Dwayne Wade, Lebron James and the Miami Heat make their debut as the “Big 2.5” tonight at the World’s Most Famous Arena at 7:00PM ET on ESPN. Since Lebron was drafted in Cleveland, Knicks fans everywhere were counting down the days until his free agency. James Dolan, owner of the Knicks and the Garden, hired a new general manager, Donnie Walsh, and a new coach, Mike D’Antoni, all in the hopes of landing the biggest free agent in history. Well, as we all know, Mr. James took his “talents” to Miami along with Wade and the softest pf/c in the NBA, Chris Bosh. Then there was Amare Stoudamire, aka “S.T.A.T” (Standing Tall And Talented). S.T.A.T, unlike Mr. James, showed interest in the Big Apple from day 1. He showed up outside MSG, arms spread wide, Knicks cap on, smile from ear to ear.
New York sports fans are known to be the most knowledgeable in the country; we can tell when someone is meant to be here. Mr. James never gave off that NY vibe. His cockiness comes off as fraudulent and perhaps this group is better off without him. Amare, Felton, Chandler, Fields, Turiaf and even Danilo are starting to play the brand of basketball that we have been craving. Playing like they want to be here, want to protect our home court, want to protect the Mecca. The greatest city in the world offered its driver’s seat to a man who proved himself unworthy of the throne. Amare didn’t shy away from this immense challenge to rebuild a storied franchise and take hold of NYC. 26 games into the season, “S.T.A.T” is a leading MVP candidate averaging 26.7 points per game and 9.1 rebounds. He has scored 30+ points in nine straight game (an all-time Knicks record). Most importantly, the Knicks are 16-10 (13-2 in last 15 games) and Madison Square Garden has become reinvigorated. The fans are excited, the Garden is shaking, the team is leaving it all on the court as if it were the playoffs every game and they even brought back the “GO NY GO NY GO” anthem.
Wednesday night was a tough loss to the NBA leading Boston Celtics. The Knicks earned respect but the days of “good losses” are gone. The 2000’s are over. These Knicks are New Yorkers again, they show it every night. Raymond Feltons scowl epitomizes this teams attitude and shows the most glaring difference from the past decade. “We want your respect, but not just because we show up, we will earn it and you won’t have a choice but to notice”. Tonight’s game isn’t just about proving that Miami’s new second best player made the wrong decision. Tonight is a game for New York. Tonight is a game for pride. Tonight is a game to re-establish the Knicks amongst the NBA’s elite. Amare, Raymond, Wilson and the boys will be there. Spike will be there, celebrity row will be packed. Stand Tall New York, this ones for us.