On This Date: Knicks run the greatest April Fools Day Prank ever

April 1st 1997: The MSG Network, along with the Knicks, run the greatest April Fools Day prank ever

Before the heyday of the modern internet and well before the days of social media, teams and players could get away with a lot of things without repercussion. The Knicks and the MSG Network decided to fool their fans on April Fools Day by announcing on their pregame show that the Knicks signed Clyde to a 10-day contract and released 3rd string PG Scott Brooks (now coach of the Wizards).

The video showed Clyde going through pregame workouts in the Knicks game uniforms. Various members of the organization participated in the stunt, including GM Ernie Grunfeld (now GM of the Wizards), Strength and Conditioning coach Greg Brittenham, Jeff Van Gundy, Don Chaney, Mike Fratello, Chris Childs, and Brooks himself. Marv Albert, Mike Breen, & John Andariese also participated in the video mock-analyzing the move.

Scott Brooks did a masterful acting job as he appeared quite aghast at the move and anticipated signing with a rival team to face the Knicks & Clyde again. Brooks threw a few slight digs at Clyde’s overall age in the process. It was only at the end where news anchor Bob Page reminded fans that the day was April Fool’s Day.

In the era of social media, no team would be able to pull this prank off anymore unnoticed. If anything, you’d have to hope that there was a coordinated effort between Woj, Shams, Marc Stein, and all others to play in with the prank. Additionally, MSG had plenty of cooperation and access to various members of the Knicks coaching staff to participate. I don’t believe Dolan or the current Knicks front office would have the creativity to do something similar.

 

On This Date: Clyde & McAdoo combine for 71 to stay alive in the playoff race

March 31st 1977: Walt “Clyde” Frazier & Bob McAdoo combine for 71 points to keep the Knicks in the playoff hunt

Walt “Clyde” Frazier & Bob McAdoo combined for 71 points to help lead the Knicks past the Pacers 135-131. Clyde scored a season high 41 points on 12-20 from the field and 17-20 from the free throw line. He also had 11 assists, 7 rebounds, and 6 steals.

McAdoo scored 30 points on 12-18 from the field and had 11 rebounds, 6 assists, and 3 steals. 6 Knicks combined for double figures in scoring to help the Knicks achieve victory.

The victory temporarily kept the Knicks alive in the playoff race. Unfortunately, their final record, 40-42, was not enough for the Knicks to reach the playoffs. After the season ended, the Knicks replaced Red Holzman with Willis Reed and traded Clyde to the Cleveland Cavaliers.

On This Date: Ewing scores 37 to squeak victory against the Pacers

March 30th 1999: Patrick Ewing scores 37 points to lead the Knicks past the Pacers

Patrick Ewing led the Knicks with 37 points, 15 rebounds, and 2 blocked shots to help the Knicks secure a 94-93 victory at home against the Indiana Pacers. The 37 points were the most Ewing scored since March 1997, before he tore his Achilles. The game was very close over the the entire game, with neither team securing more than a 5 point lead.

With less than 2 minutes left, the Knicks trailed 93-90. Latrell Sprewell, who scored 18 points off the bench, scored the final 4 points in the game to help the Knicks secure the victory. Spree first scored a layup off a Miller miss to cut the deficit to one. After the Pacers missed their next 3 shot attempts, they fouled Spree after grabbing a rebound to send him to the line to hit the go-ahead free throws.

In what was just another norm in the Knicks/Pacers rivalry, Ewing got into an altercation with Jalen Rose. The two players tussled with each other grabbing a rebound. Ewing pushed Rose down after grabbing the board and Rose subsequently tripped Ewing as he ran up the court. The two went to confront each other with referee Dick Bavetta attempting to mediate. Rose went to throw a punch, but instead accidentally struck Bavetta in the nose, requiring surgery. Ewing didn’t throw a punch. The NBA only fined Ewing $2,500 for the altercation, but suspended Rose for 1 game and fined him $5,000.

The win put the Knicks at 17-14 as they continued to fight for a playoff seed. The loss still kept the Pacers 1.5 games behind the Orlando Magic with the best record in the Eastern Conference. As we know quite well, the Knicks would face the Pacers again in the playoffs and would upset them on the way to an unprecedented NBA Finals trip.

On This Date: Revisit the Knicks 1971 NBA Draft

March 29th 1971: Revisiting the Knicks 1971 NBA Draft

In the spirit of the NBA Draft Lottery and the road to Mt. Zion1, I had a fun time revisiting the earlier days of the NBA Draft. Back in 1971, the draft was held in March and at the same time as the playoffs were happening in the current season. The draft was held over 2 days and there were only 17 teams. Unlike now, college players had to finish 4 years of eligibility before being selected in the upcoming draft. Additionally, the first 2 picks in the NBA Draft were determined based on worst record in each respective conference. The winner of the coin flip received the #1 pick.

The Knicks had 3 picks in the draft, beginning with the #16th overall pick. The Knicks drafted Dean Meminger with their 1st pick and subsequently drafted Gregg Northington with their 2nd round pick (#34 overall) and Kenny Mayfield with their 3rd round pick (#50 overall).

Meminger, known locally as “Dean The Dream,” was a local basketball legend before going to Marquette and before the Knicks drafted him. His college coach, Al McGuire, was Knick scout Dick McGuire’s brother and influenced the selection. Meminger received a championship ring in 1973, but only played 6 seasons in the NBA.

 

 

On This Date: Chris Dudley throws a basketball at Shaq

March 28th 1999: Chris Dudley throws a basketball at Shaq

In a generally frustrating, nationally televised 99-91 loss against the trio of Kobe Bryant, Glen Rice, and Shaquille O’Neal, Chris Dudley had one of his most memorable moments as a Knick. Shaq gave Dudley many problems on the defensive end. During one stretch, Shaq received the ball in the post and easily dunked over Dudley. After the dunk, Shaq inadvertently pushed Dudley to the floor. Dudley immediately threw the ball, like a quarterback, at Shaq’s back and was immediately ejected from the game. In a truly Shaqtian manner, he didn’t realize Dudley hit him and laughed off the moment.

The game was a bit chippy earlier in the game. Kurt Thomas was ejected after tussling with Dennis Rodman attempting to box out for a rebound, as shown below:

For some reason, Kurt decided to push Rodman to the floor and ripped his jersey in the process. In typical Rodman fashion2, he walked away knowing that he just ejected another player.

Fortunately this was not the only fight between both teams as Chris Childs would show Kobe Bryant the art of the jabs next season.

On This Date: Knicks broke 6 game losing streak as Ewing hit his first career 3 pointer

March 27th 1990: Knicks break 6 game losing streak as Ewing hit his first career 3 pointer

The Knicks defeated the Washington Bullets 119-100 to break a 6 game losing streak. Ewing led the way with 41 points, 12 rebounds, and 4 blocked shots. He was 14-22 from the field and 12-14 from the foul line. More impressively, Ewing made his first career three pointer. The three put the team up 18 with 1:44 remaining in the 3rd quarter. He would only make 18 more three pointers over the remainder of his career, the bulk of which occurred between the 1993-94 season and the 1995-96 season.

The game marked another matchup against former Knick Bernard King. King led the Bullets with 23 points, but it wasn’t enough to stop Ewing and the Knicks.

 

On This Date: Trey Burke explodes for a career high 42 points

March 26th 2018: Trey Burke explodes for a career high 42 points

Only months after joining the Knicks roster, Trey Burke exploded for a career high 42 points and 12 assists in a 137-128 loss against the Charlotte Hornets. Burke scored 42 on 19-31 from the field and 3-9 from three. Burke hit shots from all over the court, including layups, threes, and a midrange shot which he hit at a ridiculously high 57% from long 2.

Burke joined the Knicks roster in January after the team cut Ramon Sessions. Rather than joining the Oklahoma City Thunder, Burke decided to sign with the Westchester Knicks to further develop his point guard skills. One of the biggest knocks on Burke’s game to that point was whether he could be a rotation point guard on a competitive team. After having a stretch of solid offensive outputs since the All Star Break, he received his first start the day before against the Washington Wizards.

Burke averaged 13 points/game and 50% from the field with the Knicks in 36 games in the 2017-18 season. He was not able to maintain the high efficiency this season as his FG% from long 2 regressed from 57% to 43% and consequently decreased his overall FG% to 41%. The three headed PG rotation with Emmanuel Mudiay & Frank Ntilikina also reduced his opportunities with the team. The Knicks traded Burke to the Mavericks in the Kristaps Porzingis trade.

 

On This Date: Knicks set NBA home attendance record with victory

March 25th 1972: The New York Knicks set a new home attendance record in a victory against the Cleveland Cavaliers

The Knicks went on a pursuit to break the home attendance record with a resounding 98-83 victory against the Cleveland Cavaliers. The sold-out crowd of 19,588 fans set a new regular season record of 785,298 fans. The number broke the record set last year, by the Knicks, of 763,487 fans.

With Earl Monroe sidelined due to injury, Walt “Clyde” Frazier and Dick Barnett shouldered the offensive load for the team. Clyde scored 23 points while Barnett scored 19 in 35 minutes of action.

The game also featured one of the rare fights during the 1971-72 season between Jerry Lucas and Rick Roberson. Punches were thrown (but missed), but the scuffle ended without further conflict or suspension. Before the David Stern era, the penalties for fighting in a game were either rare or nonexistent at best.

On This Date: Ewing scores a career high 51 points

March 24th 1990: Patrick Ewing scores a career high 51 points in a loss against the Boston Celtics

Despite losing 115-110 to the Boston Celtics in MSG, Patrick Ewing exploded for a career high 51 points in the effort. Ewing scored 51 on 20-29 from the field and 11-13 from the free throw stripe. Ewing also grabbed a ridiculously absurd 18 rebounds. The 51 points and 18 boards amounted to nearly half of the team’s total efforts on both ends.

Ewing simply put on a clinic in the post. He got almost any shot he wanted with a wide array of moves including turn around baskets, fade aways, and layups within the post. It seemed as if he would score any time he touched the ball. A complete dominant effort on the offensive end.


March 24th 1981: Knicks retire Dave DeBusschere’s number

The Knicks retired Dave DeBusschere’s #22 on this date. DeBusschere spent 6 seasons with the Knicks and was part of the team’s 2 championships. He was known as a very tenacious rebounder and defender, making 5 straight NBA All-Defensive Teams from 1969 until his retirement. He was selected to 4 straight NBA All-Star games from 1970-1974.

After his tenure in the NBA, DeBusschere spent his time working in the front office for the Nets in the 1970s before re-joining the Knicks front office in the 1980s. His lasting moment was winning the 1985 draft lottery to select Patrick Ewing with the #1 pick.

On This Date: Knicks-Suns Brawl

March 23rd 1993: Knicks and Suns brawl

The Knicks got involved in one of the more infamous brawls in team history in a tussle against the Phoenix Suns. The tensions began between both Doc Rivers & Kevin Johnson. As the 2nd quarter wound down, KJ began to pressure Doc on an inbounds pass. KJ drew an offensive foul before the pass and both players confronted one another. Both benches cleared, but there were only offsetting technical fouls and no punches thrown. Pat Riley held John Starks back as he had a few words for Danny Ainge.

On the next play, KJ had the ball in his hands, but Doc drew a charge as he was driving into the lane. With 5 seconds left in the half, Doc had the ball for the final play. Doc drove past half court as Ainge guarded him. While he handed the ball off to Starks, KJ bulldozed into him to to end the half and the brawl began.

Doc steamrolled towards KJ and began to throw punches. None of the punches connected however. Ainge & Mason also got entangled in the scuffle. Both benches heavily cleared. The coaches thought they resolved everything temporarily until Greg Anthony showed up.

Anthony, dressed in the ever-so-typical 90s streetwear due to injury, sucker punched Kevin Johnson to reignite the brawl. More shoves were thrown and it got extremely ugly. Eventually, KJ, Ainge, Doc, Anthony, Starks, and Mase were ejected.

Unfortunately, the repercussions after the game hit the Knicks hard and forever altered the NBA’s treatment of altercations. The NBA suspended Doc & KJ for 2 games each, but decided to suspend Greg Anthony for the rest of the season for re-instigating the brawl. The NBA additionally fined 21 players for a combined $160,000, a then record at the time.

The league significantly changed the rules for addressing fights after the season. Players that threw a punch would automatically be ejected and suspended for a minimum of 1 game. Additionally, any player who leaves the bench during an altercation would be suspended for 1 game. The latter rule came to hurt the Knicks several times, including their infamous 1997 playoff matchup with the Miami Heat.

For Greg Anthony, this turned out to be one of the most famous moments in his NBA career.

On this date: Bernard King scores 45 in victory against the Indiana Pacers

March 22nd 1985: Bernard King scores 45 points in a 118-113 victory against the Indiana Pacers

Bernard King dominated for the Knicks once again with 45 points, 12 rebounds, 5 assists, and 2 steals in a 118-113 victory on the road against the Indiana Pacers. King scored 45 on 16-29 from the field and 13-15 from the foul line.

The Knicks held a 17 point lead in the 1st half, but the Pacers, led by Clark Kellogg, Vern Fleming, & future Knick mainstay Herb Williams, cut the lead to 7 by the end of the 3rd quarter. Ultimately, King proved to be too much for the Pacers to handle and the Knicks held onto victory.

This game was part of King’s historic season where he averaged 32.9 points per game. King’s efforts were remarkable despite the fact that the Knicks were 24-46. Unfortunately, this was the last full game King played as he suffered a devastating knee injury in the next day against the then-Kansas City Kings. The injury would sideline him for nearly 2 seasons and ultimately marked the end of his run with the franchise.

On This Date: Patrick Ewing dominates the Charlotte Hornets again

March 19th 1991: Patrick Ewing dominates the Charlotte Hornets for the third time this season

After scoring 50 and 38 points in the previous 2 meetings against the Charlotte Hornets, Patrick Ewing dominated once again with 41 points in a 97-79 victory on the road. Ewing scored 41 on 18-25 from the field, but also grabbed 8 rebounds, dished 7 assists, and blocked 3 shots in the dominant effort. Ewing led or tied the team in all 4 categories.

Ewing was the sole dominant force for the Knicks as he scored nearly half the team’s points. Only he and Kiki Vandeweghe scored in double figures for the team. Outside of Vandeweghe, Ewing scored nearly as many points as the rest of the roster. Most of the team struggled to shoot from the floor outside of Ewing. The win gave the Knicks 17 road wins, which surpassed their total from the previous season.

On This Date: Knicks hire Phil Jackson

March 18th 2014: Knicks hire Phil Jackson as President of Basketball Operations

The Knicks brought back Phil Jackson into the organization as the new President of Basketball Operations on a 5 year $50 million contract. The Knicks previously courted him on several occasions (back in 1999 and 2005) to coach the team, but was rejected due to a myriad of reasons (mostly related to the fact that the team wasn’t as talented). Phil spent most of his playing career with the Knicks where he won 2 championships as a player.

Ever since the team relieved Glen Grunwald of his duties, James Dolan went into full pursuit to find a full-time President of Basketball Operations. Steve Mills returned to the organization to become the interim President of Basketball Operations. At the same time, Madison Square Garden recently acquired the Great Western Forum for the main purpose to renovate the arena to serve as an entertainment venue rivaling the nearby Staples Center.

Through the entertainment business and his own musical ambitions, Dolan maintained a long-standing friendship with Irving Azoff. In 2013, both Azoff and Dolan formed a joint venture – Azoff MSG Entertainment LLC – that served to fuel MSG Entertainment’s presence in the live event industries.

It was at one of Azoff’s parties in late 2013 where Dolan met Phil Jackson. Azoff setup the courtship beforehand to help broker the relationship. Phil advised Dolan on certain basketball transactions (including not trading anymore 1st round picks and nixing the Kyle Lowry/Iman Shumpert trade) over the course of the next few months. Things further progressed in March and the team finalized the hire on March 18th.

Phil Jackson’s hire brought massive expectations to the organization. Many expected the team to re-establish their winning culture and use the influence of Phil’s 11 rings to get back to the NBA Finals. Others expected the Knicks to bring back the triangle offense.

In the months after the hire, Phil had several looming questions to answer. After Phil fired Mike Woodson and traded both Raymond Felton and Tyson Chandler, he was left with a major decision involving Carmelo Anthony. Melo unsurprisingly opted out of his contract at the end of the season. It was assumed that Dolan told Phil that Melo had to be a part of the long-term future of the organization. Therefore, Melo signed a 5 year $124 million extension with a no-trade clause.

Unfortunately, the Melo signing was one of many ill-fated decisions that destroyed Phil’s tenure with the team. Phil hired Derek Fisher with the intention to run the triangle offense. However, the team was not able to grasp the offense and immediately spiraled out of contention before the new year hit. Phil quickly went on a firesale and JR Smith, Iman Shumpert, and Amare Stoudemire were all gone from the team before the All Star Break. Additionally, Melo suffered knee soreness that required surgery. Due to his desire to play in the All Star Game, he postponed the surgery to after the ASB. The injury and surgery severely impacted Melo’s game to this date on both the offensive and defensive end.

Phil seemed to strike gold in the 2015 NBA Draft with the Kristaps Porzingis selection. However, Phil made a rash decision to fire Derek Fisher midway towards the 2015-16 season after only 1.5 years with the team. Phil later hired Jeff Hornacek as the new head coach.

Phil decided to embark on a win-now mission during the 2016 offseason and traded for Derrick Rose while signing Joakim Noah to a massive 4 year $72 million contract and Courtney Lee to a 4 year $50 million contract. The 2016-17 season also proved to be a mess, but it was mainly due to the fact that Phil publicly criticized Melo throughout the entire season. The side-effect to the Melo drama was that Kristaps Porzingis became disenchanted with the organization and decided to skip the exit meeting.

The final straw occurred during the 2017 NBA Draft where Phil tried to trade Porzingis to various teams and seriously considered to buyout Carmelo Anthony. Dolan rejected both ideas and ultimately both parties agreed to part ways. Phil’s last move was drafting both Frank Ntilikina and Damyean Dotson in the 2017 NBA Draft.

The remaining remnants of Phil’s tenure are Lance Thomas, Ntilikina, Dotson, and Joakim Noah’s contract that has been stretched until 2022. Phil did not trade any 1st round picks during his tenure, though he did give up several 2nd round picks in miscellaneous trades. Ultimately it seemed that Phil was never prepared to handle the responsibilities required to be President of Basketball Operations. His mindset was stuck on being a coach and that overshadowed what everyone else was doing within the organization. His public feud with Melo and the Noah free agent signing added dark stains to his professional legacy within the NBA.

On This Date: Knicks broke team record for most 3s made in a game

March 17th 2011: Knicks set record for most threes made in a game

On St. Patrick’s Day 2011, the Knicks broke a team record with 20 three pointers made in a 120-99 blowout victory against the Memphis Grizzlies at MSG. Leading the way for the Knicks was Toney Douglas, who led the Knicks with 29 points and 9 three pointers made. The 9 threes tied John Starks & Latrell Sprewell for most threes made in a game. JR Smith eventually broke the record 3 years later with 10 three pointers made.

The 20 team three pointers made broke the record of 19 set in the 2008-09 season ironically against the Memphis Grizzlies on the road. It’s not a coincidence that Mike D’Antoni coached both those teams as the Knicks emphasized high paced scoring and high volume threes.

To celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, the Knicks wore green uniforms. The team eventually discontinued those uniforms after the 2011-12 season.

On This Date: Allan Houston scores 50 points in victory

March 16th 2003: Allan Houston scores 50 points in a victory against the Milwaukee Bucks

In what amounted to be the 2nd straight disappointing season for the Knicks, Allan Houston brought a slight positive moment with his 2nd 50 point game in a 120-111 victory at home against the Milwaukee Bucks. Houston scored 50 on a very impressive 13-25 from the field, 6-14 from three, and 18-18 from the free throw line. The 18 free throws were even more impressive since Houston was known more as a perimeter scorer.

With this scoring outburst, Houston scored 50 points both at home and on the road. Before the season, Patrick Ewing was the last Knick to score more than 50 points in a game. Houston posted career high numbers of 22.5 points a game while playing all 82 games in the season. While Latrell Sprewell posted career-low numbers and Antonio McDyess sidelined for the entire season, Houston was the Knicks’ lone consistent offensive option. Unfortunately, injuries saddled Houston for the final 2 years of his career while his $100 million contract burdened the Knicks.

On This Date: Harry Gallatin grabs a Knick-high 33 rebounds in a game

March 15th 1953: Harry Gallatin grabs a Knick-record 33 rebounds

Harry Gallatin ended the 1952-53 season with a bang, scoring 30 points and grabbing 33 rebounds in a 81-69 loss against the Fort Wayne Pistons. While rebounds weren’t tracked fully until 1973, the 33 boards remain a Knick record to this date. Willis Reed later tied his record in the 1970-71 season.

While his height of 6’6 would make him more of a shooting guard or point guard in this era, Gallatin was instead a rugged and tenacious rebounder. He averaged more than 12 rebounds a game while with the Knicks.

On This Date: Mike D’Antoni resigns

March 14th 2012: Mike D’Antoni resigns

Mike D’Antoni resigned from the team on this date, days after the Knicks lost another close game on national TV on the road against the Chicago Bulls. D’Antoni, in the final year of his contract, was on the hotseat for most of the season. The NBA Lockout significantly reduced the amount of time D’Antoni could spend to create an offensive system and strengthen team chemistry. Because of the lockout, the team had little practice time and often had bouts of back-to-back-to-back games.

D’Antoni could never find a way to successfully mesh the trio of Carmelo Anthony, Amare Stoudemire, and Tyson Chandler. Melo & Amare in particular did not come into the season in great shape (due to the lockout) and D’Antoni was not able to find a way to build an offensive system that could take advantage of their strengths.

Additionally, the team lacked a point guard for most of the season. After the team amnestied Chauncey Billups, the team relied on Mike Bibby & Toney Douglas to reign in the point guard duties for the early stretch of the season. Both players struggled (for obvious reasons) and consequently led to Melo & Amare’s struggles.

Furthermore, the rise of Jeremy Lin added additional pressure on the team to mesh in the 2nd half of the season. Once Melo returned from injury, both he and Lin could not seem to complement each other and the team continued to lose games.

Most of the attention focused on the clash in styles between Carmelo Anthony & Mike D’Antoni. While neither of them had a public outburst, it seemed that there just was not enough time to successfully build proper synergy between the two of them. After the big trade in February 2011, the entire team basically flipped over and there just was not enough time to develop a system. D’Antoni had an uptempo offensive system while Melo preferred a system that favored more isolation-heavy options.

At the time of his resignation, the Knicks were 18-24 and just suffered a 6 game losing streak (their 2nd 6-game losing streak of the season). Mike Woodson took over interim duties and the team reverted more to an isolation-heavy offense with an emphasis on defense. The Knicks went 18-6 to end the season to reach the playoffs. The Heat defeated the Knicks in 5 games.


March 14th 1992: Dick McGuire’s jersey retired

Dick McGuire’s number 15 was retired for the 2nd time on this date. The Knicks previously retired the number in 1986 for Earl Monroe. McGuire spent more than 8 decades with the Knicks as a player, coach, scout, and team executive. He was responsible for discovering various draft picks, including the point guard duo of Mark Jackson and Rod Strickland.

 

On This Date: John Andariese passed away

March 13th 2017: John Andariese passed away

Knicks broadcasting legend John Andariese (aka Johnny Hoops) passed away on this date in 2017. The native of Brooklyn spent more than 40 years as the Knicks basketball analyst on both TV and radio. He served as the battery mate for Marv Albert for more than 25 years on the radio and on MSG Network beginning in 1972. He spent one year as the battery mate for Mike Breen before spending the remainder of his career working on the radio alongside various play-by-play announcers such as Marv Albert, Mike Breen, Gus Johnson, and Spero Dedes.  I vividly remember listening to Johnny Hoops on the radio throughout the 2000s even when the Knicks were in the doldrums of the NBA.

Outside of the Knicks, Andariese spent more than 10 years as the college basketball TV analyst for NBC Sports between the 80s and 90s. He also hosted a show on NBA TV called NBA Legends with Johnny Hoops. After retiring from broadcasting in 2012, the Basketball Hall of Fame inducted Johnny Hoops as a Curt Gowdy award winner.

March 13th 1990: Gerald Wilkins and Michael Jordan face off in another tough battle

In one of many battles against the Chicago Bulls, it was the Gerald Wilkins & Michael Jordan subplot that became an interesting subplot in the game. While the Bulls defeated the Knicks 111-108, both Wilkins & MJ combined for 60 points and shot over 57% from the field. MJ scored 34 while Wilkins scored 26.

Self-dubbed as the “Jordan Stopper” in the late 80s and early 90s, Wilkins reveled in the few battles fought against Jordan. Wilkins often defended Jordan and made him work for his points on the offensive end.  The rivalry lasted until the beginning of Jordan’s first retirement in 1993.

 

On This Date: Knicks surprisingly give Isiah Thomas a contract extension

March 12th 2007: James Dolan gives Isiah Thomas a contract extension

After leading the Knicks to a 29-34 record and barely staying afloat at the #8 seed in the Eastern Conference, James Dolan surprisingly decided to give Isiah Thomas a multi-year contract extension. After the disastrous 2005-06 season that led to Larry Brown’s firing, Dolan gave Isiah Thomas an 1 year ultimatum to show “evident progress” otherwise he’d be fired. Somehow a 29-34 record was adequate enough.

In Knicksian fashion, the team won 4 of the remaining 19 games to fall well out of playoffs. Both Jamal Crawford & David Lee had their seasons end early due to injuries. The next season proved to be disastrous due to the verdict from the sexual harassment lawsuit and a very public feud with Stephon Marbury. The Knicks were deemed an “embarrassment” by David Stern. Stern coerced Dolan to hire Donnie Walsh and subsequently fired Isiah at the end of the season.

On This Date: Larry Hughes propels Knicks to back-to-back victories

March 11th 2009: Larry Hughes helps Knicks achieve back-to-back victories

Recently acquired Larry Hughes came through in the clutch for the Knicks on back-to-back nights in the middle of a 5 game road stretch. Hughes scored 39 points in the previous night against the Milwaukee Bucks and hit the go-ahead basket to seal the victory. On this night – against the Detroit Pistons – , Hughes drew a clutch foul against Rip Hamilton behind the 3 point arc before the end of regulation. Hughes hit all three FTs to tie the game and send it to overtime. The Knicks defeated the Pistons in overtime 116-111. Hughes scored 22 points, 4 rebounds, and 4 assists in the victory.

The Knicks acquired Hughes at the trade deadline for Tim Thomas, Anthony Roberson, and the ever disappointing Jerome James. From a cap perspective, the trade didn’t change anything other than help the team acquire a veteran guard to provide additional depth on the team. Hughes remained with the team until the 2010 Trade Deadline where Hughes was sent to the Kings in the infamous 3-team Tracy McGrady deal.

On This Date: Red Holzman’s number retired and the inauguration of the Westchester Knicks

March 10th 1990: Knicks retire Red Holzman’s number

The Knicks retired Red Holzman’s number on this date. The Knicks retired the number “613” which represented the total number of wins he had as coach of the New York Knicks. Red helped lead the Knicks to both of their NBA Championships in 1970 and 1973. The team retired his number along with Dick Barnett’s during halftime of the game against the New Jersey Nets.


March 10th 2014: The Birth of the Westchester Knicks

The Westchester Knicks were inaugurated on this date. At the time, it was the 18th franchise established in the then-NBA Developmental League (now G-League). Unlike the previous D-League squad the Erie Bayhawks, the Westchester G-League franchise now represented a single affiliation with the New York Knicks NBA team.

The Knicks went through a contest to determine the name and uniform colors for the team. Not surprisingly, Westchester retained the name “Knicks” and the white, orange and blue color scheme.

As part of the new trend of the G-League teams, the Westchester Knicks largely mimics their NBA counterpart and acts as a true minor league system to develop players for the Knicks franchise. The team normally runs the same offense instilled by the NBA team. Players such as Langston Galloway, Ron Baker, Trey Burke, and Kadeem Allen have been some of the more notable successes to graduate from the Westchester Knicks system.

On This Date: Melo hits game-winner against the Grizzlies

March 9th 2011: Carmelo Anthony hits the game-winning basket to defeat the Memphis Grizzlies

Carmelo Anthony scored 31 points, but hit the biggest shot of the night with half a second left over Tony Allen to defeat the Memphis Grizzlies 110-108. Melo received the ball in the post on the weak side and went to work against Tony Allen, the Grizzlies’ best defender. All it took was a couple jab steps and Melo had enough room to hit the midrange shot over him. This was Melo’s first official game-winning basket as a Knick. As he made the basket, Melo famously yelled “I Do This” to the Grizzlies bench.

Melo also received help from Amare Stoudemire who scored 26 points on 13-22 from the field. Toney Douglas, starting in place of the injured Chauncey Billups, had a double double with 18 points and 10 assists.

The Knicks led by 14 at the end of the 3rd, but allowed the Grizzlies to come back and tie the game with less than 15 seconds remaining in the game. Melo’s game-winner prevented a potentially embarrassing collapse on the road.


March 9th 2003: MJ’s last official game in MSG

Michael Jordan played his last ever game in Madison Square Garden with the Washington Wizards. The game was nationally televised on ABC and was obviously a sold-out crowd in the Garden. Jordan had a vintage-like performance with 39 points, 7 rebounds, and 8 assists, but the Knicks won the game 97-96. The duo of Allan Houston & Latrell Sprewell combined for 48 points and helped the Knicks squeak victory.

On This Date: Knicks fire Don Nelson and promote Jeff Van Gundy to head coach

March 8th 1996:  The New York Knicks fire Don Nelson and appoint Jeff Van Gundy as the new head coach

In one of the shortest head coaching tenures in modern NBA history, the Knicks fired Don Nelson after only 59 games despite a 34-25 record with the team. Unlike the Golden State Warriors, where Nelson feuded with Chris Webber, the entire team had issues with Nelson. Nelson favored a modern up-tempo style of basketball while the players wanted more of the same under the Pat Riley era. He centered the offense around Anthony Mason and unleashed his skills as a point-forward to the disdain of Patrick Ewing. Ewing obviously favored centering the offense from the low post. In the weeks leading up to his firing, Nelson benched John Starks and had Hubert Davis replace him in the 4th quarters of games.

The final straw was when Nelson stated – off the record with people in Madison Square Garden – that the Knicks had to move on from Patrick Ewing and try to trade him to Orlando for Shaquille O’Neal. The word caught back to Ewing and the relationship was toast. The core Knicks – led by Ewing – sparked a mini-insurrection until Ernie Grunfeld fired Nelson.

In reality, the Knicks roster were insistent on maintaining the status quo and the style of offense and defense that thrived under Pat Riley. Nelson wanted to implement a modern, but eccentric approach to basketball that an old veteran team was not willing to accept. Some of his initial philosophies, including using Anthony Mason as a point forward, have been incorporated in today’s modern NBA.

Jeff Van Gundy replaced Nelson as the interim head coach. Van Gundy, then 34, stuck around as an assistant coach dating back to the Stu Jackson era. His offensive and defensive philosophies were largely influenced from the Riley era. He centered the offense back around Ewing and re-emphasized defense. The Jeff Van Gundy Knicks personified tough defense while often sacrificing high scoring outputs on offense.

Furthermore, Van Gundy inherited assistant coach Don Chaney from Nelson’s coaching staff to be his full-time assistant coach until his resignation in 2001. During his tenure with the Knicks, he played a role in developing 3 assistant coaches that eventually became NBA head coaches in Tom Thibodeau, Steve Clifford, and Mike Malone.

On This Date: Clyde helps Knicks crush 76ers

March 7th 1973: Clyde Frazier helps Knicks crush the Philadelphia 76ers

The Knicks rounded back to form to rout the hapless Philadelphia 76ers 120-94. Clyde led the way with a near triple double and had 28 points, 13 rebounds, and 9 assists. Bill Bradley also had 22 points in 34 minutes. Both Willis Reed & Phil Jackson had double doubles with the same identical statline of 17 points, 12 rebounds, and 3 assists.

Both teams headed in different directions that season. The Knicks eventually won their 2nd NBA championship as they defeated the Los Angeles Lakers. The 76ers lost every game for the remainder of the season as they finished 9-73. The team eventually drafted Doug Collins with the #1 pick in the NBA Draft. Collins spent his entire NBA career with the 76ers and made 4 All Star teams before entering the coaching and broadcasting worlds.

On this date: Knicks score 133 in victory against the Spurs

March 21st 1988: The New York Knicks score a then-season high 133 points in a victory against the San Antonio Spurs

In a box score that would fit in with the modern NBA, the Knicks scored a then-season high 133 points in a 133-121 road victory against the San Antonio Spurs. The team shot over 52% from the field even though they only made 2 three point shots. Additionally, the Knicks attempted 45 free throws, but only made 31 of the attempts. Interestingly enough, the bench had just as many free throw attempts as the starting lineup, but only missed 4 free throws compared to 19 for the latter group.

6 Knicks scored in double figures in the victory. Rookie Mark Jackson continued his stellar Rookie of the Year campaign with 20 points, 7-10 from the field, and 14 assists. Johnny Newman led the Knicks in scoring with 25 points, on 12-21 from the field, and 7 assists. Patrick Ewing scored 23 points on 10-15 from the field.

The Knicks eventually broke their season high in scoring with 136 points in a road victory against the Philadelphia 76ers on April 5th 1988.