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LeBron James Says the NBA 'Is Simply Better off When the Knicks Are Winning'

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistApril 22, 2021

Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (23) with the ball during the first half of an NBA basketball gameagainst the New York Knicks in New York, Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
Kathy Willens/Associated Press

Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James joined a Twitter discussion about the New York Knicks on Thursday and said the NBA is "simply better off" when they're a contender.

The Knicks are in the midst of a seven-year playoff drought, but they're on pace to break that streak this season with a 33-27 record, which ranks fourth in the Eastern Conference.

James has never shied away from his love for the Knicks' history or his appreciation of the team's home arena, Madison Square Garden.

In 2015, he told Marc Berman of the New York Post he was a "little jealous" of longtime friend Carmelo Anthony getting a chance to play a significant portion of his career in the "World's Most Famous Arena."

"If I could have 82 regular-season games in the Garden, I would because it's the Mecca of basketball," he said.

That appreciation doesn't come as a surprise since James grew up watching the '90s Knicks, who made the 1994 NBA Finals and often faced off with Michael Jordan's Chicago Bulls in the East.

The Knicks' best run came in the early '70s when they won their only two NBA titles in a four-year span (1970 and 1973), led by the likes of Willis Reed, Walt Frazier, Bill Bradley, Dave DeBusschere and Dick Barnett.

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New York hasn't lived up to the same standard since LeBron entered the league in 2003. The franchise has reached the postseason just four times and won a single playoff series over the past 17 years.

The question could be asked why James, who's made multiple forays into the free-agent market during his Hall of Fame career, never joined the Knicks to help revitalize the franchise. He instead opted for the Miami Heat, a return to the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Lakers.

Regardless, the organization has shown signs of a return to prominence since Leon Rose was hired as president last March. The success of this year's team, led by Julius Randle and RJ Barrett, combined with the return of fans amid the coronavirus pandemic, has brought a lot of energy back to the Garden.

It highlights LeBron's point: The NBA is better when the Knicks are a factor.