On This Date: Willis Reed scores 38 to lead the Knicks past the Lakers in Game 3 of the 1970 NBA Finals

April 29th 1970: Willis Reed scores 38 points to propel the Knicks past the Lakers in Overtime

Willis Reed scored 38 points from the Knicks, who overcame a 14 point halftime deficit to defeat the Lakers on the road in overtime 111-108. After trailing 56-42 in the 1st half, the Knicks, led by Dave DeBusschere & Dick Barnett, stormed back to tie the game with minutes left in regulation. The Knicks did take the lead 102-100 with 3 seconds left, but Jerry West hit a miraculous buzzer-beating half-court shot to tie the game. Unfortunately for Jerry West, the NBA did not adopt the three point line until 1979, so the shot only tied the game.

In overtime, Barnett & Reed helped clinch the victory for the Knicks. With 38 points, Reed started off the series with a scoring average of 31.3 ppg. However, his main heroics would come near the end of the NBA Finals.

 

On This Date: Knicks set a record for most points given up in a NBA playoff game

April 28th 1990: The Knicks allow the Boston Celtics to score an NBA Playoff record 157 points in a blowout loss

The New York Knicks were on the wrong side of playoff history in the 1990 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against the Boston Celtics. The Knicks allowed the Celtics to score a whopping 157 points in a 29 point blowout loss in Boston. The 157 points still stands as the most points scored by a team in NBA Playoff history. In the modern NBA (post-1970), the 157 points marks the most the Knicks gave up to a team in a game (regular season or playoffs). The Knicks did allow Wilt Chamberlain & the Philadelphia Warriors to score 169 points in the game where Wilt scored 100 points.

On This Date: Bernard King and Isiah Thomas play in one of the greatest Game 5’s in NBA History

April 27th 1984: Bernard King’s vs Isiah Thomas in Game 5 of the 1984 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals

Game 5 of the 1984 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals was one of the greatest games in NBA Playoff history. Bernard King came into the series-deciding game with the flu and two dislocated middle fingers. Despite those ailments, King was able to score 40 points through the end of regulation.

However, with the Knicks up 8 with 1:34 remaining, Isiah Thomas staged one of the most amazing comebacks in NBA history. Isiah scored 16 points in 94 seconds to force the game into overtime.

Fortunately, King scored 4 more points in overtime to help the Knicks defeat the Pistons 127-123 in Game 5 to advance to the Semifinals. King scored 44 points on 17-26 from the field and grabbed 12 rebounds. Isiah Thomas had a double double with 35 points and 12 assists. During the series, King averaged 42.6 points/game on more than 60% from the field, scoring 40 points a game from Games 2-5.

The Knicks would matchup with Larry Bird and the Boston Celtics in the Semifinals. The Celtics would defeat the Knicks in 7 games. Unlike the matchup with the Pistons, King would not be able to replicate the multiple consecutive 40 point efforts.

 

On This Date: Spree hits the go-ahead basket to sink the Raptors in Game 2

April 26th 2000: Latrell Sprewell hit the go-ahead jumper to defeat the Toronto Raptors in Game 2

Unlike Game 1, Vince Carter had an offensive outburst with 27 points on 7-13 from the field. However, Latrell Sprewell scored 25, including 13 in the final 7 minutes of the game, to help the Knicks erase a 16 point 3rd quarter deficit. With the Knicks down 83-82, Spree hit the game-winning basket with less than 8 seconds left over Vince to put the Knicks up 84-83. On the last possession, Vince ended up passing the ball to Dee Brown who missed the final shot. The victory put the Knicks ahead 2-0 on the road to a sweep.

On This Date: 20-0 Run helps the Knicks sink the Cavaliers in Game 1

April 25th 1996: Knicks go on a 20-0 run in the 4th quarter to sink the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals

Through the first 3 quarters, the Cavaliers & Knicks were stuck in a tight battle. But with 9 minutes remaining in the 4th quarter and the Cavs up 75-74, Patrick Ewing hit a jumper in the lane to begin a 20-0 run. The run put the Knicks up 94-75 and they cruised to a 106-83 blowout victory.

The fun was facilitated by some ridiculous ball movement. The Knicks had 32 assists with only 4 turnovers. 3 Knicks had 7 assists, including Anthony Mason (10 points, 7 rebounds, 7 assists), John Starks (21 points, 7 rebounds, 7 assists), and Derek Harper (12 points, 7 assists). Ewing led the way with 23 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists, and 2 blocked shots.

The Cavaliers’ constant double teaming facilitated the ball movement. Hubert Davis (5 three pointers made, 4 in the 4th quarter) and John Starks (6 three pointers) were recipients of the great passing. Starks & Davis helped lead the Knicks to a team playoff record of 17 three pointers made.

 

On This Date: Knicks win Game 1 against Anthony Mason and the Charlotte Hornets

April 24th 1997: The New York Knicks defeat the Charlotte Hornets in Game 1 of the 1997 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals

The Knicks/Hornets rivalry intensified during the 1996-97 season after the Larry Johnson/Anthony Mason trade. LJ left the Hornets on a sour note after publicly requesting a trade due to a disillusionment regarding the direction of the franchise and a desire for a long-term contract. The trade left a severely bitter taste in Mase’s mouth. He felt resentment after the trade and alleged that Patrick Ewing played a role in his departure. Ewing & Mase clashed offensively over the course of their 5 year tenure. Mase clamored more touches during the Riley era & Ewing often complained about lack of touches during the short Don Nelson run.

During the regular season, the Hornets won 3 of the 4 matchups, including the last 3. Their last game in February delved into heated tensions at halftime where both John Starks & Glen Rice had to be separated after yelling “you want some of this” in the tunnel.

Despite the regular season acrimony, the real battle began on Game 1 when Mase returned to MSG and Larry Johnson faced off against his old team. To begin the playoffs, the Knick players wore warmup shirts with the slogan “make em feel ya.” Starks created the slogan on behalf of the team. Additionally, 8 of the players shaved their heads as part of the playoff tradition, including Allan Houston & LJ.

The Knicks did defeat the Hornets 109-99 in Game 1. It was the new Knicks – Houston, Childs, & LJ – that made the most contributions in the victory. Houston led the team with 25 points on 4-7 from three and LJ scored 20 on 2-4 from three. Chris Childs scored 14 points and had 8 assists. The Knicks held a 13 point lead at halftime, but the Hornets erased the lead by the end of the 3rd quarter. The Knicks eventually built a 10 point cushion in the 4th for the victory.

Despite the tenacious rivalry during the regular season, the Knicks handily swept the Hornets to advance to the Eastern Conference Semifinals.

On This Date: Latrell Sprewell shuts down Vince Carter in the Raptors’ first ever NBA Playoff game

April 23rd 2000: Latrell Sprewell shuts down Vince Carter in his first NBA Playoff game

Latrell Sprewell gave Vince Carter & the Toronto Raptors the toughest initiation into the NBA Playoff environment with a crushing defensive effort to help the Knicks defeat the Raptors 92-88 in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals. Spree held Carter to 16 points on 3-20 from the field. His main scoring output came from the line where Carter made 9-10 from the stripe. Spree, on the other hand, scored 21 points on 9-16 from the field.

Spree simply hounded Vince all game. His defense suffocated any opportunity Vince could get to score the basket. Each one of his shots were heavily contested. On the rare occasion that Carter eluded Spree, he was swarmed by an army of big men ready to block his shots. He was forced to take a lot of rushed shots and did not have an opportunity to get any easy baskets. Through the 3rd quarter, Vince was held without a field goal and only scored his points from the free throw line.

The Toronto Raptors made it to the NBA Playoffs for the first time in their short NBA history. However, their lack of playoff experience and youth proved to be too much of a obstacle as the Knicks handily swept them in 3 games. However, the Raptors came back next year, sans Tracy McGrady, to ultimately upset the Knicks in 5 games.

On This Date: Bernard King scores 46 points to secure a Game 3 Victory against the Pistons

April 22nd 1984: Bernard King scored 46 points to defeat the Pistons in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals

Days after Bernard King scored 46 points in a Game 2 loss, he scored 46 again in a 120-113 Game 3 victory at home. King was literally unstoppable on offense, hitting 19-27 from the floor and 8-12 from the foul line. He went head-to-head with Kelly Tripucka (former MSG studio analyst) who also had 40 points. Unlike Game 2, King received some help on the offensive end. The Knicks had 6 players score in double figures, including King, Cartwright (20 points), & Rory Sparrow (14 points). King & Sparrow had double doubles with 10 rebounds and 10 assists respectively.

The Pistons only scored 36 points in the 1st half and trailed by 18 points. They, however, climbed back in the 2nd half and scored a team record 77 points in the 2nd half.

This game marked a stretch of 4 straight 40 point games for King. He would score 40 points 6 times during the Knicks’ 1984 playoff run.

On This Date: Ernie Grunfeld demoted as Knicks GM

April 21st 1999: Ernie Grunfeld demoted as Knicks GM

The longstanding tension between Ernie Grunfeld & Jeff Van Gundy officially came to an end when Team President Dave Checketts notified Grunfeld of his demotion while out eating dinner. Checketts & Grunfeld became close friends after working together since 1991. Unfortunately, the long simmering feud between Grunfeld & JVG proved to be too much for Madison Square Garden to handle.

Grunfeld & Van Gundy were both assistant coaches under Stu Jackson. After the Knicks fired Stu Jackson, there were rumblings that assistant coaches (including Van Gundy) thought that Grunfeld undermined his coaching tenure. Grunfeld quickly moved into the front office as Van Gundy remained an assistant coach for several more coaches until 1996.

The tensions boiled further leading into and through the 1998-99 lockout season. One point of contention was trading both Charles Oakley & John Starks. Van Gundy, who had the utmost support of his teammates, wanted to retain both players. Grunfeld, on the other hand, accurately predicted that the team was getting too old. He saw trading both players as necessary to endure one final run with Patrick Ewing nearing the end of his NBA career.

Due to the lockout, there was enormous pressure on the Knicks and the team struggled from the onset. The Knicks teetered on missing the playoffs for the first time since 1987. Latrell Sprewell & Marcus Camby also played limited minutes for most of the season to the ire of the front office.

Throughout the season, Jeff Van Gundy’s job was on the line. With Phil Jackson sitting out the year, there was rampant speculation that the Knicks would hire Phil to replace Van Gundy. Therefore, the tensions were very high. To make it even worse, there were various stories reported about the front office’s dissatisfaction with Van Gundy and vice versa. There were several public retorts expressing their dissatisfaction towards each other.

Furthermore, it seems that the beat reporters & PR team played a major role in the feud. The NY Post, led by Peter Vecsey, received scoops from Grunfeld. The NY Daily News’ Mike Lupica received scoops from Checketts. Frank Isola & the NY Times’ Mike Wise received scoops from Jeff Van Gundy & the players who sided with their coach. The PR department within the Knicks organization took sides in the feud too.1

Because the internal turmoil leaked to the press, Cablevision, the new Knicks’ ownership group, had enough and wanted to squash the infighting. James Dolan, at the time the vice chairman of MSG, & the late Marc Lustgarten forced both parties to resolve their differences. When it seemed that the differences were irreconcilable, Dolan & Lustgarten forced Checketts to fire one of them. Because Van Gundy had the support of his players, Checketts had to fire Grunfeld.

The firing was done at a strange time, which doesn’t seem to be out of the ordinary in the Knicks landscape. The Knicks were barely scratching the 8 seed at the time of the demotion. Eventually, the Knicks secured the 8 seed, defeated the #1 seed Miami Heat, and made it to the NBA Finals. Van Gundy remained with the Knicks on a contract extension until the beginning of the 2001-02 season.

Grunfeld’s legacy with the Knicks is honestly a mixed bag to me. Obviously it’s easy to say that the Knicks made the playoffs every single season he was a part of the front office, including the two NBA Finals runs in 1994 & 1999. His notable signings included Anthony Mason, Allan Houston, Chris Childs, & Kurt Thomas. His more notable trades included acquiring Doc Rivers, Charles Smith, Larry Johnson, Latrell Sprewell, & Marcus Camby. He did draft both Greg Anthony & Charlie Ward. However, I do wonder whether Grunfeld did enough to surround Ewing with a legitimate #2 option and provide him with younger talent that could have helped the Knicks compete against the more athletic playoff teams. The Knicks mostly neglected draft picks and favored acquiring older, past-the-prime veterans.

The Grunfeld demotion had long-term repercussions on the direction of the Knicks franchise. For one, James Dolan became a more influential and vocal voice in the Knicks front office. His influence led to Dave Checketts’ dismissal in 2001. His influence and the tensions from the 1998-99 season also helped formulate the current iteration of the Knicks media policy that certain beat writers (i.e. Isola) consider draconian and “big brother-lite.” The new media policy led to fewer leaks and the beat writers lost their once valued access to the organization. Isola seemed to have a big problem with the policy. Furthermore, Van Gundy’s resignation and the eventual dismissal of some of his assistant coaches (Tom Thibodeau) furthered Isola’s feud with the organization. Essentially, there’s a reason the New York Daily News is not highly regarded within Madison Square Garden.

On This Date: Patrick Ewing sets the Knicks all-time single season scoring record

April 20th 1990: Patrick Ewing sets the Knicks single season scoring record

Despite the fact that the Knicks lost 126-112 to the Atlanta Hawks, Patrick Ewing had a momentous night in setting the team’s all-time scoring record. He broke the Knick record of 2,303 points held by Richie Guerin.

Ewing ended up with 2,347 points scored on an average of 28.6 ppg. Ewing also played the entire regular season which itself was a remarkable feat of durability. The 28.6 ppg only ranks 4th on the all-time scoring list. Bernard King holds the Knicks record with 32.9 ppg, but was bedeviled by the unfortunate ACL injury that shortened his season. Guerin scored 29.5 ppg in his record-setting season, but only played in 78 games. Carmelo Anthony led the NBA with 28.7 ppg in the 2012-13 season, but only played in 67 regular season games.

Ewing’s scoring record to this date is quite impressive especially due to his ability to be durable. In an era where “load management” is routine rather than reviled, it’s hard to see Ewing’s record broken anytime soon.

On This Date: Melo’s 42 point playoff outburst against the Boston Celtics

April 19th 2011: Carmelo Anthony caries Knicks with 42 points in Game 2 loss

Without Chauncey Billups due to a knee injury and Amare Stoudemire in the 2nd half due to back spasms (after attempting dunks in practice), Carmelo Anthony single handedly willed the Knicks during this game. Melo scored 42 points and had 17 rebounds and 6 assists. He led the Knicks in just about every offensive category. However, it wasn’t enough to defeat the Boston Celtics as the Knicks lost 96-93.

In prime Melo fashion, he scored from all over the court. Whether it was in the paint, in the midrange (via his signature jab steps), or from the three point arc, Melo was proficient and neither Jeff Green or Paul Pierce could stop him alone. He kept the team in the game despite being severely outmanned by the defending Eastern Conference champions.

Ultimately, Kevin Garnett hit the go-ahead basket in the final seconds. Melo tried to feed the ball to Jared Jeffries after seeing a double team, but Jeffries fumbled the go-ahead pass and the Celtics stole the ball from him.

Melo’s performance in Game 2 made me wonder what happened if the NBA Lockout didn’t happen. Perhaps a proper offseason would have helped coach D’Antoni fully utilize Melo’s talents (especially on the passing end). We may have seen a souped up Olympic Melo, but that memory will only exist in our dreams.


April 19th 1996: Patrick Ewing records his only triple double

Patrick Ewing recorded his only triple double in his NBA career with 28 points, 15 rebounds, and 11 assists. Unfortunately, the Knicks lost to the Charlotte Hornets 115-108. The game was merely important for the Knicks to establish playoff seeding and home court advantage in the first round of the Eastern Conference Playoffs. Future Knick Larry Johnson hurt the Knicks with 28 points and 18 rebounds.

 

On This Date: Knicks fire Isiah Thomas

April 18th 2008: Knicks fire Isiah Thomas

The Knicks & Donnie Walsh officially end the Isiah Thomas era on this date. After helping the Knicks reach the playoffs in the 2003-04 season, the Knicks went on a downward spiral the previous 4 seasons, winning 33 games twice and 23 games twice. The Knicks were in salary cap hell with long-term contracts and below mediocre talent. The team also had plenty of off-court drama with 5 head coaches (including Isiah), infighting in the locker room, and a sexual harassment scandal that ultimately ruined Isiah & Stephon Marbury’s tenure with the organization.

The NBA forced Donnie Walsh onto the Knicks to help rebuild the team into a competent basketball organization. The team was simply an embarrassment in professional sports. A major step of rectification was to remove Isiah from the team. While Isiah was not around the organization, he still maintained a role as a consultant because he was due a large sum of money from his recent contract extension.

 

On This Date: The JR Smith & Steve Novak show

April 17th 2012: The JR Smith & Steve Novak show help defeat the Boston Celtics

In one of many fun games during the 2011-12 season, JR Smith & Steve Novak came off the bench to have a 3 point extravaganza. Smith & Novak combined for 50 points off the bench – and 15 combined threes – to defeat the Celtics at home 118-110 on TNT. JR & Novak formed a unconventional dynamic duo during their tenure with their penchants to hit threes.

In the 1st half, Novak hit 4 threes and JR hit all 7 of his threes in the 1st half. Both of them had an excellent two-man game where they fed each other passes to get wide open threes on the break. Most of JR’s 6 assists & Novak’s 2 assists were to each other for threes. TNT’s Kevin Harlan got into the excitement early in the 1st half with his call of the shots. One particular call was a JR Smith three where he said “he puts it in from Schenectady.” Novak also got into the fun with a 4 point play where he fell into Mike Woodson’s lap. He also brought out his signature “discount double check” celebration.

The Knicks led by 19 in the 1st half, but the game got tighter heading into the 4th quarter. Novak saved 4 of his 8 threes in the 4th quarter to help reclaim a comfortable lead. With the Knicks up 10 with less than 6 minutes left in the 4th, Novak hit a big 3 to put the Knicks up 13. In true wrestling fashion, he brought out the championship belt and Harlan proclaimed “put on the belt.” Novak was 8-10 from three for the game and didn’t miss any of his 4 threes in the 4th quarter. Those threes helped clinch the victory.

Lost in the three point shuffle was Carmelo Anthony’s triple double. Melo scored 35 points and had 12 rebounds and 10 assists. Ultimately it was the three point show that wowed Madison Square Garden on this night.

 

On This Date: Knicks bring back Quentin Richardson

April 16th 2013: Knicks bring back Quentin Richardson

In what should not have been a surprising move, the Knicks signed Quentin Richardson to the team. The Knicks wanted to sign additional veteran depth at both the SG and SF positions and thought Q-Rich could fit that role. Additionally, the team wanted an additional body that could play in the final game while the main rotation players would rest. The Knicks waived both Rasheed Wallace (in the next day) and Kurt Thomas (previously) due to career ending injuries.

Q-Rich played in the final game of the regular season where he grabbed 10 rebounds in 28 minutes. Q-Rich was largely a caricature of himself when he returned to the team, just like Kurt Thomas & Marcus Camby. He played quite sparingly in the playoffs, only appearing during blowout games.

On This Date: Knicks extend Don Chaney’s contract

April 15th 2003: Knicks extend Don Chaney’s contract

After the Knicks went 37-45 during the 2002-03 season, GM Scott Layden gave Don Chaney a 3 year contract extension worth $7 million. Chaney had a record of 57-88 through his 1.5 seasons as head coach of the Knicks. Despite losing Antonio McDyess for the entire season, Chaney squeezed 37 wins out of a roster that was largely unathletic, old, and heavily dependent on Allan Houston’s production.

Unfortunately, the extension proved to be premature. After the Knicks started the 2003-04 season slow, the team fired Scott Layden & hired Isiah Thomas as the new GM. A month later, Isiah fired Chaney with more than 2 years left on his new contract. Fortunately, James Dolan didn’t seem to care much about paying former employees.

On This Date: Knicks clinch #2 seed in victory over Pacers

April 14th 2013: Knicks clinch #2 seed in the Eastern conference by defeating the Indiana Pacers

The Knicks defeated the Indiana Pacers at home 90-80 to officially clinch the #2 seed in the Eastern Conference. The victory helped clinch the Knicks’ highest playoff seeding since the 1993-94 season. The Knicks also became the Atlantic Division champions, their first division title since the 1993-94 season. The team eventually won 54 games that season. The 54 wins were the highest since the 1996-97 season (the Knicks were 57-25 that season).

Coincidentally, the Knicks would face the Pacers in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. The Knicks had not reached the semis since the 1999-00 season. Unfortunately, the Knicks lost home court advantage in Game 1 and eventually lost the series in 6 games.

On This Date: Ewing scores 41 in a blowout against the Indiana Pacers

April 13th 1988: Patrick Ewing scores 41 in a blowout against the Indiana Pacers

Patrick Ewing completely dominated the Indiana Pacers with 41 points in only 26 minutes in a 127-107 blowout against the Indiana Pacers. Ewing hit 18-24 from the field and would have had more points had he not sat for most of the 2nd quarter due to foul trouble. Ewing only played half the 4th quarter as the Knicks had a 25 point lead when he left the game to a standing ovation.

This game was a stretch of 4 of 6 games where Ewing scored more than 36 points  (with 40+ in 2 of the games). Each game was important for the Knicks to stay afloat in the playoff seeding. This victory helped the Knicks move into the 7th seed in the playoff race. The Knicks settled into the 8 seed when they faced the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference playoffs. Largely due to playoff inexperience (this was Ewing’s first playoff series), the Knicks lost to the Celtics in 4 games.

On This Date: Knicks fire Jeff Hornacek

April 12th 2018: Knicks fire Jeff Hornacek

The Knicks fired Jeff Hornacek less than 24 hours after their final game of the regular season. Steve Mills & Scott Perry informed Hornacek of the decision after the team plane landed in Westchester County Airport in the wee hours of the night. Rather than waiting days after the season ended, the front office wanted to notify Hornacek immediately to start the process of finding a new coach.

Hornacek was a carryover from the Phil Jackson era with one additional season remaining on his contract. Although Steve Mills was part of the hiring process, Hornacek wasn’t someone either one of them felt was the future coach for the rebuilding process.

Due to the Kristaps Porzingis injury, the team wanted to pivot into a rebuilding process. Therefore, both Perry & Mills felt a new coach was necessary to provide a new identity for what would be one of the youngest teams in the league.

On This Date: Ewing scores 36 and hit the go-ahead fade away in OT to defeat the Detroit Pistons

April 11th 1988: Patrick Ewing scores 36 and hits the go-ahead fade-away to defeat the Detroit Pistons in Overtime

Patrick Ewing carried the Knicks on offense with 36 points, on 11-15 from the field and 14-20 from the free throw line, to help defeat the Detroit Pistons 114-111 in overtime. Ewing hit the go-ahead fade away jumper to put the Knicks up 1 and was fouled on the play by Isiah Thomas. While Ewing couldn’t convert the 3 point play, Dennis Rodman was not able to secure the defensive rebound. Johnny Newman eventually went to the line to hit the two clutch free throws to put the Knicks up by 3 to win the game.

The Knicks, led by Rick Pitino, employed their two center rotation during stretches of the game to overwhelm the Pistons. Bill Cartwright scored 21 points off the bench in 35 minutes.

Furthermore, Mark Jackson clinched the NBA rookie record for most assists/game with a near-triple double effort. Jackson had a near triple double with 13 points, 8 rebounds, 13 assists, and 5 steals. He went on to average 10.6 assists/game to win the NBA Rookie of the Year award.

 

 

On This Date: Bernard King returns after a 2 year absence from his devastating knee injury

April 10th 1987: Bernard King returns after a 2 year absence due to injury

Bernard King received a rousing ovation from the MSG faithful in his return to the basketball court against the Milwaukee Bucks. King missed more than 2 years recovering from a torn ACL, torn knee cartilage, and a broken leg bone.

Although the Bucks trounced the Knicks 132-93, King scored 7 points off the bench in 23 minutes of action. He spent the next game coming off the bench before returning to the starting lineup. King averaged nearly 23 points/game in the final 6 games of the 1986-87 season.

Sadly, Knicks fans never saw King & Patrick Ewing play together. Ewing was out for the remainder of the 1986-87 season after suffering a sprained left knee. After the season, the Knicks decided not to sign King to a new contract. There were various theories to why the Knicks refused to sign King, including feeling disappointed King was away from the team during his rehabilitation, fear of loss of athleticism, age, and preference to move in a rebuilding mode. None of those theories seemed to make sense at the time or in hindsight.

King nearly fully recovered from his injury to have 3 straight 20 ppg seasons with the Washington Bullets (including a remarkable 28.4 ppg in the 1989-90 season). The Knicks ultimately drafted Mark Jackson that began a stretch of 14 straight seasons in the playoffs. At the same time, the Knicks had a void at SF and even had to trade a 1st round pick to fill its need (Kiki Vandeweghe). It makes me wonder whether the Knicks should have just ponied up to keep him.

On This Date: Patrick Ewing plays his last game in MSG with the Orlando Magic

April 9th 2002: Patrick Ewing plays his last game in MSG as a member of the Orlando Magic

In what will always be a weird sight in Knicks history, Patrick Ewing played what would be his last game in Madison Square Garden, but with the Orlando Magic. Ewing started for the Magic, for purposes of recognizing the moment, and had 5 points and 5 rebounds in 19 minutes. The Magic defeated the Knicks 108-97.

After playing sparingly throughout the game, Ewing re-entered the game with a minute remaining as the Magic were up 9. Ewing received a roaring ovation from the MSG faithful as his former teammates Charlie Ward, Kurt Thomas, Allan Houston, & Latrell Sprewell were on the floor. Ewing finished the final minute of the game as the crowd roared once again after the buzzer to commemorate Ewing’s career.

Ewing’s final season with Orlando was quite strange to almost any fan of the NBA. The sight of the Orlando Magic uniform and not seeing him in his signature #33 (Grant Hill wore the jersey at the time) was even more bizarre. Interestingly enough, Ewing played with perhaps the most talented and athletic teammate ever in Tracy McGrady. He also reunited with former teammates Monty Williams & Doc Rivers (as coach of the Magic).

The Magic victory helped them clinch a playoff spot and gave Ewing one more opportunity to taste the playoffs. The Knicks missed the playoffs for the first time since Ewing’s sophomore season.

On This Date: Carmelo Anthony Easter Sunday Special

April 8th 2012: Carmelo Anthony scores 43 and hit the game-tying and go-ahead threes in a Easter Sunday special

Carmelo Anthony carried the Knicks on his back on Easter Sunday. He led the Knicks with 43 points and 4-5 from three to help the Knicks defeat the Chicago Bulls at home in overtime 100-99. The game was nationally televised on ABC.

With the Knicks down 91-88, Steve Novak shot a three that rolled in and out of the basket. The Knicks fouled Derrick Rose with 20 seconds remaining. Rose, however, missed both free throws and gave the Knicks the opportunity to tie the game. Instead of calling a timeout, Melo played out the possession and hit the dagger 3 over Taj Gibson in the top right corner, with less than 13 seconds remaining, to tie the game and force overtime. The Bulls missed their last 4 free throws in regulation. The MSG faithful was roaring after the Melo basket.

With the Knicks down 99-97 in overtime, Tyson Chandler gave the Knicks a 2nd chance to tie or win the game with less than 12 seconds remaining. This time, Melo hits the go-ahead 3 over Luol Deng – in the same area where he made the previous 3 – to put the Knicks up 100-99. The MSG crowd roared once again after the 3. D-Rose couldn’t make his layup attempt and the Knicks secured the victory.

With the team short-handed due to injury and continuously fighting to secure a playoff spot, this win was crucial. This game was part of an amazing 18-6 stretch once Mike Woodson became interim head coach.

On This Date: Eddy Curry scores a career high 43 points to defeat the Milwaukee Bucks

April 7th 2007: Eddy Curry scores a career high 43 points to help the Knicks defeat the Milwaukee Bucks

Eddy Curry scored a career high 43 points, and hit a game-tying 3 pointer to force overtime, to help the Knicks defeat the Bucks on the road 118-113. The Knicks ran a masterful SLOB2 where Nate Robinson curled and cut from the three point corner to the top of the three point arc. (via screens set by Curry & Channing Frye) The tiny room of space allowed Curry to be wide open at the three point corner. Knick rookie Mardy Collins inbounded the ball and threw it to him for the game-tying 3 point swish, the first of the season.

Curry scored 43 on 17-20 from the field, 25 of which was earned after halftime. He also had 13 rebounds and 2 steals. Both Nate Robinson & Mardy Collins received significant minutes due to injuries to Stephon Marbury, Steve Francis, & Jamal Crawford (who was out for the season). Nate had 34 points – on 5-13 from three – and had 7 assists and 2 steals in the start.

Collins had an even more impressive statline for the night. In nearly 51 minutes of action, Collins had a near triple double with 19 points, 12 rebounds, 8 assists, and 5 steals.

On This Date: Earl Barron has a career night

April 6th 2010: Earl Barron has a career night

In the waning moments of what the Knicks expected to be the last losing season before the Summer of LeBron, it was relative newcomer Earl Barron who had a night to remember. Barron had a double double with 17 points and 18 rebounds in the 104-101 victory against the Boston Celtics.

The Knicks signed Earl Barron to a contract for the remainder of the season to see what he could bring to the team. Barron last played significant minutes with the Miami Heat in the 2007-08 season before going overseas in Italy. In the 7 games he played with the Knicks, he had 4 double digit rebounding games, including this 18 rebound night. Barron would bounce around and play sporadic minutes with several teams before having a 2nd cup of coffee with the Knicks near the end of the 2012-13 season.


April 6th 2014: JR Smith sets Knick record for most 3s in a game

JR Smith breaks John Starks & Latrell Sprewell’s Knick record for the most 3s in a game. JR hit 10-22 from downtown to score 32 points. Unfortunately, the Knicks lost the game 102-91 on National TV.

On This Date: Knicks honor 40th anniversary of the 1973 Knicks

April 5th 2013: Knicks honor the 40th anniversary of the 1973 Knicks

The Knicks honored the 1973 Championship Knick team on this date. The team got together the day before to reminisce on their heyday at Aretsky’s Patroon in New York City. The team was officially recognized at halftime of the Knicks-Bucks game.

The ceremony began with a video narrated by Al Trautwig. The team brought out the original championship trophy from 1973. All the living players were introduced one-by-one. For those who passed away, – including Red Holzman and the team trainer – the team had a special representative from the family join the ceremony.

The most notable player in the ceremony was Phil Jackson. Phil finally made his return to MSG not as a coach, but rather as an alum of the Knicks. The Knicks spent multiple efforts to lure Phil Jackson back into coaching the team in 1999 and 2005. The efforts were futile as he continued on his journey to win championship rings with the Los Angeles Lakers.

Earl Monroe ended the ceremony with a passionate speech about the team. He gave several complimentary remarks for the 2012-13 Knicks squad that would ultimately reach the 2nd round of the NBA Playoffs.