January 21, 1999: The New York Knicks acquire Latrell Sprewell
On the first day after the end of the 1998-99 NBA Lockout, the New York Knicks acquired the talented, but highly controversial Latrell Sprewell from the Golden State Warriors. In return, fan favorite John Starks, Chris Mills, & Terry Cummings departed for the Warriors. Sprewell spent most of the 1997-98 season suspended as a result of choking his coach PJ Carlesimo in practice. The Warriors shopped Sprewell to teams since the suspension. The Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs were the other potential suitors in trade rumors, but the Knicks ultimately provided the best offer.
June 21st 1999: The New York Knicks win Game 3 of the 1999 NBA Finals
Down 2-0 in the NBA Finals, the Knicks returned home to win a pivotal Game 3 89-81. Naturally, the #8 seed Knicks became the first and only #8 seed to win an NBA Finals game. From the outset, the Knicks fans ran on adrenaline.
Watching the starting lineups on TV was chilling. My energy level was over 1000 just seeing everyone walk out. The calm demeanor of Allan Houston & Charlie Ward transitioned into the signature L from Larry Johnson to the rambunctious energy from Latrell Sprewell & Marcus Camby. Both Sprewell & Camby brought that same intensity bumping into the players like they did on defense heading into the game.
As for the game itself, Houston & Spree carried the Knicks. Both players combined for 58 of the team’s 89 points. More importantly, both players hit a combined 18-22 from the foul line. The 22 FTs equaled the Spurs’ total amount, even though David Robinson was 13-17 from the foul line.
Jeff Van Gundy made a starting lineup change to insert Camby into the starting lineup. Even though Camby suffered from early foul trouble, he had 3 blocked shots in 16 minutes. Overall though, the team’s heart and home court advantage helped propel the Knicks to victory.
Unfortunately for the Knicks, this was their last victory in the NBA Finals. The Spurs finished the series in 5 games and won the final game in MSG.
June 16th 1999: The New York Knicks drop Game 1 of the 1999 NBA Finals
For the first time in the 1999 NBA Playoffs, the underdog New York Knicks team lost a Game 1, with a 89-77 defeat to the San Antonio Spurs. After the Knicks ended the 1st quarter with a 27-21 lead, the Spurs dominated in the 2nd quarter and pulled away in the 4th quarter. The Spurs’ twin towers of Tim Duncan & David Robinson proved to be too much for the hobbled, undermanned, and undersized Knicks.
The Knicks simply could not stop Tim Duncan. Duncan dominated against the undersized Knicks defense of Larry Johnson or Marcus Camby to the tune of 33 points and 16 rebounds. David Robinson had a near triple double, and just-as-close 5×5 game, with 13 points, 9 rebounds, 7 assists, 3 steals, and 3 blocked shots. Camby & Johnson both committed 5 fouls a piece. Johnson played through a sprained knee he suffered at the end of the Eastern Conference Finals.
Allan Houston & Latrell Sprewell scored 19 points a piece, but neither player could get into a shooting rhythm in the 4th quarter to withstand the Spurs’ runs. Both players combined for 5 points in the 4th as the Spurs turned a 6 point lead with 8 minutes remaining into a 15 point lead with 2 minutes left in the game.