December 19th 1995: Pat Riley receives boos in his return to Madison Square Garden as head coach of the Miami Heat
This date marked the official beginning of the Knicks/Heat rivalry on the basketball floor, as Pat Riley aka Benedict Riley aka Pat The Rat returned to MSG with a swarm of boos as the head coach of the Miami Heat. In the revenge game, the Knicks routed the Heat, sans Alonzo Mourning, 89-70.
Patrick Ewing led the Knicks with 18 points and 16 rebounds. Future Knick Kurt Thomas had a double double with 20 points and 11 rebounds.
After 4 years as head coach of the Knicks, Riley abruptly resigned via fax after a disappointing 1994-95 season where the team lost in the Eastern Conference Semifinals to Reggie Miller and the Indiana Pacers.
Riley longed for control of basketball operations and a small ownership stake. ITT Inc. bought the Knicks in 1995 are had no intentions to relinquish ownership to Riley. Additionally, neither Dave Checketts or Ernie Grunfeld were in danger to lose their job to Riley.
Riley supposedly wanted a contract of 5 years, $50 million and a 25% stake in the franchise. Checketts countered with a 5 year $15 million deal. Therefore, Riley decided to immediately resign.
The Miami Heat signed Riley to a 5 year $15 million contract, but gave him a 10% stake in the franchise and the additional role of president of basketball operations. The Knicks accused the Heat of tampering and received $1 million and the 1996 Heat 1st round pick as compensation. The Knicks drafted Walter McCarty with the pick.