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ESPN NY Hall of Fame: Where Are The Knicks?

Patrick Ewing continues to not get the get credit he deserved.

Some kids play catch with their dads. They grab their gloves and head onto a field. Others throw a football. Me and my dad, we played basketball.

My father knows very little about sports. He claims his favorite team is the Dallas Cowboys, but if you were to ask him who the quarterback was, he would stand up and say “Roger Staubach.” When you laughed and told him it was Tony Romo, he would go Chazz Palmentieri from A Bronx Tale on you and say “Tony Romo makes millions of dollars. How much does your father make? You think they care about you? Nobody cares. Nobody cares.”

But if you were to mention the New York Knicks of the 1990’s, that would be a very different story.
Every Saturday morning we’d play in the playground of Carroll Park in Brooklyn, NY. He’d practice his fadeaway, I’d practice my three-point shot and bad temper. This was the closest I could get my father, a science fiction nerd by trade, to appreciate sports. It didn’t matter that he would sometimes camp behind the three-point line and say “Ewing for three.” Just the fact that my Dad knew who Patrick Ewing was made all the difference in the world. His was the first sports jersey I would ever own.

It’s for that reason it was a slap in the face to every New York sports fan when Patrick Ewing wasn’t even a nominee for ESPN NY’s Hall of Fame.  Furthermore, there was no Willis Reed, no Walt Frazier, no Dave DeBusschere, no Bill Bradley, no Earl Monroe, nada. It was an all-baseball HOF:. Ruth, Gehrig, Robinson, DiMaggio, Mantle. That’s it. I don’t know about you, but aren’t they forgetting some people?

How can you have a NY Sports Hall of Fame and not have any representation from basketball.  Would you exclude Alvin Ailey from the greatest dancers of all time? Would you exclude Pavarotti from the discussion of greatest singers? Of course there are other sport figures that deserve consideration. The New York Islanders of the 1980’s, Mark Messier delivering the cup after 54 years; Namath in Super Bowl III, Lawrence Taylor whenever, they all deserve some recognition for what they meant in this town, but basketball? Pete Axthelm said it best when he said “Basketball is the city game…other young athletes may learn basketball, but city kids live it.”

Neither myself, nor my parents can speak for the Knicks of the 70’s, but between the late springs of 1993 and 2000, New York hinged on whether Ewing and the Knicks would hoist the Larry O’Brien trophy above its collective shoulders. Mike Lupica nailed it when he said that the Yankees’ season did not begin until the Knicks’ season ended. Each failed attempt seemed more heartbreaking than the next. “What if Charles Smith dunked against the Bulls?” “What if Starks doesn’t go 2-for-18 in Game 7?” “What if Anthony Mason doesn’t inbound the ball to the Pacers?”  “What if Ewing doesn’t miss the finger roll?” “What if PJ Brown doesn’t flip Charlie Ward?”

We’re all divided between Yankees and Mets, Giants and Jets, Rangers, Islanders and yes, even Devils. But almost every New York sports fan is a Knicks fan. That’s what made their playoff crusades so much more meaningful. We were all pulling for them. We were all rooting for Ewing to pull off the unbelievable.

Not too long ago, I put up a basketball hoop inside my parents’ yard. My father came out to challenge me in some games and suddenly I was a little kid again. The wind was at my back, and the future was in front of me.

If only I knew what I did with that jersey.

About CJ

I'm an aspiring writer living in Staten Island.

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2 comments for “ESPN NY Hall of Fame: Where Are The Knicks?”

  1. Inner city kids love basketball, it’s plain and simple. When the Knicks acquired ‘Melo this city was crazy. It’s true what you say, everybody in NY is a Knick fan and that’s what makes the Knicks so special to NY. My best memories of sports are of my dad cursing out Reggie, MJ, and Marbury-in Chinese of course. The first present my dad ever got for me was a basketball hoop in my backyard. I still play basketball 2-3 times a week… in fact I’m going to the park to play right now. Great article CJ.

    Posted by A Lee | August 20, 2011, 10:56 am
  2. New Post: ESPN NY Hall of Fame: Where Are The Knicks?

    Posted by Sports of New York | August 20, 2011, 11:50 am

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