Madison Square Garden has been quiet—too quiet—since summer’s end. The world’s most famous arena is in the midst of what promises to be a glorious renovation, but something has been missing. With all due respect to hockey’s Rangers, the place hasn’t been the same without the Knicks.
Luckily, that’s about to change, and none too soon. The National Basketball Association has been shut down for months because of a labor dispute, but last week the players union finally agreed to give up a portion of basketball-related revenue, agreeing to a 50-50 split with owners (the players had been getting 57 percent). The league will begin a truncated regular season on Christmas Day, but for basketball-starved New Yorkers, a short season is far better than no season at all. Kudos to Commissioner David Stern and his staff, including Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver, for standing firm, getting a good deal, and rescuing most of the season.
Last year the Knicks took several big steps toward recapturing the magic of the mid-1990s with an exciting young team that promised to have the Garden rocking this year. And if you don’t think the Knicks contribute to New York’s buzz, you weren’t in the vicinity of the Garden back in the days of Patrick Ewing and John Starks and those memorable battles with Reggie Miller and Michael Jordan.
With the lockout over, the Knicks will have a chance to deliver on the promise they showed last year, when they put together their first winning season in a decade, led by superstars Amar’e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony. Just as important, the bars and restaurants around the Garden once again will be packed on game nights, and the arena’s vendors, ushers, security staff and other support personnel will be returning to work.
Unlike some other NBA cities, New York certainly doesn’t need professional basketball—there is, after all, no shortage of other distractions in the Big Apple. But there’s no denying that the Knicks add something special to a city that loves a good show with world-class performers.
Welcome back, Knicks. The city’s not the same without you.