It's unclear how we got here, and it doesn't even matter: Watching New York Knicks games will make you happy. Because the Knicks are full of ridiculous characters saying and doing ridiculous things at all times and, most of all, winning, which sort of validates all the ridiculousness.
Here's where we are: (1) Rasheed WallaceNew York Times is writing articles about the Ball Don't Lie myth ("There’s a simple poetry to it, the street-righteous version of 'Cheaters never prosper.'"), (2) J.R. Smith is hitting game-winning shots and doing J.R. Smith things, (3) Steve Novak and the discount double check have returned better than ever, (4) Raymond Felton andJason Kidd are blowing everyone's mind on a nightly basis, and (5) sleepy Mike Woodson is the architect of the most exciting offense in basketball.
Compare this to last spring. This was a funny team, not a fun team. When the Knicks were getting blown off the court by the Heat in the playoffs, you had (1) Iman Shumpert's knee exploding in Game 1, (2) Amar'e Stoudemire punching a fire extinguisher after a blowout loss in Game 2, (3) Carmelo Anthony getting destroyed by over and over again, (4) Tyson Chandler getting sick at the worst time possible, and (5) Jeremy Lin's absence, which spawned its own little universe of rumors and personal attacks throughout the New York media.
Everything about the Knicks for the past 10 years has been like that -- a cartoon that just keeps getting more cruel and incredible. The franchise has always been such an amazing cesspool of dysfunction and sadness that laughter is really the only option.
But watching them obliterate the Heat with a cascade of wide-open looks in the second half Thursday night -- while Heat officials like Alonzo Mourning looked homicidal in the crowd, Sheed celebrated on the bench and the TNT announcers mumbled in disbelief -- we were laughing at how great they were, and enjoying the Knicks wasn't even a little bit ironic.
This is a team of veteran cast-offs and immature disappointments. None of it should work, none of these players should be playing this well, and it all makes it twice as exciting when it does, and they do. This is a winning team of veteran cast-offs and immature disappointments. With one true superstar, and a supporting cast of misfits that may have finally found the right fit.
So ... This could work, right? Maybe? As Tyson Chandler explained it Thursday, "Dallas all over again. Me and the light-skinned brother over there talk about it all the time." When he says "light-skinned brother" he's talking about Jason Kidd -- sadly, not Steve Novak -- and OK yeah that's just another reminder to love the Knicks.
The other night during the Heat-Wizards game, there was this conversation:
Mike Prada: "You know, Jalen Rose said this before the year and I thought he was crazy, but the Heat really may be too small to win with this lineup."
Me: "Yeah, but who's seriously going to challenge them in the East? The Celtics?"
Prada: "True. Brooklyn, maybe? I don't know."
Me: "Yeah, I don't know. I just don't see anyone that can beat 'em."
[30 seconds pass in silence]
Me: "Wait what about the Knicks?"
NOTE: This will probably never happen, and it feels stupid to even suggest it.
On the other hand, it didn't feel stupid for 45 minutes during the second half Thursday night, when LeBron James was dominating everyone and Miami was still down double-digits, and the Knicks were laughing their way through another blowout. It feels stupid to believe in the Knicks until they start playing. Then you see how much fun they're having and how natural it all looks, and you start to really wonder. For now that's all we can say.
Because here's the recent history: Whenever the Knicks play well and dominate for a few weeks, everyone starts writing these articles asking whether they could be dark-horse title contenders, and then we get a handful of articles talking about how great it is for the NBA to have the New York Knicks winning big, and then it all fizzles a few weeks later and everyone pretends it never happened, so we all go back to laughing at the Knicks and telling James Dolan jokes. So just enjoy the most exciting, ridiculous team in basketball -- don't think of Knicks as title contenders right now. This is not one of those "The Knicks are for real!" articles.
But only because we don't want to jinx it.