Why New York City Needs the Knicks Now More Than Ever

by Rachel Baker on April 21, 2014

The new documentary, ‘When the Garden Was Eden,’ focuses on the 70s NY Knicks and how the team and Madison Square Gardens was a refuge for a crime-riddled city. The documentary is premiering at the Tibeca Film Festival.

Read on to find out how this idea of the Knicks of that era being as close to Eden as possible fits into what Knicks fans might be feeling with the onset of a new season with Phil Jackson at the helm.

Miraculously, mere moments before tipoff, Reed emerged from the center tunnel and Madison Square Garden erupted, while Chamberlain, Jerry West, Elgin Baylor and the rest of the Lakers were left gaping in awe. “I saw the whole Laker team standing around staring at this man,” said Knicks point guard Walt “Clyde” Frazier. “When I saw that, when they stopped warming up, something told me we might have these guys!” In the game’s opening minutes, the Captain swished two long jumpers, and after a Herculean effort from Frazier, New York rolled to its first NBA championship.

Reed’s heroics and all the legendary exploits of the 70’s Knicks are lionized in Michael Rapaport’s documentary, When the Garden was Eden, based on Harvey Araton’s book of the same name. The film, a part of ESPN’s “30 for 30” series, had its premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival on Thursday night and features interviews with Reed, Frazier, Senator Bill Bradley, current Knicks president Phil Jackson, Earl “The Pearl” Monroe, and many other Knicks stars of the era.

The movie details not just an atypically great stretch in Knicks history, but expounds upon the reasons why they remain the object of worship. It’s not just because they garnered the only two championship banners that hang in the rafters, but because their style of play—five pieces selflessly forming a screen-happy, passing, swarming machine that was greater than the sum of its parts—seemed to invoke the best of New York City, especially in contrast to the political and social upheavals that marked that era.

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