It's been a long, drawn, two-year wait for Knicks fans. In these languishing years, the "Summer of 2010" became something of an urban legend. It was a mythical tale of supposed good times , where fans actually cheered for their team with a thunderous clamor and an unwavering faith, befitting of a city they call the "Basketball Mecca."
It almost goes without saying, but the wayward Knicks fans were in dire need of a savior. For two years, it was thought that LeBron James would assume the role. James would be the man who would resurrect a team decaying in its own pool of corpses—namely Eddy Curry's.
Unfortunately, it wasn't meant to be. However, what has emerged in the wake of LeBron's cold shoulder might provide the beacon of light the Knicks have been searching for.
The acquisition of Amar'e Stoudemire gives the Knicks their rock, which is borderline hilarious, considering his mercurial eight years with the Phoenix Suns. The talent was never in question, but the bestial hunger that existed in his offensive game was often times nonexistent on the other end. Regardless, New York now has its bona fide superstar talent—not one that required a lot of statistical relays and coercing, a la David Lee.
Raymond Felton—who recently agreed to $7 million dollars annually for two guaranteed years—knows how to play fast. In his tumultuous five years playing in Charlotte, he's been stifled by a lack of surrounding talent and/or a strict offensive system. After five years of playing in shackles, learning the nuances of disciplined basketball, consider Mike D'Antoni's Knicks a liberation.
Felton won't turn water into wine in the same fashion as Steve Nash, but he is a marked improvement over a stunningly terrible Chris Duhon. While Felton's arrival spells the end of Toney Douglas' eye-opening revelation as starting point guard, it relieves the second year guard of the expectations that are inevitably mounting in New York City.
But the player who holds the key to New York's future is newly-acquired forward Anthony Randolph. Surviving two years of Nellyball in Oakland would be enough to drive any young gun to ruin, but alas, Randolph has lasted long enough to see the bright lights of New York City.
And in Randolph, New York fans should see a reflection of their fate.
In his current state, we see New York's current state—mystery. Randolph was sidelined for a chunk of last season by a leg injury, and even before then, was curiously underutilized by Warriors coach Don Nelson. There is an inherent risk involved in trusting a player with such unharnessed potential. As of right now, New York fans can only marvel at what can be. But until the opening tip of the regular season, Randolph remains an enigma.
In his abilities, we see New York's explosive future. D'Antoni's vision has been realized. The team is loaded with athletic talent, with Randolph's brimming potential at the forefront. His length is endless. His hops know no bound. His play, at its best, captures the imagination of even the shrewdest skeptic. And that is what potentially lies ahead. Boundlessness may once again come to define New York basketball.
But a look into Randolph's face shows the sobering reality that has befallen the franchise over the past decade. His perpetual frown is a clear reminder for Knicks fans of the days when the future didn't look so bright. But even though things are looking up, it's a process. Fans should be weary of jumping to fantastical conclusions. This is a team that must grow together before any championship notions are brought up.
Randolph's face can't help but be on the constant brink of tears—a phenomenon New York knows all too well. The days leading up to this summer were full of struggle. May New York fans never forget it. He'll bring gratitude to a hasty Knicks fanbase. He'll make earnest people of us all.
Along with tag-alongs Ronny Turiaf and Kelenna Azubuike, newly signed Russian center Timofey Mozgov, and the rest of the incumbent roster, this newly-forged Knicks team can revive a decaying franchise. The team has the athletic prowess to keep fans in their seats, and the strength and toughness at the heart of every New Yorker.
Just don't call it a comeback.
No, this team isn't a perennial contender—at least not yet. But it is more than capable of returning the Knicks to prominence. The new cast will awaken D'Antoni's free-flowing offense, and bring the bright lights back to Madison Square Garden. New York basketball is back. The Knicks won't bring home a championship immediately, but this new cast has the power to bring the team—and the city—back to life.
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