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The New York Knicks Are Just Getting Started

Deep down, New York Knicks fans knew that this would be the outcome.

They knew that Julius Randle was not good enough to be the No. 1 player on a championship team. They knew that R.J. Barrett would not suddenly blossom into a superstar come playoff time.

But briefly, for a fanbase ravaged by a brutal pandemic and by years of boring basketball, none of that mattered. The 2021 Knicks were, and will be remembered as, superhuman. A blowout loss to the Atlanta Hawks does not change that fact.

Everyone knows by now that Vegas oddsmakers projected the Knicks to win 21 games this year, a total they nearly matched in April and May alone. But what those outside New York might not realize is that most fans did not even bat an eye when they heard that prediction. There was no reason to expect anything besides mediocrity. 

Instead, a fairytale developed at Madison Square Garden. While Kevin Durant — who Knicks fans were once certain would be wearing blue and orange by now — lit up the scoreboard in Brooklyn, the Knicks hung with the league’s best using a ragtag group of second-tier players united only by the fact that they did not reject New York. They were the exact opposite of a superteam in an era where no other strategy has relevance. 

“There is no other place like this,” Tom Thibodeau said after yesterday’s season-ending loss. “It was great to experience, even when we had 2,000 fans it felt like 19,000. From the players to the coaches, we all felt it. … And hopefully we gave them something to be proud of.” 

That is why things will only get better for New York in the coming years. The most important thing about this season is that it reminded fans and players what the Knicks are supposed to represent. No other New York team has such a strong impact on the mood of the city. When the Knicks lose, New York City loses. And when they win — well, did you hear how loud Madison Square Garden was?

So as Randle was showered with cheers, not booing, while dribbling out the last seconds of blowout Game 5 loss, it was obvious that a rebirth had taken place. The Knicks are no longer a once-great franchise whose only virtue is playing in a famous arena. Instead, speculation about a potential Damian Lillard trade is already starting. (Without any factual basis, but that is not the point). Whatever happens this offseason, Knicks fans are done reminiscing on past glory.

NBA Studs and Duds from the first weekend of the season restart

One weekend down and many to go. Our Shoot or Pass Podcast Co-Hosts will be sharing their Studs and Duds right here. Who impressed and who disappointed? Find out below!

STUDS

Chevy – Damian Lillard

While we’ve witnessed a win and a loss from the Blazers, Dame is making NBA headlines. Dame means business in the bubble. He’s not here to play just 2 weeks and 8 games of basketball, he plans on sticking around for a deep run. He’s playing playoff minutes (45 vs. the Grizzlies, 44 vs. the Celtics) and is averaging about 30 points each game (29 vs. the Grizzlies, 30 vs. the Celtics). Unfortunately, the Blazers lost yesterday after a big on Friday, but the goal here is to get within 4 games of the 8th seed to force a play-in. I think Dame can keep them hanging around for it.

Rhoby – Kyle Lowry

KYLEFORNIA knows how to party! Lebronto is no more, as Lebron and the Lakers were bullied around by Kyle Lowry Friday night. NBA players are supposed to be breaking down by their mid-30s and undersized guards aren’t supposed to be hitting threes with a 7-footer in their face or making an impact as a rim protector, however, Kyle Lowry isn’t getting the memo. He scored a game-high 33 points, nabbed a career-high 14 rebounds, and has 6 assists. I am sold. The Raptors are a force to be reckoned with in this NBA Restart.

DUDS

Chevy – Zion Williamson

I know I have to tread carefully here because this is the NBA’s new poster boy, but if I’m Adam Silver you want him to be seen and on the floor. What is his deal? A month or two ago, a picture of Zion surfaced on social media and he looked like he was in great shape and ready to lead the Pelicans to the playoffs. Needless to say, I don’t understand the way Alvin Gentry is restricting his minutes. In the loss to the Jazz, Zion was on the bench for a crucial 4th quarter. Wouldn’t you want the best player on your team to be playing in those scenarios? Definitely a concern for a rising star on a team fighting for playoff spot.

Rhoby – Shake Milton

To begin with, this stat line says it all – 0 points, 1 rebound, 3 assists. NOT a good look for the new starting PG of a Sixers. This team appears to be failing expectations. What’s new? He appeared to have no command of the ball, only took one shot in the game in the 4th quarter, made some bad turnovers, and found himself in foul trouble. He focused on racial injustice in post-game comments, which is great, but I hope he’s also focusing on his game going forward because the Sixers need him to show up if they want to make noise in the playoffs!

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