Before the internet, in the 1970’s, 1980’s, and 1990’s — as a basketball fan I couldn’t wait each October for the Zander Hollander Complete Handbook of NBA Basketball to be published and be available in bookstores.
I’d check the bookstores weekly until it arrived. Seeing it on the shelf was a special, magical treat — I’d purchase it with zest and start reading it on the subway home. Hollander provided funny and accurate bios and a scouting report of each player. He was a comedian and excellent basketball analyst — like any good comedian he hit the nail on the head.
He also provided statistics for each player, a scouting report on players just drafted, and predictions — a complete handbook.
Analysis of Zander’s Knick Analysis
I’m posting a sampling of the 1991-92 Handbook — the pages for the Knicks team — under Fair Use doctrine of Copyright law, and with perfect hindsight, will analyze Zander’s analysis.
Regarding Hollander’s prediction for the Knicks — he got the words right but his prediction was wrong. The Knicks went 51-31, and were much more than “a second round playoff team.” The Knicks would beat the Detroit Pistons in the 1st round, 3 games to 2, and then lose in 7 games to Michael Jordan and the Bulls. I know — they lost in the 2nd round like he said — but they became championship contenders, beating former champs Detroit and almost beating what would become one of the greatest teams of all time in Jordan’s Bulls.
“Teammates rapped him anonymously for taking too many shots” — that is something that has been mostly lost to the wind of many current-day Knick fans who hold Ewing up high while simultaneously smashing Julius Randle.
The complaints by his teammates of Ewing being a ball hog weren’t known by fans that much at the time. There were occasional rumors in the press of Anthony Mason not getting along with Ewing and demanding more shots, but that was about it. Years later we learned both Charles Oakley and Mason and whoever knows who else felt that way. It was brought up in a video snippet that recently surfaced on Twitter (below) — of Michael Jordan and Julius Erving ribbing Ewing on the amount of shots he took (with Magic Johnson and Larry Bird looking on).
"The only guy I know who could be double-, triple-teamed and still think he's open"
– Michael Jordan to Patrick Ewing 🤣 Magic Johnson, Larry Bird & Dr. J pile on pic.twitter.com/F1p3IzMf5C
— New York Basketball (@NBA_NewYorkCity) September 17, 2022
Hollander’s encapsulation of Charles Oakley‘s play was perfect; both the plusses and the minuses, as were his analysis of all the Knicks. And the ancillary stuff was informative and entertaining — example on Gerald Wilkins: “Had the injry of the year: bruised thigh when he stomped foot laughing on charter flight”
Hollander’s analysis of Mark Jackson was fair — “Tremendous leadership qualities. Feeds team with own emotion. Thrives on crowd. Won back fickle Garden crowd. Outside shot questionable, but is superb penetrator and easily the best passer on the team.” Remember the team included Maurice Cheeks. Mark Jackson ended up 4th All Time in Assists in the NBA and should be in the Hall of Fame.
The first report on John Starks. Hollander had it all right but underestimated how good Starks would become — an All Star. Also the first report on Anthony Mason — again Hollander’s analysis was good; he didn’t say enough to not get it right — aka Mason would become a Star; Hollander didn’t predict that, but didn’t not predict it.
On Pat Riley, Hollander got this bit wrong: “May need to enlist Freud with this bunch.” It was a funny joke but Hollander dismissed the talent already on this team waiting for the right coach: Ewing, Oakley, Mason, and Starks would form the foundation of one of the greatest Knicks eras ever.
Zander Hollander passed away in 2014. He created something special, and his handbooks will live on for many years; each one a treasure.
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