The Knicks Are Finally Good Again. And New York City Loves Them for It.

They poured out of Madison Square Garden and the surrounding bars, draped in Jalen Brunson jerseys and other Knicks paraphernalia, chanting and yelling and exulting as they clogged Seventh Avenue and brought traffic to a halt.

The Knicks had just defeated the Indiana Pacers in the first game of the Eastern Conference semifinals Monday, but some fans celebrated as if they had just won a championship. When that hasn’t happened in 50 years, it helps explains the elation.

A few days earlier, there was a similar flash mob of crazed young Knicks fans thronging the front of the Garden after the Knicks eliminated the 76ers in the first round of the playoffs. And that game was in Philadelphia.

No New York sports team can captivate the city quite like the Knicks. And for the first time in a decade, they are a very good basketball team, and the city is taking notice. Within moments of the victory over the Pacers, the Empire State Building glowed blue and orange, beaming Knicks pride out to Gotham like a bat signal.

The Knicks have been somewhat decent for a few years, but this version is different. This group is led by Jalen Brunson, a humble, 27-year-old, team-first overachiever who, along with the rest of the Knicks, has transfixed the city in a way reminiscent of Patrick Ewing’s 1990s teams.

Tonight, they have a chance to extend their lead in Game 2 against the Pacers and add another dash of belief to the once-crazy notion that this group could one day win the team’s first championship since 1973.

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