New York Knicks' Amare Stoudmire drives past Cleveland Cavaliers' J.J.Hickson during the first half of NBA basketball game, Sunday, April 3, 2011, at Madison Square Garden in New York.
The Knicks have played 568 games since their last playoff game. Now, they only have six more games to go before they hit the big time again.
Sunday night's 123-107 win over the Cavaliers, coupled with the Bobcats loss to Washington, meant that the six-year playoff drought has finally come to an end. The Knicks have clinched a spot in the postseason tournament.
There must have been something in the air at Madison Square Garden. The Knicks finally put their long losing streak to the Cavs to bed after 11 games and moved back to .500, after a disastrous string of play dropped them below that number in March.
They certainly didn't make it easy. They led by as many 21 points in the first half, saw that lead drop all the way to two points and then finally found the right gear in the fourth quarter to put the Cavs away once and for all.
We could concentrate on all the things that went wrong, with special attention paid to the miserable defense and rebounding on display at the Garden. We've done that enough this season, though.
Let's instead tip our caps to the end of one of the most horrifying runs of basketball that this or any city has ever seen. Playoff basketball in New York used to be a birthright that came as routinely as the A train on a Monday morning.
Its absence has been painful, especially since the Knicks employed so many awful people -- both players and coaches -- in the years since they were a perennial playoff participant. There's been a recurrence of some of those old feelings in the weeks since James Dolan hijacked the team to make the Carmelo Anthony trade, but there's no doubt that life has returned to Knicks games after all those years of misery.
That's a good thing, even if it comes with enough caveats to make you think twice about actually being excited for the playoff series to come. For now, though, it doesn't matter.
What matters is that the Knicks have made the first step back to where they need to be. So, smile, hope that the Knicks decide to rest Amar'e Stoudemire a lot over the rest of the season, and let's put the past to bed once and for all.
The Knicks are a playoff team, which is the least they should be for several years to come.