The Knicks, apparently, have finally gotten around to organizing a celebration of the most famous team in franchise history Friday, designating the March 21 game with the Warriors as the official commemoration for the 1969-70 team that won the Knicks’ first championship.
A source told The Post’s Marc Berman that it took so long to schedule because the Knicks wanted to find a date that was most agreeable for most of the surviving members of that team (even though as recently as a month ago, two members of that team expressed surprise to Berman they had heard nothing at all from the organization about a planned ceremony).
These gatherings are only partially for the teams themselves, of course. It’s the fans who bathe in most of the reflective glory. Two years ago, Jets fans were treated to what almost surely will be the final official reunion of the 1968 AFL champs (who went on to win Super Bowl III in January 1969) on Oct. 14, when the Jets were playing (no coincidence) the Colts — the same team they had beaten for the championship at the Orange Bowl almost 50 years earlier.
The fans filled MetLife Stadium that day, the Jets beat the Colts (a beam of light in an otherwise desultory season), and the place roared when Joe Namath stood before a microphone and declared, “Fifty years is enough time! Fifty-one, 52? They should be getting it done in the next few years.”
The Mets get a lot wrong when it comes to honoring their history, but they will never — as in ever — pass up a chance to throw an anniversary celebration for any of their signature teams: 1969, 1973, 1986, 2000. Part of that is the fact the players themselves enjoy each other — and their memories — so much. A number of ’69 Mets spent much of last season on a virtual rock-star tour — notably Ron Swoboda, Art Shamsky, Ed Kranepool and Cleon Jones.
But the Mets also held a gala weekend last June to offer a public salute to the ’69 Miracle Boys, taking care to invite the family of trainer Gus Mauch (which counterbalanced their exclusion of members of that team who were presumed dead). It was Kranepool who delivered the valedictory that time, addressing the struggling members of the 2019 team.
“They can do it, like we did — you got to believe in yourself,” Kranepool said from a microphone near the pitcher’s mound. “Good luck. You have half a season. I wish you the best so that we can celebrate in October.”
The ’19 Mets couldn’t replicate their ’69 forebears, but after that night they did go 49-29, proof that the ’69 team always does seem to have pixie dust to spare.
Mostly, until now, the reunion of the 1969-70 Knicks has been the obsession of small groups of loyal fans — notably the Twitter handle @196970NYK, which is a thorough day-by-day accounting of that season (and is well worth your time, and a follow).
Now, look, we can look at this cynically and think any of a number of things: Despite their record, the Knicks have no trouble selling most tickets on most nights, so there was no need to get the one-night push these reunions inevitably attract. That ’70 team has been feted more than just about any team in New York history, both on anniversaries and whenever a number has gone to the rafters (all five members of the starting five have had their digits retired, in addition to Red Holzman, who has a banner honoring his 613 coaching victories). And, of course, there is the fact the Knicks, generally, are as tone-deaf an operation as we’ve ever seen in New York sports.
Or we can believe the company line: It took a while to get the right date.
Either way, in a citywide golden celebration that’s lasted well over a year-and-a-half, we will get one final night to remember our sporting city as it once was in all its glory, as it reigned from the fall of 1968 through the spring of 1970. It has been a fun stretch, and brought back a ton of fun memories, and March 21 will be a fitting culmination.
And now it is back to obsessing about someday collecting new ones. Someday.
Two books you need to get your hands on, one immediately and one as soon as possible: the 40th anniversary edition of Wayne Coffey’s classic “The Boys of Winter” and our good pal Jay Horwitz’s soon-to-be-classic memoir of his 40 years with the Mets titled (of course!) “Mr. Met” (with a foreword written by Jacob deGrom).
Not to be a broken record about this or anything, but there were five games played in the MAAC Friday night decided by one, one, two, three and four points … and that four-pointer was an overtime win by Monmouth over Marist.
It’s rare that a movie can surprise you in this day and age, but I was surprised in every good way possible by how much I enjoyed “Standing Up Falling Down.”
Just thinking about Astros owner Jim Crane makes me immediately think of the immortal words of Gordon Gekko: “A fool and his money are lucky enough to get together in the first place.”
Whack Back at Vac
Bill Guterding: Glad to know I’m in good hands with Carrie Mathison and Saul Berenson (from “Homeland”) and these amazing, surging New York Rangers.
Vac: I’m not sure which upswing is more surprising, truth be told.
Alex Burton: The Pacers’ Jeremy Lamb just fell flat on the floor as he backpeddled while guarding RJ Barrett in the last 30 seconds of the Knicks game. So the Lamb lies down on Broadway. Thank you. Try the veal.
Vac: Who says the Knicks have become unwatchable?
@Ucfdk: It’s hard to describe the USA-USSR Olympic hockey game and that team to people. Was telling my teenage daughters about it and I got choked up. It was so much more than a hockey game.
@MikeVacc: I once had the chance to tell Al Michaels, “I’ve watched the last minute of the game 700 times and keep wondering if I’ll ever not get chills.” It was pretty clear he’d heard that one time or two before.
Frank Giordano: The NFL has the best playoff format in all of sports. Why would they mess with that?
Vac: I have less problem with an extra playoff team or two (they’ll be a few 8-8 teams who sneak in, but there’s almost never a wild-card that’ll get in at 7-9) as I do a 17th game, which would absolutely destroy what, right now, is the only sport with a note-perfect scheduling format.