The New York Knicks have floated into the All-Star break above .500, a miraculous and welcome twist for a long-suffering fanbase desperate for on-court production to match even a quarter of its self-importance. Neutral observers should be delighted by the existence of a competent basketball team playing in Madison Square Garden and the resulting media coverage surrounding the unexpected play because it promises to be nothing if not wildly entertaining.
Knicks' success is good for outlets as any large-market success tends to be, and halfway-realistic optimism can be used as a springboard to even bigger dreams. Like landing some, if not all of the NBA's best players.
Over a 24-hour period on ESPN, there was speculation about Damian Lillard, Devin Booker, and Luka Doncic playing future ball in the Big Apple.
One is an outlier. Two is a pattern. Three is a trend. They teach you that in the third day of journalism school. Or at least they used to. Now they mostly spend the first week encouraging you to go into anything else and — honestly — it might be worth listening. Sorry, it's Friday. Positive vibes only going forward.
Extrapolating into and exploring the possibilities of the future is a great way to sell newspapers and drive conversation. The trade destination posts we publish with regularity are reliably rewarded with traffic, a reflection of how public consumption of sports has changed to the point what's happening between the games and in the future is as important as the in-game present.
TBL and ESPN are part of a larger shared ecosystem and decision-makers at each place did not arrive at the same conclusion — that speculation is good for business — in a vacuum. Most outlets with a bottom line to consider have increasingly leaned into the practice. One such example is the New York Daily News, which explored a potential Bradley Beal acquisition by the hometown team.
Knicks fans are going to eat that content up. How exciting must it be to finally have some hope. How exciting must it be to imagine a young core being elevated to the next level with a generational star deciding, for once, that the right place to be is in Midtown. Just imaging it has to be cathartic, especially after the disastrous period in the not-so-distant past where it appeared, ever so briefly that Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and Zion Williamson could join forces in New York's official colors only to watch each go elsewhere.
All of this sane, measured contextualization explains why this is suddenly happening. But we can still have some fun with it. Because mid-season segments coming fast and furious on ESPN extolling the possibilities of All-NBA talent flocking to the freaking Knicks of all places is delicious. And the promise of more is exhilarating. It's only a matter of time until someone suggests, even halfheartedly, that LeBron James will finish his career there.
That will be a DAY online, my friends. Cannot wait.
If this is what the major players are doing with the team one game over .500, what are things going to look like if they make some noise down the stretch and in the playoffs? What will content look like if they're actual championship contenders?
Guess we just need to keep rooting for the victories to keep piling up and see.