On This Date: Knicks clinch home-court advantage in the 1st round of the playoffs

March 20th 1981: Knicks clinch home court advantage in the 1st round of the playoffs with a victory against the Indiana Pacers

The Knicks clinched home court advantage in the 1st round of the playoffs with a 110-107 victory against the Indiana Pacers. Bill Cartwright hit two go-ahead free throws to put the Knicks up 106-105 with a minute remaining in the game. Micheal Ray Richardson hit a crucial three pointer with 13 seconds remaining in the same to seal the victory.

Cartwright & Richardson both led the Knicks with a combined 50 points. Richardson played 46 minutes and also had 11 assists and 4 steals. The victory marked the Knicks’ 5th straight and was also the 5th straight game where the team shot more than 50% from the field.

The victory set the stage for the Knicks to host either the Indiana Pacers or the Chicago Bulls beginning on March 31st 1981. The 1980-81 season was the last where the regular season ended before the end of March. The Knicks eventually hosted the Chicago Bulls in the playoffs, but were swept in the first round a best-of-three playoff series. The NBA playoffs eventually expanded in the 1983-84 season to incorporate 16 teams as well as expanding the first round to a best-of-five series.

On This Date: Latrell Sprewell returns to MSG to taunt James Dolan and Micheal Ray Richardson records a franchise record with 9 steals in a game

Decenber 23, 2003: Latrell Sprewell returns to Madison Square Garden to taunt James Dolan

Latrell Sprewell returned to Madison Square Garden as a member of the Minnesota Timberwolves and got the last laugh in a 98-92 victory against the Knicks. Spree scored 31 points and combined for 84 points with Kevin Garnett & Sam Cassell1 in the victory.  

Spree repeatedly hurled profanities toward Knicks owner James Dolan during his patented revenge game. It came to the point where Spree received a technical near the end of the 4th quarter for sparring with Knicks assistant coach Lon Kruger. Kruger told Spree to quit the taunting. The NBA later fined Spree $25,000 for excessive taunting.

Spree & Dolan have had an acrimonious relationship during the latter’s tenure as principal owner of the Knicks. Spree angered Dolan by leaving early from several team-mandated media training sessions. He also suffered the inexcusable boating accident shortly before the 2002-03 season. Dolan had enough of Spree’s “character issues” and ordered then-GM Scott Layden to trade him.

Fortunately, Spree & Dolan reconciled in 2017. We now see Spree courtside at Knicks games or attending various team alumni and charitable events.


December 23, 1980: Micheal Ray Richardson sets a Knick record with 9 steals in a game

In the 117-114 loss against the Chicago Bulls, Micheal “Sugar” Ray Richardson set a Knicks record with nine steals in a game. Sugar Ray had a statline of 19 points, 6 rebounds, 6 assists, and 9 steals.

Despite his short tenure with the Knicks, Sugar Ray was adroit in passing the ball and showed a penchant for stealing the ball. His 2,244 assists in four seasons still remains the 10th highest mark in team history. His 810 steals is remarkably 3rd all-time in Knicks franchise history.