Enthusiasm for Return of These Knicks and Nets Fades Fast

Tepidly, I would say, judging from a quick swath of television interviews over the weekend. Even men in the playground, shooting hoops, professed ambiguity over the return of the rich guys.

Then again, maybe it was the warm weather in the Northeast. People were outdoors, feeling good, not thinking ahead to being cooped up inside and needing diversions on the tube when winter finally arrives.

Or maybe it is hard to be worked up over yet another sport when there is such a creepy pall spreading from and . The depravity oozing out from those two Northeastern hotbeds — you should pardon the expression — is not going away any time soon.

Meantime, we have our diversions, as the N.B.A. prepares to certify a shortened season starting on Christmas Day and lasting into June.

That leaves plenty of time for all right-thinking fans to unite in true continental sporting teamwork, anticipating LeBron James’s tossing up bricks in the final month of spring.

Every franchise in the N.B.A. will have its own reaction to the end of the lockout. In the New York region, we have two teams, but so much else going on that it’s hard to get worked up over a revival of pro basketball.

My first flittering reaction was what scientists might call a false positive. I couldn’t remember why, but I found myself harboring a vague fondness for the . I had an impression of alert young players moving the ball, setting up Amar’e Stoudemire, playing the heady basketball we claim we like in New York.

But then I remembered I was wasting nostalgia on a last Feb. 21. That team does not exist anymore, since the big trade of four rotation players, Raymond Felton, Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler and Timofey Mozgov; a first-round pick in 2014; and second-round picks in 2012 and 2013 to Denver, in return for and Chauncey Billups.

The Knicks had a 28-26 record when, as far as I can reason, the Madison Square Garden chairman, James L. Dolan, engineered the trade, ignoring the builder instincts of his president, , who has since been .

Now it all comes back to me. Billups, a wise old head, was in charge of getting the ball to Anthony, who could not waste his time playing defense because he needed to shoot every time down the court. Stoudemire’s body pretty much wore down by springtime. The Knicks had a after the trade, then lost four straight to the Boston Celtics in the first round of the playoffs.

We are told that cannot be judged until next season, when the team might afford the and sign a younger star point guard. So much for this season, now looming over us. My euphoria faded fast.

I had a vague recollection that I also liked , the other team in the New York metropolitan region. But the more I thought about it, my momentary reaction was based upon their brief era of glory, when they two years in a row in the springs of 2002 and 2003. They were really fun to watch, with Jason Kidd making everybody better, but that team has not existed for many years.

My flicker of enthusiasm for the Nets included their move from that dismal spot in the swamps into that struggling, but recognizable, urban center, Newark. Next year they will move into a much more vibrant place — the land grab near downtown Brooklyn being a separate issue. Just the mention of Brooklyn evokes the scent of restaurants and walks in cool neighborhoods.

Then reality struck. Quick, I said to myself, . There’s the guy whose was shorter than the lockout itself. Hey, Kris, what did you do during the off-season? That guy. And didn’t they make a trade for Deron Williams, who has been keeping his shooting arm warm by playing in Turkey? And Brook Lopez. I envisioned him, too.

But just like the Knicks, the Nets seem to be a year away from anything.

Do we really need the N.B.A. to come back this soon? The N.F.L. will dominate the tube until the end of January. If we can get Penn State and Syracuse out of our nostrils — no sure thing — then we have college football into January and college basketball for four more months. The best soccer in the world has become a multiple-network reality in this region. We still have three hockey teams in our area. And call it habit, but on these long, dark evenings, I feel the urge to hit the clicker just to get the Yankees and Mets scores. Won’t be long now.

The N.B.A. players and owners may have demonstrated their irrelevancy. In the first days since the tentative labor agreement, vox populi seems to be reacting to the 66-game schedule by asking: That long, huh?

E-mail: geovec@nytimes.com

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