Madison Square Garden - universally referred to as "The Mecca" - is arguably the biggest stage in all of basketball.
The scene is set perfectly for performers to put on a show - big city, theatre lighting and an engaged crowd that contains the likes of A-list celebrities and basketball purists.
Regardless of how good - or bad - of a team the Knicks field, a signature performance at MSG is major career validation. 10-year veteran James Harden recently dropped 61 at The Garden, matching the record for most by a visiting player set by Kobe Bryant in his 13th year.
Still, there's nothing like putting forth an awe-inspiring performance in your debut at Madison Square Garden. Now, fresh off of recording a historic triple-double against the Raptors, the stage is set for Mavs rookie sensation Luka Doncic to make his first appearance there as a pro.
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So what can we expect from the 19-year-old Rookie of the Year favourite in his MSG debut? At the very least, he'll hover around his averages of 20.5 points, 6.9 rebounds and 5.4 assists, but as he's proven time and time again, you should expect the unexpected from him.
For a semblance of an idea of the heights he can reach, let's revisit some of the more notable Garden debuts from years past, beginning with the most recent and working backwards...
Jan. 10, 2018 - Bulls 122, Knicks 119
Markkanen: 33 PTS, 10 REB
Eight threes, one vicious slam.
Lauri Markkanen takes flight! #BullsNation #NBARooks pic.twitter.com/DZCj5lWKbJ- NBA (@NBA) January 11, 2018
At just 20-years-old, the Bulls 7-foot rookie exploded for 33 points in a double overtime win over the Knicks. Markkanen's Madison Square Garden debut was one for the books in a literal sense - his eight triples tied a record held by Dirk Nowitzki for the most 3-pointers made in a single game by a 7-footer.
Lauri Markkanen scores 33, hits 8 threes (Ties Bulls Rookie Record) to lead the @ChicagoBulls at MSG! #BullsNation pic.twitter.com/vF1Q93o3fS- NBA (@NBA) January 11, 2018
Feb. 9, 2011 - Clippers 116, Knicks 108
Griffin: 21 PTS, 6 REB, 2 AST
10 days before he electrified an international audience with an unforgettable performance to win the 2011 dunk contest, rookie Blake Griffin impressed the Madison Square Garden to the tune of 21 points (on 10-for-17 shooting) to go along with six rebounds and two assists.
Griffin collected plenty of hardware that season, as his 22.5 points, 12.1 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game earned All-Rookie First Team and Rookie of the Year honours.
Nov. 14, 2008 - Knicks 116, Thunder 106
Westbrook: 19 PTS, 10 REB, 6 AST
In his 11th NBA season, Russell Westbrook is on the verge of averaging a triple-double for a third consecutive year. In a visit to Madison Square Garden just nine games into his NBA career, the 6-foot-3 point guard showed flashes of his potential to one day become a nightly triple-double threat.
Two days after his 20th birthday, Westbrook came off the bench to record 19 points (on 6-for-12 shooting), 10 rebounds and six assists in under 28 minutes of action. 51 games later, he would record the first of many triple-doubles in his career.
Dec. 12, 2007 - Sonics 117, Knicks 110
Durant: 30 PTS, 5 REB, 4 AST
Kevin Durant, one of the most prolific scorers in the history of the NBA, put forth quite the performance when he took the MSG floor for the first time as a pro.
In 35 minutes of action, KD put up 30 points (on 11-for-20 shooting), grabbed five rebounds and dished out four assists to lead Seattle to a seven-point win over a New York team led by Jamal Crawford and Zach Randolph.
Durant would go on to win Rookie of the Year honours, averaging 20.3 points, 4.4 rebounds and 2.4 assists in the 2007-08 campaign.
Jan. 21, 2006 - Hornets 109, Knicks 98
"I love the kid… He's as good as we've had come into our arena in a long, long time." - Knicks head coach Larry Brown
Paul: 27 PTS, 13 AST, 7 REB
Just two weeks after tearing a ligament in his right thumb , a 20-year-old CP3 made his Madison Square Garden debut with his dominant hand heavily taped.
It didn't keep him from putting on a show.
Paul led the Hornets to a win over the Knicks with 27 points, shooting 6-for-13 from the field and sank 14 of his 17 free throw attempts. The rookie also dished out 13 assists and grabbed seven rebounds, to earn the praise of hall of fame head coach Larry Brown.
With averages of 16.1 points, 7.8 assists, 5.1 rebounds and 2.2 steals per game in 2005-06, Paul led the Hornets to a 20-win improvement from the prior year and took home the Rookie of the Year award.
Feb. 22, 2004 - Cavaliers 92, Knicks 86
"This is the best arena to be in if you're a basketball player and I'm happy to be here."
James: 22 PTS, 5 REB, 3 AST
It wasn't until Feb. of James' rookie season that he was scheduled to make his pro debut at MSG - just enough time for the hype to reach unreal levels.
In a Sunday matinee broadcast to a national audience, James did not disappoint. The 19-year-old prodigy had a rough shooting night (7-for-20) but finished with 22 points, five rebounds and three assists to lead the Cavs to a win in New York.
James won Rookie of the Year in 2004 and has gone on to put forth some of the most incredible performances in Madison Square Garden history throughout the course of his 16-year career.
Nov. 29, 1999 - Knicks 107, Mavericks 82
Nowitzki: 10 PTS, 6 AST, 5 REB
Due to the lockout-shortened 1998-99 season, Doncic's teammate Dirk Nowitzki was unable to play at Madison Square Garden in his rookie year.
Early in Dirk's sophomore year, the Mavericks made their lone trip to MSG; while things didn't exactly end well for the Mavs against the defending Eastern Conference champs, their talented 7-foot 21-year-old put forth a solid night.
Nowitzki shot 4-for-9 from the field (2-for-4 from deep), finishing the night with 10 points to go along with six assists and five rebounds in 35 minutes.
Nov. 12, 1996 - Sixers 101, Knicks 97
Iverson: 35 PTS, 7 REB, 6 AST, 2 STL
The Answer's Garden debut came just six games into his rookie season, but he looked nothing like a rookie.
Iverson led the Sixers with 35 points, seven rebounds, six assists and two steals as they earned a narrow road victory over a Knicks team that would go on to win 57 games that season.
By averaging 23.5 points, 7.5 assists and 4.1 rebounds, A.I. was named 1997 Rookie of the Year.
"If you're going to be a good basketball player, you've got to showcase your talents in New York."
Nov. 8, 1984 - Bulls 121, Knicks 106
Jordan: 33 PTS, 8 REB, 5 AST, 3 STL, 2 BLK
In just the seventh game of his NBA career, a 21-year-old Michael Jordan stuffed the stat sheet with 33 points (on 15-for-22 shooting), eight rebounds, five assists, three steals and two blocks in a 15-point win over the Knicks.
It was the second of 33 games of 30 or more points in Jordan's rookie season in which he led the Bulls to the postseason, finished sixth in MVP voting, earned an All-NBA Second Team selection, All-Rookie First Team honours and was named 1985 Rookie of the Year.
Feb. 5, 1980 - Lakers 116, Knicks 105
Johnson: 19 PTS, 11 AST, 10 REB
In his first-ever appearance at Madison Square Garden as a pro, Earvin "Magic" Johnson led the Lakers to an 11-point win over the Knicks with a 19-point, 11-assist, 10-rebound triple-double. Johnson is just one of four players to record a triple-double at Madison Square Garden in their rookie season (Chuck Person, Michael Carter-Williams, Ben Simmons).
Though Johnson averaged 18.0 points, 7.7 rebounds, 7.3 assists and 2.4 steals in the 1979-80 season, Larry Bird would win Rookie of the Year. Johnson, however, won an NBA title in 1980 and earned Finals MVP to cap off a spectacular rookie campaign.