Tasmania will have a team in the NBL for the first time in 25 years after the league finalised its agreement with the state government for its participation licence in the 2021-22 season.
Sell the team! Sell the team! That was the widely held sentiment turned deafening chorus as I exited Madison Square Garden following the Knicks’ last home game just over two weeks ago.
Despite the irate fans and media scrutiny, I couldn’t help but feel I had experienced something special. Are the New York Knicks really as terrible as we’re led to believe?
The seemingly endless failures of the Knicks have often portrayed them as the laughing stock of the NBA – a historic franchise without a title since 1973. In more recent times, that laughing stock has blended into a sad state of affairs. At the start of the month, the franchise entered into a feud with their highest profile fan Spike Lee, a controversy that did and will continue to play out in the public eye.
With these recent events and the general hopelessness that has underpinned the franchise for decades, very little was expected even for a diehard NBA fan like myself. The incompetent Knicks against the deplorable Detroit Pistons was a game bereft of any star power. These were two teams more likely to tank than actually try to win.
Although this was my first game at MSG, I’d been to see LeBron James and Anthony Davis take flight in Los Angeles less than a week prior.
The quality of the game was hardly eye-catching. A solid game from Elfrid Payton and a brief hot streak from Frank Ntilikina was, as expected, nothing in comparison to the Western Conference-leading Lakers.
What was eye-catching, however, was the atmosphere and charm that flowed within the walls of the Garden. It’s one of the most prestigious and historic sporting arenas in the world, yet that alone can’t possibly muster up the awe-inspiring experience that was on offer.
Play aside, the atmosphere, entertainment and general environment was extraordinary, far surpassing what I’d experienced at Staples Center in similar seating.
This didn’t seem like the kind of atmosphere that could be produced by a rabble of a franchise. They seemed to leave no stone unturned in aiming to create a unique and memorable environment.
My partner, in particular, enjoyed a first-quarter timeout where they brought a dog onto the court as a gift for a celebrated military servicewoman.
I pondered what could be if the Knicks were actually any good at basketball, or even if I’d gone to a game where they’d played against quality opposition. That first point is critical, though. I left in no doubt that the NBA would be in a much stronger position with a playoff-contending, successful Knicks team.
There are many more people better versed on live Knicks games, and maybe I’ve put it at such great heights due to the lowly expectations. Yet I maintain that this was an indescribable feeling that couldn’t be captured through words or images.
Am I alone in thinking the franchise provides a great experience and atmosphere despite the team’s lowly standards? Do you believe the NBA would be of greater interest with a successful Knicks team?