Edited by Liz
Knicks fans haven’t been this happy since…well, 2 years ago. But this feels different.
The Knicks surprised everyone during the 2020-21 season, making the playoffs and earning Coach Tom Thibodeau the Coach of the Year Award and Julius Randle the Most Improved Player Award (MIP). They were promptly eliminated from the first round of the playoffs by Trae Young and the Atlanta Hawks.
That series would turn Trae Young into public enemy number one.
When the Knicks beat the Boston Celtics in Game 1 of the 2021-22 season, fans took to the street to chant “F---- Trae Young.” Trae Young was still on the Hawks.
Despite the thrilling overtime victory against the Celtics to start last season, the 2021-22 season wouldn’t end well for the New York Knicks. They finished 11th in the NBA Eastern Conference, missing the playoffs entirely, when they had secured the 4th seed the previous year.
Julius Randle seemingly not wanting to hear the criticism from fans also created a media circus around the team. In New York it is different, the spotlight is different, and when you struggle, you hear it. Just ask Joey Gallo. Randle famously put his thumbs down during a game against the Celtics and post game he said it was meant to tell the fans to shut the **** up".
It seemed like the Knicks were back to the despair the franchise had fallen into after the 1990s. But then the offseason happened. The Knicks were heavily favored to land Donavan Mitchell, a hometown kid and Knicks fan who was on the Utah Jazz at the time. The deal fell through with the Knicks refusing to do away with young players, such as Quentin Grimes and Immanuel Quickley.
Mitchell was traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers
The Knicks ended up signing Jalen Brunson, formerly with the Dallas Mavericks, to a 4 year - $ 104 million deal.
Since then there has been no looking back.
Julius Randle would come back around to being a team player and a New York star and during this season and actually surpass how he played during his MIP season.
Later in the season the Knicks would trade for Brunson’s old college teammate, Josh Hart. Knicks analysts Mike Breen and Walt Frazier have said on broadcasts that since getting Hart the Knicks seem to be moving at a faster pace.
The Knicks have won 17 games and lost 8 since the Josh Hart trade. Their record for the season is currently 47-34, with one game left to go.
The Knicks are a Top 10 team, not only in the Eastern Conference, but in the entire NBA. The last time that was the case was the 2012-2013 season with Carmelo Anthony as the Knicks superstar.
During Carmelo Anthony’s 7 season tenure with the Knicks, they made the playoffs 3 times, in 2011, 2012, and 2013.
The Knicks are in a territory that fans under 10 don’t remember and fans under 25 remember as youthful joy of hoping that the Knicks could break away from that despair mentioned earlier.
Carmelo Anthony couldn’t deliver the Knicks out of it and to the promised land, but can Jalen Brunson, Julius Randle, and Josh Hart? We will have to wait and see.
I asked lifelong Knicks fan who saw the Carmelo Anthony era, Jason Michael Ortiz, how he feels about the Knicks heading into the playoffs and he responded simply: “There’s only one thing left to do. Win the whole damn thing.”
The Knicks will face off against Donavan Mitchell and the Cavs in Round 1 of the playoffs.
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