Oh, how the mighty have fallen.
These two franchises played for the championship in three out of four years in the early seventies with the New Yorkers taking two of the three meetings garnering the Knicks their only two titles in franchise history.
For the time being, not so much.
What was once the household names of Jerry West vs. Walt Frazier and Wilt Chamberlain vs. Willis Reed has digressed to the not so household names of Jeremy Lin vs. Tim Hardaway Jr. and Jordan Hill vs. Andrea Bargnani.
Factor in both teams’ leading scorers and perennial all-stars Kobe Bryant and Carmelo Anthony are out with season-ending injuries, Thursday’s game figures to have more of a Summer League match-up rather than a clash of two of the league’s storied franchises.
A little nostalgia from the benches is more what people are looking forward to when the lottery-bound teams meet Thursday at Staples Center in Los Angeles.
Knicks rookie head coach Derek Fisher returns to face a Lakers team he helped win five titles as a player. Assisting Fisher is Kurt Rambis who teamed up with Lakers coach Byron Scott during the Showtime Era helping the Lakers wn three of their five titles in the 80s.
And of course there is Knicks first year president and ex-Lakers head coach Phil Jackson who still happens to be Lakers co-owner Jeanie Buss’ man. Jackson guided the Lakers to five titles in this new millennium.
So much more drama seems to be off the court than on it for both teams which makes this match-up so intriguing.
The Knicks – losers of five straight – have the worst record in the league while the Lakers – who snapped a five game losing streak of their own beating Detroit Tuesday at Staples Center – own the leagues fourth worst record.
Although this east coast-west coast rivalry isn’t what it used to be, it can return to what it once was with both teams getting healthy through the draft and free agency. Something both teams are banking on.
To hear from Derek Fisher and Byron Scott, click on the video with this story.