The NBA is a better place when the New York Knicks are competitive. Think about it; they play in the Mecca of basketball, they have loyal fans, and they’re known around the globe. They’re also polarizing from the fact that you will be hard-pressed to find a person who, at one time or another, hasn’t had an opinion on the New York Knicks. The problem is that, in recent memory, it’s been hard to find much to be positive about. However, the Ghosts of Clyde Frazier, The Pearl, Dave DeBusschere, Sugar Ray Richardson, Patrick Ewing, Charles Oakley, John Starks, Chris Childs (toughness and hands only), and Latrell Sprewell have descended to The Garden and the Knicks are playing the best ball they have played in years.
Through it all, the Knicks fans I know have been loyal to the T. Whether it’s Till, Patrick Phillips, Dame Kelly, Lizz Robbins, B. Wolfe, DragonflyJonez, Chi-Chi, or any other Knicks, they’ve been down for their team, and if there is a squad in the NBA who deserves to have some good fortune, it’s them. There’s a healthy balance of joy, optimism, but trepidation and concern, and considering the road the Knicks have taken in the past several seasons, it’s hard to blame Knicks fans for any anxiety they harbor.
Personally, my satisfaction with the Knicks play this year is due to the Freedom of Raymond Felton, a point guard who was held in captivity by Larry Brown in Charlotte. When Felton was drafted in 2005, he was coming off of a National Championship at UNC, and for someone who played his high school and college ball in the Carolinas, being drafted to play in Charlotte seemed like a good fit. Well, that wasn’t the case, and what came after that was inconsistency, frustration, and whispers that Felton wasn’t that good, and wasn’t a real point guard, but once the Bobcats pulled the ultimate form of disrespect by drafting another point guard in the first round not long after they drafted him, the writing was on the wall.
Now, Felton is playing for a coach who lets him do his thing, and it’s showing that he’s always had it in him to run the show. Sometimes, you have to get out of comfort zone to really grow and for him, being in the Carolinas all those years may have been hindered him from fulfilling his potential. Who knows? The bottom line is the man is doing work right now, and it’s a thrill to watch.
The Knicks have other players who’ve been revitalized, rejuvenated, and restored some people for their team as well. Wilson Chandler, Landry Fields, and Danilo Gallinari are all playing well for the Knicks and are all showing flashes of what they bring to the table in Mike D’Antoni’s system. Of course, there is one man who is the superstar of the Knicks; a man who’s been heavily scrutinized on this site many a time, and he goes by the name of Amare’ Stoudemire.
I won’t even front; at first, I wasn’t sure of what to expect from Stoudemire when he signed with the Knicks. He’s my dude and all, and sure, he could dunk on everyone, has a terrific mid-range game and pretty much a solid all-around offensive game, but he can’t guard Ed, and he can’t rebound as well as me. The running joke “what do you call a power forward who averages seven rebounds a game?” had STAT in mind, because as much as people loved him, he would drive you crazy, because of those two disgraceful aspects of his game.
Whether it’s the attention of The Big Apple, being reunited with D’Antoni, or just relishing the responsibility that comes with being The Man, he’s been a monster this season for the Knicks. Depending on whom you ask, they may even say he’s been the best power forward in the Eastern Conference, and if you find someone loony enough, they may even say he’s been the best power forward in basketball, based on what he’s been able to contribute to his new team. Sure, the season’s only 25% or so complete, but you have to start somewhere, and right now, his start is one the Knicks and their fan base are thrilled with.
Who knows if they can keep the Knicks can keep this up, but if there’s one thing that can be taken from the journey of the Knicks for the past several years, it’s that anyone who has a vested interest in their success will not take what they’re doing right now for granted.
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