It's sort of impossible not to be skeptical of the Knicks, as a team, as a franchise, as a corporation. Last year was without question their most thrilling, accomplished season in almost a decade and a half, and that season featured two different six-game losing streaks, a coaching change, and a quick first-round playoff exit. (Not to mention the postseason jettisoning of the team's most popular player.) The Knicks for the last decade have been represented by Isiah Thomas, and Stephon Marbury, and Larry Brown, and this amazing Zach Randolph video. They have been a joke; they have been dysfunctional and demoralizing and everything that makes sports terrible sometimes. It's tough to trust them. It's tough to fully commit again: We get it. But it might be time. It might be time to let that go. Because something clearly special is happening.
The Knicks blew out defending champions the Miami Heat 112–92 last night on national television, on the Heat's home floor, without Carmelo Anthony, but that doesn't even begin to describe what happened last night. The win has already been described as a "statement game," and we suppose that is true, if the statement is "wheeeeee!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" Last night was as much fun as Linsanity was. That's how much fun it was.
There's just something about a bunch of threes falling. The Knicks were 18-of-44 from three-point range — that's actually just five short of the all-time record made, though also one less than they had against the Heat in their win earlier this year — and the most giddy stretch was during the first nine minutes of the third quarter, when they went 8-of-12 from long range. 8-of-12! In nine minutes! That's the sort of nine-minute span that will make you feel, as a fan, as if your feet are rising off the floor; that's the sort of span that has you high-fiving the dog.
With Carmelo out — the superstar having his best season, gone against the hated, dominant Heat! — other Knicks had to step up, and no one did more so than Raymond Felton. He had pretty much the opposite of the Brooklyn Nets game, taking over with 27 points (on six three-pointers) and seven assists. He was confident and totally in control throughout, spurring the ball movement that would lead to consistently wide-open shots. (Jason Kidd had a bit to do with that himself.) But the real fun was that everyone got involved. Every Knick other than Carmelo and the also-injured Marcus Camby got in the game, and rare spinners like James White even danced along to the beat, scoring seven points and hitting all three of his shots in seventeen minutes on the floor. Everybody just partied, really. It's possible this could become a thing against the Heat; you can make a strong argument that with this many shooters, the Knicks are uniquely designed to give them heaps of trouble. Very interesting.
It was a game that just made you giggle and hop around. It was the sort of game that melts your defenses, your fight against believing. The Knicks are now 14-4, the best record in the Eastern Conference. They have an extremely welcoming upcoming schedule, with eight of their next nine games within city limits. And they have a vibe going right now that's not like anything the Knicks have even approached in recent memory. This is turning into something, people. Hop onboard. Dance along to the beat. High-five your dog. This is great.