x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Knicks are becoming the apple in the eyes of New York and NBA fans

For 40 years they have been an afterthought but thanks to Anthony, the Knicks are becoming relevant to basketball again.

New York Knicks' Carmelo Anthony (7) goes up for a shot as Dallas Mavericks' Brendan Haywood, right, defends in the second half of an NBA basketball game Thursday, March 10, 2011, in Dallas. The Mavericks won 127-109. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez) *** Local Caption *** DNA111_Knicks_Mavericks_Basketball.jpg
New York Knicks' Carmelo Anthony (7) goes up for a shot as Dallas Mavericks' Brendan Haywood, right, defends in the second half of an NBA basketball game Thursday, March 10, 2011, in Dallas. The Mavericks won 127-109. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez) *** Local Caption *** DNA111_Knicks_Mavericks_Basketball.jpg

It is generally considered the hub of the basketball universe - New York is where street players became legends, where flashy and hard-nosed play was born before it migrated throughout the basketball world.

Madison Square Garden, where the New York Knicks play, is a revered basketball palace, even though the Knicks have not won an NBA title in almost 40 years.

It is a curious thing, the NBA swelling in popularity in the US and basketball emerging as an international sport, all while in New York the Knicks largely became an NBA afterthought.

Not this season. The Knicks have a chance at a winning record for the first time in 10 years and are threatening to become relevant again in NBA conversation.

With the acquisition of Carmelo Anthony, the Knicks now have two legitimate superstars in Amar'e Stoudemire and Anthony.

The Knicks are talking of adding a third significant piece, either Chris Paul or Deron Williams, when the point guards become free agents this summer. Then, like Miami, they would have their very own Big Three.

Not bad for a Knicks franchise that had become a laughing stock.

The Knicks are 6-4 since they traded for Anthony on February 22 and are sixth in the Eastern Conference. If the season ended today, they would make the play-offs for the first time in seven years and in the first round face Miami, a prospect they actually welcome.

"I think the potential's there," Mike D'Antoni, the Knicks coach, said. "I think we can be as good as we want to be. I think we can be a top team. Whether we can get it all done this year or not, we'll see. "

The problem is this: To get Anthony, the Knicks traded away youthful starters Raymond Felton, Wilson Chandler and Danilo Gallinari, plus promising 7ft (2.1m) reserve Timofey Mozgov. Respectively they are 26, 23, 22 and 24 years of age.

That has left the Knicks' bench thin and small underneath, making a real play-off run this season a long shot. That has not stopped long-suffering Knicks fans from thinking New York is about to return to its place as the epicentre of basketball.

For now, at least, the electricity has returned to Madison Square Garden.

 

sports@thenational.ae