Shortly after waking up this morning I took my daily look at the NBA standings, and although I was expecting it, it still astounded me. The New York Knickerbockers were 2-2 and in third place in the Atlantic. Ahead of the Philadelphia Brand Bandits and the We-want-to-be-the-Brooklyn Nets, the team that had been embarassing the Knicks for the last half decade by playing the type of fun, up-tempo style that would have made them Kings of New York and turned Jason Kidd into The Man among men, as he was the point guard New York has been looking for since Mark Jackson (but really since Walt Clyde, Kenny Anderson and Stephon Marbury be damned).
Now granted, being in third place on November 6th is not saying much. It just means that the Knicks have 78 games and five and a half months to slink their way down to the gutter. But the Knicks of November 2008 aren't the Knicks of April 2008, on and off the court. You could see it last night in their win over the Bobcats. The entire last four minutes I was waiting for the other shoe to drop, I was still stuck on last year's mindset where NY would find a way to lose that game. And it almost came after Wilson Chandler decided to step off and give Gerald Wallace his second straight corner three and then Zach Randolph went all Brett Favre on us, throwing the interception to DJ Augustine. But Augustine fell out of bounds, right in front of Spike Lee, and the Knicks retained possession. I doubt that would have happened last year. Last year he would have turned that play into Reggie Miller, circa 1995. And then the Knicks hit their free throws and actually won the game! A game that they would have made sure was a loss last year actually stayed a win.
And sure Mike D'Antoni made his errors last night, like not putting Jamal Crawford into the game late when Felton and Augustine were both on the court, but he brought a new belief to the team and the fan base. And already that's saying something.