When you’re 22 and live in New York, you simply don’t know what an exciting basketball game feels like. I remember my dad’s heart getting ripped out by Michael Jordan. I remember watching Knicks-Pacers games with my aunts, uncles, and cousins. I remember Jeff Van Gundy biting at Alonzo Mourning’s ankles.
I remember the moments, but I don’t remember the feelings.
That’s why last night’s Knicks-Celtics game was so important. It gave a new generation of Knicks fans a taste of what the ’90s were like. And for the generation before us, they were reminded of what the ’90s—and the decades before—were like.
As for the game itself, yeah, the Knicks lost. And trust me, it’s killing me to write these happy-loser posts about games against Boston. But that was as important of a mid-December weekday regular-season loss as there could possibly be.
Illinois-born New Yorker Will Leitch put it best:
What’s most pleasant about the national spotlight is that it wasn’t so much focused on the team—which is, of course, playing fantastically—or its players, specifically. It was about us. It was about the basketball world’s desperate, enough already desire for Madison Square Garden to be electric again. When MSG is rolling, it reminds you of how great the NBA can be, how much it can mean, in a way that quarter-empty Miami gyms watching LeBron and Wade play footsie never can. People want that, and not just New Yorkers. Last night, oh boy, did we ever get it.
Sure, the Knicks lost, but it couldn’t have ended in a better way. With the Knicks down two and four-tenths of a second left, Amar’e Stoudemire—the man behind New York’s resurgence—caught a pass at the top of the three-point line, turned, and hit a picture-perfect jump shot. Three more points, and the Knicks won. Only, replay showed that the ball left his hands after the buzzer sounded. Final. Celtics win.
But, as Leitch said, it’s a sign of what this team can be:
That’s the underlining of the evening, the Coming Attractions, the perfect way to end a night when the Knicks showed everybody that this is going to keep being so, so fun.
That shot fits where the Knicks are right now—breaking back into the conversation. But also where they can be—milliseconds away from beating one of the NBA’s best.
And yeah, this could end up being the highlight of the season. The team could fall apart and miss out on the playoffs. They could trade for uber-duper-superstar Carmelo Anthony and find out he and Amar’e can’t play together.
But whatever happens, right now, the Knicks are relevant again, and they’re teaching kids like me what it’s like to be a Knicks fan. After all, the refs really did screw us over, didn’t they?
We really won.
—Photo via AP