We are now two weeks into the highly anticipated 2013-’14 season of the NBA, and I am already very worried, yet excited, about the current state of the New York Knicks.
This past May, my buddy and I took a road trip to Wrigley Field to see a Mets vs. Cubs game. It was a big event organized by Darren Meenan of The7Line, collecting 500 fanatical Mets fans to enjoy a great game at the illustrious field in Chicago. We left New York on Thursday night, immediately after the Knicks beat the Pacers in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference semifinals. No more than 30 minutes into our drive, we decided to buy tickets to Game 6 in Indiana and making the already awesome road trip an unforgettable one. That Saturday afternoon, we arrived at Wrigley Field cheering on the Mets as they undoubtedly got smacked around by the Cubs, 8-2. We left in the 8th inning so we could make it to Indiana in time for the Knicks 8:30 tip-off.
We made it to the gorgeous Bankers Life Fieldhouse, missing only the opening two minutes of the game. We all know how it ended. An intense, heartbreaking loss that left us walking through the rainy streets of Indiana with thousands of Pacer fans going absolutely insane. It stung, real bad. No more Knicks games until October. Our chances of playing the Miami Heat in the Conference Finals had painfully come to an end.
I have not been that excited throughout a whole season since ’93-’94 when John Starks and Patrick Ewing led the way to the NBA Finals, only to lose a heartbreaking game 7 against the vigorous Houston Rockets. Who could forget the historic OJ Simpson car chase that went down right in the middle of game 5 during that series? Not me. The only other time I saw a Bronco with that kind of lightning speed was week 1 of the NFL when Demaryius Thomas cruised past the Ravens with a cool 161 receiving yards.
It took me a few hours (and a few beers) later to realize that this elimination was not what I should be focusing on, but rather, how incredibly entertaining that season was to be a Knicks fan. It was amazing. I had restless nights staying up late watching the post-game interviews and reading Twitter to see what the buzz was about from all angles of the games.
This current season already has me on edge. Melo missing a buzzer beater to lose against the Bulls, going down 21 points in the 1st quarter to the Timberwolves, and getting embarrassed against the horrible Charlotte Bobcats are not ways to impress the impatient New York fan-base. In addition, having Tyson Chandler injure his right leg, keeping him out 4-6 weeks was a huge blow. He is a crucial piece to the Knicks defense, thus creating a great deal of pressure on the highly criticized Bargnani to fill in for the big man at the center position.
There is one silver lining, however. I might just be saying this as a fan, but in the Knicks past 2 losses, we showed tremendous effort and resilience to storm back and almost run away with an unexplainable win during both games, but that effort came a bit too late. This team has a deep bench, with players like Chris Smith, Tim Hardaway Jr., and the notorious Metta World Peace bringing toughness and heart to the floor. Prigioni isn’t going to the All-Star Game any time soon, but his brilliant irritation to the opposing team in the backcourt can be a difference maker in games going down to the wire. We also cannot forget the fact that J.R. Smith is eligible to come back on Sunday against the Spurs.
This season is far from over, and even though expectations are high, for now we need to take this team game by game. We need Mike Woodson to properly coach them through their unacceptable weaknesses in order to be serious contenders at a top seed in the Eastern Conference. I know what reality looks like right now, but I will not give up on them this early on. I’m confident the rest of the passionate Knicks fan-base is able to do the same