Posts by Vivek Dadhania

Knicks Film School Historian, amongst other things

On This Date: Revisit the 1974 NBA Draft

May 28th 1974: Revisiting the 1974 NBA Draft

Before the introduction of the draft lottery, the NBA draft consisted of 10 rounds. The draft was also held in May, one of the last few drafts to be held before June.1

The 1974 NBA Draft was mostly non-consequential for the Knicks. Entering the night, the Knicks had the 14th pick, but the team traded it to the Bulls for Howard Porter and a 1975 2nd round pick that became Larry Fogle. Both players only played one season with the Knicks. The Bulls used the 14th pick to draft Maurice Lucas. Lucas had several All-Star seasons in his NBA career and won a championship with the Portland Trailblazers. Ironically, the Knicks acquired him in 1981 for Ray Williams. Coincidentally, the Knicks dealt Lucas in the next year for Truck Robinson, drafted in the 2nd round of the 1974 NBA Draft.

The Knicks drafted Jesse Dark & Greg Jackson in the 2nd round and 5th rounds respectively. Both players only spent one year with the Knicks.

The draft overall consisted of 4 Hall-of-Famers including Bill Walton, George Gervin, Bobby Jones, & Jamaal Wilkes. In addition to the players mentioned in the prior paragraphs, both Campy Russell & Len Elmore had short stints with the Knicks later in their careers.

On This Date: Houston & Sprewell combine for 60 points to defeat the Indiana Pacers

May 27th 2000: Allan Houston & Latrell Sprewell combine for 60 points to defeat the Indiana Pacers in Game 3 of the 2000 Eastern Conference Finals

Down 2-0 to the Indiana Pacers and without Patrick Ewing due a sprained right foot, Allan Houston & Latrell Sprewell stepped up to defeat the Indiana Pacers at home 98-95 in Game 3 of the 2000 Eastern Conference Finals. Houston & Spree combined for 60 points to carry the Knicks offense.

The Knicks also played most of the game without Marcus Camby who suffered a sprained right knee early in the 2nd quarter. Camby suffered various knee injuries over the course of the season missing 23 games during the regular season.

Surprisingly, both Houston & Spree were mostly defended 1v1 throughout the entire game. The Pacers players openly questioned their coaching staff’s defensive strategy after the game. Pacers head coach Larry Bird even benched Knick killer Reggie Miller for nearly the final 2 minutes of the game after the Knicks cut the lead to 6.

On This Date: Knicks defeat Pacers in Game 2 of the 1994 ECF

May 26th 1994: The New York Knicks defeat the Indiana Pacers in Game 2 of the 1994 Eastern Conference Finals

The New York Knicks handled their business at home in the first two games of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Pacers. The Knicks defeated the Pacers 89-78 in Game 2. Patrick Ewing scored 32 points and grabbed 13 rebounds in 45 minutes. Derek Harper had an all-around effort with 18 points, 6 rebounds, and 8 assists. The Knicks, up 2-0, remained undefeated at home in the playoffs heading into Indiana.

Their home winning streak was in jeopardy with around 3 minutes remaining in the 3rd quarter as the Knicks were down 62-57. The Knicks, however, went on an 18-2 run to leap ahead by 11 with less than 8 minutes remaining in the 4th quarter. The run put the Knicks up for good.

On This Date: The Dunk

May 25th 1993: “The Dunk” is ingrained in Knicks folklore

Is there much more to say about The Dunk? For many fans older than me, this moment was an unforgettable memory of their Knicks fandom. When Knicks fans think of John Starks, they picture The Dunk. For many years, the MSG Network intro to their regular season broadcasts included a clip of The Dunk. It’s an unforgettable moment.

In the final minute of a Game 2 victory against the Chicago Bulls, Starks drove past BJ Armstrong for the iconic left handed dunk over Horace Grant and with Michael Jordan steps away. The crowd immediately went into a deafening uproar after the dunk.

In a sad way, the Dunk was supposed to represent a tide turning moment for the Knicks. It was the exclamation point to a commanding 2-0 series lead. Perhaps it was a sign that the Knicks would only be 2 games away from an NBA Finals run. However, the Chicago Bulls treated the dunk as motivation to win the next 4 games on the way to their first 3-peat.

On This Date: Knicks sweep the Hawks in the 1999 ECSF

May 25th 1999: The New York Knicks sweep the Atlanta Hawks in the 1999 Eastern Conference Semifinals

The #8 seed underdog Knicks, fresh off a historic upset against the #1 seed Miami Heat, had a much easier battle against the #4 seed Atlanta Hawks in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. The Knicks swept the Hawks in 4 games with the average margin of victory of 10 points. One of the more memorable moments was Marcus Camby’s dunk on Dikembe Mutombo.

The Knicks defeated the Hawks at home in Game 4 79-66. At the end of the game, the Knicks fans chanted “Jeff Van Gundy” to support their coach. Van Gundy went into the playoffs with no guarantee of returning next season. The series sweep definitely helped establish job security.

The Hawks had no answer to the Knicks’ bench rotation, including Latrell Sprewell, Chris Childs, & Marcus Camby. Sprewell had 11 points in Game 4 and proved to be a sparkplug for the Knicks off the bench.

The Knicks’ defense in Game 4 proved to be historic. The 66 points allowed remains the fewest number of points given up in a playoff game in team history since the inception of the shot clock.

On This Date: Ewing & Starks lead the Knicks past the Bulls in Game 1 of the 1993 ECF

May 23rd 1993: Patrick Ewing & John Starks score 25 points each to lead the Knicks past the Bulls in Game 1 of the 1993 Eastern Conference Finals

Patrick Ewing & John Starks scored 25 points each to help the Knicks defeat the Bulls 98-90 in Game 1 of the 1993 Eastern Conference Finals. Ewing also grabbed 17 rebounds and had 2 steals & 2 blocked shots in 44 minutes. Starks scored 25 on 5-7 from the three point arc and had 4 assists & 2 steals. The Knicks outscored the Bulls 43-29 in the final 19 minutes of the game after the Bulls established a 4 point lead at halftime.

The Knicks had the #1 seed in the Eastern Conference heading into the 1993 NBA Playoffs. The Knicks started the series with home court advantage and had a prime opportunity to prevent a Bulls’ three-peat after taking a 2-0 series lead. Unfortunately, the Knicks blew the 2-0 lead and the Bulls went on to secure the three-peat.

On This Date: Knicks finally defeat the Bulls to advance to the 1994 ECF


May 22nd 1994: The New York Knicks finally defeat the Chicago Bulls to advance to the 1994 Eastern Conference Semifinals

Between 1988-1993, the New York Knicks had no answer on how to defeat the Chicago Bulls in the NBA Playoffs. On this date in 1994, the Knicks finally defeated the Bulls (albeit sans Michael Jordan) in Game 7 87-77 that marked their first ever playoff matchup victory against their rivals. The victory took all 7 games as each team traded home victories. The New York Knicks, with the #2 overall seed, had home court advantage in the series.

The Game 7 victory required herculean efforts from the Knick big men. The Bulls held Ewing scoreless in the 1st half due to foul trouble. However, Ewing exploded in the 2nd half and ended with 18 points, 17 rebounds, and 6 assists. Charles Oakley had a monster night with 17 points, 20 rebounds (11 on the offensive end), 4 assists, and 3 steals.

Greg Anthony also had a very productive game for the Knicks. Anthony scored 7 points, but was part of a crucial run where the Knicks scored 8 straight points in the end of the 3rd quarter. Due to Anthony’s performance, he played the final 15 minutes of the game.

On This Date: Ewing & Sprewell help the Knicks finish the Heat in Game 7

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May 21st 2000: Latrell Sprewell & Patrick Ewing help the New York Knicks close out the Miami Heat in Game 7 of the 2000 Eastern Conference Semifinals

The Knicks & Heat faced off against each other in a rematch of the previous year battle. Similar to 1999, both teams fought until the final deciding game where the Knicks once again defeated the Heat on the road in a close matchup. This was the 3rd time in the previous 4 seasons where the Knicks defeated the Heat in Miami.

Patrick Ewing & Latrell Sprewell scored a combined 44 points to help defeat the Heat 83-82. Ewing had a double double with 20 points and 10 rebounds on 5-10 from the field and 10-12 from the free throw line. Spree led the Knicks with 24 points, scoring 20 in the 1st half, and 5 assists. The duo helped withstand Alonzo Mourning’s 29 points, 13 rebounds, & 5 blocked shots.

Game 7, like the entire series, had a seesaw feeling to it. The Heat ended the 1st quarter up 9, but the Knicks stormed back to take a 6 point lead by halftime. The Heat eventually tied the game by the end of the 3rd and showed signs of extending the lead early on the 4th. Chris Childs turned out to be an X-Factor for the Knicks in Game 7 scoring 15 points, including the first 10 Knicks points in the 4th quarter, to keep the team in the game.

Ewing had one of the most pivotal plays with less than 1:30 left in the game. Down 1, Ewing received the ball in the post as Mourning gambled to steal the ball from him. Ewing deftly turned around for the go-ahead dunk that put the Knicks up 83-82. Those were the final points scored in the game.

On This Date: Knicks hire Hubie Brown as head coach

May 20th 1982: Knicks hire Hubie Brown as head coach

Less than a week after Red Holzman announced his retirement, the Knicks hired Hubie Brown as the new head coach. Before gracing the NBA airwaves with his commentary and basketball tutorial videos, Hubie spent more than 4 seasons coaching the Knicks.

Hubie enjoyed decent success early on taking the Knicks to the semifinals in his first 2 seasons with the team. However, debilitating injuries to both Bill Cartwright (foot) and Bernard King (knee) put the Knicks on a downward spiral for the rest of his tenure. Patrick Ewing also missed 32 games during his rookie campaign due to various injuries, including his knee. Essentially Hubie never had a full squad after the 1983-84 campaign.

Additionally, his high intensity and rigid approach to coaching eventually wore off on the team. His insistence for 10 man rotations and a peculiar decision to play Ewing at power forward alongside Cartwright marked a disappointing end to his Knicks tenure. After the Knicks fired Hubie in 1986, he didn’t return to coaching until 2002 with the Memphis Grizzlies.

On This Date: Knicks end up with the 4th pick in the 2015 NBA Draft

damn…

May 19th 2015: Knicks end up with the 4th pick in the 2015 NBA Draft

After ending up with the 2nd worst record overall in the 2014-15 season, the worst record in franchise history, and only 1/2 game ahead of the Minnesota Timberwolves, the NBA Draft gods decided not to be nice and gave the Knicks the 4th overall pick in the NBA Draft. The crowd immediately showed disgust after deputy commissioner Mark Tatum displayed the Knicks envelope.

Immediately after the pick, Steve Mills showed a sign of disgust after realizing the team would be out of the Karl Anthony Towns sweepstakes. The Knicks did a relatively outstanding job shifting into rebuild mode early in January after their terrible start to the season. Out were JR Smith & Iman Shumpert and in came extended minutes for both Lance Thomas & Lou Amundson.

Unfortunately, a few too many clutch baskets from Tim Hardaway Jr. & Langston Galloway helped the Knicks avoid the worst record in the NBA. On the bright side, the Knicks drafted Kristaps Porzingis and the rest is history.

On This Date: Scottie Pippen fouls Hubert Davis

May 18th 1994: Scottie Pippen fouls Hubert Davis

With 2.1 seconds remaining and the Knicks down 1, Scottie Pippen fouled Hubert Davis as he attempted a 23 foot jump shot (foot on the line). Pippen hit Davis’ right forearm after the release and drew the foul call by ref Hue Hollins.

Davis hit both free throws to put the Knicks ahead 87-86 for the victory. The win put the Knicks ahead 3-2 heading back to Chicago for Game 6. Despite Michael Jordan’s absence from the team, the Bulls put up a hard fought battle against the Knicks by winning every home game and taking the series to 7. The Bulls were on the brink to victory in Game 5 to potentially upset the Knicks’ eventual NBA Finals run.

The Bulls vigorously complained about the foul call after the game. Eventually, Darrell Garretson, the head of NBA officiating, admitted the foul call was a mistake. Knick fans thought otherwise.

On This Date: Patrick Ewing’s Game Winner against the Pacers saves the Knicks season

May 17th 1995: Patrick Ewing’s game-winner against the Indiana Pacers in Game 5

With the Knicks down 3-1 in the playoff series and on the brink of a potentially disappointing upset, Patrick Ewing saved the Knicks season with a running 7 foot basket with 1.8 seconds remaining to defeat the Indiana Pacers 96-95. The victory put the Knicks down 3-2 heading to Indiana for Game 6.

After losing home court advantage in Game 1 due to Reggie Miller’s heroics, the Knicks won Game 2, but lost the next 2 games in Indiana. Entering Game 5 down 3-1, there was plenty of pressure for the Knicks to win the final 3 games.

After Game 5, the Knicks did win Game 6 in Indiana, but was not able to close out the series in Game 7 at home. The loss ultimately resulted in Pat Riley’s abrupt resignation.

On This Date: Allan Houston’s Game Winner shocks the Heat and the NBA

May 16th 1999: Allan Houston hits the game-winning basket to upset the #1 seed Miami Heat and shock the NBA

Allan Houston made his mark in Knicks history with the game-winning basket with less than 5 seconds remaining to sink the Miami Heat 78-77. The Knicks became the 2nd #8 seed to upset the #1 seed in NBA history.2

The original play did not involve Houston hitting the game-winning basket. Latrell Sprewell originally had the ball in isolation, expecting to hit the game-winner. However, Spree nearly turned the ball over and the Knicks consequently reset possession with less than 5 seconds remaining. Charlie Ward fed Houston behind the three point arc. Houston then threw up a running floater that bounced off the front rim, then hit the back rim, and went in to put the Knicks ahead by 1 with 0.8 seconds.

The most iconic moment was Houston running to the other side of the floor pumping his fists in celebration with his teammates. The Heat crowd, teammates, and coaching staff were all left in shock after that basket. The Heat got one final opportunity to win the game, but Terry Porter missed the 35 foot heave and the Knicks clinched the ultimate playoff upset.

The Knicks were the underdogs throughout the entire regular season. The combo of a relatively new roster, shortened season, and an aging Patrick Ewing led to significant growing pains. There was a significant risk that the Knicks would miss the NBA playoffs for the first time since 1987. Additionally, there were rumblings regarding Jeff Van Gundy’s job security due to disagreements between him and Ernie Grunfeld. This victory calmed a lot of nerves within the Madison Square Garden faithful. For Van Gundy, this victory most likely helped secure his job with the organization.

2019 Knicks Draft Lottery Post-Mortem: Five Takeaways

I, alongside many of our KFS contributors, fans, and other content creators, attended the Knicks draft lottery party at Slattery’s yesterday. Despite not receiving the #1 overall pick, not all hopes are lost. Here are some of my quick and rapid thoughts below:

  1. #3 is still better than #4 or #5: Consider ourselves lucky that we didn’t fall into the dreaded #5 position. Fans alike felt frustration that the odds on Tankathon or on The Knicks Wall offseason app showed a strong likelihood (47.9% exact) of receiving the #5 pick. After the Grizzlies, Lakers, & Pelicans jumped into the Top 4, many of us felt scared that the Knicks would drop out. However, the Suns, Cavaliers, & Bulls (2nd, 3rd, and 4th worst teams respectively) all dropped to the 5th, 6th, & 7th seeds respectively giving us a glimmer of hope. After learning that the Lakers received the #4 pick, the Knicks still had the best likelihood of receiving the #1 pick of all the teams. We ended up #3, but it’s not really a huge disappointment.
  2. AD’s still a possibility: Despite dropping to #3, don’t necessarily count the Knicks out of the Anthony Davis sweepstakes. For one, Zion on the Pelicans solves one issue of having to trade him away. The Knicks could potentially package the #3 pick, along with a combination of Dennis Smith Jr, Frank Ntilikina, Kevin Knox, and/or Lance Thomas to get Davis. The Knicks could also include the 2021 unprotected Dallas 1st round pick conveyed to the team after the Mavericks fell to the 10th pick and gave their pick to the Atlanta Hawks. The Lakers potentially have an intriguing offer package with the #4 overall pick. However, is the #4 pick plus a combo of Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, and Kyle Kuzma enough to convince new GM David Griffin that this is the right package?
  3. The draft is still more than a month away: Many have already concluded that RJ Barrett is the consensus #3 pick. However, it’s still way too early to make that conclusion. Things can change between now and the draft, including the NBA Draft Combine and individual workouts, that can sway the Knicks front office that someone like a Jarrett Culver is a better pick. Therefore, it’s not necessarily appropriate to make a steadfast declaration just yet.
  4. Blatant Tanking is not worth it anymore: The race to the bottom is not worth the shameless losing anymore. Teams that used to benefit with being in the bottom 3 don’t have the same assurance of receiving a top 3 pick. Just look at the Bulls, Cavs, & Suns. The NBA Draft Lottery has become a true crapshoot now. There’s no incentive to deliberately tank and take drastic steps towards that direction.
  5. The Knicks Draft Lottery Party was a blast and not all Knicks fans were disappointed: In typical fashion, the tabloids and former tabloid writers have begun to write their doom and gloom pieces about the Knicks. The one particular point is the outlandish claim that we were all dejected. That was 100% false. The Draft Lottery Party was a huge success with hundreds of people who showed up to support the Knicks. Fans watching on TV could easily notice the difference between our loyal and rabid fanbase compared to other teams. Potentially more than $1,000 will be raised to go to the Garden of Dreams foundation. And yes, there were fans satisfied with the #3 pick. So no, it was not a tearful event for us Knicks fans, despite how we may be portrayed on national television over the next few days.

On This Date: Earl Monroe inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame

May 15th 1990: Earl Monroe inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame

Earl “The Pearl” Monroe entered into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame on this date. Monroe played 14 seasons in the NBA, beginning with the Baltimore Bullets and ending with the Knicks. Monroe averaged nearly 19 points a game and won an NBA championship with the Knicks in 1973.

The Pearl was also known in basketball circles as “Black Magic” for the flashiness and bravado he brought to the court. Monroe brought a level of flashiness handling the ball and driving into the paint that the league had not seen. He brought the razzle dazzle of the playground circuit into the NBA. Along with the premier guards of the 1960s, Monroe helped usher in a new era where guards could score as proficiently as big men.

On This Date: Knicks/Heat Fight Round 1: Charlie Ward & PJ Brown

May 14th 1997: Knicks/Heat Fight Round 1: Charlie Ward vs. PJ Brown

In the waning moments of a disappointing Game 5 loss against the Miami Heat, Charlie Ward & PJ Brown got into a nasty fight after trying to gain position for a rebound on the free throw line. After Tim Hardaway Sr hit the free throw, Ward rammed into PJ Brown trying to box out and Brown suplexed him to begin the melee. The fight ensued behind the baseline as coach Jeff Van Gundy & the various garbage time players on the floor, including John Wallace, attempted to separate the players.

Not learning the lessons from the 1994 NBA Playoffs, Patrick Ewing, John Starks, Larry Johnson, and Allan Houston all left the bench area to break up the fight. As a result, each of the 4 players were suspended one game each along with Charlie Ward. The NBA suspended PJ Brown 2 games for his role in the brawl.

With the multitude of suspensions, the NBA decided to stagger the suspensions, by last name order, over both Game 6 and 7. Ewing, Houston, & Ward were out for Game 6 and Johnson & Starks were out for Game 7. Although the Knicks were leading 3-2 in the series, the suspensions left the team severely undermanned. The Knicks lost both Games 6 and 7.

Before Game 6, the Knicks filed a lawsuit in the Southern District of New York to order a stay on the suspensions, arguing that the punishment should be determined in arbitration. The NBA Players Union sided with the Knicks alleging that the rule itself was never approved by the players in the collective bargaining agreement. On game day, the SDNY ruled in favor of the NBA arguing that the rule was plain and clear and within the rights of the league office.

The biggest “what-if” moment was determining how far the team would go into the NBA Playoffs. Had there been no suspensions, the Knicks most likely defeat the Heat and face off against the Chicago Bulls once again. The Bulls easily defeated the Heat in 5 games, but maybe the “new” Knick core of Ewing, Houston, & Larry Johnson provide a better fight.


May 14th 2003: Dave DeBusschere passed away

Dave DeBusschere passed away at the age of 63 after collapsing due to a heart attack. DeBusschere spent 6 seasons with the Knicks and won 2 championships. He was an 8 time All-Star and 6 time honoree of the All-Defensive Team. The Knicks retired his #22 and the NBA subsequently inducted him as one of the 50 Greatest Players in 1996. He was also inducted into the NBA Hall of Fame.

He also served in the Knicks front office and was responsible for drafting Patrick Ewing.

On This Date: Derek Harper/Jo Jo English Brawl

May 13th 1994: The Derek Harper/Jo Jo English Fight

Derek Harper entered into Knick folklore after wrestling with Jo Jo English in the 2nd quarter of Game 3 against the Chicago Bulls. After confronting each other at the three point line, the fight escalated into the stands starting an all-out brawl. The fight itself was right in front of NBA Commissioner David Stern, who predictably was shocked at what he was witnessing. Both benches cleared to breakup the fight, leading to separate tussles between players, including John Starks, and the security guards.

The Knicks ultimately lost Game 3 104-102. As for the repercussions, the NBA suspended Harper 2 games and English 1 game for their role in the brawl. The NBA fined more than 8 players on each team, outside of Harper & English, for leaving the bench in the altercation. Beginning in the next season, the NBA began to enforce 1 game suspensions for any player who leaves the bench during an altercation. This rule was provoked largely due to this fight and the infamous Greg Anthony/Suns brawl. Unfortunately for the Knicks, this rule change would come to bite them in the 1997 playoffs against the Miami Heat.

 

On This Date: Knicks win NBA Draft Lottery

May 12th 1985: Knicks win NBA Draft Lottery

1985 marked the first year the NBA instituted the draft lottery system to determine the draft order of the non-playoff bound teams. At the time, each non-playoff team received a lottery envelope to determine their draft position and had the same probability of receiving the #1 pick. In 1987, the lottery was modified so that only the first 3 picks were determined by the lottery. By 1990, the system shifted to a weighted system where the worst team had the best odds of receiving the #1 pick.

The Knicks, with team president Dave DeBusschere as the team’s representative, won the first ever NBA Draft Lottery. The Knicks beat the Indiana Pacers, who subsequently received the #2 overall pick. There was a near consensus that Patrick Ewing was the #1 overall pick. The Knicks, with the #1 overall pick, drafted Ewing and the rest is history.

Various NBA conspiracy theorists claimed that the draft lottery was rigged in favor of the Knicks to save the franchise. Conspiracy theorists believed that the NBA wanted Ewing in New York for box office reasons. There was another conspiracy theory that the Knicks envelope was frozen beforehand and allowed Stern to easily pick it up in the lottery. Most of those theories seem quite ludicrous, but I’ll take whatever’s necessary for the team to land Zion Williamson.


May 12th 1990: Patrick Ewing’s 45 points lifts the Knicks past the Pistons in Game 3

Down 0-2 in the 1990 Eastern Conference Semifinals, Ewing carried the New York Knicks with 45 points, 13 rebounds, 6 assists, & 3 blocked shots to defeat the Detroit Pistons 111-103 in Game 3. Ewing scored 45 on 14-24 from the field and 17-18 from the free throw line.

The victory helped the Knicks snap a couple streaks the Pistons held, including 12 straight playoff wins & a 4 game road winning streak. Unfortunately, the 1990 Detroit Pistons proved to just be too dominant as they won the next 2 games to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals. The Pistons ultimately won their 2nd consecutive NBA Championship.

On This Date: Bernard King scores 44 to force a Game 7 against the Celtics

May 11th 1984: Bernard King scores 44 points to defeat the Celtics and force a Game 7

The New York Knicks needed a 44 point effort from Bernard King as they withstood Larry Bird’s 35 points and defeated the Celtics 106-104. The Knicks avoided elimination and forced a pivotal Game 7 in Boston. King scored 44 on a hyper-efficient 16-25 from the field and 12-15 from the free throw line.

The Knicks had a 13 point lead midway through the 4th quarter, but Boston clawed back into the game to be down 2 with less than 30 seconds to play. The Knicks’ defense pressured the Celtics into missing several game-tying shots.

King’s effort to will the Knicks remains one of the most clutch moments in Knick playoff history.

On This Date: Knicks win the 1973 NBA Finals

May 10th 1973: Knicks are the 1973 NBA Champions

The Knicks won their 2nd NBA Championship by defeating the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 5 102-93. This was the 3rd time the Knicks faced the Lakers in the NBA Finals in the previous 4 seasons. The Lakers defeated the Knicks in 5 games in the 1972 NBA Finals. The 1973 NBA Finals was nearly the opposite of the previous season. Whereas the Knicks won Game 1 of the 1972 NBA Finals, the Lakers won Game 1 of the 1973 NBA Finals. Both teams subsequently won the next 4 games to secure the championship.

This time around, Earl Monroe was a part of the 1973 NBA Championship Knicks. Monroe averaged 16 points/game on 53% shooting during the NBA Finals. Willis Reed once again won the NBA Finals MVP.


May 10th 2008: Knicks agree to hire Mike D’Antoni as their next head coach

Mike D’Antoni agreed to a 4 year $24 million deal to coach the New York Knicks. After firing Isiah Thomas as head coach, this was Donnie Walsh’s first and paramount move as the new Knicks President & GM.

Ever since Steve Kerr became the Suns GM before the 2007 NBA Draft, there was always a subtle tension between him and D’Antoni. Kerr wanted to emphasize more of a defensive presence on the team. Kerr also wanted to hire Tom Thibodeau as D’Antoni’s lead defensive coach, but the latter purportedly refused the request.

The Phoenix Suns allowed D’Antoni to interview with other teams after a disappointing first round playoff exit. At the time, D’Antoni still had 2 years and $9 million left on his coaching contract. The Bulls also showed interest in D’Antoni, but ultimately the Knicks provided the best offer.

From the moment the Knicks hired D’Antoni, there was one main organizational goal: clear cap space for 2010 and LeBron. As Donnie Walsh traded the long-term contracts, D’Antoni established his faster paced system onto the more inferior Knicks roster. The Knicks mostly achieved mediocre results: the team was poor defensively and D’Antoni stubbornly played short rotations while sacrificing the opportunity to play some of the younger players.

Pressure intensified after 2010 when the Knicks signed Amare Stoudemire & eventually acquired Carmelo Anthony. The lack of chemistry and time, due to the lockout, did not allow D’Antoni to build an offensive system around those two players. Additionally, the Knicks continued to struggle defensively. Mounting pressure near the middle of the 2011-12 shortened season forced D’Antoni to resign, months before finishing his 4 year contract. Since at least the Pat Riley era, D’Antoni is the only coach that completed a majority of his coaching contract before either resigning or being fired.

 

On This Date: Patrick Ewing & Alonzo Mourning face off in the playoffs for the first time

May 9th 1993: Patrick Ewing & Alonzo Mourning’s first NBA Playoffs matchup

Former Georgetown Hoya alums Patrick Ewing & Alonzo Mourning faced each other in the NBA Playoffs for the first time on this date. For Ewing, this was his 6th straight season in the playoffs. For Zo, this was his 1st experience in the NBA Playoffs as this was his rookie campaign with the Charlotte Hornets. After Ewing graduated from Georgetown in 1985, the university waited 3 years until Mourning & Dikembe Mutombo both arrived on campus to man the Hoya frontcourt.

As for the playoff game itself, the vastly experience Knicks defeated the Hornets 111-95 in Game 1. This was the Hornets’ first year in the NBA Playoffs. Ewing won the battle against Zo with 33 points, 10 rebounds, and 4 blocked shots. Zo had a respectable performance with 27 points, 13 rebounds, and 4 blocks, but also committed 7 turnovers. His lack of experience2 proved to be costly as Ewing took advantage of him both defensively and offensively. Zo allowed Ewing to feast on the perimeter where his patented jump shot proved to be key to victory.

Anthony Mason had a double double off the bench with 11 points, 11 rebounds, & 5 assists in 38 minutes. There were several former and future Knicks on the Hornets roster at the time. Larry Johnson, a then 2nd year player, missed most of the game with a sprained right leg. Former Knicks Johnny Newman & Sidney Green played a decent role for the Hornets in Game 1. Newman started and scored 18 points in 28 minutes. Future Knick David Wingate, who’d become merely a garbage time presence with the team, entered in garbage time for the Hornets.

On This Date: Willis Reed, with a torn thigh muscle, triumphantly returns in Game 7 to help the Knicks win their first NBA Championship

May 8th 1970: Willis Reed hobbles to the floor to lead the Knicks to their first NBA Championship

One of the most iconic moments in sports history. Willis Reed, with a torn thigh muscle expected to sideline him in Game 7, surprised the Madison Square Garden faithful and the NBA on ABC broadcasting team as he limped from the tunnel to the court to play in the final game of the NBA Finals. After missing Game 6 due to the injury, Reed received some painkillers before shootaround before limping onto the court.

Reed started the game scoring on his first two jumpshots. Despite not scoring a basket afterwards, his perseverance inspired his teammates. Although Reed was hobbled, he played a valiant defensive effort on Wilt Chamberlain, forcing a few missed shots while in action. His energy instead translated over to Walt “Clyde” Frazier.

Clyde had one of the most impressive playoff performances in NBA history with 36 points, 19 assists, and 7 rebounds on 12-19 from the field and 12-12 from the free throw line. The performance was overshadowed by Willis Reed’s comeback from his injury.

The Knicks defeated the Lakers 113-99 to secure their first NBA championship in team history. Willis Reed earned MVP honors due to his valiant effort to return from injury as well as his dominant performance in the first 4 games of the NBA Finals. Reed averaged 31.8 ppg, 15 rbs, & 3.8 asts over the first 4 games before the injury.

The 1970 Knicks are widely regarded as one of the greatest basketball teams in NBA history. Game 7 of the 1970 NBA Finals is one of the greatest games ever played in sports. After the Knicks basked in the championship victory, legendary ABC broadcaster Howard Cosell told Reed, “You exemplify the very best that the human spirit can offer.”

On This Date: Patrick Ewing returns from wrist surgery

May 7th 1998: Patrick Ewing returns from wrist surgery

Patrick Ewing’s wrist surgery in December seemed to doom the Knicks’ 1998 season at the onset. However, Ewing eventually found his way back to face the Pacers in Game 2 of the 1998 Eastern Conference Semifinals. Ewing scored 10 points in 27 minutes in an 85-77 loss in Indianapolis.

Due to rust from the wrist surgery, Ewing was not able to regain his shooting touch as he shot less than 36% from the field. Despite emotions running high due to Ewing’s return, it was not enough to stop the Pacers in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. The younger legs in the Pacers frontcourt proved too much to overcome for the Knicks’ aging big men.

The Pacers series foreshadowed several trades after the season that would dramatically change the makeup of the roster and lead to an unexpected run to the finals in 1999.

On This Date: Knicks comeback from 0-2 to advance to the 1990 Eastern Conference Semifinals

May 6th 1990: The New York Knicks, down 0-2, come back and advance to the 1990 Eastern Conference Semifinals after defeating the Boston Celtics

Against a stacked Boston Celtics roster containing Hall of Famers Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, & Robert Parrish, amongst others, the New York Knicks defeated the Boston Celtics on the road 121-114 in Game 5 to advance to the Eastern Conference Semifinals. The Knicks had not won a regular season game in Boston in the last 6 years or a playoff game in 16 years. The Knicks became the third team in NBA history to win a best-of-5 series after being down 0-2.

Ewing led the way for the Knicks with 31 points, 8 assists, 10 rebounds, and 4 blocked shots in 47 minutes. The younger legs of Charles Oakley cooked the older McHale with a commanding double double (26 points, 17 rebounds, 4 assists). In a battle of veteran PGs, Maurice Cheeks went back-and-forth with Dennis Johnson and scored 21 points on 8-10 from the field. Cheeks also played the entire 48 minutes.

This matchup marked the temporary halt to the Knicks/Celtics rivalry. As the Knicks dominated throughout the 1990s, the Celtics fell into a rebuilding mode after debilitating injuries to Bird & McHale and the tragic death of Reggie Lewis. As the Knicks slipped to the doldrums in the 2000s, the Celtics began their quest to contend in the playoffs, culminating in a championship in 2008. The Knicks & Celtics would not reappear in the playoffs until 2011 when Carmelo Anthony & Amare Stoudemire teamed up.

On This Date: Knicks steal Game 1 from the Bulls in the 1992 Eastern Conference Semifinals

May 5th 1992: The New York Knicks steal Game 1 from the Chicago Bulls in the 1992 Eastern Conference Semifinals

The victory snapped a 14 game losing streak against the Bulls (including the playoffs) dating back to the 1989-90 season. Patrick Ewing led the way with 34 points, 19 rebounds, 6 blocked shots, & 5 assists. Xavier McDaniel followed Ewing with 16 points and 7 rebounds.

The duo’s production was essential in matching the Bulls’ dynamic duo of Michael Jordan & Scottie Pippen. Jordan & Pippen combined for 53 points on 20-41 from the field.

With the game tied 87 all in the closing minutes of the game, Ewing took over and hit the go-ahead basket with less than 34 seconds remaining. However, a few Pippen & Jordan misses led to Knick free throws to extend the lead to 5 and to secure the victory.