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Michael Rapaport film recalls Knicks' glory days

Director Michael Rapaport and Knicks president Phil Jackson

Director Michael Rapaport and Knicks president Phil Jackson attend the Tribeca/ESPN Sports Film Festival Gala: "When The Garden Was Eden" during the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival at BMCC Tribeca PAC on April 17, 2014 in New York City. (Credit: Getty Images / Ben Gabbe)

Phil Jackson was in the house Thursday for the premiere of “When the Garden Was Eden,’’ a documentary about the Knicks’ championship teams, but he did not stop to chat with reporters at the Tribeca Film Festival gala.

Fortunately the film’s director, Michael Rapaport, more than made up for that with a red carpet marathon in which he channeled the passion and frustration of fans – especially those who like him are too young to recall 1970 or ’73.

“We don’t want to happen to New York Knicks fans what’s happened to the Chicago Cubs fans, where you’re like, ‘I just want to make sure I don’t die without seeing a championship,’’’ Rapaport, 44, said. “That could happen.

“This is New York. This ain’t Tulsa. This ain’t Minneapolis. This is New York. This is basketball. It’s not lacrosse. It’s not soccer. We need to win here – period. This is a basketball city.’’

What about the Knicks teams of the 1990s? “That was cool, that was great, but those years broke my heart,’’ said the actor/director, who grew up in Manhattan. “It was so close, it crushed me.’’

ESPN will show the film in October, by which point Jackson will have begun to put his stamp on the team.

What does his old teammate, Dick Barnett, think he should do about Carmelo Anthony?

“That’s why they’re paying him $60 million, to figure that out,’’ Barnett said. “I don’t give any free advice, OK?’’

Tags: ESPN , Knicks

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