Tonight would have been the most anticipated opening night for the New York Knicks in a very, very long time. After years of season openers in which Knicks' fans were forced to watch the likes of Stephon Marbury, Keith Van Horn, Eddy Curry, and worst of all Isiah Thomas, it was finally time for the Knicks to enter an NBA season as a legitimately good team with high expectations and tons of attention. The Knicks' fanbase has starved for this moment and it's fitting that they'll have to wait longer, for the NBA Lockout has stolen opening night from fans of the 30 NBA franchises.
The Knicks could have played anyone on 2011-12 opening night, and the newly-renovated Madison Square Garden would have been the center of the New York sports world. But MSG would have had the entire country's eyes on it tonight. The second season of The Big Three and Not Much Else Experiment was supposed to be in town - the Miami Heat of course - and we would have been gifted perhaps the biggest regular season NBA spectacle at Madison Square Garden since Michael Jordan returned and dropped 55 points on March 28, 1995.
Think I'm nuts or being overly dramatic? I challenge you to come up with another regular season Knicks game with as much juice.
You would have had Amare Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony, beginning their first full year as New York Knick teammates, burdened with the task of launching the Knicks back to true contention. There of course would have been Miami's Big Three, especially LeBron James. Fresh off another playoff flameout, James - who has always played fantastic at MSG - would have had perhaps the most pressure on him in an opening night game than any other NBA player has ever faced. Sure, it would have been Game 1 of 82. But season openers are always a spectacle, and how much bigger could it have gotten in the NBA than this?
Instead, we're left with, well, what? There will likely be an opening night to this season at some point, as long as the owners and players get their heads out of their you-know-what's. Who knows when it will be? With free agency yet to take place because of the work stoppage, it's impossible to know what each team will look like. There's no question, however, that the Knicks and Heat would have put on a show tonight at the Garden.
Too bad the NBA and its players closed the curtain.