Zion said, apart from New Orleans, Madison Square Garden is his favorite place to play. That was enough for a lot of people to start the stopwatch on the speculation about his future. It’s not just a star from a small market team saying he likes to play in a big market. It’s New York City – the great white whale of the NBA. Matt Barnes didn’t say the Knicks are the favorites to eventually get Zion, but he did give an opinion that will annoy Pelicans fans.
So many players and coaches have dived into the James Dolan pool, knowing they are making a high-risk/high-reward play. The closest thing to being a god on Earth is to win a title with the Knicks. A storied franchise with the most famous arena in the world, playing in front of some of the most passionate fans ever, hasn’t won a title since 1973. “The Exorcist” won the box office that year, and Carly Simon was no.1 with “You’re so vain.” It’s been a long time. Still, Robert Horry doesn’t think New York and Madison Square Garden are what they once were.
“I guarantee you Madison Square Garden was a place he wanted to play in. Now he’s accomplished that, but when he goes to Staples…’Wow, they’ve got a nice arena’ Then he’s gonna go over to other arenas. Madison Square Garden ain’t all that it’s cracked up to be. It had a rain delay, my guy. A rain delay!! This is not the Mecca of basketball anymore.”Robert Horry, The Jump
If you didn’t know, the Knicks’ game against the Raptors was delayed for several minutes in the third quarter after water was dripping from the ceiling at Madison Square Garden. A team spokesman said there was a “small drip from the rain” coming from the ceiling, but it was “fixed.” If there was one thing even the harshest Dolan critics had to admit, it was that he isn’t a cheap owner. From 2011 to 2013, MSG was renovated, and the costs are estimated at around $1.2 billion. Kinda early to have a leaking roof.
But NYC wasn’t named the Mecca of basketball because of their building. The players that came from New York and the fans who love and understand basketball made it a legendary place to play. Robert Horry has a new candidate for that term.
“I’m from Alabama, but California to me is the Mecca of basketball now. There’ so many great guys that come out of California that don’t get the recognition that they should. New York is still great, don’t get me wrong. But it’s not the Mecca anymore.”
When it comes to Zion, Horry said he hopes Williamson takes a page out of Giannis’ book and stays with New Orleans his entire career. Dirk Nowitzki showed everyone that winning just one title with the team you spent your entire career with is something special – often more special than winning a few somewhere else. Just ask Kevin Durant.