To many, who had become accustomed to the Knicks being have-nots unable to make the playoffs for seven straight seasons (1960-1966), their “instant success” seemed almost unreal.
It was that zest that separated Riordan from most players and made him the darling of Capital Centre fans.
It is a debate which seldom stops in basketball—the freelance vs. the team game. There often is beauty and artistry in both aspects. And both offer basketball in its purest form.
Madison Square Garden is probably the only basketball arena in the country where, when the home team falls behind in the fourth quarter, a chant begins in the lower tiers and swells until it sweeps the arena: “Dee-fense! (clap, clap), Dee-fense! (clap, clap) Dee-fense! (clap, clap).”
Red Holzman criticized Willis Reed unmercifully in the early days. The team captain was generally the target when Holzman screamed: “Don’t turn your head . . . get back . . . pick up your man.” The Knick coach knew Willis had the temperament to handle the abuse while the other players learned the biggest and the smallest [players] would get the same treatment.
The collaborative magic that the world champion basketball team, the New York Knicks, showed over the course of last season suggested an uncommon togetherness among men. As in any business, though, the affinity that existed was more professional than personal.
Call them the Bench That Never Is, since they play far too much and far too well to be termed reserves. They are the All-Americas and the All-Nobodies who have become the catalysts behind the chemical detonation known as the New York Knicks.