MSG

Knicks, On Six-Game Winning Streak, Are Making Spring in NYC and Madison Square Garden Hotbeds of Basketball, Again

by Scott Mandel

It’s springtime in New York City. The weather is turning warmer, vaccines are going into arms, and New Yorkers are walking around again with a hop in their step (still masked and socially distanced). The Mets seem to be on their way, led by an effusive new shortstop. The Yankees are in forlorn, stale despair after just 15 games but few believe they won’t be in the post-season when all is said and done. But, April in New York City of any given year, is the month when this town rocks like no other when its New York Knicks are relevant. Unfortunately, the Knicks have not been relevant in over 20 years so April springs in this town haven’t rocked, all that much. Until now.

Because the Knicks, on a six-game winning streak and playing defense like Oakley and Mason and Ewing and Frazier, Reed, and DeBusschere played it, are relevant, again. They’re in the fight for the playoffs, an event they haven’t participated in since 2013, currently sitting in the sixth spot of the Eastern Conference, knocking on the door of fourth place.


The excitement is palpable, on the streets and in the drinking establishments. And, it grows with every win or well-played game. As rabid as New York sports fans have always been towards their teams, there has never been a greater love affair between any fan base and its team than Knicks fans for their hoops team. NYC has forever been where the sport of basketball was, if not born, certainly developed its personality, its creativity, and raised its skill-levels, across the five boroughs on its concrete playgrounds. New Yorkers feel like basketball is the city’s game, more so than any other sport. That’s what makes the decades-long failure of the Knicks franchise to win a championship so incredulous.


And, here is another example of what happens when the Knicks are playing well. The stars of the NBA take note.

As Zion Williamson, the young NBA star and the next LeBron James (in skill and branding) said last night after playing his first professional game at Madison Square Garden, getting soundly defeated by the Julius Randle-led Knicks, “New York is the Mecca of basketball. I love playing here. I played here in college and this is my first time playing here in the pros. And this atmosphere, whether they’re cheering or booing for you, it’s amazing.”


Then he smartly threw a bone to his New Orleans Pelicans fans, who no doubt will begin to fear Zion has his eye on playing for the Knicks, someday, “Outside of New Orleans, obviously, this might be my favorite place to play.” You could tell he didn’t mean one word of that. For this 21-year old kid, MSG is the place and NYC is the town, if you are a basketball player. The Mecca is The Mecca, again.


It’s funny how a little winning basketball from the Knicks changes perceptions, almost overnight. Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant, free-agent superstars, chose to take their talents across the East River to Brooklyn rather than play for a losing franchise in Manhattan with a bad owner. Today, one could imagine those two players, if they were making the same decision, might have teamed up to play at The Mecca instead of the arena named for the Barclays Bank.


If anyone thinks the Canyon of Heroes parades in the past were incredible for the championship-winning Yankees and the football Giants and even the ’69 Mets, those will be nothing compared to what a Knicks championship would look like in this town.

Mandel’s Musings: Durant to Knicks Will Change Sleepy MSG into Dynamic HHG (Hip Hop Garden)

by Scott Mandel

If Kevin Durant joins the Knicks, this sad, bad, moribund franchise will immediately metamorphosize into the NBA’s version of the (old) Oakland Raiders. Or, more appropriately, a modern iteration of the Detroit Pistons’ Bad Boys.

Durant loves playing the “bad MF/villain” role. On this soft, pliable Knicks roster of nice guys, he would become the alpha dog, the Lester Hayes, Jack Tatum, the “Mad Stork,” Ted Hendricks of New York and the NBA.

Instead of hitting receivers crossing over the middle in the chops, causing snot and sweat to come flying off their faces, as the original sports assassin, Tatum, did for the Raiders, Durant would easily take on the role of being another kind of assassin – one with the ball in his hand, taking unmakeable shots from 25 feet away from the basket with a hand in his face that would put games out of reach. Or, getting a defensive rebound, going 90 feet with the ball, finishing at the rim by throwing it down in someone’s face.

Bad dude, that Durant (if he’s on the opposing team).

Durant got thrown out of yesterday’s Game 1 of the playoff series between KD’s Golden State Warriors and the Los Angeles Clippers. It came after an altercation with another pit bull, Patrick Beverley of the Los Angeles Clippers towards the end of the game. They had been jawing at each other throughout but Durant, realizing his Golden State Warriors had the game in the bag, took the opportunity to get up in Beverley’s face and push him to the ground. Right in front of the referee and a national television audience.

Illustration for article titled The Beef Between Kevin Durant And Patrick Beverley Will Make This Inevitable Warriors Sweep Fun As Hell
Two tough competitors in Game 1 of Warriors-Clippers playoff series

Bad dude, that Kevin Durant.

He speaks to the media without much of a filter. He doesn’t hide his dislike for his opponents, inside the black lines and often, outside of them, either. He’ll tell the gathered media to shut the hell up and do their jobs, which in his view is to just cover basketball games. Or, he’ll ignore his professional responsibility to speak to the press after games, often telling us to “get outta my way.”

Bad dude, that K.D.

Knicks fans will love it. He’ll bring a mentality not often found in basketball. The Patrick Ewing Hoya Destroyers of the 80s, with guys like Michael Graham not allowing anyone to come into the lane without a physical message being laid upon them.

The 1990s Knicks, with Charles Oakley and Anthony Mason. A team that wasn’t a good fit for nice guy, and soft player, Charles Smith, a 6’10” power forward who played with finesse.

Image result for detroit pistons bad boys
Detroit’s Bad Boys of the 1990s won two NBA championships playing dirty, especially Bill Laimbeer

The Bad Boys of Detroit, with Rick Mahorn and that dirty, little Isiah Thomas, who would cut you up with his skills and toughness while smiling at you like Mona Lisa.

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Jack Tatum of the Silver and Black Raiders in the 1970s

I could envision the Knicks pushing the toughness mentality with black (and orange) uniforms. I can even imagine them bringing back that tough old bird, Oakley, Ewing’s protector in the ’90s, to watch games from celebrity row, with Knicks owner, Jim Dolan posing for pictures alongside big “Oak.”.

And, if by some small 14% miracle, the 6’8″ 285 pound Zion Williamson becomes a Knick, to go along with Durant and Kyrie Irving (another tough kid with ‘tude), this will be Fizdales’ #@$ Dream.

Get ready for MSG being converted into HHG – Hip Hop Garden.

Kevin Durant will change everything because, K.D. is a bad dude with a ‘tude.