One month ago, Brooklyn-born rapper Red Cafe was in a bad basketball place. He was upset not only about his beloved Knicks, but about the game in general. Yet he had strong ideas on what his hometown team needed to thrive and, as you'll see, he imagined a solution that was just around the corner. Why are you a Knicks fan?

Red Cafe: I ask myself the same question all the time.

TPG: Get anywhere with that?

Red Cafe: I'm a hometown guy. I'm a neighborhood guy. There were a lot of great years I saw the Knicks do some explosive things. John Starks, Ewing, Sprewell. I liked it. We were tough guys. It was nice to see them match up with guys who had more talent. I just love the Knicks. They break my heart all the time.

TPG: And now? What's missing?

Red Cafe: You gotta win the game before you get on the court. You have to take their heart. I think Melo can do it. Stoudamire can do it. They just have to make the decision. We're in New York City. Coming into that Garden, that's a big deal. Other guys go on that stage and they know they gotta show up. We need [expletive] Anthony Mason and Charles Oakley right now. Those guys came in the game and took hearts, asap.

TPG: Is there any hope?

Red Cafe: We can get back to it. You have talent with Melo, with Stoudamire. We need a leader to go out there and lead the floor. We have the talent to win, you just need a leader. And the leader don't have to be a guy who puts up crazy numbers. We get that and then [expletive] are in trouble.

TPG: Any temptation to jump ship when the Nets move to Brooklyn?

Red Cafe: When they're in Brooklyn, I'll be a part of that moment. I'll support Jay Z's team. But I'm a Knicks fan.

TPG: Some artists seem to shift or even make up allegiances.

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Red Cafe: I don’t get with that. When I was growing up, if you get attracted to a team or style of play, you stick with that. I was a big Detroit Pistons fan. I loved Isiah. I was never a big MJ fan. I never had a pair of Jordans. I wasn't that dude. I had the Ewings. I still have a pair I can wear. I respected Jordan but I wasn’t a bandwagon guy. Detroit was kicking [expletive]. They were bullying people. You had crazy-[expletive] Rodman. Come on man. Them boys went out there and they were gonna kick your [expletive] physically. That substituted for a lot.

TPG: Do you miss that style? Nobody really plays that way anymore.

Red Cafe: Too pretty. It's too pretty. They're out there being sexy. That is all for commercials. I don't want to see that. I'm able to see who's BS'ing out there. I want to see people go out there and go hard. I love the way Chicago plays. They are playing great ball. I like their energy. They’re not a superstar team. They just came in the last two years and been ballin'.

TPG:: What about the other stars in the league?

Red Cafe: If we had Chris Paul, man. He's a young dude, he plays very aggressive. He goes up against the biggest and most talented guys. He has that attitude. He ain't modeling. A lot of guys out there are on the runway. Dwight Howard is supposed to score 50 points every game. People supposed to be scared to go in the lane when he's there. LeBron is the same way. Anything he wants to do, he should do. I just don’t get it. Some guys are meant to lead and some guys need that leader to let 'em know: This guy is not supposed to go past you -- ever. Help me petition for a leader!

That leader showed up soon after, in the form of Jeremy Lin. "JLin has the passion of a New York Knick," Red Cafe said last week. "Finally we might have a LEADER to steer all this talent to a winning season."

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