Knicks fans deserve this 2021 NBA playoff moment

It is sort of attainable, during the last twenty years, that no shopper group had been used and abused like Knicks fans. Those fans not solely had been compelled to look at loserville basketball one mind-numbing season after one other, but additionally they had been compelled to look at whereas understanding the sport’s greats would like to carry out frequently on their stage.

If solely the Knicks had a roster, coach, entrance workplace and proprietor value signing up for.

The proof? The two finest gamers of all time, Michael Jordan and LeBron James, are every on report describing the Garden as his all-time favourite gymnasium.

“It’s because of the knowledge of the fans,” Jordan stated. “They’re basketball enthusiasts, so you want to play great there.”

James: “It doesn’t get better, man, than to be playing in the Garden in front of these fans. They know the game of basketball.”

Yes they do. And they know the distinction between an actual basketball product and, say, the counterfeit items that had been bought them by the likes of Phil Jackson and Steve Mills. Knicks fans have been ready without end for the real article to return — Carmelo Anthony’s 54-win season in 2012-13 apart — for the primary time since Jeff Van Gundy bailed in December 2001. Sunday night time, they will lastly say their lengthy regional nightmare is over.

The Knicks are literally hosting an honest-to-God NBA playoff series, beginning with Game 1 in opposition to the Atlanta Hawks in front of 15,000 fans.

Fifteen … Thousand … Fans.

How candy does that sound?

Knicks fans
Knicks fans might be on the Garden to cheer on their crew in opposition to the Hawks within the NBA playoffs.
Getty Images

Knicks fans deserve this moment, and this program coach Tom Thibodeau is simply now beginning to construct. He is one in every of them, after all, an outdated Knicks fan from Connecticut who doesn’t want a lot prompting to reminisce in regards to the 1970 and ’73 championship groups of his youth. On a Zoom name with reporters Thursday, Thibodeau began rattling off the names of Willis Reed, Walt Frazier, Dave DeBusschere and Bill Bradley earlier than working a quick break to Patrick Ewing, Oak, Starks, Allan and Spree — the gamers he coached with Van Gundy within the Nineties. But ultimately, with the outdated Knicks, it at all times comes again to the fans.

“We know what basketball means to the city,” Thibodeau stated, “so hopefully we can give them something to be proud of.”

They have already got, by going 41-31 in a season the oddsmakers figured would finish at 22-50. The Knicks did it with the form of grit New Yorkers present of their on a regular basis lives, connecting crew and metropolis even because the pandemic reduce the Garden crowds right down to measurement. Thibodeau’s crew is as likable as any that Van Gundy or Pat Riley placed on the ground.

Why? The time was proper to have a Knicks fan reply that query. So I requested essentially the most passionate one I do know, a 47-year-old Manhattan resident named Peter Storm, whose father took him to his first Garden sport at age 2, what made this crew and this season so particular to the fans.

“First, this season is like a bonus because you never expected it,” Storm stated. “When they employed Thibs I believed they might go from 21 to 30 wins — I believed he’d be good for 9 wins. But I by no means thought 41 was attainable.

“They’re easy to root for because they’re the hardest-working team in the league. What I love about Thibs is that he’s always prepared. My issue with the Derek Fishers and David Fizdales and Jeff Hornaceks was that their Knicks never looked prepared. So for me, to plan my life around watching Knicks games again is a really nice feeling, because for the last 20 years I haven’t been able to do that.”

Knicks fans of all ages ought to bask of their crew returning to the playoffs.
NBAE through Getty Images

Storm’s father was such an obsessive Knicks fan, he put his son in nursery faculty the place the crew practiced at Pace University, simply so they may often stumble upon Frazier and Earl Monroe. Storm attended Ewing’s Game 7 victory over the Pacers within the 1994 Eastern Conference finals, and a few Linsanity video games, however the loudest he ever heard the Garden was May 16, 1997, when the Knicks barely had sufficient our bodies to play Game 6 in opposition to Miami after the suspensions of Ewing, Allan Houston and Charlie Ward, and nonetheless pushed the Heat to the brink.

Thibodeau was there that night time, in his first season with the Knicks. Nearly 1 / 4 century later, this time as head coach, he has handed the fans one other golden alternative to roar.

“The Garden is such a special place,” he stated, “not only to us but to everyone in the NBA. … We want to make sure we’re giving [the fans] everything we have.”

Those long-suffering women and men have certain as hell earned it. Sunday night time belongs to them.

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