NEW YORK — Jeff Hornacek knows a thing or two about crazy home-court advantages.
Hornacek played at Iowa State, where Hilton Coliseum — aka Hilton Magic — boasts as frenetic an atmosphere as you will find in college basketball.
That didn’t stop the first-year Knicks‘ coach from being blown away by the passion of Knicks fans in The Garden.
“The crowd was great in preseason,’’’ Hornacek said. “You don’t see that a lot in preseason games when you have a pretty darn good crowd and they’re into it and they’re chanting, ‘Brandon Jennings!
“The fans are passionate here. We’re excited to get going.”
The Knicks got their season going big time Saturday night as they held off the Memphis Grizzlies, 111-104, in the World’s Most Famous Arena to even their even record at 1-1.
It was an electric atmosphere long before the tipoff.
Joakim Noah thanked the fans for their support and by the time Sons of Serendip finished the national anthem, the building was shaking.
It stayed that way.
When Derrick Rose, the mercurial point guard who left the Second City (Chicago) for the First City (New York), was introduced, it sounded like the subway was running through The Garden, not under it.
Kristaps Porzingis flushed a dunk for the first points of the 2016-17 season in The Garden. When Courtney Lee drained a baseline jumper, the Knicks were up 11-2, the Grizzlies were calling timeout and the fans had forgotten they had seats.
“There’s nothing like it,’’ said Carmelo Anthony. “Opening night, there’s no better feeling than running out there on that court. The opportunity that we have to create something here on home court for us, for our fans. We’re excited about that.”
Porzingis led all scorers with a game-high 21 points on 7-of-11 shooting from the field.
From Hornacek’s chair, it must have felt like deja vu.
Hilton Magic. Garden Magic.
“There’s no place like playing in The Garden,’’ said Lee, who has played for Orlando, New Jersey, Houston, Boston, Memphis and Charlotte, but was always dazzled by fans in the World’s Most Famous Arena.
“The craziest fans,’’ Lee said. “The atmosphere is crazy. Just the tradition behind it.’’
The tradition. Seventy years of Knicks tradition being celebrated this year.
Before the opening tip, Noah stood at midcourt and looked at the Knicks banners that hang from the rafters – 1969-70 World Champions; 1972-73 World Champions; Frazier, Reed, Holtzman…
“I’m hopeful,’’ said David Georgas of Tribeca, who attended his first opening night Knicks game ever with his sons Isa, 11, and Jibrail, 13, who recently celebrated birthdays. They asked their dad for this gift months ago.
“They made some big free agent moves getting Rose and Noah,’’ said Georgas, “experienced players that have gone deep in the playoffs.’’
When asked to rate on a scale of 1-to-10 how excited he was to be in the World’s Most Famous Arena on opening night, Jibrail didn’t hesitate.
From the jumbo neon beach balls that bounced around courtside pregame, to the celebrities (Chris Rock, Tracy Morgan, Jerry Ferrara) that grace The Garden on a regular basis, this is what basketball in the mecca is all about.
“The lights get brighter,’’ said Anthony.