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.   Continue reading →

On This Date: The Charles Smith game

June 2nd 1993: The Charles Smith game

With the Knicks down 95-94 at home in Game 5 of the 1993 Eastern Conference Finals, Charles Smith miraculously missed 4 point blank layups to give the Bulls a surprising upset victory in Madison Square Garden for a 3-2 series lead. With around 10 seconds remaining in the 4th quarter, Patrick Ewing drove to the paint. He lost the ball and it went directly to Smith. Smith was not able to get a shot off on 4 attempts before the Bulls recovered the ball.

The Knicks never recovered after the disappointing home loss. After taking an initial 2-0 series lead, the Bulls won 4 straight games to head to their 3rd straight NBA Finals. As for Smith, he isn’t shy to discuss the missed opportunities in public occasions. As a Bridgeport, CT native, he couldn’t avoid those conversations either. After having a relatively successful business career upon retirement, Smith transitioned into a role serving as president of the National Basketball Retired Players Association. His main objective was to improve the welfare for retired players in the form of benefits, pensions, etc. He also established the transition assistance program to provide financial counseling to former basketball players to transition into the second phase of their life. The impetus of this program was the increasing number of players that filed for bankruptcy.

On This Date: The Dunk

May 25th 1993: “The Dunk” is ingrained in Knicks folklore

Is there much more to say about The Dunk? For many fans older than me, this moment was an unforgettable memory of their Knicks fandom. When Knicks fans think of John Starks, they picture The Dunk. For many years, the MSG Network intro to their regular season broadcasts included a clip of The Dunk. It’s an unforgettable moment.

In the final minute of a Game 2 victory against the Chicago Bulls, Starks drove past BJ Armstrong for the iconic left handed dunk over Horace Grant and with Michael Jordan steps away. The crowd immediately went into a deafening uproar after the dunk.

In a sad way, the Dunk was supposed to represent a tide turning moment for the Knicks. It was the exclamation point to a commanding 2-0 series lead. Perhaps it was a sign that the Knicks would only be 2 games away from an NBA Finals run. However, the Chicago Bulls treated the dunk as motivation to win the next 4 games on the way to their first 3-peat.

On This Date: Ewing & Starks lead the Knicks past the Bulls in Game 1 of the 1993 ECF

May 23rd 1993: Patrick Ewing & John Starks score 25 points each to lead the Knicks past the Bulls in Game 1 of the 1993 Eastern Conference Finals

Patrick Ewing & John Starks scored 25 points each to help the Knicks defeat the Bulls 98-90 in Game 1 of the 1993 Eastern Conference Finals. Ewing also grabbed 17 rebounds and had 2 steals & 2 blocked shots in 44 minutes. Starks scored 25 on 5-7 from the three point arc and had 4 assists & 2 steals. The Knicks outscored the Bulls 43-29 in the final 19 minutes of the game after the Bulls established a 4 point lead at halftime.

The Knicks had the #1 seed in the Eastern Conference heading into the 1993 NBA Playoffs. The Knicks started the series with home court advantage and had a prime opportunity to prevent a Bulls’ three-peat after taking a 2-0 series lead. Unfortunately, the Knicks blew the 2-0 lead and the Bulls went on to secure the three-peat.

On This Date: Patrick Ewing & Alonzo Mourning face off in the playoffs for the first time

May 9th 1993: Patrick Ewing & Alonzo Mourning’s first NBA Playoffs matchup

Former Georgetown Hoya alums Patrick Ewing & Alonzo Mourning faced each other in the NBA Playoffs for the first time on this date. For Ewing, this was his 6th straight season in the playoffs. For Zo, this was his 1st experience in the NBA Playoffs as this was his rookie campaign with the Charlotte Hornets. After Ewing graduated from Georgetown in 1985, the university waited 3 years until Mourning & Dikembe Mutombo both arrived on campus to man the Hoya frontcourt.

As for the playoff game itself, the vastly experience Knicks defeated the Hornets 111-95 in Game 1. This was the Hornets’ first year in the NBA Playoffs. Ewing won the battle against Zo with 33 points, 10 rebounds, and 4 blocked shots. Zo had a respectable performance with 27 points, 13 rebounds, and 4 blocks, but also committed 7 turnovers. His lack of experience1 proved to be costly as Ewing took advantage of him both defensively and offensively. Zo allowed Ewing to feast on the perimeter where his patented jump shot proved to be key to victory.

Anthony Mason had a double double off the bench with 11 points, 11 rebounds, & 5 assists in 38 minutes. There were several former and future Knicks on the Hornets roster at the time. Larry Johnson, a then 2nd year player, missed most of the game with a sprained right leg. Former Knicks Johnny Newman & Sidney Green played a decent role for the Hornets in Game 1. Newman started and scored 18 points in 28 minutes. Future Knick David Wingate, who’d become merely a garbage time presence with the team, entered in garbage time for the Hornets.

On This Date: Knicks-Suns Brawl

March 23rd 1993: Knicks and Suns brawl

The Knicks got involved in one of the more infamous brawls in team history in a tussle against the Phoenix Suns. The tensions began between both Doc Rivers & Kevin Johnson. As the 2nd quarter wound down, KJ began to pressure Doc on an inbounds pass. KJ drew an offensive foul before the pass and both players confronted one another. Both benches cleared, but there were only offsetting technical fouls and no punches thrown. Pat Riley held John Starks back as he had a few words for Danny Ainge.

On the next play, KJ had the ball in his hands, but Doc drew a charge as he was driving into the lane. With 5 seconds left in the half, Doc had the ball for the final play. Doc drove past half court as Ainge guarded him. While he handed the ball off to Starks, KJ bulldozed into him to to end the half and the brawl began.

Doc steamrolled towards KJ and began to throw punches. None of the punches connected however. Ainge & Mason also got entangled in the scuffle. Both benches heavily cleared. The coaches thought they resolved everything temporarily until Greg Anthony showed up.

Anthony, dressed in the ever-so-typical 90s streetwear due to injury, sucker punched Kevin Johnson to reignite the brawl. More shoves were thrown and it got extremely ugly. Eventually, KJ, Ainge, Doc, Anthony, Starks, and Mase were ejected.

Unfortunately, the repercussions after the game hit the Knicks hard and forever altered the NBA’s treatment of altercations. The NBA suspended Doc & KJ for 2 games each, but decided to suspend Greg Anthony for the rest of the season for re-instigating the brawl. The NBA additionally fined 21 players for a combined $160,000, a then record at the time.

The league significantly changed the rules for addressing fights after the season. Players that threw a punch would automatically be ejected and suspended for a minimum of 1 game. Additionally, any player who leaves the bench during an altercation would be suspended for 1 game. The latter rule came to hurt the Knicks several times, including their infamous 1997 playoff matchup with the Miami Heat.

For Greg Anthony, this turned out to be one of the most famous moments in his NBA career.

On This Date: Anthony Mason posts historic line off the bench

December 5, 1992: Anthony Mason comes off the bench to post a historic statline as the Knicks beat the Milwaukee Bucks 111-98.

In 30 minutes of action, Anthony Mason became the first Knick to come off the bench and score 25 points, grab 8 or more rebounds, and shoot better than 75% from the field

Mason led the Knicks with 25 points (10-12 from the field) and 10 rebounds. Charles Smith had an all-around effort with 23 points, 8 rebounds, and 6 assists, while Patrick Ewing had 20 points and 4 blocked shots.

Amazingly, Mason stood as the only Knick to have a bench statline this good until undrafted rookie Allonzo Trier hit that mark in a November 23rd matchup against the New Orleans Pelicans. Trier scored 25 points, shooting 9-12 from the field and 3-3 from three.  He also grabbed 8 rebounds and dished out 4 assists in that game.

Trier – like Mason – was ignored in the NBA Draft and jumpstarted his career with the Knicks. While Mason had short stints with other teams and leagues, Trier made his mark in the Summer League and preseason to warrant a rotation spot with the team.

Although Trier and Mason are two completely different players, they both provided the same spark of energy to the Knicks.