For over half a century, Stephen A. Smith has unwaveringly cheered for the New York Knicks. At the tender age of six, Smith witnessed the Knicks clinch their last NBA championship. This immense passion and loyalty makes him one of the Knicks' most die-hard fans, rivaling the ardor of even the show's other hosts on First Take.
However, the Knicks' golden days seem like a distant memory for fans like Smith. From the start of the 21st century up to the 2022-23 season, they have only seen the playoffs seven times. Of those appearances, just two resulted in advancing to the Eastern Conference semifinals.
Recently, on his podcast, when posed with a hypothetical scenario of the Knicks securing another NBA title, Smith humorously commented, “I’d shave my head bald. I've clung to that George Jefferson look for far too long.
If they won a title? It might be time to part ways”. Delving into the Knicks' storied past, they were crowned NBA champions in 1970 and 1973. The 1980s marked a highlight era for them, thanks to Patrick Ewing. During his illustrious 15-year career in New York, the team saw playoff action 13 times.
Yet, the indomitable Chicago Bulls, led by Michael Jordan, became the Knicks' nemesis, eliminating them five times between 1989 to 1996. Ewing's Knicks managed to get to the NBA Finals in 1994, but they met their match in Hakeem Olajuwon's Houston Rockets.
Knicks' 1999 Heartbreak
One of Smith's cherished memories is of the underdog Knicks of 1999, who managed to reach the NBA Finals. Despite Ewing's absence due to injury, they faced off against the San Antonio Spurs but fell short, bested by the iconic duo of David Robinson and Tim Duncan.
This marked the beginning of over two decades of disappointment. As for the upcoming 2023-24 NBA season, Smith is already looking elsewhere. He boldly proclaimed, “The Boston Celtics are the team to beat in the Eastern Conference, and possibly the NBA as a whole." Despite strong contenders like Damian Lillard's Blazers, the defending champions Denver Nuggets, and LeBron's Lakers, Smith's eyes are fixed on Boston.
Only the Phoenix Suns, with powerhouses like Kevin Durant, Devin Booker, and Bradley Beal, could pose a genuine threat in his eyes. One can't help but wonder: Will Stephen A. Smith ever have to retire his signature George Jefferson hairstyle? Given the Knicks' recent track record, he might be waiting a while – potentially, indefinitely.