If you're wandering through the thousand or so cable channels on a day between the end of one basketball season and the beginning of the next, you might stumble across the MSG Network in New York. Since they've lost all other programming beside the New York Knicks and Rangers, they're challenged with the prospect of filling time.
Occasionally, they'll broadcast some vintage games from both those teams. Unfortunately, since both franchises suffer from such suspect pasts, they're forced to be creative with the spotlight. Currently, they're cherry picking some Knick-Bull games from the '90's. It's a chore to find some that don't break fan's hearts.
One recent re-broadcast, in particular, was Game 5 of the 1994 playoff series in which Hubert Davis was "fouled" by Scottie Pippen with two seconds left, allowing the Knicks to steal a game they probably should have lost. You'll recall that was the year Michael Jordan decided to hang up the Nikes for other pursuits. It's as mystifying now as it was then that the Knicks needed all seven games to oust the Jordan-less Bulls, on their way to a Finals' series against the Houston Rockets. Of course, they dropped that opportunity to bring home a championship, as the rest of the world contemplated the concurrent O.J. Simpson story.
It's close to punishment to watch these games, knowing the Knicks should have prevailed at some point. They were so mentally and physically tough, led by one of the best coaches ever in Pat Riley. Their enigmatic failure to win the ultimate prize probably compelled Riley to bail out - just as another star-crossed franchise, the New York Jets, frustrated the great Bill Parcells out of the city.
It's irresistible to compare those Knicks to today's version. If the Carmelo Anthony-led current day Knicks played that team, it's not headline news to suggest it would be no contest. The defensive intensity alone would collapse the 2012 squad. Therein lies the anguish. You watch the 1994 series, understand they should have seized the opportunity when Jordan vacated his mantle, and realize we missed our one chance. For today, another mythical figure stands in the way - Lebron James - and it doesn't appear he'll be trying out baseball anytime soon.
Glenn Vallach has been a basketball fan, player, and coach during his lifetime and, as such, an ardent follower of the NBA even with all its warts. He have also been a New York Knick fan since the days of Howie Komives and Walt Bellamy, when he regularly boarded the IRT Subway at 180th Street in the Bronx for a trip to the Garden to see his heroes.
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