It wasn't always like this.
Once upon a time, games between the Miami Heat and New York Knicks meant something more. In the most notorious of matchups—recurrent playoff meetings—they meant everything.
Nowadays, though, Heat-Knicks games are merely an opportunity to watch LeBron James wage battle against Carmelo Anthony and reflect on years past, when these games weren't nearly empty of mutual purpose.
Those days are long gone, mythologized by time and oft-idealized thanks to the absence of profound discussions now. And just as it wasn't always like this, it wasn't supposed to stay like this.
James, Anthony, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and Amar'e Stoudemire were supposed to revive a dying rivalry. They were supposed to treat us to a modernized version of yesterday's competition. At the same time the Knicks were "back," the Heat were there, too.
Or so we thought.
Ahead of New York and Miami's Feb. 27 matchup, we're reminded of how regular-season bouts used to have playoff implications for both sides, and how these two teams met frequently in the playoffs as equals.
No such circumstances exist now, with enmity shared between these two teams at an all-time low, if only because the Heat play on a different plane.
There may be other playoff meetings in the near future, or regular-season contests that mean more than they currently do, but right now, unlike years ago, the Heat and Knicks are just two teams, traveling down two different paths that rarely converge.
Thankfully, there are plenty of trips down memory lane worth taking that still give us reasons to watch and grounds for hope of a rivalry reborn sometime in the near future.