On This Date: Linsanity strikes against the Mavs

February 19th 2012: Linsanity strikes against the Dallas Mavericks in MSG

In one of the final games of the magical Linsanity run, Jeremy Lin scored 28 points and dished 14 assists in a 104-97 nationally televised thriller against the Dallas Mavericks. The Knicks started off the game on a torrid run where the team scored 17 straight points in the 1st quarter. Lin scored 10 of those points as the team took a 32-20 lead. However, the Mavericks bounced back and eventually took a 12 point lead by the 3rd quarter.

The Knicks bounced back with contributions from Lin and tough pressure to cut the deficit to three by the end of the 3rd quarter. In the 4th quarter, the Knicks were able to take the lead with the help of Steve Novak. Novak scored all 14 of his points in the quarter, connecting on 4 threes. By the time Novak hit his fourth trey, the Knicks went up by 6 and he pulled out the “discount double check” in delight of the MSG faithful.

Novak’s run helped fuel Jeremy Lin through the end of the game. After Novak hit the three, Lin hit a dagger 3 over Dirk to push the lead up to 9. Dallas did cut the lead to 3 with less than a minute to go, but a couple key defensive stops resulted in transition buckets for both JR Smith and Tyson Chandler helped seal the victory.

The game marked the NBA return for JR Smith as he flew into Madison Square Garden from China. JR scored 15 points and had 3 threes despite struggling from the field. Unfortunately, this game marked the end of Linsanity as Carmelo Anthony returned shortly after and the team spiraled into a tough losing stretch.

On This Date: Nate Robinson wins the 2006 NBA Slam Dunk Contest

February 18th 2006: Nate Robinson wins the 2006 NBA Slam Dunk Contest

Nate Robinson made headlines as a rookie during the 2006 All Star Weekend by winning the Slam Dunk Contest over Andre Iguodala in controversial fashion. The dunk contest featured the defending champion Josh Smith, Iggy, Hakim Warrick (of Syracuse fame), and Nate. Nate was obviously the shortest competitor in the contest since Spud Webb won in 1986.1

Iggy and Nate faced off in the finals of the dunk contest. Robinson’s first dunk in the finals was a through-the-legs windmill from an off-the-backboard pass. However, it took Nate more than 3 minutes (a ton of attempts) to actually make the dunk. He received a 44/50 on that attempt. After Iggy scored a perfect score on his first dunk, Nate Rob decided to surprise the crowd by bringing out Spud Webb and dunking over him. This dunk resulted in a perfect score. The final round ended up in a tie score that led to a dunk-off.

During the dunk-off, Nate missed his first 13 attempts and eventually received a 47/50 on the dunk. Iguodala purportedly had a better dunk, but the judges decided to give him a 46/50. As a result, Nate won the dunk contest in controversy as fans of Iguodala accused the judges of rigging the score.

In the aftermath of the dunk contest, a time limit was added so that you had to make your dunk within a certain prescribed amount of time. Despite the change, Nate participated in 3 of the next 4 contests winning both in 2009 and 2010. Just like his records in Summer League, he maintains the All-Time record for most Slam Dunk contest victories with 3.


February 18th 2010: Knicks acquire Tracy McGrady

In the path to potentially acquiring LeBron, the Knicks made another salary cap move by acquiring Tracy McGrady from the Houston Rockets in a three-way deal that sent Larry Hughes to the Sacramento Kings and Jordan Hill, Jared Jeffries, and the 2012 1st round draft pick to the Houston Rockets. In return, the Knicks also received Sergio Rodriguez from the Kings. The deal was made to clear Jared Jeffries’ contract for the Summer of 2010. In return, the Knicks had to part with both Jordan Hill, their 1st round draft pick in the 2009 NBA Draft, and a 2012 1st round pick that became Royce White.

Hill spent his NBA career as a backup big man on several teams. While the Knicks didn’t necessarily miss him, the team could have drafted other players such as Demar Derozan, Jrue Holiday, or Jeff Teague. Sadly, the team was only one pick away from drafting Stephen Curry.

T-Mac was mostly a relic of his past greatness during his short tenure with the team. Back injuries significantly diminished his potential impact on the team after the trade deadline. His athletic body was instead a lumbering 30 year old that was on his last legs in the NBA. Sergio Rodriguez had a few decent moments as a backup point guard for the team. After the season ended, he departed for Real Madrid. He spent his next 6 seasons with the team. After one year with the Philadelphia 76ers, he joined CSKA Moscow.


February 18th 1984: Bill Bradley’s number retired

The Knicks retired Bill Bradley’s number 24 on his date in a home matchup against the New Jersey Nets. By this time, Bradley was a U.S. Senator for the state of New Jersey and was running a re-election campaign. Bradley won re-election and remained Senator until retiring in 1996.

On This Date: Knicks sign JR Smith

February 17th 2012: Knicks sign JR Smith

Desperate for some offensive firepower off the bench, the Knicks signed JR Smith using a prorated portion of the mini-mid level exception. As his contract expired after the 2010-11 season, JR spent most of the lockout period and the beginning of the season playing in China with the Zhejiang Golden Bulls. He reportedly received more than $3 million playing in China during the lockout. While in China, JR had four 50-point games including a 60 point outburst on February 1, 2012.

JR Smith obviously had ties to the city and organization in various ways. Despite being portrayed as a villain in the infamous Nuggets/Knicks brawl, JR grew up in New Jersey and played High School in Newark, NJ. JR also played with Carmelo Anthony during his stint with the Denver Nuggets. JR’s agent, Leon Rose, was also Carmelo Anthony’s agent and had a multitude of ties within the organization via CAA.

With Melo and Baron Davis still sidelined with injuries, the Knicks lacked shot creators off the bench. JR initially became one of the team’s most dangerous 3-point threats off the bench. JR initially struggled at the outset, but picked up his production near the end of the season which coincided with Mike Woodson taking over the head coaching duties. He received more minutes during the 2012 playoffs due to injuries in the guard rotation, but significantly struggled from the offensive end.

JR eventually stayed with the Knicks until midway through the 2014-15 season. JR won the 6th man of the year award after the 2012-13 season. Unfortunately, erratic shooting and on and off-court antics plagued JR’s tenure, and overall career, with the Knicks.

On This Date: David Lee wins Rookie-Sophomore Game MVP

February 16th 2007: David Lee wins the NBA Rookie-Sophomore All Star Game MVP

In one of the more prouder moments in Knicks Rookie-Sophomore Game history, David Lee earned MVP honors after scoring 30 points on 14-14 shooting from the field and grabbing 11 rebounds.

Lee dazzled the crowd his his ability to score off the pick-and-roll. The pick-and-roll buckets eventually became a household staple during his NBA career. He also had a lot of breakaway dunks in this one. The dunks were of no surprise to fans of his, especially those who remember his talents winning the 2001 McDonald’s All American Slam Dunk Contest.

Lee average a double double off the bench during his sophomore season. He later blossomed under Mike D’Antoni’s fast paced system which allowed him to receive an $80 million contract from the Golden State Warriors.

On This Date: Knicks acquire Tim Thomas

February 15th 2004: Knicks acquire Tim Thomas & Nazr Mohammed 

Isiah Thomas decided to make some noise during All Star Weekend, despite having no All Stars, by acquiring Tim Thomas and Nazr Mohammed in a three-way trade with the Milwaukee Bucks and Atlanta Hawks. The Knicks sent Keith Van Horn to the Milwaukee Bucks and Michael Doleac and a 2005 2nd round pick (Ronny Turiaf) to the Hawks. The deal was one of the final steps in unwinding the Scott Layden era.

Isiah Thomas publicly admitted in looking for players who were young, athletic, and exciting for fans. Thomas, then 26, originally hailed from Paterson, NJ and was an athletic wing that Isiah believed could blossom in New York. Mohammed, then 26, was more of an offensive threat that could complement Dikembe Mutombo in the center rotation.

Keith Van Horn never fully meshed during his short tenure in New York. Additionally, he had a long brewing feud with Stephon Marbury dating back to their days with the New Jersey Nets. Michael Doleac was just an adequate backup center during his 1+ years with the team.

Unfortunately, neither player had a long future with the team. Tim Thomas’ two years with the Knicks were largely forgettable outside of the “fugazy” moment during the 2004 NBA Playoffs against Kenyon Martin and a slick pass he received from Stephon Marbury:

Thomas was later dealt to the Bulls in the Eddy Curry trade and re-acquired for a short period in the 2008-09 season.

Nazr Mohammed was a serviceable starting center for the team before being dealt to the San Antonio Spurs for Malik Rose and two 1st round picks that turned out to become David Lee and Mardy Collins. Ironically, Mardy Collins was dealt in the 2008-09 season in the deal to re-acquire Tim Thomas.

On This Date: Linsanity hits Toronto

February 14th 2012: Linsanity strikes in Toronto

On Valentine’s Day in 2012, Jeremy Lin gave Knicks fans more reasons to love him with a dagger three-point shot to defeat Jose Calderon and the Toronto Raptors 90-87 in the Air Canada Centre.

Lin had a double double with 27 points and 11 assists, but the most important shot was the final one that broke the hearts of Raptors fans. After Tyson Chandler grabbed an Iman Shumpert missed jumpshot, Lin received the ball for the final shot. Lin organized right around halfcourt as Calderon retreated past the three-point line expecting Lin to drive to the basket. Instead, Lin stepped ahead to hit the dagger three.

The game also marked the return of Amare Stoudemire after being away from the team due to the death of his brother. Amare was rusty in his return, but scored 21 points and grabbed 9 rebounds. Contrary to popular expectations, we never saw the Amare/Jeremy Lin battery pick-and-roll tandem come to full fruition during Linsanity. A combination of missed games, added muscle (which slowed him down considerably), and a lack of cohesion with Tyson Chandler stunted the potential pick-and-roll potential.

Ironically, Jeremy Lin recently signed with the Raptors after being bought out by Atlanta.

On This Date: Eddy Curry hits game-winning alley-oop to beat the Lakers

February 13th 2007: Eddy Curry hits a game-winning alley-oop to defeat the Los Angeles Lakers in the Staples Center

The Knicks pulled off a surprising 107-106 victory against the Los Angeles Lakers, courtesy of an Eddy Curry alley-oop. After David Lee secured the offensive rebound with less than 10 seconds remaining in regulation, he fed a pass to Jamal Crawford. Crawford drove into the lane and floated an alley-oop pass over Andrew Bynum to Curry for the go-ahead dunk. Spike Lee was in attendance (wearing a Nate Robinson jersey) and taunted fellow Lakers fan Denzel Washington after the Knicks took the lead and the victory. The victory in Los Angeles was a rare sight as the team normally struggled there during most of Kobe Bryant’s tenure with the organization.

Curry finished the game with 19 points and 7 rebounds. Coincidentally, Curry averaged those same numbers over the course of the 2006-07 season. The season was his best season so far in the NBA. Curry’s tenure with the organization was largely disappointing after Isiah Thomas inexplicably gave him a 6-year, $60 million contract in a sign-and-trade deal that also sent away the 2006 1st round pick (LaMarcus Aldridge) and swapped their 2007 1st round pick (Joakim Noah). The Bulls traded Curry after failing to take a DNA test that would prove the possibility of a career-ending heart problem. Isiah bet on Curry’s “potential” and suggested that acquiring Curry was akin to acquiring a lottery pick.

Unfortunately, Curry wasn’t able to replicate his 2006-07 season. A combination of poor conditioning, a lack of desire on both the offensive and defensive ends, and a sad family tragedy shattered any hope for redemption with the Knicks. Despite winning a token championship with the Miami Heat during the 2011-12 season, he only played a few games with the Dallas Mavericks before jettisoning overseas to play in China. He’s currently with the Zhuhai Wolf Warriors in the ASEAN basketball league.

On This Date: Knicks defeat the Spurs in Spree’s return to MSG

February 12th 2017: Latrell Sprewell and James Dolan bury the hatchet as the Knicks defeat the Spurs

The Knicks snapped a 4-game losing streak with a 94-90 victory against the San Antonio Spurs on a nationally televised broadcast. Carmelo Anthony led the way with 25 points (including 3 three-pointers), 7 rebounds, and 2 assists. Kristaps Porzingis scored 16 points and blocked 4 shots. Willy Hernangomez made his second start of the season and had 12 points, 9 rebounds, and 3 steals. Willy’s minutes increased steadily after a shoulder injury sidelined Noah for the remainder of the season.

Despite the victory, it off-the-court headlines dominated the story. Throughout the 2016-17 season, Phil Jackson sent veiled shots at Carmelo Anthony expressing disappointment that he’s not a “star” in the realm of a Michael Jordan or Kobe Bryant. Days before the game, Phil sent a cryptic tweet aimed at Melo:

Additionally, Charles Oakley was arrested only a few days earlier after an altercation with security personnel during the Knicks/Clippers game. Oakley allegedly hurled some parting shots at James Dolan. Dolan subsequently alerted security to escort him out. Oak was subsequently banned from MSG for one year.

To quell the PR backlash, Dolan decided to reconcile with Latrell Sprewell and ended their 13+ year feud. Spree sat courtside with Dolan, Bernard King, and Larry Johnson. Since the moment, Spree has spent plenty of games courtside at Madison Square Garden and participated in various Knicks charitable causes.

On This Date: David Lee chosen as NBA All-Star

February 11th 2010: David Lee is selected to the NBA All-Star Game.  

David Lee made his first NBA All-Star Game (and first Knick since the 2000-01 season) when he was chosen to replace Allen Iverson. Iverson received the most votes of all Eastern Conference guards despite averaging career lows in every statistical category and missing most of the month of November after refusing to take a bench role for the Memphis Grizzlies. Iverson chose not to attend the All-Star game to deal with his daughter’s illness.

In Lee’s final season with the Knicks, he averaged more than 20 points and nearly 12 rebounds a game while shooting nearly 55% from the floor and playing 37 minutes a game. The D’Antoni system allowed Lee to get the bulk of his minutes at center and was the recipient of plenty of pick-and-roll finishes. He also increased his range to become more proficient in the midrange. It’s fair to say D’Antoni helped amplify Lee’s value to the league.

On This Date: Linsanity Part 3: Lin scores 38 to defeat the Lakers

February 10th 2012: Jeremy Lin scores 38 points to defeat Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers

On a Friday night nationally televised broadcast that would have originally featured Kobe Bryant against the duo of Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire, Linsanity stole the show once again and shocked the Lakers with a 92-85 victory. With both Melo and Amare inactive, it was Lin who scored a then-career high 38 points to lead the team.

The Knicks started the game strong, led by Lin’s 9 points and a very tenacious defensive pressure. The MSG crowd went in a frenzy after Jared Jeffries and Bill (now Henry) Walker double teamed Metta World Peace, leading to a turnover and easy layup for Lin.

The Lakers didn’t seem to have a solution to defend the pick-and-roll. Likewise, Derek Fisher had no chance attempting to guard Jeremy Lin, allowing him to score at will, go to the line 13 times, and even fall victim to a nasty spin-cycle as shown below:

Kobe Bryant scored 34 points to lead the Lakers. Before the game, Kobe mentioned that he had no clue about Lin or Linsanity. After the game, he gave Lin credit for his excellent performance. The two would re-unite on the Lakers for the 2014-15 season which proved to be quite a tumultuous time for both players and the franchise.


February 10th 2010: Carl Braun passed away

Carl Braun passed away on this date in 2010. Braun spent the bulk of his NBA career with the Knicks and was one of the top guards in the league. He made the NBA All-Star team 5 years in a row from 1953-1957. Braun was one of the Knicks’ first stars who impressed the crowds with his scoring and shooting ability. As a rookie, he scored 47 points in a game against the Providence Steamrollers. He spent his final two years with the Knicks as a player-coach before playing his final year with the Boston Celtics who won the NBA finals.

His 10,449 points ranks #5 on the All-Time Knicks record. Only Patrick Ewing, Clyde Frazier, Willis Reed, and Allan Houston scored more points for the franchise.

On This Date: Several Knicks honored in the NBA’s 50 Greatest Players Ceremony

February 9th 1997: Several Knicks honored in the NBA’s 50 Greatest Players Ceremony

To commemorate the 50 year anniversary of the NBA, the league honored the 50 greatest players to play in the association. A panel of former players, coaches, and media members voted in the top 50 players. Then-NBA Commissioner David Stern announced the list on October 29th 1996 at the Grand Hyatt in New York City. The hotel was the site of the old Commodore Hotel. The hotel is where the NBA signed the inaugural charter 50 years earlier.

The ceremony occurred during the halftime of the 1997 NBA All star Game in Cleveland. At the time, 11 active players were chosen as the Top 50 players in the league, including a then-24 year old Shaquille O’Neal. Additionally, Dave DeBusschere, Walt “Clyde” Frazier, Jerry Lucas, Earl Monroe, Willis Reed, and Patrick Ewing represented the players who played (or in Ewing’s case, currently playing) for the Knicks.

On This Date: Knicks fire Derek Fisher

February 8th 2016: The New York Knicks fire Derek Fisher

After compiling a 40-96 record as head coach, the Knicks fired Derek Fisher on this date in 2016. Fisher was only in the middle of his second season in a 5-year contract. Despite having a limited roster for much of the 2014-15 season, Fisher rebounded to help the Knicks reach a 22-22 record to start the 2015-16 season. However, things seemed to unravel quickly afterwards losing 9 of the next 10 games.

The trio of Carmelo Anthony, Kristaps Porzingis, and Lance Thomas (yes, Lance Thomas) helped the Knicks stay at .500 until January. However, Melo’s ankle injury against the Celtics in the middle of January sidelined him for the next several games. Lance Thomas, who provided solid defense and three-point shooting, was sidelined for three games during that losing stretch.

However, it was a combination of various on-court and off-court issues that plagued Fisher’s 2015-16 season, and Knicks tenure as a whole. Fisher started the season on a rough note with the Matt Barnes controversy. Additionally, his offensive and defensive schemes left a lot to be desired. Fisher seemed committed to running the triangle offense upon being hired, but would never fully implement, coach, and execute its various intricacies. Additionally, he even began to waver from running the offense and integrated a pseudo system that had no identity or rhythm. Defensively, the Knicks continued to get torched on the pick-and-roll. The team often employed their big men to drop back to the rim allowing open layup lines.

The icing on the cake were two peculiar comments made off the court. Fisher mentioned on the Michael Kay show that he wouldn’t be disappointed if the team didn’t make the playoffs. This statement was surprising because the Knicks had a veteran-laden team and no draft picks in 2016. Additionally, he took a minor shot at impending free agent Rajon Rondo when the latter mentioned his displeasure about playing in the triangle offense.

Ultimately, Fisher’s inexperience might not have been the best match for coaching in New York; he entered the coaching ranks fresh out of retirement.

On This Date: Knicks trade Willy Hernangomez

February 7th 2018:  The New York Knicks trade Willy Hernangomez to the Charlotte Hornets

The Knicks traded Willy Hernangomez to the Charlotte Hornets for Johnny O’Bryant and two 2nd round picks in 2020 and 2021. Willy requested a trade a few days earlier after being stuck on the bench behind both Enes Kanter and Kyle O’Quinn. To add insult to injury, the trade occurred only a day before Kristaps Porzingis, Willy’s friend dating back to the Sevilla days, tore his ACL. The Knicks immediately cut O’Bryant, who’s now playing for Maccabi Tel Aviv in the Euroleague.

After making the All-Rookie 1st team in the 2016-17 season, there was hope that Willy would become the starter for the Knicks. However, those plans derailed once the Knicks traded Carmelo Anthony for Enes Kanter, Doug McDermott, and the 2018 Bulls 2nd round pick that turned out to be Mitchell Robinson. Immediately after the trade, Willy had to compete with Enes Kanter & Kyle O’Quinn for minutes at the center position.

Unfortunately, Willy was not able to separate himself from Kanter to receive minutes. The Knicks valued Kyle O’Quinn’s defense to garner minutes regardless. Kanter, however, came into camp in the best shape of his life and showed to be a better offensive threat. Willy did not come into camp in tip-top shape.

Upon hearing of the trade, many fans had mixed reactions. Some thought that Hernangomez would have been an integral piece to our core and that we should have traded O’Quinn or Kanter instead. Others were more giddy about the 2nd round picks acquired and weren’t too high of Willy’s lack of defense and his trade request. (he was a backup after all)

In retrospect, this trade ended up as an overall win for the team. It’s far less likely that Willy will blossom the way Rod Strickland did when traded to the Spurs. Since he requested a trade, it gave the front office no choice but to trade him. For Steve Mills, it meant giving up on a player that he personally scouted when visiting Porzingis before the 2015 NBA Draft. The Knicks regained 2nd round picks in 2020 and 2021 that they ironically had given up to acquire Hernangomez in the 2015 NBA Draft.

Seeing a need at the center position, the Knicks drafted Mitchell Robinson who will likely have a higher ceiling and potential than Hernangomez. Willy’s received sproadic minutes in the 2018-19 season including several DNPs. He’s been decent on the offensive end, but inconsistent on defense.

On This Date: Day 2 of Linsanity and KP’s devastating ACL injury

February 6th 2012: Jeremy Lin makes his first start and helps beat the Utah Jazz

Day 2 of Linsanity gives Jeremy Lin his first career NBA start on way to a 99-88 Knicks victory. Lin put up 28 points, 7-9 from the free throw line, and 8 assists. He continued to dazzle fans with his uncanny ability to drive into the paint and make acrobatic layups. Near the end of the 4th quarter, Lin hit a three at the end of the shot clock and stuck his tongue out and gave us a signature wink.

One recipient of Lin’s 8 assists was Tyson Chandler. While Chandler continued to be a defensive presence, Lin rewarded him with scoring opportunities on the pick and roll. Another recipient was Steve “Discount Double Check” Novak. Novak received several passes from Lin that led to wide open threes. Novak scored 19 points off the bench on 5-8 shooting from three. Beginning with this game, Novak continued to receive consistent minutes off the bench and served as a major three-point threat.

The most important story outside the victory was the absence of both Carmelo Anthony & Amare Stoudemire. Melo only played 5 minutes before pulling his groin. The injury sidelined him for the next 7 games, which represented the entire tenure of Linsanity. Amare was away from the team following the death of his brother in a car crash.


February 6th 2018:  Kristaps Porzingis tears his ACL.

In what nobody knew would represent Kristaps Porzingis final game in New York, the 7′ 3″ unicorn tore his ACL after landing awkwardly following a dunk on Giannis Antetokounmpo. Due to the graphic nature of the injury, we decided not to post the video. The dunk had put the Knicks ahead by a point. The injury itself put a damper on the game and the remainder of the season.

KP’s friend Willy Hernangomez witnessed the injury firsthand on the Knicks bench. The Knicks traded Willy the next day as part of a busy trade deadline that involved acquiring Emmanuel Mudiay.

The injury put the Knicks in position to refuse an extension offer to Porzingis in the offseason. Had he stayed healthy, it’s possible he would have tried to negotiate a designated rookie extension which would have allowed him to earn a higher percentage of the cap based on performance criteria.

Once it was clear he would miss most of the 2018-19 season, there was no way for him to meet any of the performance parameters that would lead to a higher salary, and therefore, the Knicks could theoretically offer him the same extension offer in 2019 as they could have in 2018. It therefore made sense for them to wait to see if he returned healthy and maintain cap space from his reduced cap hold. Whether this strategy frustrated Porzingis is yet to be fully reported. And whether the injury cast doubt on the Knicks willingness to offer him a max contract has also not yet been fully reported.

The Knicks traded Porzingis just before the one-year anniversary of the trade after he provided the front office with a 4-team list of teams where he preferred to be traded and threatened to rehab in Spain if not traded by the deadline. It appears that both sides were ready to move on, as the Knicks were considering offers for Porzingis before he officially made it clear that he wanted out of New York. Of course, it was no secret that Porzingis was unhappy, so the Knicks were not surprised by what they learned in the meeting requested by him and his brother before the trade.

On This Date: Knicks break 15 game road losing streak

February 5, 1985: Knicks beat the Sonics on the road to break a 15-game road losing streak

In the midst of a tough 6-game road trip, with the first five games on the road, the Knicks snapped a 15-game road losing streak with a 110-108 victory against the Seattle Supersonics. Bernard King led the way for the Knicks with 29 points, 11 rebounds, and 7 assists. King scored 14 in the 1st half and scored 12 points in the final 8 minutes of the 4th quarter to help win the game. Additionally, Darrell Walker, future Knick assistant coach, had 18 points and 8 assists and made crucial defensive stops in the clutch.

The victory marked the first Knicks road victory since beating the Cavaliers on November 21st. The victory also snapped a 3-game losing streak, but the team lost 11 of their next 13 games. Things took a turn for the worse on March 23rd when Bernard King tore his ACL. The Knicks didn’t win a game for the remainder of the season. The true silver lining was that their 24-58 regular season record ultimately led the Knicks to the #1 Draft Pick to select Patrick Ewing.

On This Date: The Birth of Linsanity

February 4, 2012: Linsanity Begins

The New York Knicks, losers of 11 of their previous 13 games, needed a jolt to spark the team. The trio of Carmelo Anthony, Amare Stoudemire, and Tyson Chandler were not meshing, partially due to the lockout.

The team also lacked point guard production since amnestying Chauncey Billups before the season. Toney Douglas significantly struggled with starter minutes. Mike Bibby was beyond his prime. Baron Davis was still sidelined with a back injury. While rookie Iman Shumpert showed promise with his athleticism and defensive awareness, he did not have a natural feel as a point guard. With the Knicks down 20-16 to the then-putrid New Jersey Nets, coach Mike D’Antoni finally unleashed Jeremy Lin.

Due to the lack of point guard depth and Iman Shumpert’s injury in the first game of the season, the Knicks claimed Lin off waivers in December. Lin spent most of the first month of the season shuffling between the Knicks and the Erie Bayhawks of the D-League. The Knicks almost cut him near the end of January, but Baron Davis suffered a minor setback in his recovery and the Knicks just came off a bad loss against the Boston Celtics.

Lin came off the bench to play most of the 1st half against the Nets. He helped the Knicks cut a 10-point deficit down to two by halftime. He brought a new level of energy with his defense, aggressiveness attacking the paint, and passing. Players such as Landry Fields and Toney Douglas, who struggled for most of the season, felt revitalized during the game. He showed excellent chemistry with Tyson Chandler by feeding him several alley-oop passes.

Lin also played most of the 2nd half. With the Knicks down 72-70 to start the 4th, Lin continued to impress and shock the MSG faithful. He scored 12 of his 25 points in the 4th quarter and did most of his damage against Deron Williams. He attacked with pizzazz and scored a ton of difficult layups to excite the crowd.  The crowd, overall, was in awe of his performance.

Lin ended with 25 points on 10-19 from the field and 8 assists. This game forced D’Antoni to start his in the next game against the Jazz and thus began the short, but fun Linsanity era. Additionally, the game helped reenergize Madison Square Garden and helped fuel a 7 game winning streak.

On This Date: Dick McGuire passed away

February 3rd 2010: Dick McGuire passed away

Dick McGuire passed away on this date at the age of 84. A native of New York City, McGuire spent 11 years in the NBA, 8 seasons with the Knicks, and was one of the top point guards in the league during the 1950s, making the All-Star team seven times. He helped the Knicks reach the NBA Finals for three straight seasons from 1951-53. His 2,950 assists with the Knicks still ranks 3rd all time behind Clyde and Mark Jackson.

As he neared retirement, McGuire transitioned into a player-coach with the Detroit Pistons. He coached the Pistons until 1963 and eventually coached the Knicks for 3 seasons from 1965-1968. McGuire helped the Knicks reach the playoffs in 1967. His coaching career never matched his exceptional playing career and he eventually swapped roles with Red Holzman, who was the chief scout for the Knicks.

Unlike our recent stretch of head coaches in Knicks history, McGuire still remained an active part of the Knicks organization. From 1968 until his death, he served as the Chief Scout, Director of Scouting Services, and Senior Basketball Consultant for the Knicks. He was the type of person who enjoyed working behind the scenes, even if it meant not necessarily receiving credit for a particular trade.

One of his first impactful moments was convincing then-GM Eddie Donovan to trade for Dave DeBusschere from the Detroit Pistons. McGuire helped draft him during his tenure coaching the Pistons. He was also responsible in drafting players such as Trent Tucker, Mark Jackson, Rod Strickland, Hubert Davis, Charlie Ward, Nate Robinson, David Lee, Wilson Chandler, and Danilo Gallinari.

To honor his contributions to the game, the Knicks retired his number 15 in 1992. Although the team retired Earl Monroe’s #15 in 1986, it felt necessary to retire it again to remember McGuire’s legacy. He was later enshrined to the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1993.

On This Date: Ralph Kaplowitz passed away

February 2, 2009:  Ralph Kaplowitz passed away

Ralph Kaplowitz passed away on this date in 2009 due to kidney failure. A native of the Bronx, Kaplowitz served in the U.S. Army and fought in World War II before embarking on a basketball career. After a season in the Philadelphia Sphas in the American Basketball League (ABL), Kaplowitz signed with the Knicks for $6,500 in 1946.

Kaplowitz started in the first ever NBA game as a member of the Knicks. He spent less than 1/2 a season with the Knicks before spending the next 2 seasons with the Philadelphia Warriors. He later returned to the ABL playing for both the Hartford Hurricanes and Bridgeport Aer-A-Sols. As one of the few Jewish-American basketball players in the league, Kaplowitz dealt with anti-semitic slurs hurled at him during games.

Kaplowitz was later inducted into the NYC Basketball Hall of Fame and Jewish Sports Hall of Fame. At the time of his death, he was the oldest living person to play for the Knicks at 89 years old.

On This Date: Knicks sign Harthorne Wingo

February 1st 1973: Knicks sign Harthorne Wingo

The Knicks signed Harthorne Wingo, a Knick with one of the coolest names in team history. His most memorable moment as a Knick was winning the 1973 NBA Finals. Wingo served the role as the honorary 15th man who often received minutes in garbage time and heard the loudest cheers in Madison Square Garden. When he entered the game, he excited fans with highlight-reel dunks. Wingo didn’t play many minutes until the 1974-75 season where he averaged career highs in points (7.4), rebounds (5.6), and minutes (20.6).

Wingo’s story extends past the NBA. Originally from Tryon, North Carolina, Wingo moved to New York in 1968 to pursue his dream of basketball. He played in various city tournaments and leagues over the next 5 years. He spent parts of 4 years playing in the Harlem Rucker League in Rucker Park.

It was in those summer tournaments where Wingo made his name in both city folklore and within the Knicks organization. A couple scouts in the Knicks organization noticed him and recommended that he play for the Allentown Jets in the Eastern League (later known as the Continental Basketball Association). The Jets had an informal relationship with the Knicks that allowed the front office to treat the organization as a minor league squad to discover players and hone talent. Wingo led the Jets to a championship in 1971 and was named the MVP that season.

In between his stint with the Jets, Wingo toured with the Harlem Wizards. It was during his stint with the Wizards where the Knicks decided to sign him. Wingo spent 4 years in the NBA with the Knicks and an additional 4 years overseas.

Like many of the older retired NBA players, Wingo faced both financial and medical hardships after retirement. Additionally, Wingo went in a bout of of drug and alcohol abuse in the 1980s. Despite playing with legendary players such as Walt “Clyde” Frazier, Willis Reed, and Bill Bradley, he felt reluctant reaching out to them for help.

Despite some of the more recent difficulties, Knick fans will always remember Harthorne Wingo as one of the most fascinating 15th men in team history and a legend in New York City basketball.

On This Date: Knicks beat Kings without King

January 31st 1983: The New York Knicks, sans Bernard King, beat the Kansas City Kings

The New York Knicks routed the Kansas City Kings 114-97 despite the fact that Bernard King was inactive due to a sprained right ankle and Trent Tucker was held scoreless. 4 of the 5 starters scored at least 18 points to propel the team to victory. Power Forward Truck Robinson led the way with 21 points and had 5 assists. Paul Westphal shined on both the offensive and defensive end with 18 points, 6 assists, and 6 steals. Bill Cartwright had a double double with 18 points and 11 rebounds. Louis Orr replaced King in the starting lineup and scored 20 points.

The Knicks’ tenacious defense helped open up the game in the 2nd half. After only leading by 4 at half, the Knicks scored 31 points in each of the 3rd and 4th quarters to seal the victory. Their pressure defense led to an 18-2 run to start the 3rd fueled by 6 steals. Additionally, the team shot nearly 51% from the field in an efficient effort.

The 1982-83 Knicks, led by Bernard King and coached by Hubie Brown, made the playoffs and reached the Eastern Conference Semifinals where the eventual champion Philadelphia 76ers swept them in 4 games. Outside of the notable players (King, Cartwright, Tucker), there were a few interesting names on the roster and coaching staff.

Mike Fratello was an assistant coach on Hubie Brown’s staff for the 1982-83 season. He left to coach the Atlanta Hawks. Isiah Thomas almost considered hiring him as head coach after he fired Don Chaney. Future Knicks GM Ernie Grunfeld finished his NBA career with the Knicks in 1986. He then moved to covering the games on MSG before becoming assistant coach under Stu Jackson. He became GM of the Knicks in 1991.

The Knicks acquired Truck Robinson in a trade with the Suns for Maurice Lucas. Truck spent his final 2+ seasons with the Knicks, but notably helped the Knicks sweep the Nets in the first round of the 1983 playoffs. The Knicks acquired Louis Orr right before the season from the Indiana Pacers for a 2nd round pick in the 1983 NBA Draft. Orr spent 6 seasons with the Knicks and mostly produced off the bench except for Patrick Ewing’s rookie season (1985-86) with Bernard King sidelined due to injury.

Furthermore, future NBA coach Paul Westphal spent around 1.5 seasons with the Knicks. He spent most of his prime splitting time as a reserve with the Boston Celtics (winning a championship in 1974) and as a budding superstar with the Phoenix Suns. Westphal made 5 straight All-Star teams with the Suns and helped the team reach the finals in 1976. A foot injury in 1981 cut short his prime and he later joined the Knicks in 1982. Westphal went into coaching in both the NBA and NCAA. He enjoyed slightly more success in the NBA leading the 1992-93 Phoenix Suns to an NBA Finals in his first season. After Charles Barkley left the Suns in 1995, Westphal never seemed to recover the coaching magic achieved in the early stages of his career.

On This Date: Knicks acquire Othella Harrington

January 30, 2001: Knicks acquire Othella Harrington from the Vancouver Grizzlies

The Knicks had large shoes to fill in replacing their franchise player Patrick Ewing, shoes that would remain empty for a long time. But on this date, they acquired another former Hoya in Othella Harrington from Vancouver in exchange for Erick Strickland, the 2001 Los Angeles Lakers 1st round pick acquired in the Patrick Ewing trade (Jamaal Tinsley), and a 2001 2nd round pick (Antonis Fotsis). Harrington (turning 27 years old the next day) was not the most talented Hoya, but was a serviceable big man who provided necessary front-court depth for the Knicks.

Since the Ewing trade, the Knicks lacked reliable depth in the front-court. Marcus Camby was the starting center, but was historically injury prone with the Knicks. Additionally, Larry Johnson faced chronic back injuries in his final season with the Knicks. Harrington provided the ability to backup both LJ & Camby at the 4 and 5, respectively.

The Knicks acquired Erick Strickland in a draft-day deal for John Wallace & Donnell Harvey, the Knicks 1st round pick in the 2000 NBA Draft. The team intended for him to be a backup guard, but was rendered useless after Glen Rice arrived in the Ewing trade. Likewise, Othella Harrington had little use with the Grizzlies after the team drafted Stromile Swift 2nd overall in the 2000 NBA Draft.

The Knicks may not have “won” the trade per se, but they did make the most of Harrington during his 3.5 year tenure with the team. He mostly provided depth off the bench.

Unfortunately, the Knicks continued their reputation of throwing away first round picks in low value trades. Had the Knicks valued their first round picks during the 1990s and 2000s, their reign of contention would have been prolonged.

On This Date: Knicks make statement in victory against the Seattle Supersonics

January 29, 1994: The New York Knicks make a statement to the #1 seed Seattle Supersonics in a road victory

The New York Knicks, in the middle of a three-game West Coast trip, sent a strong message to the #1 seed Seattle Supersonics with a 106-92 victory. Seven players scored in double figures, including the entire starting lineup, led by Patrick Ewing’s 21 points and 18 rebounds. Anthony Mason scored 17 points off the bench and Charles Oakley had a double double with 11 points and 10 rebounds. Despite trailing 58-51 at the end of the 1st half, the Knicks went on a 21-5 run in the 3rd quarter and outscored the Sonics 32-13 to take a 12 point lead heading into the 4th quarter.

Both the Knicks (29-11) & Sonics (31-9) cruised atop the standings in their respective conferences. Due to Micheal Jordan’s sudden retirement, many in the NBA circles believed that this game was a foreshadowing of an NBA Finals matchup. The youthful duo of Gary Payton & Shawn Kemp led the Sonics to victories and many highlight-reel plays. Detlef Schrempf & Kendall Gill provided ample scoring from the wing positions.

The Knicks eventually had the best record in Atlantic Division (#2 overall in the East) and the Sonics had the best record in the Western Conference. However, Dikembe Mutombo and the Denver Nuggets had different plans. The Nuggets surprisingly upset the Sonics in the 1st round of the Western Conference playoffs. The Knicks did make it to the NBA Finals, but instead faced Hakeem Olajuwon and the Houston Rockets.

On This Date: Walt “Clyde” Frazier and Mel Davis lead the Knicks to victory against the Hawks

January 28, 1975: Walt “Clyde” Frazier scores 39 points and Mel Davis makes his first NBA start in a victory against the Atlanta Hawks

Clyde led the Knicks to victory with a line of 39 points, 10 assists, 6 rebounds, and 3 steals. He had 35 points through three quarters, but only scored 4 points in the final quarter. The Knicks led by more than 13 points with six minutes remaining, but let the Hawks climb back into the game. The victory helped stop a stretch where the Knicks lost 14 of the previous 20 games.

This game was also notable for being Mel Davis’ first NBA start. Davis, a 6’6 St. Johns alum, was in his 2nd season with the team before he received his first start on this date. In 32 minutes, Davis had a double double with 16 points and 10 rebounds. Coach Red Holzman decided to start Davis to provide additional frontcourt grittiness, while allowing Phil Jackson to come off the bench to provide versatility playing either the power forward or center positions.

Mel spent most of his 5-year NBA career with the Knicks. He spent a few years overseas and had a successful post-basketball career working with Pepsico, and later the NBA. He eventually became the Executive Director of the National Basketball Retired Players Association. The association helps NBA players successfully transition into a post-retirement career. Some of the duties include understanding pensions and obtaining post-basketball education.

On This Date: Marv Albert calls his first Knicks game on radio

January 27th 1963: Marv Albert calls his first ever New York Knicks game on radio

Marv Albert called his first Knicks radio game by filling in for long-time mentor and “Voice of the Knicks” Marty Glickman. Glickman was stuck overseas in Newfoundland due to travel delays. Albert called the game on WCBS radio. The Knicks lost 123-110 in Boston.

Marv became the full-time play-by-play radio announcer for the Knicks in 1967 and held the role until the mid-1980s. He also did some play-by-play on TV in the early 1980s. Albert’s TV arrangement called for him to announce the Knicks’ road games while Andy Musser called all the home games.

Marv fully transitioned over to TV in 1986. In his nearly 20 years with MSG, he spent a dozen years with John Andariese and spent six years working alongside Walt “Clyde” Frazier. One of Marv’s understudies was Mike Breen. Breen spent many years as the radio play-by-play announcer and backup TV play-by-play announcer for MSG. He later took on the full-time TV role in 2004 after Marv left MSG.

Marv is also one of the voices of the NBA on national TV. He was the lead play-by-play announcer for the NBA on NBC and has been a staple on the NBA on TNT broadcasts for the past 20 years.

On This Date: Jamal Crawford scores a career high 52 points

January 26, 2007: Jamal Crawford scores a career high 52 points against the Miami Heat

In one of a few bright spots of the 2006-07 season, Jamal Crawford exploded for a career high 52 points in a 20-point blowout against the Miami Heat in Madison Square Garden.

Crawford was unstoppable from the field, hitting 20-30 from the field and 8-10 from three.

After missing his first four shots, Crawford hit his next 16 shots, including 8 three-pointers. To put that into perspective, he finally missed a shot late in the 3rd quarter after the Knicks had a 20 point lead.

As a sign of respect, Dwyane Wade often guarded Crawford throughout the game. Despite the tough defensive matchup, Crawford was still able to score over Wade with a diversified moveset, which included his signature “Shake-N-Bake.” He simply scored all over the floor. Additionally, Crawford executed his now patented 4-point play against Wade to close out the first half.

Crawford had 52 points with slightly more than 7 minutes left in the game. Instead of aiming for Bernard King’s scoring record, head coach Isiah Thomas decided to take him out of the game as the Heat employed their garbage time roster. Isiah felt it was disrespectful to leave Crawford in the game during garbage time and also wanted to avoid the circumstances that led to the infamous Knicks/Nuggets brawl.