Nazr Mohammed has never given himself a clever nickname or made a rap CD, and he would not know how to start a superstar feud. Shaquille O'Neal he is not.
But Mohammed has, unexpectedly, become perhaps the best Eastern Conference center not residing in south Florida. Or the most consistently productive one, anyway.
Mohammed, the Knicks' starting center, is averaging career highs of 12.5 points and 9.3 rebounds. He is also shooting 53.2 percent from the field. His hustle and grit have helped the Knicks (16-13) to first place in the Atlantic Division. And his steady production has put him squarely in the conversation about who should back up O'Neal in the All-Star Game on Feb. 20 in Denver.
"I think he's in that discussion," Isiah Thomas, the Knicks' president, said. "I know the thing that the coaches value the most is his work ethic, the way he approaches the game every night and the way he does the dirty work inside the paint. He's not flashy; he's effective. He's just a worker."
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