On This Date: Allan Houston and Latrell Sprewell score 30 points each to lead Knicks

November 27, 1999: Allan Houston & Latrell Sprewell score 30 points each to beat Orlando 99-96

Latrell Sprewell & Allan Houston displayed their potential as a dynamic duo in the victory against the Orlando Magic. In addition to 30 points scored, Sprewell had 5 rebounds, 6 assists, and made 9-9 free throws. Similarly, Houston had 6 rebounds and 5 assists while shooting 60% from the floor and making all 4 of his free throw attempts.

Additionally, Chris Childs bounced back from a slow start to the season and scored 15 points, making 3 three-pointers, and dished 6 assists in 27 minutes.  Childs hit a crucial three pointer near the end of regulation to help push the Knicks to victory. Similar to other players, Childs was mired in an early season slump highlighted by a lack of effort.  The post-NBA Finals hangover kicked into Childs and this game helped refocus him.

The Knicks started the season off slowly due to a myriad of injuries that hampered the front court. Patrick Ewing remained sidelined due to the torn Achilles tendon suffered in the Eastern Conference Finals against the Indiana Pacers. Marcus Camby was out due to a lingering knee injury and Larry Johnson was sidelined due to a pinched nerve in his back.  Back injuries persisted throughout Larry Johnson’s career and eventually forced him into retirement in 2001.

 

Knicks legend Willie Naulls passes away at 84

Knicks legend Willie Naulls passed away on November 22nd at the age of 84 due to a respiratory failure from Churg-Strauss Syndrome.

Naulls spent seven seasons with the Knicks after playing only 19 games with the St. Louis Hawks. As a Knick, Naulls averaged 19.3 points and 10.7 rebounds a game and made the NBA All-Star team four times.

He also served the honor of being Knicks captain. He was the first black athlete to hold such a post for any team in a major American sport, according to the Knicks.

While Naulls wasn’t able to win a championship with the Knicks, but he spent the final three seasons of his career with the Boston Celtics where he won a championship each year.

On This Date: Nate Robinson hits game winning three in post-Thanksgiving thriller

November 26, 2005: Nate Robinson wins the game for the Knicks in OT against Allen Iverson & the Philadelphia 76ers

The New York Knicks & Philadelphia 76ers certainly turned this post-Thanksgiving Saturday into a basketball thriller at Madison Square Garden. Nate Robinson hit the buzzer-beating three in the right corner in overtime to stun the 76ers by a score of 105-102.

After the 76ers took a 13 point lead coming out of the 1st half, the Knicks had a 14-point turnaround to take a 1 point lead by the end of the 3rd quarter. Stephon Marbury & Allen Iverson went back and forth against each other the entire game. Marbury ended the game with a team-high 33 points and 6 assists. Allen Iverson had a team-high 40 points, the first time he scored 40 points against the Knicks in his career.

After the Knicks took a 3 point lead with less than 20 seconds left in the 4th quarter, Chris Webber tied the game on a tip-shot before the end of regulation to send the game to overtime.

Although Marbury & Iverson went back and forth the entire overtime, Nate Robinson was the final hero of the game. On the final possession, Marbury was able to find Nate in the right corner after Iverson came to help off of him. Nate hit the three over a leaping Iverson to send Madison Square Garden into a frenzy.

The game marked Nate’s first breakout game with the Knicks. In 32 minutes of action, Nate score a then-high 17 points in 32 minutes. In an overall tumultuous season, this represented one of a few highlights for Nate Robinson.

 

On This Date: Melo scores 29 to lead Knicks past Pistons 121-100

November 25, 2012: Carmelo Anthony scores 29 points to lead Knicks past Pistons 121-100

The Knicks jumped out of the gate with a hot start to the 2012-13 season. In their matchup against the Pistons, they showcased the formula that would lead the team to their first Eastern Conference Semifinals since the 1999-2000 season.

Carmelo Anthony led the way with 29 points and made 4-5 from three. Raymond Felton had a double double with 14 points and 10 assists. Additionally, the Knicks received excellent production from the second unit. JR Smith came off the bench with a double double -> 15 points, 10 rebounds, and 5 assists. Steve Novak scored 18 points, with 5-7 from three.  Rasheed Wallace also scored 15 points and made 3-5 from three. The team collectively hit 17-33 from three and were 28-31 from the free throw stripe.

The game also featured two interesting quirks that personified the season. First, Jason Kidd sported a tilted headband after receiving an accidental elbow from Lance Stephenson a few games earlier. Second, we saw Carmelo Anthony incorporate the “three to the dome” celebration after every three point make. Rasheed Wallace brought the celebration to the team and Melo made it his signature move during his tenure with the Knicks.

The Knicks also continued to use the two-PG starting lineup with Jason Kidd & Raymond Felton. The decision was a result of Amare Stoudemire’s knee injury that sidelined him for most of the season. The small lineup moved Melo to the 4 and consequently had one of his best seasons in his career.  While the personnel on the roster was slightly flawed1, teams began to incorporate the small ball lineups frequently and its become commonplace now in the NBA.

On This Date: Bernard King scores 52 points to beat the Indiana Pacers

Before the days of Reggie Miller, Mark Jackson, the Davis duo, and Rik Smits, the Knicks & Pacers had drama-free games. For most of the 1980s, the Pacers mired themselves in the bottom of the standings while the Knicks made the playoffs for several seasons.

In this matchup, King scored 52 points, which marked a then-career high for him, along with 7 rebounds and 7 assists. He scored 52 points on 19-31 FGs and was 14-17 from the free throw stripe. This was the first of three 50 point games for him that season, including a 55-point effort the following February and a legendary 60-point outburst on Christmas day.

King forever remains one of the greatest scorers in NBA history. He possessed an uncanny explosiveness to drive to the rim, get to the foul line2 and punished defenders with a deadly midrange shot.  King was also able to do this with extreme proficiency, averaging more than 53% from the field during his Knicks tenure.

Even though King suffered a devastating ACL injury later in the season, his 1984-85 season – along with his Knicks tenure – was one of the greatest offensive performances seen in Knicks history.

On This Date: Knicks score 133 to shock Pistons

November 23, 1988: Knicks utilize half-court trap and three pointers to shock the Detroit Pistons 133-111 in the Palace of Auburn Hills

The road to the championship for the Detroit Pistons, who went into the game 9-1, approached a bump in the road against Rick Pitino & the New York Knicks.  The combination of aggressive half-court traps and 3-point shots stifled the Pistons, who came into the game limiting opponents to only 98.6 points per game, a mark 2nd in the league.

Patrick Ewing led the way with 37 points, 12 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals, & 4 blocks and made 12-15 from the free throw line.  However, Johnny Newman & Trent Tucker played pivotal roles in the victory.  Newman & Tucker scored a combined 44 points on 8-13 from three.  The team overall shot 9-16 from three point distance.2

The game also showcased the combo point guard duo of Mark Jackson & Rod Strickland.  Both point guards got playing time together with the injury of Gerald Wilkins.  Jackson had a double double with 14 points and 14 assists.  Strickland had 9 points and 5 assists in 15 minutes.

The Pitino system frustrated the Pistons the entire night.  Pitino established the interior game with Ewing to draw fouls and open the floor for three point shots.  The team hit 35 free throws compared to 11 for the Pistons.  The aggressive trapping led to 22 Pistons turnovers and easy buckets (including threes) for the Knicks.  Future Knick GM Isiah Thomas committed 7 turnovers and, after the game, admitted the half-court press was “murder.”

On This Date: Knicks trade Jamal Crawford and Zach Randolph

November 21, 2008: The New York Knicks trade Jamal Crawford & Zach Randolph in separate deals with the Golden State Warriors & Los Angeles Clippers, respectively, for Al Harrington, Tim Thomas, and Cuttino Mobley.

On the road to the summer of LeBron, Knicks GM Donnie Walsh traded Jamal Crawford to the Golden State Warriors for Al Harrington. He subsequently traded Zach Randolph for Cuttino Mobley & Tim Thomas. The contracts acquired all expired before the start of 2010 Free Agency.

At the time of the trade, Jamal Crawford had a scorching start with the Knicks under the new Mike D’Antoni speedball offense.2 Through 11 games, he was making more than 3 threes per game, at a 46% clip. Zach Randolph also started the season on a hot start averaging more than 20 points and 12.5 rebounds per game.

Cuttino Mobley never played another game after the trade. Mobley initially failed his physical due to a pre-existing heart condition discovered by the Clippers. Walsh allowed the trade to go through because his priority was getting under the cap. After visiting various doctors, Mobley announced his retirement on December 11th 2008 due to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.

Tim Thomas rejoined the Knicks after spending less than 2 years with the Knicks earlier in the decade.  Thomas reunited with D’Antoni, whom he played under with the Phoenix Suns. Thomas mostly came off the bench and had his biggest highlight play when he dunked on Anthony Randolph.

Al Harrington returned home (Orange, NJ) after the trade to the Knicks. Harrington enjoyed moderate success with the Knicks both as a starter and a 6th man off the bench. The transition to the Knicks was pretty smooth as he was coming from a Nellie Ball offense that prioritized speed, small ball, and threes.  To Knick fans, Harrington had a fair share of nicknames2 and baffling decisions.  To be fair, he was quite productive under D’Antoni’s system and flipped his production into a generous 5 year contract with the Denver Nuggets in the summer of 2010.

 

On This Date: Knicks beat Warriors and Sprewell returns to face old team

November 20, 1999: The New York Knicks get a 86-79 victory in Golden State in a game that marked Latrell Sprewell’s return to Oakland and John Starks’ first matchup against the Knicks

Two years after Latrell Sprewell infamously chocked his coach in practice, he returned to Oakland for the first time wearing a New York Knicks uniform. In Sprewell’s return, he posted 14 points, 6 rebounds, and 5 assists in 39 minutes in an 86-79 Knicks win.

John Starks, in his first matchup against his former team3, had a Starks-ian line with 10 points, 4 rebounds, 5 assists, and 4 steals in 30 minutes. Chris Mills & Terry Cummings, the other former Knicks included in the trade that brought Sprewell to New York, scored 17 and 10 points, respectively.

For Sprewell, this was a highly anticipated matchup against his former coach PJ Carlesimo, who he attacked in practice. The choke seen around the world 2 led to a year-long suspension and eventual trade to the New York Knicks.

Despite the choking incident, the Sprewell trade worked out very well for the Knicks. While Jeff Van Gundy’s plodding offensive system prevented Sprewell from exceeding 20 points a game, he was a fearless scorer that added much needed athleticism to an aging roster and brought the same level of defensive intensity that personified the Knicks teams of the 90s.  His clutch play in the 1999 playoffs resonate with Knick fans to this date.

 

 

On This Date: Knicks beat Vancouver Grizzlies in inaugural matchup

November 19, 1995: The newly franchised Vancouver Grizzlies make their first visit to MSG and lose to the New York Knicks 98-93

The 1995-96 season marked the inaugural season for the Vancouver Grizzlies. November 19th marked their first matchup against the New York Knicks in Madison Square Garden. In the 98-93 Knicks victory, Derek Harper led the team with 25 points, 5 assists, and 4 steals. Patrick Ewing had a double double with 13 points, 16 rebounds, and 3 blocks.

For the Grizzlies, former Knick Greg Anthony led the team with 18 points and 7 assists. Former Laker Byron Scott came off the bench to score 10 points. Their top draft pick, Bryant “Big Country” Reeves, scored  5 points in 10 minutes.

In addition to the Grizzlies, the Toronto Raptors also joined the NBA and also participated in the expansion draft.  Teams could protect 8 players who were under contract or restricted free agents.  Neither team could select any unrestricted free agents.  However, no team could lose more than one player in the expansion draft.  The Knicks protected Patrick Ewing, Charles Oakley, Derek Harper, John Starks, Charlie Ward, Charles Smith, Monty Williams, & Charlie Ward.

The Knicks consequently left Greg Anthony, Doug Christie, Herb Williams unprotected in the expansion draft.  For Greg Anthony, the team drafted Charlie Ward in the previous season and made Anthony expendable.  While Christie was a promising player, the Knicks thought Charlie Ward & Monty Williams had more potential.

Greg Anthony was the Grizzlies’ 1st pick and spent the next two seasons with the Grizzlies before jumping around the league with the Supersonics & Grizzlies, amongst notable teams.

Additionally, the Grizzlies hired former Knicks coach Stu Jackson to be the general manager.  Jackson lasted 5 seasons before accepting a position within the NBA league offices.  Jackson’s notable transactions included drafting Shareef Abdur-Rahim, Mike Bibby, & Steve Francis (who eventually forced a trade to the Rockets).

On This Date: Knicks finish game on 19-0 run to beat the Milwaukee Bucks

November 18, 1972: Knicks make history by ending game on 19-0 run to beat the Milwaukee Bucks 87-86

In one of the most memorable comebacks in NBA history, the New York Knicks scored the final 19 points of the game to beat the Milwaukee Bucks 87-86 at Madison Square Garden. The team was down by as much as 20 points and clawed back into the game in the middle of the 4th quarter. After a few key baskets by Earl Monroe and Dave DeBusschere and a few clutch defensive stops, the team was only down by 1 point with 47 seconds left in the game.

After the Bucks’ Lucius Allen missed two free throws, Earl Monroe hit the go-ahead basket to win the game.

Bob Wolff and former Knick Cal Ramsey called the game on the radio. Marv Albert called the game on television for the Knicks.

Not only was the comeback memorable, but it was noteworthy that it was against a Milwaukee Bucks roster that comprised of future hall of famers Kareem Abdul-Jabbar & Oscar Robertson.  This game set the precedent for the Knicks’ style of play and it eventually led to their 2nd NBA Championship.

On This Date: Knicks win in Larry Bird’s first visit to MSG

November 17, 1979: Larry Bird makes his first visit to MSG, but he is out-dueled by Michael Ray Richardson.

Larry Bird scored 19 points in his Madison Square Garden (MSG) debut against the New York Knicks in a 113-109 loss. Although drafted 6th overall in the 1978 NBA Draft, Bird spent the 1978-79 season back at Indiana to finish his senior year of college. The NBA later prohibited players from re-establishing college eligibility (known as the Bird Collegiate Rule) if they declare for early eligibility and hire an agent.

Bird faced off against sophomore Micheal Ray Richardson, drafted #4 overall in the 1978 draft.  Richardson scored 22 points. Bill Cartwright, a rookie drafted 3rd in the 1979 NBA Draft, scored 20 points and Ray Williams led the team with 35 points.

While this game marked Bird’s first visit to MSG, no rivalry established between both teams during the prime of his career.  While Bird and the Boston Celtics won 3 NBA Finals (with 5 appearances) during the 1980s, the Knicks largely avoided them during the 1980s by either missing the playoffs or getting knocked out early.  However, both teams met in the 1984 Eastern Conference semifinals.  The Celtics scrapped out a victory in 7 games and eventually won the championship.

 

On This Date: Latrell Sprewell returns to lineup after mysterious hand injury

November 16, 2002: Latrell Sprewell returns to the Knicks after suffering a broken right hand before training camp

Latrell Sprewell returned to the Knicks after missing the entire preseason and first eight games of the regular season with a right hand injury. Spree came off the bench to score 16 points in a 93-92 loss against the Philadelphia 76ers. Current assistant coach Howard Eisley (then Knicks point guard) had a double double with 16 points and 10 assists. The Knicks had an 8 point lead at the middle of the 4th quarter, but gave up the entire lead as the 76ers scored 17 of the final 25 points of the game. The loss dropped the Knicks to a 1-8 record.

Spree infamously came into training camp with a broken right hand suffered in a boating accident. There were conflicting reports on what exactly happened on the boating trip. Spree’s agent claimed it was due to dealing with choppy waters. However, other witnesses claimed Spree got into a fight with someone on the boat after an argument.

Sprewell would later try to sue Marc Berman and the New York Post for reporting that he broke his right little finger in a fight on his boat, but the case was dismissed.

Sprewell was consequently fined $250,000 for not informing the team of the injury and was told to stay away from the team until further notice. The fine eventually ballooned to $437,500.

The boating accident was the final straw in the front office’s dealings with Sprewell. While Spree was popular with fans, he often angered the front office and Dolan with failing to show up to mandatory events, including a media training session (leading to the infamous media policy) and team shootarounds.

On This Date: Knicks win then-record 12th straight game

November 15, 1969: Knicks win 12th straight game to set a team record.

The New York Knicks handily beat the Boston Celtics 113-98 to win a then-record 12 straight games. Willis Reed led the team with 27 points and Walt “Clyde” Frazier scored 21 points.

The team eventually won 18 straight games to set a franchise record that currently stands to date.

The 1969-70 season was a magical season for the Knicks. The team started the season with a 5-game winning streak. After losing the next game, the team went on an 18-game winning streak to start the season 23-1. Of the 18 straight victories, 14 of them were won by at least 10 points and nine games by at least 15 points.

During the 23-1 streak, the Knicks beat every single team in the league. In fact, the team beat every other team during the winning streak except for the Seattle Supersonics, whom they beat already in the season opener.

The Knicks ended the season with a 60-22 record and won their first NBA championship. The 18-game winning streak clearly established their dominance.

On This Date: Patrick Ewing faces Knicks for the first time in a Supersonics uniform

November 14, 2000: Patrick Ewing faced the Knicks for the first time as a member of the Seattle Supersonics and enjoyed a 96-75 win against his old team.

Patrick Ewing got the last laugh against the Knicks with a blowout victory. In 31 minutes, Ewing scored 10 points, grabbed 9 rebounds, and blocked 3 shots. Gary Payton & Rashard Lewis led the Sonics with 25 and 22 points respectively. Payton, in 46 minutes, nearly had a triple double with 13 assists and 8 rebounds.  For the Knicks, Marcus Camby led the Knicks against his former teammate with 20 points and 17 rebounds.

This matchup represented a bittersweet moment for everyone involved. For fans, it was sad seeing Ewing in the twilight of his career playing in a different uniform. Ewing was clearly at the end of his career and it was tough to see him end his career as a relic of himself

The front office and Ewing developed an irreconcilable relationship during the end of the 2000 season. Ewing, then 38, was at the end of a 4-year, $60 million contract and was reportedly looking for a two year extension from the team. Ewing was also diminishing as a player following the torn Achilles tendon in the 1999 playoffs. Ewing was clearly attempting to win a championship during the final years of his career.

The Knicks needed a replacement for Ewing in the frontcourt. The original genesis of the Ewing trade involved the Detroit Pistons instead of the Phoenix Suns and would have netted Vin Baker along with Glen Rice. However, the trade fell apart and the Knicks settled for a lesser trade involving Rice, Luc Longley, several draft picks, and salary cap filler.

The trade didn’t benefit either Ewing or the Knicks. Ewing played his final two seasons with the Sonics and Magic and failed to reach the NBA Finals. The Knicks ultimately traded those acquired draft picks and flipped Glen Rice into the albatross contracts of Shandon Anderson & Howard Eisley, leading into a decade of losing records and grotesque mismanagement of basketball operations.

On This Date: Larry Brown wins his first game as Knicks coach after 0-5 start

November 13, 2005: Larry Brown finally leads Knicks to his first victory as head coach with a 105-95 victory in Sacramento

Larry Brown won his first game as Knicks head coach after an 0-5 start. Rookie Channing Frye led the Knicks with 19 points and 6 rebounds off the bench. Stephon Marbury led the team with 39 minutes played, resulting in 17 points and 7 assists.

Larry Brown signed a 5 year $50 million contract to coach the Knicks after leading the Pistons to consecutive NBA Finals berths. Despite the excitement and high expectations, chaos marred the team to start the season. Through six games, Brown changed the starting lineup three times, played 11 or 12 players every game, and gave many of the players’ unpredictable minutes.

Additionally, Nate Robinson sparred with Jerome James (height difference of 16 inches) during a team practice before the West Coast trip.

Despite the win, the season ultimately became a public embarrassment for the organization and fans alike. Brown’s tendencies to shake up rotations and publicly admonishing his players created unnecessary distractions for the team. Furthermore, in-fighting between players and coaches only created a corrosive environment not suitable for the rookies or veterans alike.

The lack of a semblance of a team led to a 23-59 record and Brown was ultimately fired at the end of the year with more than $40 million remaining on his contract.

On This Date: Ewing scores in double figures for the 214th consecutive game

November 12, 1991: Ewing hits double figures in points for the 214th consecutive game

Patrick Ewing scored 24 points and grabbed 11 rebounds in a 98-96 win on the road against the New Jersey (now Brooklyn) Nets. The game marked the 214th straight game (a Knick record) Ewing scored in double figures. The streak was ultimately broken the next game when Ewing was held to only 6 points.

The streak began on January 16, 1989 and covered almost 2.5 seasons. The streak represented Ewing’s consistency and is one of the reasons he will forever be one of the greatest Knicks. From the 1987-1988 season (age 25 season) through the 1996-1997 season (age 34 season), Ewing only missed 22 games and averaged 20 points per game each season.

The streak is more impressive in that the 2nd longest streak in team history is held by Walt “Clyde” Frazier at 124 games. Carmelo Anthony had 109 straight games of double figure points and Ewing had another streak of 106 straight games.

Due to free agency and the unpredictability of injuries in today’s NBA, I don’t know if any other Knick player will ever come close to breaking Ewing’s record.

On This Date: Porzingis’ first Knicks moment that wasn’t

November 11th, 2015: Kristaps Porzingis almost hits a game winning three against the Charlotte Hornets, but was waved off by a split second.

Kristaps Porzingis first exciting moment as a Knick didn’t end up counting. He was just a small pinch of a second away from shocking the NBA with a thrilling game-winning shot. With 0.6 seconds left and the game on the line, the Knicks ran a SLOB (sidelines out of bounds) triangle set with Lance Thomas inbounding the ball. Carmelo Anthony flashed up to the top of the key and set a screen against both Marvin Williams & Cody Zeller. Porzingis set a nice juke and received a pass from Lance Thomas behind the line.

As Porzingis hit the three, most of the teammates, announcers, and fans (even myself) thought Porzingis got the ball out right before the buzzer hit.  After further review, it was determined that the shot was released just a split second after the buzzer and thus lost 95-93.

Porzingis ended the game with 10 points and 15 rebounds.  Carmelo Anthony led the team with 29 points.

One controversial point discussed after the game was whether the clock was set properly before the Porzingis three.  Some people discussed whether more time should have been added after Zeller hit the go-ahead layup.  Even adding 0.1 seconds on the clock would have allowed Porzingis to get the ball out of his hands before the buzzer.

The other less controversial question is whether Porzingis would have gotten a shot off faster if Lance Thomas provided the pass closer to his shoulders rather than his hips.  Lance’s pass forced Porzingis to waste a few tenths of a second with the shot release.

Regardless of the outcome, the game was exciting for Knicks fan and reminded the NBA of Porzingis’ unlimited potential.

On This Date: Knicks acquire Earl Monroe

November 10th 1971: The New York Knicks acquire Earl Monroe from the Baltimore Bullets for Mike Riordan, Dave Stallworth, & cash

The Earl Monroe trade will forever be remembered as one of the greatest trades in Knicks history. Leading up to the moment, Monroe requested a trade from the team and preferred to be sent to one of the Lakers, Bulls, or 76ers.  While away from the team, Monroe received a call from his agent stating that there was a deal with the Knicks.

Initially, Monroe was hesitant on joining the Knicks because of the rivalry between both teams.  However, after a couple of days, Monroe relented and accepted the trade.

The trade immediately paired Monroe with Walt “Clyde” Frazier and presented the NBA with a backcourt tandem that could not be reckoned with.  Along with the backcourt, the core of Willis Reed, Bill Bradley, Dave DeBusschere and Phil Jackson helped lead the Knicks to consecutive NBA Finals berths and won the championship in 1973.

Monroe finished his NBA career with the Knicks (made 2 All Star teams) and later had his number retired in 1986.  He was enshrined into the NBA Hall of Fame in 1970.

 

On This Date: Knicks fire Willis Reed and re-hire Red Holzman

November 10th 1978: Knicks fire Willis Reed and re-hire Red Holzman as head coach

A year removed from leading the Knicks to an Eastern Conference semifinals berth and a 43-39 record in the 1977-78 season, the team fired Willis Reed as head coach after beginning the season with a sub-par 6-8 record. In a reunion of sorts, the Knicks brought back Red Holzman as head coach after firing him at the conclusion of the 1976-77 season.

After retiring from the NBA in 1974, the Knicks hired Reed as head coach when he was only 35 years old. While having a solid first season as coach, his short tenure was marred by tension with the front office and a failure to translate from being a superstar to a coach.

To Reed, his main issue was being too honest. His honesty led to undue tension with referees and the front office at times. His tenure was undermined by rumors that then-Knicks owner Sonny Werblin wanted Kevin Loughery as a coach. The rumors drove a wedge between Reed and the front office.  Reed began to issue ultimatums to the front office, which ultimately led to his firing.

Holzman returned to the Knicks after being fired for enduring 3 straight losing seasons and not being able to replicate a championship roster.  Unfortunately, Holzman was not able to replicate the success he had during his first tenure.  Holzman had a sub-.500 record during his 2nd tenure with only one playoff berth.  (they were swept by the Bulls in the 1981 playoffs)

Holzman retired after the 1981-82 season and was succeeded by Hubie Brown.

 

On This Date: Knicks waive Shandon Anderson

November 9th 2004:  Knicks waive Shandon Anderson

Then-Knicks GM Isiah Thomas continued his purge of the Scott Layden era by waiving Shandon Anderson. Like similar players in recent memory (hint: Joakim Noah), Anderson refused to take a significant paycut in the buyout and effectively received around $20 million of the $24 million remaining on his contract.  

Anderson was one of many questionable questions by Scott Layden during the infamous summer of 2001. After averaging a paltry 8.7 points a game in 29 minutes, Layden felt necessary to offer Anderson a 6 year, $42 million contract and acquired him in a sign-and trade deal that shipped Glen Rice to the Houston Rockets while also absorbing Howard Eisley’s contract (2nd season of a 7 year $41 million contract). The baffling part of the contract was that it came right after Layden gave Allan Houston an extension worth $100 million.

While Anderson missed only 2 games in his 3+ seasons with the Knicks, his impact on the team did not match the contract he received. The signing resembled an era of players who lacked athleticism and excitement for a barely mediocre Knicks roster.

Perhaps his best memory as a Knick was the dunk highlighted in the video above.

On This Date: “Bomb Squad” roster wins their first regular season game against the Chicago Bulls

November 8th 1988:  Knicks win 1st game of the regular season to officially begin the “Bomb Squad” era

After losing the first two games of the regular season on the road, the Knicks got back into control in the friendly confines of Madison Square Garden. Johnny Newman scored a then-career high 35 points in a 126-117 home victory against the Chicago Bulls in Madison Square Garden. Newman scored 35 efficiently, shooting 12-15 from the field, 2-3 from three, and 9-10 from the free throw line.  

Patrick Ewing, hampered with foul troubled during the first two regular season games, bounced back with 18 points, 18 rebounds, and 5 blocks. Charles Oakley faced his former team for the 1st time and ended the game with a modest statline of 6 points and 6 rebounds.

The 1988-1989 season was famously known to fans as the “Bomb Squad” era.

20 years before Mike D’Antoni came into MSG to encourage his players to shoot more threes, Rick Pitino instructed his roster to perform the same task. Pitino believed it was necessary to surround Ewing with enough three point shooters to provide the big man with space to feast in the paint.

The Knicks set a record with 386 three pointers made and 1,147 attempted. The 1,147 was over 400 attempts higher than the record set in the previous season. The Knicks won 52 games in the regular season and Ewing led the team scoring 23 points a game while hitting a career high 57% from the field.

The “Bomb Squad” consisted of Mark Jackson, Rod Strickland, Trent Tucker, Johnny Newman, & Gerald Wilkins. Tucker shot 2-3 from three in the game and led the team with three pointers made during the season (118 made at 40%). Johnny Newman ended up tripling his three-point attempts from the season before and ended the year with 97 three-pointers made on 287 attempts (34%). Mark Jackson, in his sophomore season, doubled his three point attempts and ended the season shooting 81-240 from three in 72 games. Strickland funnily never got comfortable shooting threes and never shot many threes after leaving the Knicks.

The temptation of the NCAA and the recruiting power lured Pitino to the Kentucky Wildcats. The “Bomb Squad” era slowly flamed out as the team reverted back to attempting a more normal, or normal at the time, 710 three-pointers, which still ranked 5th in the league. Pitino brought a very innovative style of basketball to the Knicks and it only makes us wonder what would have happened if he remained with the team during Ewing’s prime.

On This Date: Ewing scores 44 to lead Knicks to win in Cleveland

November 7th 1993: Ewing scores 44 points to lead the Knicks to an 115-107 overtime win in Cleveland

Ewing won the battle against the former #1 pick (1986) Brad Daugherty with 44 points and 10 rebounds in 43 minutes. Daugherty led the Cavs with 26 points and 11 rebounds in 45 minutes.  Danny Ferry had 21 points for the Cavs while Mark Price scored 19 points and 12 assists.

Charles Oakley nearly had a 20-20 effort with 19 points and 22 rebounds. Doc Rivers led the team with 11 assists. 

After the Knicks exited the 1st half down 11, the team made a mounted comeback in the 3rd quarter to cut the lead to 2.  Despite shooting 2-13 from the field, John Starks hit the game-tying three to force the game to overtime.

The Knicks controlled the game in overtime and their defense held the Cavs scoreless in the final 4 minutes.

On This Date: Knicks begin post-Mark Jackson era with win

November 6, 1992: Knicks open 1992-1993 season with 106-94 win on the road against the Atlanta Hawks

Patrick Ewing led the Knicks with a double-double, scoring 22 points and grabbing 11 rebounds. The trio of  Anthony Mason, Charles Oakley, & John Starks each scored in double figures with 15, 10, & 18 points, respectively.  

More importantly, this game marked life in the post-Mark Jackson era. Right before the end of the offseason, the Knicks traded Mark Jackson in a three-way trade with the Orlando Magic and Los Angeles Clippers for Doc Rivers & Charles Smith.

For the Knicks, their plan was clear: make and win the NBA finals in Ewing’s prime.

This trade helped provide the Knicks with the necessary reinforcements to surround their franchise player. While Mark Jackson had a solid 1991-92 season, Doc Rivers provided the necessary veteran leadership at the point guard position. Additionally, Charles Smith, before being infamously known for the missed layups, was a former 20 point scorer that provided length and the ability to block shots at either forward position. More importantly, Smith helped fill a void once Xavier McDaniel left for the Boston Celtics in free agency.

Additionally, the Knicks also let Kiki Vandeweghe and Gerald Wilkins go after the end of the previous season. The team replaced both players by trading for both Rolando Blackman and Tony Campbell. Both players provided the necessary veteran presence at the guard and small forward positions respectively.

For Doc Rivers, this game was also important because it marked his return against his former team. Rivers ended the game only scoring 8 points, but did dish out 6 assists.  

Tony Campbell slotted into the vacated small forward position and scored 16 points, 5 rebounds, and 4 assists in his debut. Charles Smith came off the bench to score 8 points in 8 minutes.

On This Date: Pat Riley wins his first game as Knicks head coach and KCD make their debut

November 5th 1991: Pat Riley wins his first game as Knicks head coach and Knicks City Dancers make their debut.

The Knicks won their first game of the season, fittingly, at Madison Square Garden by routing the Milwaukee Bucks 113-85. This game marked the first win of the Pat Riley era after being blown out for the first two games of the season. Newly acquired Xavier McDaniel led the team with 28 points and 13 rebounds. Mark Jackson led the team with 9 assists and scored 16 points. Patrick Ewing scored 24 points and blocked 3 shots in 34 minutes.   

After ending the 1st half only up by 1, the Knicks went on a 40-13 run in the 3rd quarter to blow the game open. Mark Jackson assisted in the run with three steals during the run that led to transition layups for the Knicks. The win broke a 6 game losing streak against the Bucks.

The game encompassed the the evolution of Pat Riley’s coaching philosophy. While his Los Angeles Lakers’ embodied the fast-paced Showtime era during the 1980s, Riley instituted a philosophy built around tenacious Ewing.  For Riley, having Patrick Ewing, Charles Oakley, & Xavier McDaniels man the frontcourt helped quickly foster the identity on the floor.

The game also marked the debut of the Knicks City Dancers (KCD). The KCD was formed due to the efforts of Pamela Harris, who joined the Knicks as director of marketing in 1991 under then-president Dave Checketts. Harris was part of a team with Checketts that coincided with the MSG renovations in the summer of 1991. Harris considered the KCD as a way to improve entertainment for fans, allow better connection between the fans and organization, and also provide additional revenue streams for the team.

The KCD debuted at Madison Square Garden during the game. The KCD eventually became a more tamer, but equally prominent equivalent of the Laker Girls and has been a success for the organization since inception. Harris’ team were also behind creative various new events with the Knicks, but was equally responsible for overseeing the creation of the “Go NY Go NY Go” theme song of the 1993-94 season.

On This Date: Charles Oakley makes his Knicks debut

November 4th 1988:  Charles Oakley makes his Knicks debut against the Boston Celtics

Charles Oakley made his Knicks debut and grabbed a double-double (11 points & 11 rebounds) in an 122-115 overtime loss against the Boston Celtics. Oakley was one of six players who scored in double figures that night. Patrick Ewing led the Knicks with 28 points, while Mark Jackson and Johnny Newman both scored 19 points each.

The Chicago Bulls traded Oakley to the Knicks on the day of the 1988 NBA Draft for Bill Cartwright. Of the 9 trades between the Bulls & Knicks, this trade ended up being a win-win for both team. Oakley became expendable as a result of the rapid development of Horace Grant. The Knicks relegated Cartwright to be Ewing’s backup. New York needed a power forward who could rebound while the Bulls needed a center who could score. This trade met the demands of both teams.

Oakley anchored the power forward position for the next decade and used his toughness on both ends of the floor to help the team achieve more than a decade of playoff berths and an NBA finals appearance.

Cartwright immediately became the Bulls starting center. While he was not scoring a high number of points, he eventually was an integral part of the Bulls’ first championship trifecta.

One hidden gem in the Oakley trade was the swap of 1st round picks. The Bulls used the Knicks’ pick to draft Will Perdue. Perdue would be a decent backup center who was part of 4 championship teams in his NBA career.

The Knicks ended up drafting Rod Strickland. Although he had a solid rookie season in New York, he became frustrated as Mark Jackson’s backup and demanded a trade in the following year (reminds me of a former Knick last year). He was later shipped to the Spurs in for Maurice Cheeks.

P.S. there’s 3 degrees of separation between NYC basketball legends Rod Strickland & Stephon Marbury.  Can anyone guess the link?