Meditations on an Atlantic Division Title

USA TODAY Sports

Is this really happening?

The Knicks will clinch the Atlantic Division title with a with a win or Brooklyn loss tonight. If neither of those things happen, they'll very likely clinch it later. If they somehow collapse and lose the division, you know who to blame. ...Joe. You said Joe, right? Definitely not me. - Seth

Nineteen-hundred and ninety-four was a simpler time; a time when you could buy a can of Crystal Pepsi and hop on over to the local cinematograph for a showing of Naked Gun 33⅓: The Final Insult, starring:

  • Leslie Nielsen - very much alive
  • O.J. Simpson - ex-football star, actor, and all-around swell guy
  • Anna Nicole Smith - attractive young Playmate, totally lucid and also very much alive
  • Priscilla Presley - mother-in-law of Michael Jackson, who is beloved by the entire world, still looking mostly like a humanoid and, again, very much alive
  • Fred Ward - the other guy from Tremors. TREMORS KICKS ASS!

Yeah, it was a long time ago. None of those things are true anymore - with the notable exception that Tremors still kicks ass. BROKE INTO THE WRONG GOD-DAMN REC ROOM, DIDN'T YOU?

There was still another crew who made a name for themselves in '94 - a basketball team that played with the ferocity and badass-itude of a pack of graboids roaming underground in search of Kevin Bacon. In fact, I should let these boys introduce themselves:


It has been quite a while since a New Yorker could say "WE ARE THE NEW YORK KNICKS" with that special early-nineties flava.*

*This author is roughly 60% sure "flava" was a word used in the early-nineties.

The Knicks fielded 18 squads between '94 and 2012, and not one of them managed to achieve the title this year's team is about to earn: Atlantic Division Champions.

This is where I'm supposed to tell you that the title doesn't really matter - players don't play for division titles, not even Blake Griffin and the Clippers, apparently.

Good for Blake, and good for the Clippers. I'm not saying the Knicks need to hang a "'12-'13 Division Champions" banner in the rafters of the Garden - as bad as they've been, they're not the freakin' Clippers - but I'd like to give you a few reasons why you might consider breaking out the Red Berry Champale and toast the New York Knicks, champions of all they survey, from the Hudson Bay to the Mason-Dixon.

From what I've gathered, the division title wasn't always the red-headed step-leper of the title family. The title meant something in the old days, because the divisions were pure, man. But then those greedy fat-cats started cutting them up, diluting them with expansion teams and baking soda and whatever, and now we can't ever get a buzz off them! Now the postseason is the real season, which I guess make the off-season the real postseason, while the regular season gets stuck in limbo as a kind of post-preseason, where the games only quasi-count.

As a Yankee fan I have a lot of experience in this regard. I'm old enough to remember when they were truly terrible, and for some reason I still enjoy watching them win the AL East. But I have enough experience with the younger generation of Yankee fans - who tell me each October that the entire 162-game fan experience was just rendered completely meaningless by six or seven days of bad baseball - to know I might just be in the minority there.

Does it really have to be this way? I know professional athletes hate to celebrate these regular season titles - they're borderline paranoid about complacency, losing their edge, living out the nightmarish first half of Rocky III. But what does it matter if we, the fans, celebrate? Will we lose our edge...and who the hell cares if we do? Believe it or not, our complacency will not affect the Knicks' performance one iota come playoff time.

I believe it's time for we Knicks fans to live in the moment. Of course I would trade this division title for a wild, '99-style romp through the playoffs, but the basketball devil refuses to accept my soul as payment. (Maybe James Dolan should challenge him to a fiddle contest). The Knicks' own tortured history practically screams for us to live enjoy this title. Did you realize Bird Flu is back? With the Knicks about to enter the playoffs? That can't be a coincidence. I say eat, drink, be merry and kill every chicken you can find...while there's still time.

It's been a long season, an amazing season, and the Knicks have basically achieved the best possible outcome. Just think of where this team has come from. Forget the stink of the Isiah years for a minute, just think of where this team has come from since July. How many "That's it, I'm quitting the Knicks" comments, Fanposts, magazine articles, poetry slams and puppet shows did each of us have to endure? How many times did we hear that this was going the year of the TAKE OVA, when Brooklyn would reign supreme and the Knicks would play second-fiddle in their own town? How many times did we see this?

The word "gratifying" doesn't even begin to describe this season. There were times - very recently, in fact - when I was pretty sure I would never see this kind of season from the Knicks again...so long as somebody was still alive and kicking. But here it is...the New York Knicks are about to become Atlantic Division champions. Drink it in, it always goes down smooth.

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