Not with a bang, but a whimper.
LeBronFest 2K9 has come and gone as Citizen 23 nonchalantly tossed up a jumper-heavy 32-9-8 against a surprisingly listless Knicks’ side. The King seemed fully aware of the moment, firing up long shots early, often, and with impressive efficiency (8 of 9 on mid-rangers, according to ESPN Stats and Information). On the rare occasions that he elected to drive, he met predictably little resistance and converted easily. The Knicks actually managed to contest a number of his jumpers, but their defense had little impact and LeBron showed himself to be every bit the superstar that has us salivating for next summer.
Gallo, Hughes, and Lee each had solid offensive outings, and Jordan Hill even stopped by and showed off a versatile offensive game in an abbreviated appearance. In the end, however, sloppy passing, poor shot selection, and a particularly ugly chapter in the ever-more-puzzling story of Al Harrington’s 2009-10 season doomed the Knicks to a defeat that wasn’t nearly as close as the final score would indicate.
And so we are left to sit and wait and dream of a summer that seems too far away. At some point next year, LeBron will return to play his next game at Madison Square Garden, and he either will be wearing a Knicks jersey or he won’t. We have no new information, no new arguments, no new reasons to believe or doubt that there is a headband-wearing savior on the horizon for the Knicks.
20 players took the floor at some point in tonight’s Knicks/Cavs game, but only one of them really mattered. Not on the grandest level (in which ending world hunger matters) or on the smallest level (in which it matters to me that David Lee is emerging as an increasingly aggressive offensive player on what he has realized is, for better or worse, his team) but on the NBA’s macro level — a level on which the Knicks have not meant anything in quite a while.
On this night, they looked like a group of guys waiting for someone to come along and change that, and not a group that had any confidence in their ability to change it themselves. I wish I disagreed with them.