Sports Perspectives by Mark Elder

Friday, 6 February 2009

The “Mecca of Basketball”

Filed under: Uncategorized — Mark @ 12:49

Yes, folks, Kobe Bryant was right.  The Garden is the last great building left standing, but we can’t really say it’s home to many great teams, can we?  Some unbelievable moments in basketball and boxing have transpired in midtown Manhattan, but the greatest in the history of the world have not played for teams that called the Garden home.

This week was no different.  MSG was treated to two unbelievable, fantastic, sublime performances by two of the greatest to ever grace a court – but neither sported home whites.

Marv Albert appeared on Pardon the Interruption with Wilbon and Kornheiser last night to discuss the two historic nights, and he spoke about the unusual phenomenon of chanting MVP for Kobe, and rising in uproar every time Lebron dunks or shoots.  Reggie Miller was upset by this gentle treatment from the Garden crowd.  His position is that Knicks fans should jeer opposing talent, not cheer for it.  I would agree, but as Marv explained, times have changed, and New York no longer has a choice.

You see, we Knicks fans hate the Lakers, the Celtics, the Heat, the Pacers, and the Bulls – but we can ill-afford to shun greatness today.  We gave Reggie Miller the business because we wanted to see that greatness from our own stars, but today there is no chance of that.  Is Wilson Chandler going to go for 61 tomorrow night against Paul Pierce?  Anything is possible, except for that.  Check the Bible, it’s in there.  Lesser known passage, though.  The point is we’re all fans of basketball first, and the Knicks second.  New York is a Yankees town, but not a baseball town.  New Yorkers grow up playing basketball before they can talk (I did and I know others who did as well).  Watching MJ come out of retirement to score 55 was painful because we had a good defensive team and we probably could have held him to fewer than 50, or at least won the game.  Watching Kobe go for 61 in 35 minutes and 49 seconds…well…I can’t be mad at that.  We had no chance of stopping him, we have no chance of winning the championship, you might as well appreciate greatness when you’re graced with it.  Same goes for Lebron.  Two trips to the Garden the last two years and he’s averaged 51 pts, 9.5 rebounds and 9.5 assists.  That’s beyond greatness.

It’s nice to see the words New York on the front of the uniform of the player who has an all-time great performance, but seriously, can you begrudge Knick fans for putting aside the petty differences and embracing the brilliance and beauty of what Lebron and Kobe did this week?  I can’t, or at least I won’t.  The fans in New York are STARVING for good basketball, and if only our archrivals dane to provide us with it, well, Pops always said not to bite the hand that feeds you.

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