Westchester’s gone blue and orange: Our Q&A with Knicks players Steve Novak, Marcus Camby, Ronnie Brewer, and Coach Mike Woodson.
The New York Knicks play in Madison Square Garden, but, because the team’s practice facility is in Greenburgh, many of the players (plus Coach Mike Woodson) live in Westchester. Among them: Raymond Felton, Steve Novak, Ronnie Brewer, Marcus Camby, Rasheed Wallace, and Pablo Prigioni. In fact, for Camby, who played with the Knicks in 1999 when they last reached the NBA Finals, it’s his second stint here. Below is what a few of the players had to say about their experiences living in the County.
How does living in Westchester differ from living where you grew up? I’m from Brown Deer, Wisconsin. They’re both nice communities in the suburbs—Brown Deer is a part of Milwaukee while Rye Brook is farther out of New York City. But they’re both towns where people are good neighbors.
Do you get recognized a lot walking around, going into restaurants, movies, et cetera? I get recognized somewhat. The tall thing usually gets people thinking and gives it away. People are always very respectful, and Westchester’s low-key and a quiet community. That’s why I like it. People ask me for autographs here and there, but it’s not too bad.
Do you have any wild fan recognition story in which someone reacted with a lot of enthusiasm when they saw you? One time, I was at Chipotle [in the Rye Ridge Shopping Center], and someone walked by the window and did ‘the belt,’ [Novak is known for gesturing the State Farm ‘Discount Double Check’ belt around his waist after hitting a three-point shot] and that had me laughing pretty good. They didn’t say anything. They just walked by the window and did ‘the belt’ and kept going.
Why do you choose to live where you are living now? I live in West Harrison currently, but during my first stint [with the Knicks], I lived in Rye for ten-plus years. I like the area because my first time with the Knicks, we were practicing at Purchase College and Rye is very close to the college. I’m from Connecticut so it was like right in the middle between going to Connecticut and going into the City. My kids love to be here. The school system where I am now, Harrison, is great.
How does living in Westchester differ from living where you grew up? The difference between West Harrison and where I grew up, Hartford, is night and day. Hartford is a city, the capital of Connecticut. It’s very, very ‘inner city’ where I grew up. Westchester is more slow-motion with the trees and not too many traffic lights.
Do you have any favorite dining spots? Recently, my daughters and I are loving this place called Edo’s [Edo Japanese Steakhouse]. It’s kind of like Benihana. It’s in Port Chester near Petland Discounts and Home Depot.
Do you get recognized a lot walking around, going into restaurants, movies, et cetera? I’ve lived in Westchester for so long, people recognize me, especially on my block. People all know I play for the Knicks. Even my kids are quite popular in their schools. Before I drive down to the Garden for the games, I’ll have people drive up to my car and tell me, ‘Good luck.’ But, pretty much, everyone is laid back.
What do you think of the town you live in? I like Hastings so far. It’s easy to get to the practice facility, and the people are nice.
How does Westchester differ from living where you grew up? I’m from Fayetteville, Arkansas. Some parts of Fayetteville remind me a lot of Hastings. There’s a lot of greenery in both places. They both have a real local spirit. When I played for Chicago, I lived in the suburbs, and I picked the suburbs here, too, because I thought it would be hard to live in New York City with all the people and the big buildings.
Do you have any favorite dining spots? A lot of our meals are last-minute, random places, but I like Morton’s in White Plains. When my parents and brother come to town, we like to go there.
Do you get recognized a lot walking around, going into restaurants, movies, et cetera? I’m recognized a lot when I go to the grocery store and the movies. I like to go to the [Cinema de Lux] Ridge Hill movie complex in Yonkers. A lot of people ask for pictures and autographs. It’s cool. They’re always respectful, and it makes you feel that all the hard work we do on the court is worth it because they respect our body of work.
Coach Mike Woodson
What do you think of the town you live in? As a professional basketball player, and then a coach, I have lived all over the country. White Plains is exactly what I was looking for when the Knicks hired me last season.
Do you have any favorite dining spots? On any given night, you can find my family, my coaching staff, and me at 42 [The Restaurant] on top of the Ritz-Carlton. Chef Anthony Goncalves makes me feel like I am home.
Do you have any wild fan recognition stories? Knick fans are the smartest fans in the league. They appreciate hard work and strong defense—and they aren’t embarrassed to speak their minds.