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New York is a tough town for losers. The Knicks know this all too well, and they are built to win. Since 1946, the Knickerbockers have held court at Madison Square Garden, sharing with the Boston Celtics the honor of being the oldest team in the NBA, while building a winning tradition as proud and fabled as any in the game.

In recent years, the team has cultivated a select roster of staggering talent and ability—big names who consistently put up big numbers in a big way: Patrick Ewing, Larry Johnson, Latrell Sprewell, Allan Houston, Marcus Camby, Charlie Ward, Chris Childs and then some. As the reigning Eastern Conference Champions, and right on target to repeat, you would hardly suspect that the deadliest weapon in their arsenal is that skinny little bald guy in the suit on the sidelines.

The Capricorn Coach

At five foot nine and 150 pounds, Head Coach Jeff Van Gundy doesn’t exactly cut an imposing courtside figure. In fact, with his clipboard and comb-over, he could make Bill Gates look macho in comparison. But looks can be deceiving, because underneath that mild-mannered exterior lurks an opponent’s worst nightmare—a basketball genius! Born January 19, 1962 at 12:23 am PST, in Hemet, California, Van Gundy is a “Super Capricorn,” a born leader, seasoned workaholic, tenacious strategist and a force to be reckoned with! Aspiring to coach in the NBA all his life, he achieved that lofty goal in 1996 at the remarkably young age of 34.

Coming from a basketball family, Van Gundy really was born to coach. His father is a long-time college coach and his brother Stan is an assistant coach with the Knicks’ arch rival, the Miami Heat. His chart reveals a stellium (group) of planets in Capricorn and Aquarius, all clustered about the cusp of the Fourth House. The Fourth House is the area of the chart associated with family and roots, and with the Fourth sign, Cancer. It is linked by opposition (180 degrees) to the Tenth House of career and social standing, which is also the house associated with the Tenth sign, Capricorn. With so much emphasis in Van Gundy’s chart on the Fourth and Tenth Houses, and the signs Capricorn and Cancer, this theme of the intermingling of career and family is repeated throughout his life.

The Leo Center

Standing in marked contrast at seven feet and 255 pounds is the Knick’s legendary center, Patrick Ewing. He was born in Kingston, Jamaica on August 5, 1962, the same year as his coach. Now in his thirteenth pro season and on the rebound from a devastating ankle injury, his numbers are down, but he still leaves a lot of teams wishing he would act his age. Leo seems like a natural sign for a basketball center, the big man in the middle of all the action. Wilt Chamberlain, one of the greatest centers ever, was a Leo, as is David Robinson of the Spurs.

Ewing’s durability and inspirational leadership have kept him in the spotlight all these years, winning the respect and love of those demanding New York fans, but never winning an NBA Championship. While Ewing has turned in an all-star performance at center season after season, it’s almost as if that championship team has never quite jelled around him. This predicament is outlined in his chart in the opposition of Saturn and the Moon’s South Node in Aquarius to his Sun in Leo. Leo, the sign of kings, usually represents the leader, the champ or the star. The opposite sign, Aquarius, serves a complementary function, representing groups like teams, congresses, unions or audiences who either need, or rebel against, a leader.

The restrictive influence of Saturn in Aquarius on Ewing’s career was especially apparent last season. After playing a pivotal leadership role in the players’ union during the strike, his Knicks made it all the way to the NBA finals. However, Ewing was sidelined with a devastating ankle injury. He had to watch from the bench as the San Antonio Spurs’ “Twin Towers” combination of David Robinson and Tim Duncan at center dominated the championship series. Every sign of the zodiac is associated with a part of the body, and Aquarius is traditionally linked to the ankles. The old taskmaster Saturn really had some hard lessons in store for this aging warrior. Even if Ewing never wins a championship ring, his place in basketball history is assured, because he was named to the NBA 50th Anniversary All-Time Team in 1996.

The Virgo Problem Child

Let us contemplate the mystery that is Latrell Sprewell: Coach choker or misunderstood perfectionist? You be the judge.

Born September 8, 1970, in Milwaukee, this not-so-gentle Virgo was thrown out of the league on December 3, 1997 for assaulting then Golden State coach P. J. Carlesimo, only to be reinstated by arbitration the following spring. Sprewell has an explosive combination of planets in Virgo and Scorpio, making him a bit testy, but far from stupid. A Knick since January, 1999, his playing led the team to their finals appearance and meltdown against the superior San Antonio Spurs, in Ewing’s absence. All of which proves that, while hardly a model citizen, he is one fine basketball player, and, to his credit, hasn’t choked anyone for some time now. There exists a certain sympathy between a hard case like Sprewell and the hard-core New York fans. The problem child has found a home, at least for now.

Heading into the playoffs, the Knicks are battling the hated Miami Heat for the number one spot in the Atlantic division. With the Indiana Pacers leading the East, we are assured of some high drama in the coming weeks. Whether we’ll see Spike Lee taunting Reggie Miller courtside, or another rumble with Pat Riley, the New York Knicks will continue their proud basketball tradition in the Garden—a very tough team for a tough town.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Courtney Roberts, M.A.,is a writer, teacher, and consultant, originally from Miami, FL. Her work reflects a unique perspective: a real passion for the 'big picture' that combines cosmology, religious studies and history with a lifetime of observing the dynamic interaction of spirit and cosmos.

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For more information about Courtney Roberts Conrad, click here.

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