It has been a long time coming for the New York Knicks, but it appears as though the city finally has a team worthy of its passionate fans.
Make no mistake about it, the past decade—if not longer—has been absolute torture for the New York faithful. Since the departure of Patrick Ewing, things just went downhill, with the team struggling in every way possible.
It's hard to know where to start when summarizing what fans have had to go through in recent years. We've seen Isaiah Thomas destroy the cap situation, multiple trades blow up in the team's face and even Hall of Fame coach Larry Brown struggle to make a difference.
There were some bright spots, with players like Allan Houston putting smiles on faces, but ultimately putting the fans' hopes and dreams in the likes of Stephon Marbury and Eddy Curry did not work out well at all.
Even in these past two seasons, with the franchise returning to relevance, things have been frustrating, with chemistry and coaching issues stopping the team from reaching its potential.
After 13 consecutive losses, the 2012 postseason saw the team snap their playoff losing streak, which acted as a small milestone to show how far the team had come.
Little did we know that one victory in a five-game series loss would end up being a preview of things to come in 2012-13. Through 19 games to begin the season, the Knicks stand at 14-5, good for their best start in years.
But it's not just the fact that the Knicks are winning, but the way they are winning that is so exciting for Knicks fans.
For starters, you have a head coach in Mike Woodson that values the same things they do: defense, grit and determination. He may not have the glamour or the pull of a Pat Riley, but after five years with Mike D'Antoni, at the very least he is an assuring presence as the leader of the operation.
On the court, it's more than fitting that it's Carmelo Anthony—a Brooklyn boy and a hometown hero—who's leading the way after an MVP-caliber November.
Melo grew up idolizing Bernard King, and you can tell with the passion he's playing with out there that he cares about the franchise just as much as those up in the nosebleeds.
Along with Anthony, the Knicks have also brought back some old favourites, including scrappy point guard Raymond Felton, tough forward Kurt Thomas and center Marcus Camby, who started for the team back in the 1999 NBA Finals.
It's only right that the team's new uniforms feature the words "Once a Knick, Always a Knick" on the inside collar.
Even something as trivial as the blue and orange uniforms the Knicks are wearing is a good sign, with the team now going for a look similar to the one they had during the championship years of 1970 and 1973, and the Finals run in 1994.
And just like in the '70s and the '90s, the excitement is finally back for New York basketball.
With buzzer-beating game-winners, players diving into the stands and two blowout victories over the defending champs, Knicks fans must be pinching themselves because of how this team is playing.
Speaking of the reigning champions, it looks as though the rivalry with the Miami Heat is back, with the Knicks fielding a team perfectly capable of playing with the Big Three.
Having a new rival out in Brooklyn with the Nets has also been exciting to this point, with the matchup sure to develop into one of the NBA's most intense if both teams stay at the top of the Eastern Conference.
As great as it has been for basketball to see Brooklyn embrace their new team, Madison Square Garden remains the heart of the city and is arguably the league's best home-court advantage.
The Knicks are undefeated in front of their fierce home crowd, and don't look like they're letting up any time soon. One of their primary goals was to make MSG a fortress, with Coach Woodson simply stating their plan of action at home:
We will protect home court. If teams want to get a road win, they need to go somewhere else. (via Moke Hamilton)
One of the more impressive things about the Knicks' hot start is that it's been done without Amar'e Stoudemire and Iman Shumpert, who are both recovering from knee injuries for the time being.
So long as they come back healthy, you can only imagine how good the Knicks will be with them back in the lineup. People will point to Stoudemire's lack of chemistry with Melo, but with Woodson as head coach things should be a lot different.
It was only a short while ago that Stoudemire was on the receiving end of MVP chants at the Garden, and he could once again endear himself to Knicks Nation if he makes the ultimate sacrifice and comes off the bench when he returns.
Ultimately this is shaping up to be a great year for the Knicks and their fans.
Just how good New York is we don't yet know, but one thing is for sure: Knicks basketball is well and truly back.