March 2nd 1991: Knicks fire Al Bianchi and hire Dave Checketts
In one of the most pivotal moves for the organization heading into the 1990s, the Knicks fired General Manager Al Bianchi and hired Dave Checketts as President of Basketball Operations. The firing was part of an overall organizational change within Madison Square Garden, the Knicks, and the New York Rangers.
Bianchi fell out of favor with Rick Pitino that led to the latter’s departure from the team to coach in the NCAA. Bianchi sparred with both Rod Strickland and Mark Jackson during his tenure. Strickland eventually requested and received a trade. He additionally declined to match Johnny Newman’s offer sheet from the Charlotte Hornets. Furthermore, Patrick Ewing was nearing free agency and reportedly was looking to sign elsewhere.
Checketts, then 35, initially began his NBA career as the youngest GM of the Utah Jazz at 28 years old. He spent several years with the Jazz and worked within the league offices before joining the Knicks. He became a pivotal executive in the organization tasked to maximize Patrick Ewing’s prime. One of Checkett’s first moves was hiring Pat Riley to replace John Macleod after the 1990-91 season. He later hired Ernie Grunfeld as his GM and helped oversee an organization that made the playoffs every year in the 1990s and reached the NBA finals twice.
Checketts eventually became president of Madison Square Garden in 1997 through 2001, shortly after James Dolan gained control of the organization.