New York sports may be at its nadir—nine franchises seeking championships in their respective leagues. The Knicks are one of them, and the path of success could revive Gotham City from its stupor.
New York City is undoubtedly one of the most storied sports cities in not only America, but the world. There are deep-rooted traditions and track records of success across many New York area professional franchises. The Big Apple is home to some of the most knowledgeable and passionate sports fans, who in terms of winning expectations, tend to the set the bar much higher than other cities. The famous phrase “If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere,” has and will continue to always ring true—just ask Frank Sinatra or Jay-Z.
Despite the decorated history of NYC athletics, many if not all teams have been recently plagued by either dysfunction, underachievement or just plain futility:
- Baseball: The “World Series or bust” Yankees have consistently made the playoffs but have failed to capture a championship since 2009, and have been outclassed by their arch rival the Red Sox for the better part of 15 years. The Mets always seem to be ravaged by injuries and come up short when there is any glimmer of hope.
- Football: The Jets have been the Jets to say the very least, and have been a laughing stock—not even sniffing the playoffs, recently. The Giants have turned into an organization with a flair for the dramatic, and haven’t enjoyed the success they had earlier in the century.
- Hockey: Our local hockey teams haven’t been close to the Stanley Cup, with the Rangers in rebuilding mode, the Islanders still reeling after the departure of John Tavares, and the Devils mired in mediocrity.
- Basketball: Finally, our basketball teams the Knicks and Nets have been two of the worst in the NBA, and are both currently undergoing massive rebuilding. New York is the Mecca of basketball, so it’s especially rough to see the product so weak.
The sports landscape as a whole has been struggling to find success and consistency, all while watching rival cities like Boston and Philadelphia rack up the titles and championships.
If the Knicks are good, it is good not only for the basketball world but New York sports in general. Something’s got to change, and I believe the Knicks organization has the best chance to right the ship at this current juncture. Here’s why.
The Mystique of MSG
Madison Square Garden isn’t just any regular arena, it is a highly decorated basketball shrine. The Garden is one of the few sports venues that is regularly packed, even if the Knicks stink. This has been the case for many years during terrible Knicks seasons and is still very much the case for their 8-21 campaign this year. The electricity and aura surrounding the Garden never wanes, and Knicks fans are the type to fill the seats to support the team regardless of how bad they are.
Can you imagine what it will be like when the Knicks are competitive again? MSG has the potential become the “place to be in New York”—more than it already is in the current state of the team—and will have the New York faithful fighting over tickets to watch the ‘Bockers go to battle each night.
No other New York sports venue has the history and lure of MSG, and as the Knicks look to gain relevance, the Garden will uplift and draw in a huge chunk of New York fans.
New York is a superstar town that has a lot to offer an athlete looking to make money and build their brand and legacy. Athletes, especially basketball players, know that if you win in New York, you are forever a hero and your status is automatically elevated to heights not attainable in other places across the NBA. Some players choose to not come to the Mecca because of the immense pressure and media scrutiny, but most would take the challenge head on, and are on record acknowledging the significance of playing and winning in the Big Apple.
With one of the deepest and most talented free agent classes coming up in 2019, the opportunity is there for the Knicks to snag a star and take the city by storm. There are players out there who have New York on their radar as a potential destination. A large part of the Knicks’ future success is contingent on landing a superstar next summer, and if they are able to, it would instantly create a tremendous amount of hype (similar to that of when Carmelo Anthony was acquired) and boost a city that has seen many stars walk through the door recently.
Emerging Young Talent
The foundation and first step of many successful sports franchises is the development of young talent. If you look around the sports landscape, the formula for building a winning product is drafting well, molding promising young guys, and hoping they become good at their sport.
The new Knicks regime has started the process toward that direction with the drafting of four quality young pieces over the past few years in Frank Ntilikina, Kevin Knox, Damyean Dotson, and Mitchell Robinson. Allonzo Trier can be thrown into that mix as well, even though he was signed as an undrafted free agent. Thus far, every one of those guys has displayed flashes of incredible potential and has, in turn, encouraged Knicks fans.
Although it is unlikely that all of these guys are part of the Knicks’ future, and not realistic to think they will all be stars, at least the Knicks are giving the city of New York something to look forward to.
Another thing to consider is that the NBA markets its stars more effectively than any other sports league. If one of these guys turns out to become a stud NBA player, they will receive much more publicity and hype than if they played on a team sport like baseball or football. A star on the Knicks has the potential to make huge waves, and bring back the good name to New York sports as a whole.
With their already famous arena, the opportunity to land some huge NBA stars in the offseason, and the emergence of some of their homegrown talent, the Knicks find themselves in a prime position to return to prosperity and galvanize the entire city of New York.