Thursday, December 28, 2006

NBA: OT Knack for New York Knicks

By Steve Cernak

Only New York surviving Detroit in triple overtime could shake me from my holiday vacation. I currently live right outside Georgetown in Washington, DC now, so my opportunities to see the Knicks at Madison Square Garden are infrequent, when compared to growing up near the World's Most Famous Arena. I flew into New York in time for the second half of NY's domineering victory over Chicago. Obviously, however, nothing compares to witnessing your favorite team win in 3OT and watching a player take The Next Step.

Fans took pictures of themselves with their significant others towards the end of the fourth quarter. I suppose those pictures are awesome now due to the game's outcome. BUT THIS IS A DECEMBER GAME. Any true Knicks fan understands December games, while fun, are meaningless. True Knicks fans endure a season of excellence, only to lose in May (aka the playoffs) by virtue of Michael Jordan. Just goes to show you how far the Knicks fell, how irrelevant they became. Anyone can get a ticket now, unlike a decade ago. Which is a nice way to say some morons sat in my sections.

Nick, a season ticket holder, yelled "TAKE YOUR JACKETS OFF" to everyone attempting to to beat traffic. If not for his public service announcement, many more would have left. All die-hards expect the Knicks to give up leads and, sure enough, Carlos Delfino hits a game-tying trey at the end of regulation. After Rasheed Wallace fouled out, Flip Saunders eventually settled on a four guard line-up (he played Tayshuan Prince on the perimeter). I knew--hell, everyone knew--Delfino would send the game to OT after watching Isiah Thomas send PF David Lee to guard the sharp-shooting Delfino. Well, everyone except the morons who considered leaving.

The Knicks nearly threw away Marbury's first half gem, the best player of the first 24 minutes. Nothing special the second half, but played an extraordinary game nonetheless. After booing the hell out of the refs for a phantom foul call, the crowd cheered Marbs for the second time in as many home games after fouling out. Instead, Detroit wasted Rip Hamilton's career 51 point performance. Hamilton is a joy to watch. He runs and cuts more than any player I've ever seen live, more so than even Reggie Miller. Hamilton is better than Miller and last night he bolstered his Hall of Fame résumé.

During the first overtime, the referees topped off a horrendously officiated game in grand fashion. While chasing a loose ball, Hamilton knocked it into a referee who had plenty of time to avoid making contact with the ball. Instead, the referee made contact with the ball keeping it inbounds and ran the game clock down close to 30 seconds. The fans booed the refs louder than Jordan and Commissioner David Stern readied pink slips, while my dad noticed the referees' conference at mid court. He claimed "they're discussing the make-up call, there will be one."

Sure enough, the next possession the refs called Billups for a shooting foul on Marbury's three-point attempt. He converted on all three attempts to send the game to 2OT, where he fouled out. Channing Frye forced 3OT, allowing Jamal Crawford to dominate. Man, what a performance. I've been to many Knicks games, but I'm 23-years-old. I didn't see Earl "the Pearl" Monroe or Walt "Clyde" Frazier play and I don't remember Michael Ray Richardson. Crawford is, without a doubt, the most talented of any Knicks guard I've ever seen play.

To me, this wasn't a triple overtime game. This game signaled Crawford knocking on the door of greatness. We'll see. But for the first time in a long-time, I'm full of legitimate hope. Maybe I'll see some June basketball again... in the World's Most Famous Arena.

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