When the New York Knicks defeated the Dallas Mavericks 104-97 on Sunday, I, like many other New Yorkers, was ecstatic. It's been a long time since the Knicks have achieved success.
Just a few years back, the Knicks were in the infamous Isiah Thomas era. In this era, the Knicks consistently fielded below-average basketball teams, and the Knicks were the punchline to every NBA-related joke (unfortunately, very similar to the current edition of the New York Mets).
However, last season the Knicks built a new-look team around former draft picks Wilson Chandler, Danilo Gallinari, rookie Landry Fields and free-agent acquisitions Amare Stoudemire and Raymond Felton.
These Knicks made it exciting to go to Madison Square Garden for games. However, this team was very different from the team that the Knicks fielded for the second half of the season.
The Knicks acquired Denver Nuggets SF Carmelo Anthony at the trade deadline. While New York rejoiced, I didn't feel as confident as most. I thought the Knicks may have given up too much (they gave up Gallinari, Chandler, Felton and C Timofey Mozgov). The Knicks also received veteran PG Chauncey Billups, but I still wasn't sold that this was the right trade.
Since the trade, the Nuggets have been outstanding, while the Knicks have struggled. The Knicks clinched their first playoff berth since 2004 but were immediately swept by the Celtics.
This season, the Knicks beat the Celtics on Opening Day, but after that the season went downhill. Then, in a Saturday night game against the New Jersey Nets, Mike D'Antoni, whose job was on the line at the time, decided to put backup point guard Jeremy Lin in the game.
Lin has been a phenomenon since that game and has finally put the Knicks in the national spotlight for something positive.
Thank you, D'Antoni, for putting Lin in when your job was on the line. Thank you, Knicks fans, for sharing this incredible journey with me. Most of all, thank you, Jeremy Lin, for your play on the court as well as your humility off of it.
The Rangers made the playoffs last season, but they were eliminated in the first round by the Washington Capitals. The Rangers, whose major offseason changes included the retiring of captain Chris Drury and the signing of free agent Brad Richards, were expected to finish around the same place this season.
That was not the case.
This season, the Blueshirts are playing Coach John Tortorella's system perfectly. The Rangers have become a blue-collar, aggressive team with extremely strong defensive and goaltending units (they have allowed a league-low 118 goals).
The Rangers acquired the backup goalie they've desperately needed (Marty Biron) to give Henrik Lundqvist rest, blueliners Dan Girardi, Michael Del Zotto and Ryan McDonagh have stepped up all season while injuries plagued the unit and Marian Gaborik is thriving on his line with Derek Stepan and Artem Anisimov.
The Rangers arguably have New York City's most loyal fans, and this season the fans have a reason to cheer: This is their best chance at a Stanley Cup since 1993-94 (when they won the Cup).
So if you happen to be one of the 18,200 people present at Madison Square Garden for a Rangers game this season (it's always sold out), realize that you're witnessing something special, something we Rangers fans have waited years for.
It's a great time to be in New York.