The city is abuzz. You can barely remember the last time it felt like this. Certainly not since the last time the Knicks were in the playoffs. When was that . . . May 18, 2013? Before being eliminated at around 11:09 P.M.? Or something like that—again, you can barely remember.
When the Knicks are good, everyone staring at their phones as they hurry down the sidewalk is actually a joy to behold. Even the man who snarled “Watch where you’re going!” after you accidentally brushed shoulders while getting off the subway proceeds to smile and apologize instead upon seeing your Knicks hat.
The Knicks’ success means that, suddenly, the three-foot-tall piles of garbage on the sidewalk in front of your apartment don’t smell so bad. The rat that scampered across your feet when you were sitting in the park on a date last week honestly seemed kind of cute, too. It was the size of a small dog and, at the end of the day, what’s the difference?
You finally get to ask, “How ’bout those Knicks, huh?” like a character in a movie. You don’t just tune out commercials for a Celtics-Heat playoff game by fantasizing about greeting your friends with a clap on the back and a “You catch the Knicks game last night?” or “Whew, this team is fun.” You can say those things out loud now.
Even though you’re starting to think about the upcoming draft, it’s not at the forefront of your mind. If you do check a mock draft, you can’t help but contain your smile now that you need to scroll down until you reach the Knicks pick. You’ve never had to do that before—well, only to find the second-round projections whenever the Knicks traded their valuable first-rounders for players you could’ve sworn had retired years ago.
In fact, you find yourself picturing marquee free agents being lured away to play at the World’s Most Famous Arena in the Mecca of Basketball. Sure, signing top-tier players still seems pretty alien to you, but simply realizing that your team could get meetings with them is exciting. The mere idea that a superstar might be intrigued enough to at least hear a sales pitch for coming to play for the New York Knickerbockers is enough to make you tear up.
You listen to your dad talk about the Knicks championship teams of his youth and just how incredible it was to witness those old-school Hall of Famers. You’re in such a chipper mood that you don’t even bother bringing up the fact that those players couldn’t beat the worst team in today’s league, or that their tallest opponent was probably, like, six-foot-five and sold insurance in the off-season.
It also shouldn’t go unsaid that, thankfully, your obsession with a doe-eyed, twenty-two-year-old ballplayer from France named Frank Ntilikina whom you’ve never met doesn’t seem so weird anymore. You remain adamant that Coach Thibodeau should be giving him more playing time, though. That kid could be special someday—he’s already a defensive force out there!
And you know what? It doesn’t even matter that the Nets are better and may boast the greatest offense of any superteam ever to take the court in an N.B.A. game. Who cares? The Knicks are good.