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Taj Gibson says New York ‘will always be a Knicks town’

Taj Gibson, Knicks

After the New York Knicks watched as marquee free agents (and top Knicks targets) Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant joined the crosstown rival Brooklyn Nets, the gravitas of basketball in New York had shifted significantly.

The Nets figure to contend in the Eastern Conference while the Knicks would be lucky just to reach the playoffs as an eighth seed, but Knicks newcomer Taj Gibson still thinks The Big Apple will always bleed orange and blue.

Gibson — who was born and raised in Brooklyn before moving to California — told Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News that it is impossible to supplant the Knicks and Madison Square Garden as the “Mecca” of basketball:

“It’s always going to be a Knicks town. That’s all we grew up on,” Gibson told the Daily News. “What the Nets are doing is great, don’t get me wrong. That’s amazing. But I grew up a Knicks fan. I grew up watching John Starks. Times have changed. But New York is always — you see behind you, they have Knicks hats on.”

The veteran forward signed a two-year, $20 million deal this summer, and he will look to bring his experience to a young roster looking to take multiple steps forward during the 2019-20 season.

Taj Gibson has been one of the more dependable frontcourt players in the league during this decade. He averaged 16.1 points and 9.8 rebounds per 36 minutes last season with the Minnesota Timberwolves, and his ability to face up and knock down midrange jumpers is as invaluable as his defensive length and versatility.