When the Indiana Pacers eliminated the New York Knicks in the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals it marked the 40th consecutive season that the Knicks failed to bring home a championship.
Throughout this season there were reasons to be optimistic that this would be the year the Knicks got it done. Whether it was the Knicks beginning the season winning 8 out their first 9 games, or winning the regular season matchup against the Miami Heat 3 to 1, at minimal Knicks fans were at least making it to the Eastern Conference Finals. But once again the Knicks fell short.
Many Knicks fans including me have never seen the Knicks win a championship. I wasn’t even a thought in my mother’s head the last time the Knicks won it all. The closest I’ve seen the Knicks come to winning a title was when they were up 3 games to 2 against the Houston Rockets in the 1994 NBA Finals. I remember after the Knicks won game 5 in that series Patrick Ewing walking to the stands to meet his college coach George Thompson. Thompson pointed his index finger and said “one more”. As everyone knows, the Knicks never got that one more and lost game 6 & 7 in Houston. Most fans remember John Stark shooting 2 for 18 in game 7, but what almost haunts me more, is at the end of game 6 when Starks could have won the game in the final seconds with a 3, Hakeem Olajuwon partially blocked his shot.
Five years later the Knicks made it back to the NBA Finals and played against another Texas team, the San Antonio Spurs. It was a special playoff run for the Knicks as they became the first 8th seed in NBA history to make it to the Finals. Although I was excited the Knicks made it to the finals, I knew it would be a tall order for them to beat the Spurs as the Knicks did not have the size to matchup with Tim Duncan and David Robinson with losing Ewing for the remainder of the postseason with an Achilles injury, and Larry Johnson hobbled with a bad knee. The Knicks put forth a valiant effort but they were defeated by the Spurs in five games.
As talented as this current Knick roster is, I’m concerned that this may have been their best chance to win an NBA title. On the upside Carmelo Anthony is still in his prime and Iman Shumpert offensive game has improved greatly and almost matches his defensive game. Another plus has been the emergence of Chris Copeland. Copeland is a 6’8 forward that spread out a defense because of his long range jump shot. On the downside there’s uncertainty about who will be back with the Knicks next season. Jason Kidd has retired and Pablo Prigioni may go back overseas to play basketball. So Raymond Felton could be the only point guard returning next season. In addition JR Smith can opt out of his contract, and Chris Copeland could leave via free agency. On top of all of that there’s Amare Stoudemire’s and the 45 million remaining on his contract. Stoudemire had two knee surgeries this season and many doubt that he’ll ever return to his All-Star form.
When I look back at this season I’ll remember the good times include Melo winning the scoring title and J.R. Smith winning the 6th Man of the Year award, and finally getting out of the first round of the playoffs by defeating the Boston Celtics. But I’ll also remember the foul discrepancy between the Knicks in Pacers in the playoffs, why coach Mike Woodson did not play Copeland earlier in the series, and how the Knicks lost out on an opportunity to win it all. Despite what some may say, this team had great chance to win a championship.
Regardless of how disappointing the end of the season was, I will always root for the Knicks because I bleed orange and blue and I know one day they will win their 3rd NBA Championship. I just hope I’m still living when it happens.