspective, we’ve got to see them when we can see them. I think one of the biggest things you can do is to understand them, get to know these guys and what makes them, them. And that’s the biggest value that we can have is someone who hopefully someone who’ll be able to join this level.

You’re obviously a basketball lifer. Do you just enjoy being around this type of environment with these kids coming up?

I have a son who’s 14, I have children. I just enjoy the process of seeing them have a good time and living this moment in their life. They’ll never forget this, and I just like to see them enjoy this and learn as much as they can.

** Come back later to get the insider perspective from ESPN analyst Paul Biancardi, and then check tomorrow as we wrap up our Jordan Classic coverage with Skal Labissiere and Austin Grandstaff.