Originally created 04/29/01

Knicks say Camby will not play Sunday



TORONTO -- The New York Knicks flew to Canada on Saturday with 11 players. The 12th guy, Marcus Camby, missed practice for a second straight day, and the team said he would not play Sunday against the Raptors.

Tipoff for Game 3 of the series, tied 1-1, is 12:30 p.m. EDT.

"I think this is probably the most difficult challenge that we've been presented with since I've been here," Latrell Sprewell said. "This is definitely the biggest game of the series."

Othella Harrington is expected to start in place of Camby, who has been struggling to cope with the trauma of his mother and two sisters being held hostage last Monday in Connecticut. A suspect is being held on $1.5 million bond on charges including kidnapping and sexual assault.

Camby did not speak to coach Jeff Van Gundy before practice Saturday, although general manager Scott Layden spoke with him afterward. Shortly before leaving New York on a charter flight, the Knicks announced that Camby would not travel and would not play.

"Everyone is different in how they handle these situations. We certainly wish him well," Layden said.

The absence of Camby will deprive the Knicks of their best rebounder and shot-blocker, although Harrington played well in the final few games of the regular season as Camby sat out with a bruised hip.

Camby is not one of the league's most durable players, having played no more than 63 games in any of his five seasons. But this is the first time he has sat out because of personal reasons.

"I told him, and I think he fully understands this, if he feels he can play effectively, he should play. If he doesn't, he shouldn't," Van Gundy said. "That's just a decision he has to make and I'm fine whichever way he goes on that.

"Other than support, there's nothing we can do to help him, and the other guys in there have to keep their eyes on the prize. Our whole year's work is coming down to these next five days and what we do with it," Van Gundy said.

The Knicks have not lost a first-round series since 1991, but this could be the year that it happens if they lose Sunday and fall behind 2-1 in the series. They have lost their last six regular-season games at Toronto, although they won at the Air Canada Center last year in the playoffs to complete a first-round sweep.

The Knicks, who lost 15 of their last 19 road games during the regular season, are coming off a 20-point loss in Game 2.

"Obviously, they sense some vulnerability on our part," Van Gundy said.

The continuing Camby crisis is the latest in a series of events that have made life around the Knicks like a soap opera. Van Gundy was criticized for his comments about religion in the workplace, Glen Rice has complained about his limited role, Charlie Ward apologized for remarks he made that offended Jews, Allan Houston had a newborn baby and Larry Johnson has been out with a chronic back ailment. The season even started in a weird way as the Knicks began adjusting to life without Patrick Ewing.

"It's not just Marcus' situation, a whole lot of other things are swirling around," Van Gundy said. "They're all supportive of each other, but now is the time when we just came off one of the most wretched performances you could have, and you can either give yourself a free pass or you can respond."

Rick Kaplan, Camby's business manager, said Camby remains affected by the trauma and stress of the hostage standoff and its aftermath.

"He's doing everything in his power to make sure he's mentally healthy," Kaplan said. "He wouldn't be able to perform at the level he would need to. We're working on Wednesday (the day of Game 4) now."