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It takes one to catch one

Jaime C. Harris | 4/12/2011, 4:46 p.m.

The fox from the Bronx has brought the kid from Brooklyn back home.

Knicks team president Donnie Walsh, the Bronx native, has finally given Carmelo Anthony, Brooklyn born, what he has been pleading for. A permanent locker in the Garden. How important is Anthony, the former Denver Nugget, to the Knicks' future as a championship contender?

His value is a high as anyone who has played for them in the past 20 years. The sentimental feelings fans harbor for Danilo Gallinari, Raymond Felton and Wilson Chandler are understandable. They helped reinvigorate the Knicks and made them interesting again in a positive context after the franchise had nearly crumbled under hubris and mismanagement.

But title winners are built on the backs of superstars. Multiple stars. Surefire Hall of Famers. Even those that have seen their better days yet are still among the elite in the game. The Boston Celtics exemplify this premise.

They went into the All-Star Game break with the second best record in the NBA and the top mark in the Eastern Conference at 40-14. The Celtics had four players on the East's All-Star roster. Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and Rajon Rondo. But Rondo is the only one of the quartet that will still be around in five years.

By then, the combination of Anthony, Amare Stoudemire and most likely Deron Williams, currently of the Utah Jazz and arguably the best point guard in the game, will have led the Knicks to at least two conference finals appearances and at least one title. That's the prediction here. They will be every bit the equal of the Miami Heat's LeBron James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh. The disappointment of not signing James last summer will be long forgotten.

That is what Anthony means to the Knicks. The rebirth began with Stoudemire. He brought the swag back to the Garden. But Anthony will be the guy who legitimizes the Knicks as authentic threats. Williams, or perhaps Chris Paul, and the vital role players certain to come will complete the masterpiece for which Walsh laid the foundation.

Now it is incumbent upon Knicks owner James Dolan to extend Walsh's contract, which is up this April. If Walsh determines his recent health issues aren't prohibitive, Dolan must let Walsh finish the job he started. It would be the ultimate New York story.