All they had to do was win one game on the road, and they would have been champions. All John Starks had to do was shoot a 3 over Hakeem Olajuwon at the end of Game 6 of the 1994 NBA Finals at the Summit, and they might have been champions. All Pat Riley had to do was sit Starks once he started clanging everything in Game 7, and they might have been champions.

These Knicks need to be Road Warriors now, tonight, in a Game 4 they are already telling themselves is a Game 7, because it is never too early to adopt a Game 7 mentality, especially when you are staring at the possibility of returning to the Garden 48 minutes from extinction. Because you only get so many chances to define who you are and what you believe you can be, and they can vanish as quickly as Linsanity if you fail your gut check, if you lose the game you must win after surrendering homecourt advantage.

J.R. Smith and Kenyon Martin were in sick bay quarantine at their hotel yesterday, Iman Shumpert has a sore knee and Tyson Chandler has come down with the Hibbert flu. But it is time for the Knicks to show up as a team again anyway. A team that can score the ball and move the ball and make sure Carmelo Anthony sees it in the fourth quarter and shoot the 3. A team that can push the pace and assert its manhood around the boards. A team that can follow the defensive gameplan and play to win.

Because since becoming the first Knicks team to win a playoff series in 13 years, they have been both the Sicks and the Bickerbockers, struggling to find the selflessness and individual sacrifice that is imperative against a bigger, younger and so far hungrier team that plays the right way.

Will the Real Knicks Please Stand Up? They vow they will.