Who they are:
New York City’s original NBA team, whose games draw big crowds that often include celebrities among them.
What’s going on:
The Knicks have a new coach in David Fizdale and a young roster that should bring an improved record and flashes of greatness—if not yet contention—to Madison Square Garden. Kristaps Porzingis will miss at least part of the season as he recovers from ACL surgery, with Tim Hardaway Jr. leading the offense in the All-Star power forward’s absence. Fans can follow the continued development of Frank Ntilikina, who showed promise in his rookie year. Top draftee Kevin Knox turned heads in summer league and has looked good on both ends of the court in the preseason—he’s only 19, so one would reasonably expect hiccups along the way, but so far the team looks smart for having taken him with the ninth pick. Rookie free-agent signing Allonzo Trier has also performed well in the preseason, opening up the possibility that he could win a roster spot. If the Knicks find a comfortable rhythm—with better defense and more three-point shooting—by the time Porzingis returns, we’ll consider their season a success.
Asked their favorite things about New York City, the Knicks had no shortage of praise.
Power forward Lance Thomas, who was born in Brooklyn, went to high school in New Jersey and spent plenty of time in the City growing up, says there’s no replacement for the pace of life in the five boroughs. “People move with a purpose,” he says. “Everyone just has somewhere to be. Everyone is grinding. That New York City grit and toughness is something that you see, but once you’re here for a while it kind of instills itself in you.”
Like many a native New Yorker, Thomas has a strong allegiance to the five boroughs’ pizza and bagels. He loves picking up a slice from Il Mattone pizzeria in Tribeca, and knows that other cities cannot match NYC when it comes to those signature carbs. “It’s mind-blowing that New Orleans has some of the best food in the world,” says the former Pelican, “but I’ve yet to find a spot where I can consistently get a good bagel.”
Kevin Knox, who’s new to the City, went up to Dyckman Park in Inwood to see some playground basketball. He raved about the quality players there. “I saw a guy from the Cavs’ summer league team play,” he says. “I know [teammate] Trey Burke played this summer. [Boston Celtic] Terry Rozier played, too. Those are my guys.”
Knox, who’s serious about his wardrobe, also took some time to check out fashion shows and pop-up shops during Fashion Week.
And forward Enes Kanter, a native of Turkey, has really made the most of the City: he recently saw Hamilton with none other than Ben Stiller. “I’d never been to a Broadway show before,” Kanter says. “We sat there like three hours; it was so much fun.” As for how the outing came together, Kanter explains: “[Stiller] goes to the games. I messaged him on Twitter. He answered me back. I was like, ‘Oh my God, Ben Stiller messaged me. Yes!’”
Five games to see this season:
Here are five big matchups (including some that happen on multiple dates) you might want to check out this year.
On opening night, the Knicks face a team whose roster offers both Linsanity (in the person of former ’Bocker Jeremy Lin) and Vinsanity (thanks to onetime Net Vince Carter).
October 20, February 1
Many pundits will tell you that, with LeBron James gone to Los Angeles, the Celtics are the new kings of the East.
Golden State Warriors
The Knicks take on the defending champs and their nearly unstoppable roster (Steph Curry, Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson and so on).
December 1, December 25
Giannis Antetokounmpo is one of the most exciting players in the NBA, and his Bucks visit MSG twice this year. A national audience will see him put on a show during the Christmas Day game against the Knicks.
Los Angeles Lakers
Lakers vs. Knicks is always going to be a marquee matchup—the two biggest American cities, one of which is awesome and has great pizza and the other one of which makes you drive everywhere—and it’s got extra wattage now that LeBron is on the Lakers’ roster. This is the King’s only scheduled regular-season visit to the Garden.