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.
Knicks Film School Historian, amongst other things