The Knicks and Rangers wound up turning in remarkably similar seasons.
Both teams revived lagging support for their teams by winning more than they had the year before and raised hopes about better days to come in the not too distant future. Each team embodied the best and worst parts of the philosophies espoused by their coaches and wound up in the playoffs at the end of the season.
Even the end of those playoff runs had much in common. As lower seeds against powerful opponents, the Knicks and Rangers had their flaws exposed for all the world to see as they were dispatched in swift and brutal fashion.
And that is where the story of our two Garden residents start to diverge. Both teams have gaping holes that couldn't be covered up by their strengths when faced with top competition.
For the Knicks, the supporting cast was the problem. Hard as they might have tried, players like Jared Jeffries, Bill Walker and Roger Mason simply don't belong on teams harboring hopes of doing anything other than winning the draft lottery.
Maybe there's a place for Shawne Williams's three-point touch or Anthony Carter's toughness on next year's team, but if the players who surround Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire aren't better, the team isn't going any further.
Getting those players will be difficult thanks to a lockout and the salary cap, which is all the more reason why Donnie Walsh needs to return next year.
The Rangers, on the other hand, have a supporting cast big enough to fill out a Robert Altman movie. Their set of hard-working, energetic players would have made the Knicks a dangerous team against the Celtics, but their lack of talent played right into the hands of the Capitals.
As enamored as the Garden faithful was with the team for stretches of the season, it takes a lot more than feistiness to win titles. Getting the NHL equivalent of 'Melo or Amar'e is essential to the Rangers as they try to build on their young core and get themselves into the mix for a run deep into the postseason.
Acquiring such a player will be as difficult for the Rangers as rounding out the roster will be for the Knicks. It's really a shame that they can't do some kind of a meld that smooths everything out and takes us back to the heady days of 1994.
We'll start working on such technology in the lab, but hopefully it won't be needed to make next May a busy one at the Garden.