The New York Knicks are HOT. How hot?
Well, not quite as hot as the earth was roughly 14 million years ago, when the whole universe was in a hot, dead state. And it hasn’t exactly been that long since the Knicks were emerging as a legitimate contender for post-season success.
But it has been a half-century since the Knicks last won an NBA title, its 1973 team that avenged the previous season’s finals loss to the then-record-setting Los Angeles Lakers with a 4-1 sprint in the Championship series that sent Wilt Chamberlain to the ABA and retirement.
And in this century? Well, they’ve won exactly one playoff series and a total of 10 playoff games to date. Which means its veteran announcer of now more than three decades, Mike Breen, has not had a lot of truly exciting moments to broadcast, unlike those of his mentor and predescessor, Marv Albert. Albert was known for his “YES!” calls, many of which were exclaimed in that championship run 50 years ago.
But in his role as a national announcer, Breen has indeed called many truly incredible moments, reserving the escalation of his trademark “BANG!” call to a “double bang!” exactly four times in his storied career. The first he recalled making was an extraordinary overtime game-winner by Steph Curry just over seven years ago in Oklahoma City, an event Curry recently memorialized by releasing a new shoe, the Curry 2s, to celebrate the occasion, fully crediting Breen for making both of them all the more iconic.
Which makes what happened Friday night in Miami in the waning seconds of the Knicks-Heat game all the more significant. The first time a Knick has been worthy of Breen’s double bang:
And to prove that that crucial conference win wasn’t a fluke, the Knicks followed that up with a thrilling double overtime vanquishing of the Boston Celtics on national TV on Sunday night. With Randle having an off night, and fellow star Jalen Brunson out of commission, rising star Immanuel Quickley picked up the slack, scoring a career high 38 points.
These Knicks have now rattled off nine consecutive victories, rising to fifth in a highly competitive Eastern Conference and possessing a better record since December 1st than the Celtics. When they return home after this extraordinary weekend, one that saw Randle receive NBA Player of the Week accolades and Quickley annointed to hero status, tonight against the woeful Charlotte Hornets, Madison Square Garden, the only NBA venue still in use since the last time the Knicks won a title, should be rocking with an exuberance and decibel level seldom seen since that era.
Now, fair warning. Here’s the full list of Breen’s double bang calls to date, per Clutch Points:
2016: Steph Curry vs. Thunder
2019: Eric Gordon vs. Lakers
2020: Luka Doncic vs. Clippers
2021: Marcus Smart vs. Knicks
2023: Julius Randle vs. Heat
None of the teams that those players played for won an NBA title. Not even Curry’s Warriors, who were upended by Lebron James’ homecoming with the Cleveland Cavaliers with a comeback from a 1-3 deficit in that year’s Finals, despite a 73-9 regular season record that broke the previous record of Michael Jordan’s 70-win Bulls, not to mention the 69-13 Lakers that the Knicks’ last championship team avenged their Finals loss to.
But at this point, Knicks fans will settle for far less ambitious accomplishments. Playing deep into May, let alone June, will be a significant step forward. With both Los Angeles teams as well as Chicago struggling for playoff relevance, and Brooklyn a question mark of their own after the recent trades of both Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, the potential for these Knicks to make a decent run, and a return to past levels of glory, is enormous. And for a league about to negotiate potentially nine figures worth of media rights extending into the 2030s, the value of a strong team in New York City can’t be stressed enough.
Now if only their owner can evolve a tad from Australopithecus (who really would be sick of him), it might make the act of rooting for them a bit more enjoyable.