Even if you don’t live within earshot of the building on 33rd Street between 7th and 8th Avenues, you’ve still probably heard the roars and felt the vibrations.
Madison Square Garden has come back to life over the past three weeks after 13 years of quiet. Thirteen years of quiet.
Not since the out-of-nowhere NBA Finals run in 1999 have the Knicks figured into the NBA Conversation. For 13 years, a city that loves its basketball has wallowed in mediocrity, or worse, watching the likes of James Dolan and Isiah Thomas make a mess of things.
But I’m not here to point fingers. That’s all behind us now.
I’m here to explain why what’s happened since the start of this season — a span in which the Knicks have jumped out to a 7-1 start in, as Walt ‘Clyde’ Frazier would say, ‘resounding and astounding’ fashion — is so special.
IT’S SPECIAL because it was so unexpected. We hoped we might be good. We knew on paper we had talent and experience. But with experience comes age, and how much could we really expect from the oldest team in NBA history? The oldest. In history.
The truth is, we’re not sure yet. But the future is brighter than every single one of us — coaches and players included — allowed ourselves to believe.
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IT’S SPECIAL because of the way it’s happening. Unselfish offense. Hard-nosed, punch-you-in-the-mouth New York Knicks defense like we haven’t seen since the Ewing/Oakley/Mase/Starks days. There are many ways to win in this league — but this? This is the right way. For us. This is our way.
IT’S SPECIAL because we’ve suffered. We’ve suffered long. We’ve suffered historically hard, winning one playoff game (ONE!) in over a decade … since back when my 33-year-old ass was still skipping college classes.
But most of all …
IT’S SPECIAL because New York is the greatest city in the world, and it’s a Knicks town. Don’t let anyone tell you different.
In New York City there are many teams, and many allegiances. But whether you’re a Mets fan or a Yankees fan, a Jets fan or a Giants fan, a Rangers fan or an Islanders fan … you’re a Knicks fan. If you take all those teams’ colors and mix them together you get orange and blue.
From Rucker Park to The Cage, New York loves its hoops, and there’s no other hoops game in town but the Knicks, no matter what anyone tells you about that Brooklyn squad the Jigga Man just brought to the party. Sure they may yet earn their stripes, but make no mistake — the Kncks do, and unless something crazy happens always will, run this town.
When the Knicks are good, they run this like no other.
While all the stadiums of all those other New York teams are scattered around the periphery … Flushing … Jersey … the Bronx …
The Garden lies right smack in the heart of the city. It IS the city’s heart.
At long last, the city’s heart is beating again, and no matter where you are, if you listen close, you’ll be able to hear it.
Justin Kanew is a two-time “Amazing Race” not-winner and film producer in Los Angeles. He produced Jean Claude Van Damme’s first comedy “Welcome to the Jungle,” coming in 2013. Tweet him @Justin_Kanew.
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