A new documentary premiering at the Tribeca Film Festival gives disappointed Knick fans a chance to reminisce about the good old days. NY1's Priya Desai filed the following report.
Phil Jackson. Walt "Clyde" Frazier. Bill Bradley. Willis Reed. Earl "The Pearl" Monroe. They were Knicks luminaries at a time when Madison Square Garden was home to champions.
"When the Garden Was Eden" showcases the Knicks' championship era. It was directed by native New Yorker and ardent Knicks fan Michael Rappaport.
"At the time, the NBA was a small, small mom and pop league. It wasn't what it is now," Rappaport said. "And when that team won the championship, it infused the league, and those guys became stars, the first stars of the NBA."
The documentary is based on Harvey Araton's best-selling book of the same name. It features one-on-one interviews with some of the people connected to the Knicks' glory days.
"It brought me back to reality, how I started out, my tenacious work ethic, being in the right place at the right time and having very good teammates," Frazier said.
From the late '60s to the early '70s, the Knicks were more than just a basketball team to New York City.
"Martin Luther King was assassinated. I think we had the Vietnam War going on," said Cazzie Russell, a Knicks forward and guard from 1966-1971. "We had some civil situations going on, a lot of unrest, and for the team, the city to embrace us, it's almost as if we were their comfort zone."
Jackson initially offered Rappaport 30 minutes but ended up spending two-and-a-half hours waxing poetic on the team that gave him his first championship ring.
"Everybody loves Phil, and it was a privilege. It was a privilege," Rappaport said.
Jackson attended the screening but choosing to skip the red carpet. His presence created a buzz on the championship touch of the new Knicks president.
"I think he'll be just as successful here as he was with Chicago and L.A.," Frazier said.
"I think that if Phil can't do it, then we might think of shutting it down," Rappaport said.
If you miss it at the Tribeca festival, you can catch "When the Garden Was Eden" this fall on ESPN.