On This Date: Knicks win NBA Draft Lottery

May 12th 1985: Knicks win NBA Draft Lottery

1985 marked the first year the NBA instituted the draft lottery system to determine the draft order of the non-playoff bound teams. At the time, each non-playoff team received a lottery envelope to determine their draft position and had the same probability of receiving the #1 pick. In 1987, the lottery was modified so that only the first 3 picks were determined by the lottery. By 1990, the system shifted to a weighted system where the worst team had the best odds of receiving the #1 pick.

The Knicks, with team president Dave DeBusschere as the team’s representative, won the first ever NBA Draft Lottery. The Knicks beat the Indiana Pacers, who subsequently received the #2 overall pick. There was a near consensus that Patrick Ewing was the #1 overall pick. The Knicks, with the #1 overall pick, drafted Ewing and the rest is history.

Various NBA conspiracy theorists claimed that the draft lottery was rigged in favor of the Knicks to save the franchise. Conspiracy theorists believed that the NBA wanted Ewing in New York for box office reasons. There was another conspiracy theory that the Knicks envelope was frozen beforehand and allowed Stern to easily pick it up in the lottery. Most of those theories seem quite ludicrous, but I’ll take whatever’s necessary for the team to land Zion Williamson.


May 12th 1990: Patrick Ewing’s 45 points lifts the Knicks past the Pistons in Game 3

Down 0-2 in the 1990 Eastern Conference Semifinals, Ewing carried the New York Knicks with 45 points, 13 rebounds, 6 assists, & 3 blocked shots to defeat the Detroit Pistons 111-103 in Game 3. Ewing scored 45 on 14-24 from the field and 17-18 from the free throw line.

The victory helped the Knicks snap a couple streaks the Pistons held, including 12 straight playoff wins & a 4 game road winning streak. Unfortunately, the 1990 Detroit Pistons proved to just be too dominant as they won the next 2 games to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals. The Pistons ultimately won their 2nd consecutive NBA Championship.

On This Date: Knicks comeback from 0-2 to advance to the 1990 Eastern Conference Semifinals

May 6th 1990: The New York Knicks, down 0-2, come back and advance to the 1990 Eastern Conference Semifinals after defeating the Boston Celtics

Against a stacked Boston Celtics roster containing Hall of Famers Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, & Robert Parrish, amongst others, the New York Knicks defeated the Boston Celtics on the road 121-114 in Game 5 to advance to the Eastern Conference Semifinals. The Knicks had not won a regular season game in Boston in the last 6 years or a playoff game in 16 years. The Knicks became the third team in NBA history to win a best-of-5 series after being down 0-2.

Ewing led the way for the Knicks with 31 points, 8 assists, 10 rebounds, and 4 blocked shots in 47 minutes. The younger legs of Charles Oakley cooked the older McHale with a commanding double double (26 points, 17 rebounds, 4 assists). In a battle of veteran PGs, Maurice Cheeks went back-and-forth with Dennis Johnson and scored 21 points on 8-10 from the field. Cheeks also played the entire 48 minutes.

This matchup marked the temporary halt to the Knicks/Celtics rivalry. As the Knicks dominated throughout the 1990s, the Celtics fell into a rebuilding mode after debilitating injuries to Bird & McHale and the tragic death of Reggie Lewis. As the Knicks slipped to the doldrums in the 2000s, the Celtics began their quest to contend in the playoffs, culminating in a championship in 2008. The Knicks & Celtics would not reappear in the playoffs until 2011 when Carmelo Anthony & Amare Stoudemire teamed up.

On This Date: Patrick Ewing scores 44 to rout the Celtics in Game 4 of the 1990 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals

May 4th 1990: Patrick Ewing scores 44 to rout the Celtics in Game 4 of the 1990 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals

After the Knicks won Game 3 at home, Patrick Ewing carried the Knicks with 44 points in a 135-108 victory in an elimination game against the Boston Celtics. Ewing scored 44 on 18-24 from the field and 8-9 from the free throw line. He also had 13 rebounds, 5 assists, 7 steals, and 2 blocked shots in a game that would resemble heaven for a fantasy basketball player.

With the Knicks up 8 at halftime, they expanded the lead to 18 in the 3rd quarter. The lead eventually ballooned all the way to 37 points by the 4th quarter and brought the Celtics to a point of no return.

The Celtics had no answer for Ewing as he just simply dominated in the post. With the Knicks down 2-0 in the series, and also being a victim of allowing an NBA playoff record 157 points in Game 2, Ewing took the brunt of the responsibility to lead the team to the Semifinals. This game 4 effort helped Ewing put on an encore performance in Game 5 to come back and defeat the Celtics.

Additionally, Gerald Wilkins & Johnny Newman scored 20 and 24 points respectively in the victory.

On This Date: Knicks set a record for most points given up in a NBA playoff game

April 28th 1990: The Knicks allow the Boston Celtics to score an NBA Playoff record 157 points in a blowout loss

The New York Knicks were on the wrong side of playoff history in the 1990 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against the Boston Celtics. The Knicks allowed the Celtics to score a whopping 157 points in a 29 point blowout loss in Boston. The 157 points still stands as the most points scored by a team in NBA Playoff history. In the modern NBA (post-1970), the 157 points marks the most the Knicks gave up to a team in a game (regular season or playoffs). The Knicks did allow Wilt Chamberlain & the Philadelphia Warriors to score 169 points in the game where Wilt scored 100 points.

On This Date: Patrick Ewing sets the Knicks all-time single season scoring record

April 20th 1990: Patrick Ewing sets the Knicks single season scoring record

Despite the fact that the Knicks lost 126-112 to the Atlanta Hawks, Patrick Ewing had a momentous night in setting the team’s all-time scoring record. He broke the Knick record of 2,303 points held by Richie Guerin.

Ewing ended up with 2,347 points scored on an average of 28.6 ppg. Ewing also played the entire regular season which itself was a remarkable feat of durability. The 28.6 ppg only ranks 4th on the all-time scoring list. Bernard King holds the Knicks record with 32.9 ppg, but was bedeviled by the unfortunate ACL injury that shortened his season. Guerin scored 29.5 ppg in his record-setting season, but only played in 78 games. Carmelo Anthony led the NBA with 28.7 ppg in the 2012-13 season, but only played in 67 regular season games.

Ewing’s scoring record to this date is quite impressive especially due to his ability to be durable. In an era where “load management” is routine rather than reviled, it’s hard to see Ewing’s record broken anytime soon.

On This Date: Knicks broke 6 game losing streak as Ewing hit his first career 3 pointer

March 27th 1990: Knicks break 6 game losing streak as Ewing hit his first career 3 pointer

The Knicks defeated the Washington Bullets 119-100 to break a 6 game losing streak. Ewing led the way with 41 points, 12 rebounds, and 4 blocked shots. He was 14-22 from the field and 12-14 from the foul line. More impressively, Ewing made his first career three pointer. The three put the team up 18 with 1:44 remaining in the 3rd quarter. He would only make 18 more three pointers over the remainder of his career, the bulk of which occurred between the 1993-94 season and the 1995-96 season.

The game marked another matchup against former Knick Bernard King. King led the Bullets with 23 points, but it wasn’t enough to stop Ewing and the Knicks.

 

On This Date: Ewing scores a career high 51 points

March 24th 1990: Patrick Ewing scores a career high 51 points in a loss against the Boston Celtics

Despite losing 115-110 to the Boston Celtics in MSG, Patrick Ewing exploded for a career high 51 points in the effort. Ewing scored 51 on 20-29 from the field and 11-13 from the free throw stripe. Ewing also grabbed a ridiculously absurd 18 rebounds. The 51 points and 18 boards amounted to nearly half of the team’s total efforts on both ends.

Ewing simply put on a clinic in the post. He got almost any shot he wanted with a wide array of moves including turn around baskets, fade aways, and layups within the post. It seemed as if he would score any time he touched the ball. A complete dominant effort on the offensive end.


March 24th 1981: Knicks retire Dave DeBusschere’s number

The Knicks retired Dave DeBusschere’s #22 on this date. DeBusschere spent 6 seasons with the Knicks and was part of the team’s 2 championships. He was known as a very tenacious rebounder and defender, making 5 straight NBA All-Defensive Teams from 1969 until his retirement. He was selected to 4 straight NBA All-Star games from 1970-1974.

After his tenure in the NBA, DeBusschere spent his time working in the front office for the Nets in the 1970s before re-joining the Knicks front office in the 1980s. His lasting moment was winning the 1985 draft lottery to select Patrick Ewing with the #1 pick.

On This Date: John Andariese passed away

March 13th 2017: John Andariese passed away

Knicks broadcasting legend John Andariese (aka Johnny Hoops) passed away on this date in 2017. The native of Brooklyn spent more than 40 years as the Knicks basketball analyst on both TV and radio. He served as the battery mate for Marv Albert for more than 25 years on the radio and on MSG Network beginning in 1972. He spent one year as the battery mate for Mike Breen before spending the remainder of his career working on the radio alongside various play-by-play announcers such as Marv Albert, Mike Breen, Gus Johnson, and Spero Dedes.  I vividly remember listening to Johnny Hoops on the radio throughout the 2000s even when the Knicks were in the doldrums of the NBA.

Outside of the Knicks, Andariese spent more than 10 years as the college basketball TV analyst for NBC Sports between the 80s and 90s. He also hosted a show on NBA TV called NBA Legends with Johnny Hoops. After retiring from broadcasting in 2012, the Basketball Hall of Fame inducted Johnny Hoops as a Curt Gowdy award winner.

March 13th 1990: Gerald Wilkins and Michael Jordan face off in another tough battle

In one of many battles against the Chicago Bulls, it was the Gerald Wilkins & Michael Jordan subplot that became an interesting subplot in the game. While the Bulls defeated the Knicks 111-108, both Wilkins & MJ combined for 60 points and shot over 57% from the field. MJ scored 34 while Wilkins scored 26.

Self-dubbed as the “Jordan Stopper” in the late 80s and early 90s, Wilkins reveled in the few battles fought against Jordan. Wilkins often defended Jordan and made him work for his points on the offensive end.  The rivalry lasted until the beginning of Jordan’s first retirement in 1993.

 

On This Date: Maurice Cheeks hits go-ahead basket to defeat the Bucks

March 3rd 1990: Maurice Cheeks hits the go-ahead bucket to help the Knicks defeat the Bucks

Maurice Cheeks stepped up in the end of the 4th quarter to lead the Knicks to a 106-105 victory against the Milwaukee Bucks. Cheeks entered the game with 4:22 left replacing Mark Jackson, who struggled mightily from the field and on the defensive end. Cheeks hit the go-ahead basket with 39 seconds left to put the Knicks up 102-101 and clinch victory.

After the Knicks shipped Rod Strickland to the Spurs, the team expected Cheeks to provide veteran leadership at the point guard that neither Hot Rod or Mark Jackson provided. While the team was 34-17 before the trade, the Knicks struggled throughout most of March, enduring a 6 game losing streak and a 3 game losing streak in the month. The Knicks ultimately made the playoffs and reached the Eastern Conference where they lost to the impending champion Detroit Pistons.

On This Date: Knicks trade Rod Strickland

February 21st 1990: Knicks trade Rod Strickland for Mo Cheeks

Weeks after sophomore PG, and NY native, Rod Strickland demanded a trade due to lack of playing time, the Knicks obliged and dealt him to the San Antonio Spurs for Mo Cheeks.

The NY tandem of Mark Jackson and Hot Rod did not have a long lifespan. Despite playing well in his rookie season under Rick Pitino, the slow-paced offense run under Stu Jackson wasn’t conducive for a two-PG tandem that were both talented and hungry for minutes. Additionally, Coach Jackson often benched Hot Rod due to his lack of defense.

The trade ended up being a short-term win for the Knicks. Cheeks brought a steady veteran presence to a Knicks squad that reached the playoffs in his 2 seasons with the team. He took over the starting PG duties in the 1990-91 season after then-interim coach John MacLeod benched Jackson after a heated argument alongside GM Al Bianchi. The Knicks traded Cheeks shortly before the 1991-92 season for a 1st round pick that eventually became Charlie Ward.

Meanwhile, Rod Strickland became an above-average starting PG for the Spurs, Blazers, and Washington Wizards, amongst other teams. While the Knicks and Hot Rod could have been a perfect match for the team, the presence of Mark Jackson made the marriage unsalvageable.

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)1 – 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.