You hear that sound coming from West 33rd and 8th Ave? No, it's not the trains running through Penn Station. This locomotive, better known as the Knicks Hype Train, is chugglng along through Madison Square Garden after last night's 126-107 rout of the Hawks.
And I know what you're thinking: The Hawks are probably the worst team in the league this season. Yeah, you're probably right. But who cares! The Knicks are rebuilding, have brand new faces to go along with a brand new coaching staff, and they put on a clinic.
For a home opener with tons of questions swirling around the Knicks and what to expect this season, fans got their money's worth. And one fan literally got his money's worth, drilling a half-court shot to win $10,000.
Because this was one of the most memorable openers in recent memory, the Hype Train is about to leave the station, and we're stopping at each key reason why New York Knicks basketball is back...at least until real teams make their way to The Garden.
David Fizdale may be the best -- and swaggiest -- coach in the NBA
Fizdale may have the biggest spotlight on him this season. Good thing he seems to like it.
Just watching the pre-game show on TV last night, and seeing Fizdale kneel down at half court in an empty MSG while looking around the arena sent goosebumps up my arm. Why you might ask? Because I'm confident this man can finally lead the Knicks back to the promise land.
On his way to his first win, Fizdale, with those signatures glasses perfectly propped up on his face, was animated. He was vocal. He was engaged from tip-off to the final buzzer. Knicks fans had to love seeing that instead of the typical Jeff Hornacek scene on the bench, staring up at the scoreboard in bewilderment.
I mean, just watch how pumped Fizdale gets when Kevin Knox drew his first and-one of his young career (we'll get to him in a minute).
The Knicks:- SportsNet New York (@SNYtv) October 18, 2018
- Have 72 at the half
- Had a franchise-record 49 pts in the second quarter
- Are back
- Will be tied for the best record in the NBA after tonight
- Roster Hall-of-Fame center Enes Kanter pic.twitter.com/4Mo1Dlhivy
The best part about this is the fact that you can expect this from Fizdale every night. The man drips in swag and confidence, and that's something the Knicks desperatly needed.
Tim Hardaway Jr. isn't playing around this season
Maybe it was an extra boost that Hardaway was playing the team that sent him to the G-League in favor of Kent Bazemore (how'd that work out for you, Atlanta?). But this man wasn't playing around, taking charge from the get-go, and pouring home a team-high 31 points while shimmying all over the court.
Timmy Jr. with 22 at the half 🚨🚨🚨 pic.twitter.com/gz7P2HxzV7- SportsNet New York (@SNYtv) October 18, 2018
Hardaway is viewed as a veteran leader for this squad, and a 10-for-22 night from the field with six boards, five assists, and two steals is how you lead your team. He certainly made his dad and the rest of Knicks fans proud last night.
Lead the way, Timmy!
Allonzo Trier: How the hell did you go undrafted?
It's one regular-season game, but Knicks fans, I know you've been thinking this since the preseason: We got a steal in Allonzo Trier.
This young guard from Arizona had everything to prove this summer, and he did exactly what he needed to do to make Fizdale's roster. Trier was obviously going to come off the bench to start the season, but we all knew he would try his hardeest to make an immediate impact in his new role.
But I don't think anyone knew he was going to dunk the Hawks back down to Georgia...
I've watched this more times than I can count, and it gets better and better. That's how you cap off a 15-point night to lead all Knicks rookies in scoring. Make some room for Trier next to Knox and Robinson. He earned it last night.
Forget the stats: Kevin Knox' potential is sky-high
It wasn't the best of debuts for Knox, but there was still so much to love from the 19-year-old from Kentucky. Let that sink in for a second: This kid is 19 years old and played at Madison Square Garden for his first ever NBA game. It's going to take some time.
But Knox was inches from making a statement with his first NBA points. He drove baseline and elevated on Alex Len at the rim, but was fouled in the process. He may not have finished the posterization, but the fact that he went after it in the first place shows the no-nonsense demeanor he carries on his shoulders.
"I'll take that..." ✋ pic.twitter.com/9IwDGEdjvN- NEW YORK KNICKS (@nyknicks) October 18, 2018
The shots will soon fall for the rookie, but the Knicks need players with that mindset of "Here I come -- stop me." Knox showed that last night.
Frankie is a workhorse --- and may have found his jumper
Frank Ntilikina grew muscle, and supposedly got taller this offseason. Fizdale put that to the test last night, playing Ntilikina a team-high 33 minutes.
And though the stat sheet won't necessarily show it, he certainly earned every second of playing time. He was a menace on defense with three steals and a block.
Oh, and to insure a better sophomore campaign this season, it looks like Frank has been working on that jumper.
The Turkish Double-Double Machine
On any given night this season, just look at Enes Kanter's rebounds and points. I'd bet you my house it would read a double-double.
Another veteran leader on this squad, Kanter fills up the stat sheet by doing his job. He had 16 points and 11 boards while shooting 5-for-9 from the field.
And just as important as his production is the energy he brings to the court and his teammates every night. In fact, I'm naming him the honorary conductor of the Knicks Hype Train, and this is why....
I Love My Team 😂 pic.twitter.com/QzAXDXASU9- Enes Kanter (@Enes_Kanter) October 18, 2018
And on the last stop before the Hype Train travels across boroughs to face the Nets on Friday, we'll leave just leave you with this...