And we’re right here.
All of us. We are right here. The Knicks. Knicks fans. The ardent believers and the transformed skeptics. The twisting path of 20 largely barren years caught within the desert. And the promise of a means out. Yes. Sunday night time, 7 o’clock, we’re right here. All of us. Madison Square Garden. New York City. A reunion of outdated mates.
A renewal of a forgotten ceremony of spring.
“I can’t wait,” Julius Randle mentioned not way back. “I came here for the Garden. I came here for New York. I came here for the full experience. I want that, man. I want that so bad.”
Sunday night time, 7 o’clock, Madison Square Garden, Randle will get that. He will get all of it. So will RJ Barrett, the child whose sport appears to enhance by the hour; and Derrick Rose, the outdated professional, savoring each second of this return journey to the playoffs. So will the supporting gamers: Alec Burks and Reggie Bullock, Nerlens Noel and Taj Gibson.
Immanuel Quickley, the rookie from Kentucky, who appeared to spring straight from the imaginations of ravenous Knicks fans wanting for a dollop of hope within the draft, will probably be right here. He will open up his ears, and his coronary heart, to the 15,000 or so who will invade these walls about an hour earlier than tip.
And so, in fact, will Tom Thibodeau, who as soon as upon a time was a Connecticut child adopting the hit-the-open-man Knicks, who twice upon a time was an assistant coach for Jeff Van Gundy serving to to steer the Knicks of Ewing, Sprewell, LJ and Houston to glory, who has introduced the Knicks again, introduced the fans again, introduced curiosity and life and hearth again to Pennsylvania Plaza and Madison Square Garden.
“We’ve had our focus on this all season long,” Thibodeau mentioned. “This team, to its credit, has kept its eyes on the prize. We’re ready to see where that leads.”
All of the outdated rhythms and sensations will come pouring again by tip-off. It is difficult to fathom 15,000 engaged fans contained in the Garden, solely as a result of it’s been so lengthy. Yes, the pandemic stored the numbers sparse, however the ineptitude courting again to 2000, with solely an occasional oasis of prosperity, has weakened the muscle reminiscence, too.
But that may care for itself when the lights go down, when the spotlights come on, when the gamers are launched. The roar will care for itself. The power will care for itself. The first time Randle shakes and bakes his means free for a 17-foot fallaway, the pinwheel roof will really feel prefer it’s about to blow. The first alley-oop from Barrett to Noel, there’s no telling what number of eardrums will pop.
The first time Trae Young does a couple of Trae Young issues …
Well, that’s all a part of it, proper? Before a minute of this sequence with the Hawks is contested, you already know that you just’re going to get your fill of Young — the good third-year guard who averaged 25.3 factors and 9.4 assists per sport. Young will get loads of assist, in fact, from wingmen like Bogdan Bogdanovich and Clint Capela, from outdated professionals like Lou Williams, from an outdated Garden buddy, Danilo Gallinari.
But the Garden’s focus will probably be on Young, as a result of that’s at all times the legislation of the native land. The star will get the remedy. Knicks fans obsessed about Reggie Miller, by no means Antonio Davis. It was all about Michael Jordan, by no means Scottie Pippen. The Garden is aware of inherently, instinctively, who could cause essentially the most harm. It will react accordingly.
And then it will likely be on Young to re-react.
And on the Knicks to make all of this make sense, and work out, in a means it hasn’t typically labored out for the Knicks the previous 20 years. There has solely been one playoff win for the Knicks since 2000, and that was eight years in the past. The Knicks took care of enterprise in Games 1 and 2 in opposition to the Celtics that yr, then stumbled in Game 1 in opposition to the Pacers. It value them.
And it has ushered on this newest wait, this eight-year hole because the final time there was a sport this hotly anticipated on the Garden. It is right here now. The Knicks are right here, and the Hawks, and 15,000 of you bodily, and tens of millions extra by proxy. The wait is sort of over. The second is sort of right here. Let’s get this began, already.
Let’s get it began.