The 2012 New York Knicks are doing something so far this season that they haven't managed in years: giving their fans hope.
They are the proud holders of a 4-0 record, making them the only undefeated team in the NBA, and the only Knicks squad to win their first four games since the 1993-94 season.
They already have beaten the past two season's champions, beginning with a trouncing of the Miami Heat on opening day of the 2012-13 NBA season, and following it up by steamrolling past the Dallas Mavericks on Friday.
Their defense is the most efficient in the game right now, leading the league by allowing opponents to score just 87.4 per game. And they are scoring, too, posting 104.5 points per game, trailing only the Mavs.
Their turnover percentage this season, the squad's first since its addition of future Hall of Fame point guard Jason Kidd this off-season, is the lowest in the league at 12.1 percent. Last year the Knicks were the fourth-worst in the NBA in turnovers, coming in at a dismal 16.6 percent.
And they're doing it all without one of their best scorers and biggest stars, one Amare Stoudemire.
Things are looking sweet in Madison Square Garden. Head Coach Mike Woodson is coming into his own, bringing a scoring powerhouse together as a team and getting them to play solid defense, something former coach Mike D'Antoni, who was fired midway through last season, could never seem to do.
Carmelo Anthony is on fire, leading the team with an impressive 27.3 points per game. And J.R. Smith, Raymond Felton, Tyson Chandler and others are all playing their parts well, combining to create a team to be reckoned with. Once Stoudemire and injured youngster Iman Shumpert return, Woodson will have even more depth and talent at his disposal.
But the $10 million question still remains: Can they go all the way? Or even come close to it?
Knicks haters say the answer is a resounding “no.” First, though they beat the Heat, that win came during a time when it seemed their hearts weren't in it, and when Dwyane Wade and company thought the game was going to be canceled in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.
Second, when they beat the Mavericks, the Mavs were without their biggest weapon, Dirk Nowitzki.
So the Knicks are untested, critics argue, and beyond that, they're riding on a ridiculous shooting streak, which many feel they won't be able to keep up all year.
It remains to be seen if the Knicks will be able to turn their explosive start into a championship-caliber season, or even just a deep playoffs run.
But for now, Spike Lee and all the other Knicks fans are content just seeing their team win.