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. Continue reading →

On This Date: Knicks win the 1973 NBA Finals

May 10th 1973: Knicks are the 1973 NBA Champions

The Knicks won their 2nd NBA Championship by defeating the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 5 102-93. This was the 3rd time the Knicks faced the Lakers in the NBA Finals in the previous 4 seasons. The Lakers defeated the Knicks in 5 games in the 1972 NBA Finals. The 1973 NBA Finals was nearly the opposite of the previous season. Whereas the Knicks won Game 1 of the 1972 NBA Finals, the Lakers won Game 1 of the 1973 NBA Finals. Both teams subsequently won the next 4 games to secure the championship.

This time around, Earl Monroe was a part of the 1973 NBA Championship Knicks. Monroe averaged 16 points/game on 53% shooting during the NBA Finals. Willis Reed once again won the NBA Finals MVP.


May 10th 2008: Knicks agree to hire Mike D’Antoni as their next head coach

Mike D’Antoni agreed to a 4 year $24 million deal to coach the New York Knicks. After firing Isiah Thomas as head coach, this was Donnie Walsh’s first and paramount move as the new Knicks President & GM.

Ever since Steve Kerr became the Suns GM before the 2007 NBA Draft, there was always a subtle tension between him and D’Antoni. Kerr wanted to emphasize more of a defensive presence on the team. Kerr also wanted to hire Tom Thibodeau as D’Antoni’s lead defensive coach, but the latter purportedly refused the request.

The Phoenix Suns allowed D’Antoni to interview with other teams after a disappointing first round playoff exit. At the time, D’Antoni still had 2 years and $9 million left on his coaching contract. The Bulls also showed interest in D’Antoni, but ultimately the Knicks provided the best offer.

From the moment the Knicks hired D’Antoni, there was one main organizational goal: clear cap space for 2010 and LeBron. As Donnie Walsh traded the long-term contracts, D’Antoni established his faster paced system onto the more inferior Knicks roster. The Knicks mostly achieved mediocre results: the team was poor defensively and D’Antoni stubbornly played short rotations while sacrificing the opportunity to play some of the younger players.

Pressure intensified after 2010 when the Knicks signed Amare Stoudemire & eventually acquired Carmelo Anthony. The lack of chemistry and time, due to the lockout, did not allow D’Antoni to build an offensive system around those two players. Additionally, the Knicks continued to struggle defensively. Mounting pressure near the middle of the 2011-12 shortened season forced D’Antoni to resign, months before finishing his 4 year contract. Since at least the Pat Riley era, D’Antoni is the only coach that completed a majority of his coaching contract before either resigning or being fired.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

On This Date: Clyde helps Knicks crush 76ers

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

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

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

On This Date: Knicks 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.