Madison Square Garden used to be the site of some of the NBA's best primetime matchups.
From Michael Jordan's Chicago Bulls against Patrick Ewing's New York Knicks in the 1990s to Dave Cowens, Jo Jo White, John Havlicek and the Boston Celtics against a Knicks' squad led by Walt Frazier, Willis Reed, Phil Jackson and Bill Bradley in the early 1970s, the Garden has hosted some big-time Sunday afternoon matchups.
New York fans, who have endured several years of mediocrity recently, were treated to a rare performance on Sunday afternoon when Carmelo Anthony and the Knicks took on Kawhi Leonard and the San Antonio Spurs.
Leonard and Anthony are two of the games biggest stars, but they couldn't be more different both on the court and off of it.
While Leonard is a defensive star who has added an impressive offensive game in recent years, Anthony is one of the best pure scorers the game has ever seen.
Off the court, Melo loves the New York City lifestyle and frequently makes headlines with both his play and his comments to the media. Leonard, on the other hand, lives a quiet life in the relative obscurity of San Antonio.
As far as their teams go, the Spurs and Knicks couldn't be more different, either. Under coach Gregg Popovich, San Antonio has won five NBA titles since 1999 while the Knicks haven't claimed an NBA championship since 1973 and have had 11 different head coaches since 1999.
But Sunday afternoon's game between the two squads wasn't about history - it was about Leonard and Anthony going head to head in a battle of elite forwards.
A quick glance at the box score would seem to show that Leonard got the best of Anthony - his 36 points led all scorers and dwarfed Melo's 25.
However, when the game was on the line, Melo rose to the occasion, turning in a clutch performance that used to be commonplace for him. Of his 25 points, he scored 21 in the second half and iced a 94-90 Knicks' victory by scoring seven of New York's final 11 points, including the shot below, which came off a beautiful pick-and-pop play with Derrick Rose:
With a performance like that, Anthony showed why he's still one of the game's best players. Try as he might, Leonard simply didn't have enough left in the tank to hold off a trademark Carmelo fourth-quarter performance.
Leonard has nothing to be embarrassed about, of course - his numbers speak for themselves and his Spurs are a championship-caliber team that currently sports a 41-13 record. Melo, meanwhile, could be on his way out of New York before the trade deadline.
Still, Melo proved that he remains an elite player and whatever team he ends up with in March and beyond is getting a winner. If Melo is shipped to a Western Conference team (the Clippers, maybe?) seeing a playoff matchup between him and Leonard would be exciting for basketball fans everywhere.News Now - Sport News