December 1, 2003: Antonio McDyess makes his Knicks regular season debut against the Detroit Pistons
Antonio McDyess finally made his Knicks regular season debut in a 79-78 overtime loss against the Detroit Pistons. McDyess was on a minutes restriction and only played 13 minutes. He had a meager statline of 2 points, 3 rebounds, 1 steal, and 1 block.
This game was 100 games into the making for McDyess. He missed the entire 2002-03 season with a broken kneecap suffered on a putback dunk in the preseason. The injury dampened the excitement heading into the season, especially after McDyess averaged more than 17 points and 13 rebounds in the preseason.1
The McDyess trade was largely meant to get the Knicks back into the playoffs and provide an athletic frontcourt presence to complement Latrell Sprewell & Allan Houston. The Knicks sorely lacked an athletic frontcourt presence that could score with explosiveness, rebound, and defend, perhaps dating back to Patrick Ewing before the wrist injuries. McDyess was expected to fill that gap.
Even though McDyess missed most of the 2001-02 season with knee surgeries, he looked healthy heading into the preseason and through half of the preseason before the injuries. The injury left the Knicks with a gaping hole in the frontcourt that badly needed a jolt of athleticism, interior scoring, and shot blocking. While Kurt Thomas played his part as the starting center, the loss of McDyess added an additional strain on Houston & Sprewell to provide the entire offense for the team.
McDyess only played 18 games with the Knicks in the 2003-04 season. He showed minor flashes of his fabled athleticism, but was largely a relic of what he once was. Without Sprewell on the roster, traded for Keith Van Horn, the Knicks never got to fully realize the potential trio. McDyess was subsequently traded to the Phoenix Suns for Stephon Marbury.
McDyess made the NBA Finals in the following season with the Detroit Pistons.2 He reinvented his game to rely less on athleticism and more on intellect and craftiness. Consequently, he was able to stay relatively healthy for the rest of his career, missing only 41 games over 7 years and even playing 82 games in consecutive seasons.
December 1, 2008: Stephon Marbury banished from Knicks
The Knicks officially told Stephon Marbury to stay away from the team, effectively banishing him and ending his Knicks tenure.
After coming to New York with fanfare and excitement, returning back to the city he grew up in, Marbury’s tenure as a Knick was unfortunately marred in chaos and losing. After making the playoffs in his first season, Marbury fell victim to the Knicks’ losing environment. He famously proclaimed he was the greatest point guard in the NBA in the 2004-05 season, before the Knicks’ record tanked and Lenny Wilkens concurrently resigned as head coach.
Marbury conflicted with most of his head coaches from Larry Brown to former friend, Isiah Thomas, to Mike D’Antoni. The Larry Brown saga led to the beginning of the end of Marbury’s dominance on the court. His on-court production declined and dropped to career lows in the 2007-08 season.
The 2007-08 season marked the first visible conflicts between Marbury & the Knicks. Marbury went AWOL earlier in the season and effectively ended his Knicks career in January 2008 after electing to have left ankle surgery without approval from the Knicks medical staff.
With the Mike D’Antoni hire and Marbury’s impending expiring contract, there was a great likelihood of Marbury never playing a game with the Knicks. Despite the rumors, Marbury did play well in the preseason. However, D’Antoni took Marbury out of the rotation to begin the season. The relationship became irreconcilable once Marbury refused to play in a game where the Knicks were severely undermanned following the Jamal Crawford & Zach Randolph trade.
The Knicks suspended him for a game and told him to stay away from the team on December 1st. He was later waived in February and joined the Boston Celtics to finish his NBA career. Despite the turmoil in the NBA, Marbury rejuvenated his career playing in China and will forever be known as a hero in the country after winning 3 championships in the Chinese Basketball Association.