The NBA playoffs tip off this weekend and, once again, they do so without any involvement from the once proud franchise that calls Madison Square Garden home.
We've been over and over the importance of the offseason that will follow the crowning of a new champion, but there's no need to sit at home and play Rapunzel while waiting for a knight in shining armor to save basketball in New York on July 1st.
There are plenty of players and teams to root for and against over the next two months. Here's a little primer to get you started.
FOR: Cleveland - Two years of uncertainty, wishful thinking and speculation will come to an end soon enough and a Cavaliers title is only going to make it more interesting. We have no idea whether LeBron James is likelier to stay or leave if he gives Cleveland its first title in the color television era, but a win makes for a more interesting narrative: You've saved one franchise Bron-Bron, why not try saving another?
Regardless of his plans for next season, you can feel secure rooting for James as a basketball fan. He authored one of the more remarkable seasons in history this year and it would be quite fitting for him to seal it with his first title. But, really, we're just hoping his second one brings a parade up Broadway.
AGAINST: The Bobcats - Michael Jordan, Larry Brown and Larry Hughes each represent a miserable chapter or, in Jordan's case, chapters in the history of the Knicks. None of them deserve to be happy. It would be lovely, then, if their joint effort went down in a flaming heap after four games in the first round. That would likely lead to Brown's departure for Philly and the possible nosedive of an upstart franchise that already has the Knicks in their rearview mirror.
FOR: Marcus Camby - The former Knick found his way to Portland where he's been embraced as a ray of hope for a team that was decimated by injuries this season. He can still rebound and can still block shots and one could think of worse players to fill the middle for an improved Knicks team next season.
AGAINST: The Celtics - Because they're the Celtics and because the quicker they get knocked out of this year's tournament, the quicker we can stop being reminded that there are actually teams that know how to mortgage their futures for a taste of glory.
FOR: Kevin Durant - We'll never really swallow the fact that there are no Sonics so that the NBA could carve a niche in Oklahoma City, but at least Durant provides a reason to watch the Thunder and remember Jack Sikma, Shawn Kemp, and the good old days of the NBA.
AGAINST: The Jazz - They've already got the Knicks' lottery pick. Don't get greedy.