Hicks vs. Knicks: A rivalry renewed
For those who aren't familiar with the history - particularly during the 90s - between these two teams, I would highly recommend a look at one of ESPN's 30 for 30 documentaries, Winning Time: Reggie Miller vs. The New York Knicks. This is a great documentary that highlights the rivalry between these two great teams, the Knicks with Ewing, Starks, Oakley, Jackson, and the Pacers with Miller, Smits, the Davis', and Jackson (yes, Mark Jackson played for both teams at different points).
But this rivalry was about more than just the players on the court. It was tough, physical 90s playoff basketball. You had the Spike Lee vs. Reggie Miller sparring both on the court in the media. And you really had a battle between the two cities and the different cultures surrounding each.
The Hicks: Although Indianapolis is a pretty good-sized city, it certainly isn't viewed by outsiders as a city. It's viewed as being home to a bunch of white farm hicks with mullets in the middle of cornfield country. It's not regarded as a place with a vibrant culture, diversity, arts, or basically any of the "big city" feel that often comes to mind. (Side note: As an Indiana native, I know that these stereotypes aren't true and Indiana(polis) is actually a pretty nice place to be, but I also know that there is some truth behind some of them.)
The Knicks: The anti-Indiana. The "city that never sleeps", allegedly bursting with culture and the arts, diversity, one of the biggest citites in the world. Bright lights and big stars abound in this media capitol. Everything that New Yorkers like to think Indiana is, they take pride in seeing themselves as the exact opposite.
Now, over a decade later, the emotions have probably died down a bit. The players on these teams weren't around during these intense battles. But I don't think the fans have forgotten, and I don't think it will take long for them to get fully entrenched in this series. And I don't think it will take long for these players to get after each other on the court. After all, this is playoff basketball. And we're now into the second round. Things are getting serious, and I fully expect this series to live up to a two-seed versus three-seed match-up.
The series starts Sunday afternoon at 3:30pm on ABC. I cannot wait to get this series underway. New York will rely heavily on two stars in Carmelo Anthony and JR Smith, while Indiana has a much more balanced attack with several players who are capable of leading the team on any given night, though Paul George is certainly a rising star. Two styles of play: star-driven basketball versus small-town team ball.
A clash of cultures. The rivalry between teams and cities will be revived. Oh, and I've got the Hicks in six.