On This Date: Latrell Sprewell trade, Knicks defensive streak, Remembering Ned Irish

January 21, 1999: The New York Knicks acquire Latrell Sprewell 

On the first day after the end of the 1998-99 NBA Lockout, the New York Knicks acquired the talented, but highly controversial Latrell Sprewell from the Golden State Warriors. In return, fan favorite John Starks, Chris Mills, & Terry Cummings departed for the Warriors. Sprewell spent most of the 1997-98 season suspended as a result of choking his coach PJ Carlesimo in practice. The Warriors shopped Sprewell to teams since the suspension. The Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs were the other potential suitors in trade rumors, but the Knicks ultimately provided the best offer.

Sprewell, then 28 years old, provided a combination of explosive scoring, youthful athleticism, and tenacious defense. He definitely had baggage, which included question marks about his character, his position on the team (Allan Houston was the starting shooting guard), and overall team chemistry. However, no one could question his potential and overall ceiling to a team on the cusp of contention trying to claw back into the NBA Finals in the waning years of the Patrick Ewing era.

Starks was undoubtedly a fan favorite and one of Ewing’s closest friends. Cummings & Mills were both serviceable bench players for the team. Knicks GM Ernie Grunfeld performed a significant facelift of the roster before the 1998-99 season. He noticed how the Miami Heat (Tim Hardaway, Jamal Mashburn, Alonzo Mourning) and Indiana Pacers (Antonio and Dale Davis) outhustled the tired legs of the older Knicks. Grunfeld determined it was necessary to sacrifice some veteran savvy for youthful athleticism to push for another NBA Finals run. As a result, the team swapped John Starks & Charles Oakley for Latrell Sprewell & Marcus Camby.

Sprewell came off the bench1, but became a pivotal player in the playoffs, especially after Patrick Ewing suffered a torn Achilles. He later became a starter for the Knicks and made the 2001 NBA All Star team.


January 21, 2001: The New York Knicks hold opponents to under 100 points for the 33rd straight game

As a testament to the defensive mentality in the Jeff Van Gundy era, the Knicks pulled off a 33-game streak of holding opponents to under 100 points. Their last game was on this date in a 87-74 loss against the Indiana Pacers. The Knicks began the streak by holding the Charlotte Hornets to 67 points on November 11, 2000. During the streak, the Knicks held opponents to 70 points and below three times and held ten additional opponents to under 80 points.

The streak remains as the 2nd longest streak in modern NBA history (post-1960). Only the 2003-2004 Detroit Pistons held opponents to under 100 points longer (38 games). As the NBA emphasizes more scoring and a pace-and-space game, I don’t believe any team will match the Knicks streak.


January 21, 1982: Ned Irish passed away

Ned Irish, the founding owner and president of the New York Knicks, passed away on this date at the age of 77. He started his career covering basketball games and promoted games at Madison Square Garden in the 1930s. His role as promoter helped spread awareness of the game heading into the 1940s.

Irish was one of the founders of the Basketball Association of America which later became the NBA in 1949. He was behind naming the Knicks as the New York Knickerbockers. The word “Knickerbocker” was used as a reference to New Yorkers and their Dutch heritage.

As owner and president of the Knicks, Irish left a lasting legacy in the NBA. He was responsible for allowing teams to keep their share of admission revenues. This proved beneficial for a major market team such as the Knicks. He was also instrumental in urging the American Basketball Association (ABA) to merge with the NBA.

Irish was originally a more hands-off owner, but became more hands-on in the 1950s heading into the early 1960s, similar to other familiar NY team owners (George Steinbrenner, James Dolan). His greatest move was convincing Red Holzman to coach the Knicks. He ceded control to Red and the Knicks won 2 championships under his ownership.

Irish was not an owner with much personality or candor. He was known to be unapproachable and cold at times, as discussed in Alan Hahn’s 2012 book “New York Knicks: The Complete Illustrated History.” However, his legacy is unquestionable. He became a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1964.

On This Date: Eddie Donovan passed away

January 20, 2001: Former New York Knicks coach and general manager Eddie Donovan passed away

Eddie Donovan passed away on this date at the age of 78 due to complications from a stroke. A native of Elizabeth, NJ, Donovan spent 4 lackluster seasons as a head coach until he took over reins as the GM in 1965.

Donvoan spent two stints as GM of the Knicks (1965-1970, 1975-1982). Some of his most notable draft picks were Bill Bradley, Cazzie Russell, Walt “Clyde” Frazier, and Phil Jackson. He also appointed Red Holzman as head coach and was responsible for the Dave DeBusschere trade. His acquisitions helped the Knicks ultimately win their only 2 NBA Championships.

Donovan left the Knicks in 1970 to become the GM of the Buffalo Braves (now Los Angeles Clippers). He was responsible for drafting Bob McAdoo and earned the NBA Executive of the Year in the 1973-74 season.

Donovan returned to the Knicks in 1975. The team previously gave Red Holzman both the coach and GM titles and found that both roles were too time consuming.2 His second tenure with the team was largely inconsistent as the team only made the playoffs twice. Some of his notable transactions included re-hiring Red Holzman, drafting Micheal Ray Richardson, and hiring Hubie Brown as head coach.

 

On This Date: Knicks play on MLK Day for the first time

January 19th 1987:  The New York Knicks host their first MLK day game

President Ronald Reagan passed historic legislation in 1983 to mark the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr Day as a national holiday. The law stated to observe MLK Day on the third Monday in January, which would then land approximately around MLK’s actual birthday of January 15th. The United States observed MLK Day for the first time in 1986.

A year later, the New York Knicks hosted the Boston Celtics for their first ever MLK Day game matinee. To the pleasure of many fans, the Knicks upset the defending champion Celtics 111-109. The duo of Patrick Ewing and Bill Cartwright led the team with 66 combined points. The Knicks had a 12 point lead with less than 6 minutes remaining.

However, Larry Bird led a comeback and tied the game with seconds remaining. Louis Orr dribbled down the court and hit the game winning bank shot inside the 3 point line to give the Knicks the upset victory. The shot was #24 on the top 25 game winning shots in Knicks history as shown in the video below:

Since that game, the Knicks started a tradition to play on MLK day. To this date, the team is 20-12 on the historic holiday.

On This Date: Knicks win Double OT MLK thriller

January 18th 2016: The New York Knicks defeat the Philadelphia 76ers in a double overtime Martin Luther King Day thriller

The New York Knicks perhaps didn’t expect a MLK Day matinee against the five win Philadelphia 76ers to extend into double overtime. The Knicks held a 18 point lead in the 3rd quarter. However, the Philadelphia 76ers clawed back into the game, led by Ish Smith, Robert Covington & Nerlens Noel to tie the game and took a 96-93 lead with 3.4 seconds left in the 4th quarter.

Carmelo Anthony came to the rescue by connecting on a three pointer to tie the game. The game went into double overtime, but the Knicks, led by Langston Galloway and Robin Lopez, took charge in the period to get the 119-113 victory.

Melo played more than 49 minutes on a sore ankle, but had a respectable statline of 19 points, 7 rebounds, and 7 assists. He struggled from the field (7-28), but had the pivotal three before the end of regulation. Arron Afflalo led the Knicks with 25 points. Kristaps Porzingis had a double double with 16 points and 12 rebounds, but left the game in the 4th quarter with a right foot injury.

The win brought the Knicks to a 19-11 record on MLK Day.

On This Date: Knicks beat the Pistons in London

January 17, 2013: The New York Knicks defeat the Detroit Pistons in London

Beginning in the 2010-11 season, the NBA expanded their horizons by playing regular season games overseas. While this was not their first experiment in doing so – the NBA held a couple games in Japan during the 1990s – it became more of a tradition beginning this season. The games would be brand as either the “NBA China Games,”  “NBA Japan Games,” or “NBA London Games.”

Beginning in the 2012-13 season, the NBA rebranded those series as the NBA Global Games. The Knicks played their first ever regular season game overseas in London against the Detroit Pistons in the O2 arena. The Knicks were the road team in the matchup.

The Knicks previously played overseas in various exhibition and preseason games. Their first game was in 1990 as part of the McDonald’s Championship. The championship was an exhibition game that featured an NBA team (Knicks) competing against a club team from Europe, Australia, and South America. The Knicks later played a preseason game in Mexico in 1993 and Paris in 2010.

Before the game, the Knicks spent time touring London, interacting with younger fans at community outreach events and visiting the Tower Bridge. These events were done in unison to help promote the game of basketball in the United Kingdom. While basketball is popular in many different countries, it does not have the same influence in London due to the lack of professional teams in the country.

As for the game itself, the Knicks easily won the game 102-87. Carmelo Anthony led the way with 26 points and Amare Stoudemire scored 17 off the bench. The game also marked Iman Shumpert’s first regular season game since the horrific ACL injury in Game 1 of the 2012 playoffs. Shumpert returned to the starting lineup and scored 8 points in less than 15 minutes of action.

On This Date: Knicks beat the Cincinnati Royals

January 16, 1960: The New York Knicks blowout the Cincinnati Royals 

The Knicks blew out the Cincinnati Royals 132-106. The Knicks had 8 players in double figures as Willie Naulls led the way with 23 points and 11 rebounds. Jack George scored 20 points, Richie Guerin scored 16, and Jim Palmer scored 15 as well to lead the Knicks quarter.

The 1959-60 season began a stretch of several losing seasons for the Knicks. The team only started to win games once they drafted Walt “Clyde” Frazier. As a result, the Knicks fielded a roster with many players  that seem to fall out of place in team history.2

Jack George spent 8 years in the NBA as a point guard, with the last 2 years as a member of the Knicks. A native of Pennsylvania, George spent his first 6 seasons with the Philadelphia Warriors. Of his accomplishments, he won an NBA championship in 1956 with the Warriors and had 2 All-Star appearances. He was known for racking assists, as evidenced by being in the top 10 in assists during 6 of his NBA seasons. George passed away in 1989.

Jim Palmer spent 3 seasons in the NBA as a forward. He also spent two seasons with the Knicks and had relatively meager stats. He spent a season in the National Industrial Basketball League (NIBL) as part of the Peoria Cats.

The purpose of the league was to give mill workers an opportunity to play basketball as the league mostly consisted of employees of industrial companies. The league formed in 1947 with the teams from the National Basketball League that did not merge with the NBA. Due to increasing salaries in the NBA, many teams in the NIBL folded. As the sponsorships for the NIBL shifted away from industrial companies, the NIBL was renamed into the National AAU Basketball League (NABL).

Palmer also spent a season in the American Basketball League (ABL). The ABL formed in 1961 as a rival league to the NBA. It consisted of teams previously in the NABL. One of those franchise owners was the late George Steinbrenner of the Cleveland Pipers. One of Steinbrenner’s players was future Knick and NBA Champion Jerry Lucas. The ABL had some then-radical rule changes including the addition of the 3 point line, a 30 second shot clock, and a wider free throw line. Unfortunately, inconsistent attendance, lack of funding, expensive air travel, and rising debts led to the demise of the ABL as the league folded before 1963.

The Cincinnati Royals eventually moved to Kansas City and became the Kansas City-Omaha Kings. The team eventually moved to Sacramento in 1985 and is now known as the Sacramento Kings.

 

On This Date: The birth of the Trent Tucker rule and the Marcus Camby punch almost heard around the world

January 15, 1990: The game that birthed the Trent Tucker Rule

On this memorable MLK day in 1990, Trent Tucker enshrined himself into Knicks folklore with a buzzer-beating shot to defeat the Chicago Bulls at Madison Square Garden. With the game tied at 106, Tucker received the inbounds pass and made the game-winning three pointer with 0.1 seconds left to win the game 109-106.

Upon further review, the clock didn’t start until Tucker’s shot was in mid-air. Consequently, Phil Jackson, then first-year head coach of the Bulls, filed a protest with the league. The argument, which is valid, stated that it’s impossible to receive a pass and shoot the basketball in less than 0.1 seconds. However, timekeeper Bob Billings and head referee Ronnie Nunn disagreed with the premise and stated that the calls on the floor were correct. As a result, the NBA disallowed their protest.

Around that time, then-commissioner David Stern recently required NBA arenas to comply with a FIBA rule to register tenths of seconds within the final minute of each quarter. Most of the scoreboards used at the time – manufactured by American Sign & Indicator (AS&I)2 – were not able to accurately register fractions of seconds. In some instances, there would be games where the shot clock would freeze at 0.1 seconds.

After the game, Stern further required all arenas to calibrate their shot clocks. Eventually, most teams transitioned from AS&I scoreboards to the Daktronics models seen in most areas.

More importantly, Stern instituted the “Trent Tucker Rule” where a shot can’t be taken with less than 0.3 seconds on the clock. The rule doesn’t prohibit tip-ins or alley-oops, especially in the case of David Lee’s basket in the 2006-07 season.


January 15, 2001: The Marcus Camby punch that almost connected

In what appeared to be a drama-free blowout on MLK day in MSG, Marcus Camby had other plans on that particular afternoon. With just over 3 minutes left in the game, Marcus Camby received an flagrant (or maybe intentional?) strike from Danny Ferry near his eye after attempting to grab an offensive rebound. As the refs attempted to eject Ferry, Camby lunged into Ferry, causing some refs to restrain him.

After things seemed to dissipate and as Ferry was heading towards the locker room, Camby inexplicably went after Ferry to punch him. Instead of striking Ferry, he instead headbutted Jeff Van Gundy. Van Gundy needed to receive more than a dozen stitches after the game due to bleeding from a gash above his eye.

After the game, the NBA suspended Camby 5 games for the attempted punch and headbutt. Danny Ferry received a 1 game suspension for his flagrant foul. It was disappointing for the Knicks, especially since the team won 9 of their previous 10 games. It was another instance of a lack of compsure that plagued some of the Knicks (i.e. Chris Childs, Kurt Thomas) during their playoff heyday.

 

On This Date: Knicks fire Don Chaney

January 14, 2004:  The Don Chaney era ends

The Don Chaney era came to an end on this date as Isiah Thomas fired him shortly before their impending game against the Orlando Magic. After going through a morning shootaround, Chaney and assistant coaches Brendan Malone & Lon Kruger received notice that they were relieved of their duties.

The news came of no surprise to Chaney, outside of perhaps the timing of the firing. Despite serving as an assistant coach under both Don Nelson and Jeff Van Gundy, Chaney wasn’t able to replicate their success. He was 72-112 in the 2+ seasons as head coach of the Knicks. He took over the interim coaching duties after Jeff Van Gundy suddenly resigned. Chaney inherited a roster of aging veterans, fringe youth players, and injury-prone players. Both Marcus Camby & Antonio McDyess missed significant chunks of games with injuries during his tenure.

At the time of the firing, the Knicks were 15-24. Despite rumors of hiring Chuck Daly & Mike Fratello, Isiah instead selected Lenny Wilkens as the new head coach. Wilkens, a Brooklyn native, returned home after the Raptors fired him at the end of the 2002-03 season. Wilkens had moderate success as the Knicks head coach with a 40-41 record and a playoff berth in his first season. He resigned midway during the 2004-05 season and ultimately retired from coaching.


January 14, 2018:  Knicks call up Trey Burke

The Knicks called up Trey Burke from the Westchester Knicks on this date. Burke initially signed with the Knicks during the preseason, but was waived only a few days later. Rather than playing overseas or with the Oklahoma City Thunder, as originally rumored, Burke decided to hone his point guard skills with the Westchester Knicks.

After having a solid rookie season, Burke gradually fell out of the rotation between his stints with the Jazz & Wizards. Knowing that his success in the NBA would hinge on his point guard skills, he found an opportunity in the G-League as a prime opportunity to develop. While in the G-League, Burke averaged 26.6 points, 2.7 threes/game, 5.5 assists/game, and 1.9 steals/game.

Burke had a sizzling start to his Knicks career, including a 42-point game against the Charlotte Hornets. Burke has had a rough start to the 2018-19 season after suffering strings of DNPs and a mild MCL sprain. Despite the minor setbacks, his stint in the G-League will forever ingrain the work ethic needed to earn minutes in the NBA.

On This Date: Hubert Davis led Knicks to a comeback victory against the Milwaukee Bucks

January 13, 1995:  Hubert Davis led the New York Knicks to a ferocious comeback against the Milwaukee Bucks

Down 17 points in the third quarter, Hubert Davis helped fuel a major comeback to lead the Knicks to a 91-88 victory on the road. Davis scored 21 points, but went on a three point barrage between the 3rd and 4th quarters to reverse the deficit. In less than a 5 minute stretch, Davis hit all 5 of his three-point shots and single-handedly started a 14-0 run. The run turned a 76-64 deficit into a 78-76 lead.

In typical Knicks fashion, their defense stifled the Bucks and held them without a field goal for 11 of the 12 minutes in the 4th quarter. The Knicks held the Bucks to only 12 points and likewise outscored them by 12 to claim the victory. The victory extended their win streak to eight games.

The Knicks drafted Davis as the 20th overall pick in the 1992 NBA Draft. He served as an adept three-point shooter off the bench during his tenure with the team. His most memorable moment was hitting the go-ahead free throws in Game 5 of the 1994 Eastern Conference Semifinals after Scottie Pippen fouled him. The Knicks traded him shortly before the 1996-97 season after the team signed Allan Houston.

On This Date: Red Holzman sets the Knick record for most coaching victories

January 12, 1974: Red Holzman sets club record in head coaching victories

The New York Knicks defeated the Golden State Warriors 96-80. In the victory, Red Holzman set a club record with 327 regular season victories. He surpassed the record held by Joe Lapchick. Lapchick coached the Knicks for eight seasons between 1948-1956.

Red eventually reached 613 total wins over 14 seasons with the Knicks. The team recognized his coaching feat by retiring the number 613 in the rafters in 1990. In a testament to the rapid turnover of coaches, no coach outside of Holzman or Lapchick coached more than seven seasons with the Knicks. Jeff Van Gundy coached part of the 1995-96 and 2001-02 seasons, but only coached five full seasons with the team. Only Van Gundy & Pat Riley exceeded 200 wins as Knick coaches (248 and 223 respectively).


January 12, 1989: The New York Knicks rout the Charlotte Hornets 106-89

The Charlotte Hornets made their first visit to Madison Square Garden as an inaugural franchise. Unfortunately for them, the Knicks routed the Hornets 106-89. Mark Jackson led the Knicks with 18 points, 5 assists, and 4 steals. Both Patrick Ewing and Charles Oakley netted double doubles.

The Knicks started the game very sloppy. The team committed 15 turnovers in the 1st half and held a tie game with the 9-24 Hornets roster. In a desperation move, coach Rick Pitino inserted Trent Tucker into the starting lineup for the 2nd half and the defensive pressure intensified. The Knicks went on a 15-0 run in the 3rd quarter and ballooned the lead to 22 points by the end of the 3rd quarter.

The 1988-89 season marked the Hornets’ inaugural season. The team was one of four franchises – the Miami Heat, Minnesota Timberwolves, and Orlando Magic were the other three – that the NBA included in their expansion plans. The Heat & Hornets began their inaugural season in 1988-89 while the Magic & Timberwolves began in 1989-90.

The Hornets struggled for their first few seasons, but stockpiled several young players including Muggsy Bogues, Kendall Gill, Larry Johnson, & Alonzo Mourning. The quartet helped lead the team to their first playoff berth in 1992-93. While upsetting the Boston Celtics in the first round of the playoffs, they faced strong headwinds against a veteran-laden Knicks roster. The Knicks easily routed the Hornets in 5 games.

 

On This Date: Queens native Metta World Peace returns to MSG as a rookie

January 11, 2000: Metta World Peace (f/k/a Ron Artest) returns to MSG as a rookie

In the 1999 NBA Draft, Ed Tapscott inexplicably drafted Frederic Weis over St. John’s own Metta World Peace. 99% of Knicks fans and media, alike, panned the selection. Even MWP himself was baffled the Knicks didn’t select the Queens native. The Chicago Bulls selected him right after the Knicks picked Weis.

On this date, MWP returned to MSG for the first time as a Chicago Bulls player. Additionally, Peekskill native Elton Brand – picked #1 overall in the 1999 NBA Draft – also made his rookie MSG debut. MWP led the Bulls with 24 points on 6-15 from the field with 4 assists and 2 steals. Elton Brand scored 22 points on 9-18 from the field.

However, the veteran-laden Knicks roster was too much for the Baby Bulls as they sailed to a 95-88 victory. The Knicks had 6 players score in double figures as Larry Johnson led the team with 19 points. Patrick Ewing had a double double with 14 points and 14 rebounds.

World Peace had an idiosyncratic NBA career to most standards. While known as one of the toughest defenders in the league, his volatile personality derailed most of his prime years. The Malice at the Palace forever tainted his career. His best years came with the Los Angeles Lakers, winning a championship ring with Kobe Bryant and Phil Jackson.

MWP did have a short run with the Knicks during the 2013-14 season. However, a combination of lack of playing time and CAA politics led to a buyout during the middle of the season. He did return to the Lakers for a few seasons, enjoying Kobe’s farewell season and mentoring some of the younger players on the roster.

On one hand, I could have seen MWP mesh well with a strong veteran presence in the 90s Knicks roster. The roster could have played a crucial mentorship role that he lacked early on in his career. However, I could also see that NYC would also be a distraction for him due to growing up here. Many NYC-bred basketball players did not succeed with the Knicks due to a myriad of reasons including high expectations and temptations.


January 11th 1997:  The New York Knicks sweep the Boston Celtics on “Throwback Weekend.”

To commemorate the 50 year anniversary of the NBA, the Knicks & Celtics participated in a back-to-back “Throwback Weekend.” The two teams were the only two franchises still playing in their original cities. The Knicks took a train ride up to Boston to play the first matchup on January 10th and returned to MSG to play the doubleheader the next evening. Legends from both teams including Bob Cousy, Bill Russell, Earl Monroe, and Dave DeBusschere attended the festivities. Legendary Celtics coach Red Auerbach was the team president.

Both teams wore special throwback uniforms that celebrated the 50 year anniversary of the NBA. The Knicks wore the following throwback uniforms:

As for the games itself, there was not a lot of competition. The Knicks swept the home-and-home series 111-98 and 112-99 respectively. The Knicks held a 17-game winning streak against the Celtics. The streak reached 21 games before the 94-85 loss on January 26, 1998.

While the Knicks were perennial playoff contenders in the 1990s, the Celtics were in a phase of rebuilding after the Larry Bird/Kevin McHale retirements and Reggie Lewis’ sudden death.

On This Date: Starks hits 8 threes to shock the Indiana Pacers

January 10, 1995:  John Starks ties a then-team record with 8 three-pointers to beat the Indiana Pacers

In the first game since the contentious 1994 Eastern Conference Finals matchup, John Starks tied a then-team record with 8 three-pointers made to stun Reggie Miller and the Indiana Pacers by a score of 117-105. Starks led the Knicks with 31 points and hit 8-11 from downtown and 10-16 overall from the field.

The Knicks frazzled the Pacers with their offensive firepower, shooting 61.8% from the field and dishing out 32 assists. Patrick Ewing scored 19 points on 9-21 shooting, but had a season-high 7 assists. Derek Harper had a double double with 16 points and 13 assists.

Charles Smith added 19 points. He had a small skirmish with Reggie Miller that nearly spilled into the locker room. With 2.3 seconds left in regulation, both players collided into the lane and received double technicals after exchanging words. After the game, Reggie tried to approach Smith in the locker room, but teammates held him back before doing so.

More importantly, Starks broke out of a slump with his offensive performance. After making the 1994 All Star team and posting career-high numbers, his offensive numbers took a dip that must have carried over from his infamous Game 7 performance in the 1994 NBA Finals. Starks had a slight drop in performance during the 1994-95 season, shooting 39.5% from the floor and averaging 15.3 points/game.

However, Starks became a more proficient three-point shooter, as evidenced by his output in this game. Starks averaged 2.7 threes/game for a total of 217 three pointers made, the first player to make 200 threes in the NBA. In the current pace-and-space era of the NBA where three pointers are shot at high volumes, this feat is quite remarkable.

 

On This Date: Derrick Rose goes missing

January 9, 2017: Derrick Rose goes missing

In one of the many bizarre events of the 2016-17 season, Derrick Rose disappears shortly before a Monday night home game against the New Orleans Pelicans. D-Rose attended shoot-around in the afternoon, but left unannounced soon after. The team later announced that Rose was not with the team due to a “family situation.”

The mysterious disappearance confused everyone from the coaching staff to the players. No one seemed to know where Rose was and whether his well-being was ok. Brandon Jennings started for Rose in his absence as the Knicks lost 110-96 against the Pelicans.

In a sign of a frustrating night, both Carmelo Anthony and Kyle O’Quinn were ejected from the game. Melo received two technical fouls and O’Quinn committed a flagrant 2 foul on Anthony Davis. Davis injured his hip on the play and exited the game as a result.

Rose returned to the team the next day, but the team fined him $200,000 for a failure to properly communicate in a timely response. He admitted he flew to Chicago to attend to a family matter. Rose did apologize to his teammates, coaching staff, and front office. There was an initial rumor of discontent with head coach Jeff Hornacek due to his 4th quarter benching against the Bucks, but Rose dispelled that thought in a post-practice interview.

While Rose had his best overall year since his run with injuries, the 2016-17 season was frustrating for both him and the team. Rose regained a lot of his quickness and athleticism, but was lackluster on the defensive end. His season was cut short due to torn cartilage in his knee that required arthroscopic surgery.

On This Date: 1969-70 Knicks named Top 10 team in NBA history

January 8, 1997: The NBA chose the 1969-70 New York Knicks as one of the Top 10 teams in NBA history

To celebrate the 50 year anniversary of the NBA, the league chose the 1969-70 Knicks as one of the Top 10 greatest teams in history. Members of the print and broadcast media that cover the NBA compiled a list of teams to nominate.

The 1969-70 Knicks had a record of 60-22 and won their first NBA championship. Four players on that team – Walt Frazier, Bill Bradley, Dave DeBusschere, & Willis Reed – were inducted into the NBA Hall of Fame. Additionally, Clyde, DeBusschere, & Reed were concurrently on the NBA 50 Greatest Players list.

 

On This Date: Knicks sign Langston Galloway

January 7, 2015: The New York Knicks sign Langston Galloway to an NBA contract

On this date, Langston Galloway made history by becoming the first-ever call-up from the Westchester Knicks. The Knicks signed him to successive 10-day contracts and eventually signed him to a two-year deal with the team.

Galloway initially joined the Knicks summer league roster, at the insistence of Clarence Gaines Jr., and made the preseason roster. The team waived him before the end of the preseason due to a glut of guards (Jose Calderon, Pablo Prigioni, Iman Shumpert, Shane Larkin) on the roster. Rather than playing overseas, Galloway decided to sign with the Westchester Knicks to audition for an NBA role.

While in Westchester, Galloway averaged 16.5 points, 2.1 threes, and 2.7 steals/game. While only 6’2, Galloway’s 6’8 wingspan allowed him to play tenacious defense against some of the bigger point guards in the league.

As a result of the JR Smith & Iman Shumpert trades, the Knicks called up Galloway and he quickly impressed everyone with his defense, competitive spirit, and ability to play within the triangle offense. He quickly racked up a stretch of five games in double figures and topped that with six straight games to end the year. He scored a season-high 26 points in a victory against the Atlanta Hawks in the second-to-last game of the season. One of his memorable moments was a game-tying three-point shot against the Detroit Pistons to send the game into overtime.

His performance garnered a 2nd-Team All-Rookie selection, the first undrafted Knick to achieve that honor. He eventually played for the New Orleans Pelicans & Sacramento Kings before receiving a 3-year, $21 million contract from the Detroit Pistons.

 

On This Date: Knicks acquire Derek Harper

January 6, 1994: The New York Knicks acquire Derek Harper

With Doc Rivers out for the remainder of the season with a torn left ACL, the Knicks acquired Derek Harper from the Dallas Mavericks for Tony Campbell and a 1997 1st Round Draft Pick (John Thomas).

Rivers’ injury threatened to derail the Knicks’ strong start to the season and quickly end their championship hopes. Acquiring Harper gave the Knicks a defensive-minded point guard who brought a veteran presence to the team. Harper averaged 8.6 points/game, 4.4 assists/game, and 1.5 steals/game with the Knicks during the 1993-94 season.

Harper initially came off the bench with the Knicks, while Greg Anthony remained the starting point guard. He eventually replaced Anthony as the starting point guard in March. Harper’s presence helped the Knicks reach the NBA Finals for the first time since they won the championship in 1973. He remained with the Knicks for two more seasons before returning to the Mavericks for the 1996-97 season.

 

On This Date: Knicks acquire Stephon Marbury, and eleven years later, trade away JR Smith

January 5, 2004: The New York Knicks acquire Stephon Marbury

In the first major transaction of the Isiah Thomas era, the Knicks acquired Stephon Marbury in a blockbuster trade with the Phoenix Suns. The trade included the following players/picks:

Suns Acquire:

Howard Eisley
Antonio McDyess
Maciej Lampe
Charlie Ward
Draft Rights to: Milos Vujanic
Knicks 2004 1st Round Pick (Kirk Synder)
Knicks 2010 1st Round Pick (Gordon Hayward)

Knicks Acquire:

Stephon Marbury
Penny Hardaway
Cezary Trybanksi

The trade brought Marbury near to where he grew up in Coney Island. Marbury always showed New York a lot of support and spent his summers playing in Rucker Park. He was a part of Fat Joe’s Terror Squad team and was supposed to play in the highly anticipated 2003 matchup against Jay-Z’s S. Carter team. Unfortunately, the game never happened because of the infamous Northeast blackout.2

From a basketball perspective, Marbury completely changed the composition of the team. For one, the Knicks finally found a star PG who was young (Marbury was 26 at the time of the end) and dynamic.

The Knicks were mired in mediocrity the previous few seasons due to a roster that lacked athleticism and youthful energy. Marbury immediately brought both into the fold. Isiah – a point guard himself – understood the importance of having a playmaker. He saw the Knicks manhandled by point guards such as Jason Kidd, Sam Cassell, and Jamal Crawford, and he knew a trade was necessary to reverse the fortunes of the team.

Penny Hardaway arrived in New York as a relic of his better days. He had a relatively productive first season with the Knicks as a bench player. Injuries sidelined him for most of the following two seasons before the team traded him to the Orlando Magic in 2006 for Steve Francis. Trybanski only played 3 games for the Knicks and the team traded him to the Bulls as part of the Jamal Crawford sign-and-trade.  

The trade, along with the Lenny Wilkens hire, amongst others, helped the Knicks win 39 games and make the playoffs as the 8th seed. Unfortunately, the playoff berth marked the high point of Marbury’s career. The culmination of losses, conflicts with coaches, and off-the-court scandals ruined Marbury’s tenure with the team. His support from the front office to fans to even beat reporters (Yes, Isola had a close relationship with him too) soured as his play suffered and his controversies represented his only highlights. The combination of the above led to his release in 2009.

In retrospect, the trade, at the time, was a necessary move to reverse the direction of the team. However, Isiah neglected to consider the importance of draft picks and roster construction around Marbury. The trade immediately added a significant amount of salary and restricted the Knicks from making any major moves in free agency. The Stephon Marbury era remains a disappointing moment in franchise history.


January 5, 2015: The JR Smith era ends

Phil Jackson continued the process to clean house by trading both JR Smith and Iman Shumpert in a three-way trade with the Cleveland Cavaliers & Oklahoma City Thunder. The Knicks received Lou Amundson, Lance Thomas, Alex Kirk, and the Cavs 2019 2nd round draft pick. JR Smith, Iman Shumpert, and the OKC 2016 1st round pick (Furkan Korkmaz) went to the Cavaliers. Dion Waiters went to the Thunder in the trade.

The trade helped the Knicks clear additional salary cap space while removing the team of players that didn’t fit with their future plans. JR Smith never meshed in the triangle offense and was largely a malcontent during his years with the Knicks. Iman Shumpert was on the last year of his rookie deal and injuries mostly hampered his production on the team.

Contrary to public opinion at the time, Lou Amundson & Lance Thomas did play a role on the team. While Phil immediately cut all three players acquired, he re-signed Lou & Lance to successive 10-day contracts and eventually for the remainder of the season. For a 17-win team, both players brought a level of professionalism, toughness, and ability to run the team’s offense. With a lot of younger players on the roster, especially after the Carmelo Anthony injury, these traits were integral to the team.

Both players served as mentors to our rookies, particularly to Kristaps Porzingis & Frank Ntilikina. The Knicks rewarded Lance – a NY native – with a 4-year, $27 million extension in 2016. While he’s probably well overpaid, the Knicks valued the intangibles he brought to the team. The players in the locker room view him as the de facto captain and he’s served the role well so far.

On This Date: Dikembe Mutombo sets Knick record with 10 blocks in a game

January 4, 2004: Dikembe Mutombo set a Knicks record with 10 blocks in a game.

In Dikembe Mutombo’s one-year stint with the Knicks, he miraculously set a franchise record with 10 blocks in a game. He achieved the feat in a 95-85 loss against the New Jersey Nets. He blocked 10 shots in 42 minutes, an impressive mark at 37 years of age.

Known for his iconic finger wag after blocking opponents’ shots, the Knicks signed Mutombo after the Nets bought him out shortly following the beginning of training camp. The Knicks previously had interest in Mutombo during the 2001 trade deadline (the Hawks shipped him to Philadelphia) and the summer of 2002 (the 76ers traded him to the Nets).

Mutombo represented a true center, one the Knicks lacked since Marcus Camby’s departure. At 7’2, he also represented a legitimate big man who could provide intimidation in the paint. The Knicks blocked a paltry 3.1 shots/game in the 2002-03 season, 29th in the league. In the 2003-04 season, Mutombo averaged 1.9 blocks/game and helped the Knicks block 4.8 shots/game, 16th in the league. His presence on the defensive end eventually helped the Knicks make the playoffs for the 1st time since the 2000-01 season.

The Knicks later traded Mutombo in a deal with the Chicago Bulls that netted Jamal Crawford in a sign-and-trade.

On This Date: Remembering Marty Glickman

January 3, 2001: Marty Glickman passes away at the age of 83

Marty Glickman – a native of The Bronx – was the quintessential sports voice during the 20th century. Glickman’s foray into sports began as a young sprinter. He qualified for the 1936 Olympics and was supposed to compete as part of the 4×100 relay team. However, the US team removed Glickman from the team right before the event and replaced him with Jesse Owens. One of the alleged reasons for the removal was to appease Adolf Hitler, since the Olympics were held in Berlin. The U.S. team won a gold medal for the event; the US Olympic Committee later honored Glickman in 1998 with a plaque in lieu of the gold medal he rightfully deserved.

After his foray as a sprinter, Glickman served in WWII. After his service, he served as the voice of sports reels distributed by Paramount News from 1948-1957. One of Glickman’s patented reels is below:

Glickman spent 21 years as the radio announcer for the New York Knicks from the inaugural season through the 1960s. He was known for famous catchphrases including “Swish” and “Top of the Circle.” He also broadcasted games for other teams, including the New York Giants, New York Yankees, and New York Rangers. For many years, Glickman represented the voice of the NBA and was the first TV announcer for the league.

His greatest gift was mentorship. His first protege was a young whippersnapper named Marv Albert. Marv’s first pivotal radio broadcast was the 1970 NBA Finals. Glickman also mentored current Knick announcer, and voice of the NBA, Mike Breen. Around the same time, NBC hired Glickman to help develop their sports broadcasters.

Glickman’s legacy lives on as he’s a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame and New York City Sports Hall of Fame.  He was also the recipient of the inaugural Curt Gowdy award that recognized outstanding basketball writers and broadcasters.

On This Date: Knicks win 3OT Thriller against the Phoenix Suns

January 2, 2006: The New York Knicks win a triple overtime thriller against the Phoenix Suns

In one of the lone highlights of Larry Brown’s Knick tenure, the Knicks outlasted the Suns 140-133 in triple overtime. Stephon Marbury led the Knicks with 32 points and 10 assists in 54 minutes. Jamal Crawford scored 29 off the bench and had 7 rebounds and 7 assists each in 48 minutes of action.

However, it was rookie David Lee who had a breakthrough moment with the Knicks. In Lee’s best game so far of the season, he scored 23 points and grabbed 15 rebounds on 10-11 shooting in 51 minutes. Lee finally broke through in Larry Brown’s rotation after he received 7 DNPs earlier.

In the third overtime, both Eddy Curry & David Lee had three-point plays that helped seal the victory. Curry had a double-double with 20 points and 15 rebounds.

This was the Knicks’ first triple overtime game since Valentine’s Day 1993 when the team lost 102-100 to Shaquille O’Neal and the Orlando Magic. This victory also marked the beginning of a 6-game winning streak for the team.

On This Date: Nate Robinson scores 41 points off the bench

January 1, 2010: Nate Robinson scores 41 points off the bench to lead the Knicks to an overtime victory against the Atlanta Hawks

In an appropriate beginning to a new year, Nate Robinson returned from a month-long exile in the doghouse to lead the Knicks to a thrilling overtime victory in Atlanta. Nate scored 41 points on 18-24 from the field and 3-5 from three. He also had 6 rebounds and 8 assists.

Despite a close first half, the Knicks well-patented 3rd quarter of doom led to a 13 point deficit. The Knicks stormed back to tie the game at the end of regulation. The Knicks scored 13 points in OT to get a much-needed victory on the road. After going on an 8-3 run to start the month of December, the team lost 3 of the last 4 games.

Coincidentally, Nate was placed into Mike D’Antoni’s doghouse beginning in December. D’Antoni lost patience with Nate over the previous several weeks beginning with an ill-fated joke to shoot at the wrong basket after the end of the 1st quarter in a road game against the New Jersey Nets:

After that play, he benched Nate for the rest of the game. Even after scoring 22 fourth quarter points in a 114-102 loss against the Magic in MSG, D’Antoni sent Nate to the bench with a DNP ironically against the Magic on the road.

Nate sat on the bench for a month until this game. Despite the victories with Nate glued to the bench, it didn’t make much sense because D’Antoni only employed 7-8 man rotations. It took injuries to both Larry Hughes and Jonathan Bender to finally get Nate back into the rotation on New Year’s day. During Nate’s absence, rookie Toney Douglas received the majority of the point guard minutes off the bench.

During his Knick tenure, Nate Robinson frustrated head coaches, alike, with his decision making on the floor. While Nate was in the doghouse, his agent Aaron Goodwin requested a trade in December 2009.2 D’Antoni quickly grew tired of Nate and was traded – along with Marcus Landry – at the deadline to the Boston Celtics for Eddie House, J.R. Giddens, & Bill Walker.

 

 

On This Date: The Chris Smith era ends

December 31, 2013: The New York Knicks waive Chris Smith

As perhaps an auspicious start to a new year, the Knicks waived Chris “Da Gawd” Smith, the brother of JR Smith, to re-sign Jeremy Tyler.

Da Gawd initially joined the Knicks 2012 Summer League team. The team gave him a training camp invite, but was cut before the season after suffering a season-ending left patella injury that required surgery.

Smith re-appeared on the 2013 Summer League team. The Knicks subsequently signed him to a contract that guaranteed him $490,000 if he was on the opening day roster. Because Jeremy Tyler underwent foot surgery before training camp, Smith made the roster and received his guaranteed salary. Tyler was cleared to play in December for the Erie Bayhawks, the Knicks D-League affiliate.

Da Gawd played all of 2 uneventful minutes with the Knicks. He hasn’t appeared in the NBA since and is currently a free agent. He last played for the Maccabi Kiryat Motzkin of the Liga Leumit. 

After the Knicks waived Chris Smith, JR Smith posted an instagram photo alluding to “betrayal:”

View this post on Instagram

#OnceAgain

A post shared by JR Smith (@teamswish) on

Fans, media, and players alike criticized the signing as a sign of nepotism. Additionally, the move reeked of a favor made to CAA, the agency that represented both the Smiths, Carmelo Anthony, Mike Woodson, and many members of the Knicks & MSG Sports. Brandon Jennings squabbled with JR Smith on Twitter about the signing. The NBA later fined JR $25,000 after sending a tweet threatening to send “street homies” to Detroit.

When JR Smith signed a 3-year, $18 million extension in the summer of 2013, it’s possible that one of the stipulations was to sign Chris to a contract. This was also part of a larger ploy to retain Carmelo Anthony in the summer of 2014. Both Melo & JR Smith are close friends dating back to their days with the Nuggets.

Although Melo re-signed with the Knicks, the CAA influence slowly dissipated. Metta World Peace alluded to many of the issues with CAA when he was cut in February 2014. Additionally, Phil Jackson slowly removed a lot of the CAA handlers and staffers associated within the organization.

Despite the vitriol against the Smiths, the one silver lining out of this ordeal was Chris Brickley. Brickley played a year of basketball with Chris Smith at Louisville under Rick Pitino. He eventually trained both of the Smiths over the next two seasons. With the recommendation of JR Smith & Rick Pitino, the Knicks hired Brickley in 2013 as a player development coach.

Brickley confided with Melo during his tenure with the organizations. His workouts with Melo became notorious on Instagram and sparked future workouts with NBA stars alike. Due to the increased popularity, the Knicks & Brickley mutually parted ways in 2017. For Brickley, this allowed him to expand his horizons beyond just the Knicks. For the Knicks, this allowed the team to keep some of their player development protocols in secret for purposes of competitive advantage.

Brickley later formed the BlackOps basketball training and workout program. He runs sessions during the offseason for high school, college and NBA players alike. The sessions include individual drills and scrimmages. 

Most of the sessions are held at Life Time Athletic at Sky, a gym designed by Melo that opened in 2016. Coincidentally, Kristaps Porzingis rents a few penthouses in Sky that gives him unlimited access to the Life Time Athletic health club and basketball court.

 

On This Date: Knicks acquire Moochie Norris

December 30, 2003: Knicks acquire Moochie Norris in a trade with the Houston Rockets

New GM Isiah Thomas made his first trade with the Knicks by acquiring Moochie Norris & John Amaechi for Clarence Weatherspoon. Originally a 2nd round draft pick in the 1996 NBA Draft, Norris spent most of his career as a backup point guard with various teams in the NBA and the Continental Basketball Association. He spent the previous 3+ seasons with the Houston Rockets backing up Steve Francis.

Norris received a 6-year, $23M deal before the 2001-02 season. However, his production never matched his contract. Norris scored a career-high 8.1 points/game and started 26 games in the 2001-02 season, but his production decreased heading into the trade.

Amaechi never played a game with the Knicks. Isiah waived him shortly after the trade and retired afterwards. Amaechi never played a game with the Rockets after being acquired in September 2003. 

Clarence Weatherspoon fell out of favor in the Knicks rotation due to injuries, lack of production, and a glut of PFs. (Kurt Thomas, Othella Harrington, Mike Sweetney) Scott Layden erroneously gave Weatherspoon a 5 year $27 million contract in the summer of 2001.

Norris played sparingly after the trade due to the Stephon Marbury trade and the emergence of Frank Williams. Norris was ultimately traded back to Houston in the following year for Mo Taylor.

On This Date: Knicks waive DeMarco Johnson

December 29th 1999: Knicks waive DeMarco Johnson

In a sign of gutting the legacy of the Ed Tapscott/Ernie Grunfeld era, the Knicks waived DeMarco Johnson. Johnson was on the injured list and the Knicks wanted to free up his spot for Rick Brunson on the active roster.  

The Knicks drafted Johnson 38th overall in the 1998 NBA Draft. He spent 4 years at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.2 Due to the lockout, DeMarco spent the 1998-99 season in Italy with Sony Milano.

Unfortunately, DeMarco played only 5 games with the Knicks and had a grand total of 6 points and 7 rebounds in 37 minutes. DeMarco represented another draft pick bust during the Grunfeld/Tapscott era. Players such as Rafer Alston, Cuttino Mobley, Jahidi White, Greg Buckner, and Ryan Bowen were drafted after him and had relatively productive NBA careers. The other Knicks 2nd round draft pick, and current Nets GM, Sean Marks had several productive seasons in the NBA despite being shipped to the Raptors in the Marcus Camby trade.

DeMarco Johnson never played another NBA game after the Knicks waived him. However, he carved a decade long career playing overseas in Italy and Spain. He is currently an assistant coach on the Hampton University basketball team. 

On This Date: Knicks spoil Grant Hill’s MSG Debut

December 28, 1994: Grant Hill makes his MSG debut, but the Knicks prevail with the victory

The New York Knicks spoiled Grant Hill’s MSG debut with a 101-93 victory against the Detroit Pistons. Patrick Ewing led the Knicks with 30 points and 11 rebounds. Charles Smith also had a double double with 23 points and 10 rebounds. 

Hill – the heralded rookie from Duke – scored 21 points, but shot 7-19 from the field and Anthony Mason stymied him on the defensive end. Hill represented a new era for the Pistons after Isiah Thomas retired after the 1993-94 season. Additionally, future Knick Allan Houston played 4 minutes off the bench, but didn’t contribute to his statline.

Despite the win, the Knicks faced another significant injury in the frontcourt. Herb Williams fractured his middle finger in his left hand after colliding with Anthony Mason grabbing a rebound. The Knicks were already without Charles Oakley, who was out until February after undergoing surgery on his toe. 

Due to those injuries, the Knicks signed journeyman Greg Kite as a reinforcement in the front court. However, the Knicks waived Kite in February once Herb Williams returned from injury. Kite only played 16 minutes in 2 games, so he wasn’t relied upon in his brief tenure with the team.