There are magic moments in sports; sometimes we get to experience them, and sometimes we wish that we did. Can you imagine seeing Don Larsen’s perfect game during the World Series? My father saw that one. What about being there when Lou Gehrig said he was the luckiest guy in the world? My great moments include when Cleon Jones caught that last ball of the 1969 World Series. Another was when Bill Buckner of the Boston Red Sox let a ball hit by Mookie Wilson roll through his legs. Those were the days.
Last night such a moment happened: Brooklyn-born Carmelo Anthony came home, and what a homecoming it was. He scored 27 points, had ten rebounds, and helped lead the New York Knicks to a 114-108 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks. This was not a blowout, but that was not necessary. The Knicks are now 1-0 in the Carmelo Anthony era; let’s hope there are many more wins to come in the weeks ahead.
Even if the Knicks win 20 of those last 27 games, they aren’t going to catch the Celtics, but that is not why Anthony stepped on that court last night. It is all about perception and intention: team owner James Dolan wanted to let the fans know that he is committed to win, and nothing makes that more clear than seeing the new forward wearing that number 7 in a Knicks uniform.
Anthony got the welcome we would expect from New York fans. Madison Square Garden was rocking last night, and many fans have not heard that kind of thing for too long at MSG. I remember one other time in my life when a sports arena rocked like that; it was when Mike Piazza came to Shea Stadium for the first time. Old Shea rocked like it hadn’t since the Beatles played their songs on a stage erected over second base. It was that wild and that loud and Piazza brought the same kind of hope to New York that Anthony brings now.
In the end we fans all want the same thing: a championship. It almost happened for Piazza in 2000, but the Yankees got in the way. Now it’s Anthony’s turn. He needs to do a lot more of what he did last night, but his stature and the confidence that he brings to the team is immeasurably important. Now the Apostrophe Boys (‘Melo and Amar’e) can work together for the cause. We believe because in essence we see something that makes us do so.
This 114-108 victory is a great start. There are more wins coming, and fans can feel it. We know the playoffs are coming too, and that’s something Knicks fans haven’t been able to feel sure about for a long time now. Stoudemire started this whole thing. If he were not here, Anthony wouldn’t be either. Now things have changed dramatically, and next year the Celtics will be on notice just as the Patriots will be. The Jets are for real and now so are the Knicks. That gives New York fans something to smile about this morning.