Anthony Beers, Staff Writer
The last time the Knicks won the Atlantic Division Jason Kidd was a sophomore at the University of California, Iman Shumpert was three and Michael Jordan was playing minor league baseball. That was all in 1994, an entirely different era of basketball.
Alas, following one of the roughest decades in Knicks history, the New York Knickerbockers are back as a legitimate contender to make a run at the NBA finals. The Atlantic Division champs wrapped up their season clinching the two seed in the Eastern Conference with an impressive record of 54-28. Carmelo Anthony won the scoring title averaging 28.7 points per game, and JR Smith winning sixth man of the year is highly imminent. All of these encouraging statistics have given Knicks fans a Clyde-esque “pep in their step.”
Naturally it is fitting that the Knicks will begin their playoff quest against the Boston Celtics, the very team that has mortified Knicks fans over recent years. Saying it is a rivalry is almost foolish, because it can’t be a rivalry if one team consistently beats the other. For years now, that has been the Celtics, a dominant force to be reckoned with in the East, constantly crushing Knicks hopes time and time again.
But for Knicks fans this year, wheels are in motion for a change. The Knicks defeated Boston three out of four times in the regular season. The Celtics are a shell of their former selves with Ray Allen gone and Rajon Rondo out with a torn ACL. The pressure shifts to the aging veterans Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, who as Knicks and Honey Nut Cheerios fans know, will do anything to get inside the head of opponents.
This series without question will tell a lot. The Celtics are on the decline and the Knicks are on the rise. Something’s got to give. The Knicks have shown this season that they are ready to take the torch. They clinched home court advantage in the opening round and have the ultimate advantage: Madison Square Garden. The Mecca of basketball will be livid throughout this series against Boston. In Game 1 on Saturday, that arena was rocking louder than ever before as the Knicks used home court to nab a 1-0 series lead.
Recently the Knicks honored past greats at the garden in remembrance of their last championship in 1973. Legends Walt “Clyde” Frazier, Bill Bradley, Earl “the Pearl” Monroe, Phil Jackson and of course the captain Willis Reed were among the many in attendance on this very special night. 40 years ago the meaning of “team” was re-defined by these men and today their numbers hang from the ceiling to remain in Knicks folklore forever. Knicks fans have been through many roller coasters since then. These positive and negative moments all worth remembering, but the ultimate goal never reached.
It’s time for this Knicks team to honor the ghosts of the past and leave it all on the court. The fans of New York deserve it after all these years and the Knicks have worked too hard to get to this point only to lose to the Celtics. It’s time for a change. The forgotten empire of Knicks basketball shall rise again.