The New York Knicks are rolling, and plenty of players have stepped up during this fascinating 11-game win streak.
Kenyon Martin has come in and provided the toughness New York was missing, J.R. Smith has been the aggressive player we all hoped he would be, and Carmelo Anthony has been playing at an MVP level.
But there is one player whose contributions have flown under the radar—mainly because he's only played in one of the 11 victories.
As surprising as it may be, that player is Kurt Thomas.
Thomas put on a Willis Reed-esque performance in the first win of the streak against the Utah Jazz, playing through an injury to anchor the Knicks' defense.
At the time, New York had lost four straight, and with Carmelo Anthony, Tyson Chandler and Amar'e Stoudemire all out, someone had to step up and inspire the team.
The NBA's oldest player did just that. It wasn't a particularly great statistical performance, but his defense was enough to hold back a tough Jazz team.
Thomas has paid for his bravery with at least four weeks on the sidelines due to a stress fracture in his right foot, but looking at where the Knicks have gone since then, he must be thinking it was worth it.
Considering his age and injury history, that could well have been Thomas' last game in the NBA, and it would have been a great way to go out.
But, because of the toughness that has defined his 19-year career, the veteran forward is aiming to be back in time for the postseason.
Whether or not we see Thomas again this season, teammates and fans alike should be grateful for the way he put his body on the line to motivate his team, and essentially save the season.
When you're dishing out praise for the Knicks' fantastic streak, a lot of it definitely deserves to go to Melo and J.R., but don't forget Kurt Thomas.
He hasn't done too much this season, but those 26 minutes he played against Utah will go down as one of the most important performances of the season.
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