Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images
Some will say too much has been made of this storyline. For those of us old enough to remember it, I say not enough has been made of it.
The New York Knicks-Indiana Pacers rivalry of the '90s was the best in the NBA, and was actually the best in all of sports outside of hockey's Detroit Red Wings-Colorado Avalanche war.
Once the Knicks got Patrick Ewing with the first pick in the 1985 NBA draft, it was assumed to be just a matter of time until they were NBA champions. Sure enough, in 1992 the Knicks began working their way up the NBA ladder, losing in the conference semifinals, then in the conference finals in 1993 and in the NBA Finals in 1994.
Along the way, they had two hotly contested series against the Pacers. But it seemed 1995 would be the year the Knicks would break through, especially with Michael Jordan in retirement.
But the Pacers derailed their plans not only in '95, but also in 1998 and 2000. With victories in those three series, they effectively rewrote the Knicks' championship destiny. Only in 1999 did New York, an eight seed that year, upset the Pacers, only to fall one final time in the NBA Finals.
Ironically, though both teams had superlative seasons during those years, neither won a championship. And of course, most of today's players were in elementary school when these two teams last met in the playoffs, so there really isn't a rivalry on the court.
But in the stands? New York fans can virtually see the ghost of Reggie Miller on the court—not to mention having to endure the indignity of him sitting courtside as a broadcaster. In the Knicks' Game 1 home loss, it's a darned good thing Miller didn't put his hands to his neck in the "choke" symbol. Otherwise, there would have been mayhem, as the fans in New York would have decided to Do The Right Thing.
Put it this way: For anyone who sat through those classic playoff brouhahas, this is no ordinary second-round series. This is a series each city wants to win to avenge the past.