new york knicks
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Knicks opened their 2021-22 season with a roller-coaster double-overtime win over the rival Boston Celtics.

The New York Knicks opened their season in an atypical fashion: a 138-134 double-OT win over the Boston Celtics. Spike Lee overdressed, everyone had one too many heart palpitations, and Madison Square Garden’s ground shook enough to awaken Vigo the Carpathian deep below New York City’s streets again.

But more importantly, we had a good old-fashioned NBA Opening Night at the World’s Most Famous Arena. The sold-out crowd had straight Beatlemania vibes, that’s how excited the New York fans were.

Make no mistake, ladies and gentlemen — the New York Knicks are no longer a punchline. They’re a team. An honest-to-goodness, legitimate, fun-to-watch NBA team, and Wednesday night’s game was a textbook example of why.

Let’s take a second look and get some key takeaways.

These New York Knicks are cocky

Let’s get one thing straight from the start. Even in victory, the Knicks didn’t respect the Boston Celtics nearly enough.

The defense at the end of the fourth quarter was straight atrocious. Moreover, the New York Knicks didn’t really start playing like the team we recognized from last year until towards the end of the first half. They trailed by a dozen midway through the second quarter before closing on a 16-8 run and trailing by four at the half.

But even so, these Knicks remembered how good they were last season and how important it is to build off that this season. Even when playing from behind, their energy and swagger never went completely flat.

This is a good team, and the guys know it.

Don’t mess with Randle

Julius Randle is slowly becoming the NBA’s Martin Querns. That only means one thing. You don’t. Mess. With Randle.

Anyway, now that we’ve gotten the PG version of that reference out of the way, let’s talk about life’s three certainties: death, taxes, and Julius Randle almost having a triple-double.

His season debut was no different as he scored 35 points with eight boards and nine assists, picking right up where he left off last year. Randle also only had three points and assists each in OT, so this wasn’t a padded night for him. The “MVP” chants were loud and real, and maybe take a look here for why.

Getting Evan with Boston

Given the system the New York Knicks played last year, one figured Fournier would fill the three-and-D void left by Reggie Bullock. This wouldn’t be entirely out of character, but strange given his experience being a reliable scorer in Orlando.

The Frenchman proved he was worth a four-year, $78 million contract with a stellar MSG debut. Fournier scored 32 points and sunk six threes, a trio of which were in the first overtime. He also added four steals and was a team-best +11 for the night.

The Celtics could have paid Fournier to complement Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum. Instead, he took his talents to the better basketball town.

Toppin it off

Obi Toppin’s growth as a rookie all last season was a sight to see. He went from awkward and clueless to alert, aware, and athletic in the second half and provided an effective scoring boost during limited bench minutes.

Toppin came off the bench again on Wednesday, but he wasn’t just a rotational piece. He played a career-high 28 minutes with 14 points and five rebounds, including one of his signature dunks.

Best of all, Toppin looked way more comfortable on the court than he did his entire rookie season. He was born to star at Madison Square Garden and is going to have a great year for the Knicks.

Buckle up

In a playoff-like atmosphere, the first New York Knicks game of the season was truly a sight to see. RJ Barrett overcame a slow start once again to have a stronger second half. Mitchell Robinson had a double-double with 17 rebounds in his return from a season devastated by injuries.

Kemba Walker, at long last, suited up for his hometown team, even if he only managed 10 points and three assists on 3-of-8 shooting.

This is only the beginning, folks. This was a great game for the Knicks, but nowhere near their best.

Now, let’s get ready for the Orlando Magic on Friday.

Josh Benjamin has been a staff writer at ESNY since 2018. He has had opinions about everything, especially the Yankees and Knicks. He co-hosts the “Bleacher Creatures” podcast and is always looking for new pieces of sports history to uncover, usually with a Yankee Tavern chicken parm sub in hand.