The Spurs come to town with their blazing-hot 29-4 start, with Tony Parker admitting the Knicks were his first choice had the Spurs let him walk and Richard Jefferson unzipping his fly and relieving himself on the notion that basketball was back in New York.
“Even though they had a bunch of great teams for a bunch of years, they haven’t won a championship since the 1970s,” Jefferson told the San Antonio Express-News on Sunday. “This is not a Boston Celtics team or like the Lakers franchise. What year was the last time they won a championship? 1973?
“So to say basketball is back in New York, what does that even mean?”
Jefferson knows the New York area well. He called the area home for the first seven years of his career when he played for the Nets and even chose to live in Manhattan. But he wasn't buying into the idea that a winning Knicks franchise is any better for the NBA than, say, a winning team in Cleveland.
"You look at how great it was for Cleveland having LeBron and what it did to that community and how important it was for them. You look at what is going on now in Miami or in Oklahoma City," he said. “It’s great for whatever city gets the benefit, but I don’t think one city is more important than another.”
So is he right?
Television ratings, of course, factor into this debate. When LeBron and the Cavs met the Spurs in the championship round in 2007, it produced a 6.2 rating, which was a record low for an NBA Finals. It drew on average 9 million viewers per game.
When the Knicks hosted the Heat on Christmas Day 2010 was the most watched ESPN game of the 2009-10 season with 2.65 million viewers, which is impressive for a noon tip-off, which is when most families who celebrate Christmas are still clearing the wrapping paper off the family room floor. And this year's Christmas game between the Knicks and Bulls brought in even more at 4.02 million viewers.
Gregg Popovich has a different opinion than of his player.
“You have to be realistic,” Popovich said. “It’s a huge market. Having good basketball teams in huge markets like New York would be a no-brainder. It’s good for the sport. It’s good for everybody.”
It was also good for Pop, who celebrated his first championship with the Spurs in the Big Apple in 1999.
“Madison Square Garden, that’s the place,” Popovich said. “You think about playing basketball in the Garden is like the pinnacle of the sport.”
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* - The Knicks are practicing later this morning. Danilo Gallinari is expected to undergo an MRI to get a better idea of the condition of his left knee after it gave out in the fourth quarter when Brandon Rush fell into him. At this point it's being diagnosed as a Grade 1 sprain, but nothing has been determined regarding his ability for Tuesday's game against Jefferson and the Spurs.