I need some sort of hope to grasp onto in the sports world. You can argue that the hope of your team winning a championship is more valuable to a sports fan than the actual championships of the past. What good is bragging about the Knicks winning in 1970 and 1973 if they haven’t come close to competing for the NBA title in 20 years. The 1990s didn’t bear the sweet fruit of a championship, but the hope of a title throughout the decade kept the Knicks relevant and Madison Square Garden rocking.
MSG was once again the place to be on Wednesday night, but it was only because Steph Curry was about to break the record for most career three-point field goals. I joked that it was another great Knicks moment, but really I’m getting sick of big MSG moments rarely being about the Knicks. Sure there was Linsanity and Carmelo Anthony scoring 62 points, but there hasn’t been enough team success.
The hope for the Knicks appeared to make a return last season with Julius Randle and Tom Thibodeau taking a team that was expected to do nothing and leading it all the way to the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference. Even after the Knicks lost to Trae Young and the Hawks in the first round of the playoffs, it looked like the foundation was set for a string of playoff runs.
Maybe not. Even though most of the major players have returned, the magic, and more importantly the defensive intensity have not been the same. The Knicks have lost seven of their last eight and now find themselves in 12th place. After Curry made history on Wednesday, the Knicks hung with the Warriors for most of the night, only to let the game slip away in the fourth quarter. A win over one of the best teams in the NBA would have been a nice morale-booster to get out of a rough stretch, but instead we got another defeat.
To end 2021, the Knicks have a bunch of winnable games, including two against Detroit. Getting back to .500 and back into the playoff race would be a great way for New York to give their fans some hope in the new year.
That would be great because my other teams don’t have much hope for the near future. The Giants are a complete mess, and now that Daniel Jones is injured, they can’t even evaluate him to make a key decision about their future. The offense is painful to watch, and yet I still have a strong feeling that the Giants won’t draft a quarterback in the first round of the 2022 draft even though they have two picks. That decision depends on who the general manager is, and it’s still unclear if Dave Gettleman will remain in charge beyond January.
While the Giants are spinning their wheels, the Mets remain stuck in time due to the MLB lockout. The good news there is that the Mets were very active in free agency before everything was halted, but they still don’t have a manager. Buck Showalter is expected to be the guy, and his old-school style would be a welcome change to Luis Rojas having no idea what he’s doing in the dugout.
My one team that seems to have a lot going for it is the New York Rangers. They’re off to an 18-7-3 start and looking to return to the playoffs for the first time since 2017 (I’m not counting the “qualifying round” nonsense of 2020). However, two recent losses to Western Conference juggernaut Colorado show that the Rangers still have a long way to go before we consider them Stanley Cup contenders.
Plus, it’s not like Penn State Basketball is making the NCAA Tournament this year, so the Rangers are the best shot I have at a title anytime soon. Here’s hoping they get back on track against the terrible Arizona Coyotes tonight.