On This Date: Larry Johnson scores 25 to help tie the 2000 ECF 2-2

May 29th 2000: Larry Johnson leads the Knicks with 25 points to tie the series between the New York Knicks & Indiana Pacers

With Patrick Ewing sidelined due to a sprained right foot and Latrell Sprewell & Marcus Camby hobbled with a bad foot and knee respectively, Larry Johnson took the initiative to lead the New York Knicks past the Indiana Pacers 91-89 to tie the series 2-2. LJ scored 25 points and hit a couple clutch three pointers to give the Knicks a cushion after the Pacers cut a 17 point halftime deficit down to 1 with 6 minutes remaining in the 4th quarter. LJ hit all 5 of his three point attempts and played 44 minutes overall.

The Knicks also received positive contributions from Charlie Ward & Kurt Thomas. Ward scores 16 points on 4-6 from three and had 7 assists, 6 rebounds, and 3 steals. Ward was the key playmaker for the Knicks in transition and within the halfcourt offense, especially finding LJ for looks. Thomas scored 16 points off the bench and had 6 rebounds and 4 assists in 35 minutes. Chris Dudley started in Ewing’s absence, but only played 8 minutes due to Kurt’s productivity.

Latrell Sprewell & Marcus Camby were both hobbled throughout the game due to injuries. Spree fractured his 5th metatarsal in his left foot near the end of Game 3, but played nearly the entire game and scored 12 points despite being hurt. Camby also went down with a knee sprain in Game 3, but returned to secure 8 rebounds and 3 blocks in 18 minutes off the bench.

On This Date: Houston & Sprewell combine for 60 points to defeat the Indiana Pacers

May 27th 2000: Allan Houston & Latrell Sprewell combine for 60 points to defeat the Indiana Pacers in Game 3 of the 2000 Eastern Conference Finals

Down 2-0 to the Indiana Pacers and without Patrick Ewing due a sprained right foot, Allan Houston & Latrell Sprewell stepped up to defeat the Indiana Pacers at home 98-95 in Game 3 of the 2000 Eastern Conference Finals. Houston & Spree combined for 60 points to carry the Knicks offense.

The Knicks also played most of the game without Marcus Camby who suffered a sprained right knee early in the 2nd quarter. Camby suffered various knee injuries over the course of the season missing 23 games during the regular season.

Surprisingly, both Houston & Spree were mostly defended 1v1 throughout the entire game. The Pacers players openly questioned their coaching staff’s defensive strategy after the game. Pacers head coach Larry Bird even benched Knick killer Reggie Miller for nearly the final 2 minutes of the game after the Knicks cut the lead to 6.

On This Date: Ewing & Sprewell help the Knicks finish the Heat in Game 7

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May 21st 2000: Latrell Sprewell & Patrick Ewing help the New York Knicks close out the Miami Heat in Game 7 of the 2000 Eastern Conference Semifinals

The Knicks & Heat faced off against each other in a rematch of the previous year battle. Similar to 1999, both teams fought until the final deciding game where the Knicks once again defeated the Heat on the road in a close matchup. This was the 3rd time in the previous 4 seasons where the Knicks defeated the Heat in Miami.

Patrick Ewing & Latrell Sprewell scored a combined 44 points to help defeat the Heat 83-82. Ewing had a double double with 20 points and 10 rebounds on 5-10 from the field and 10-12 from the free throw line. Spree led the Knicks with 24 points, scoring 20 in the 1st half, and 5 assists. The duo helped withstand Alonzo Mourning’s 29 points, 13 rebounds, & 5 blocked shots.

Game 7, like the entire series, had a seesaw feeling to it. The Heat ended the 1st quarter up 9, but the Knicks stormed back to take a 6 point lead by halftime. The Heat eventually tied the game by the end of the 3rd and showed signs of extending the lead early on the 4th. Chris Childs turned out to be an X-Factor for the Knicks in Game 7 scoring 15 points, including the first 10 Knicks points in the 4th quarter, to keep the team in the game.

Ewing had one of the most pivotal plays with less than 1:30 left in the game. Down 1, Ewing received the ball in the post as Mourning gambled to steal the ball from him. Ewing deftly turned around for the go-ahead dunk that put the Knicks up 83-82. Those were the final points scored in the game.

On This Date: Spree hits the go-ahead basket to sink the Raptors in Game 2

April 26th 2000: Latrell Sprewell hit the go-ahead jumper to defeat the Toronto Raptors in Game 2

Unlike Game 1, Vince Carter had an offensive outburst with 27 points on 7-13 from the field. However, Latrell Sprewell scored 25, including 13 in the final 7 minutes of the game, to help the Knicks erase a 16 point 3rd quarter deficit. With the Knicks down 83-82, Spree hit the game-winning basket with less than 8 seconds left over Vince to put the Knicks up 84-83. On the last possession, Vince ended up passing the ball to Dee Brown who missed the final shot. The victory put the Knicks ahead 2-0 on the road to a sweep.

On This Date: Latrell Sprewell shuts down Vince Carter in the Raptors’ first ever NBA Playoff game

April 23rd 2000: Latrell Sprewell shuts down Vince Carter in his first NBA Playoff game

Latrell Sprewell gave Vince Carter & the Toronto Raptors the toughest initiation into the NBA Playoff environment with a crushing defensive effort to help the Knicks defeat the Raptors 92-88 in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals. Spree held Carter to 16 points on 3-20 from the field. His main scoring output came from the line where Carter made 9-10 from the stripe. Spree, on the other hand, scored 21 points on 9-16 from the field.

Spree simply hounded Vince all game. His defense suffocated any opportunity Vince could get to score the basket. Each one of his shots were heavily contested. On the rare occasion that Carter eluded Spree, he was swarmed by an army of big men ready to block his shots. He was forced to take a lot of rushed shots and did not have an opportunity to get any easy baskets. Through the 3rd quarter, Vince was held without a field goal and only scored his points from the free throw line.

The Toronto Raptors made it to the NBA Playoffs for the first time in their short NBA history. However, their lack of playoff experience and youth proved to be too much of a obstacle as the Knicks handily swept them in 3 games. However, the Raptors came back next year, sans Tracy McGrady, to ultimately upset the Knicks in 5 games.

On This Date: Chris Childs two-pieced Kobe Bryant

April 2nd 2000: Chris Childs two-pieced Kobe Bryant

In another round of the Knicks-Lakers rivalry, it was Kobe Bryant & Chris Childs who entered into the spotlight. Chris Childs guarded Kobe throughout the game. The matchup got chippy as the game progressed as Childs received a few inadvertent elbows Kobe. As the 3rd quarter was ending, Kobe went to headbutt Childs and the fight ensued.

Childs butted Kobe’s head and Kobe threw a left forearm at him. Childs then two-pieced Kobe before the team and coaches were able to separate both players. Eventually both Childs & Kobe were ejected from the game. Ultimately, the Knicks were blown out 106-82, but Chris Childs had one of his seminal moments with the team.

The NBA suspended Childs 2 games and Kobe for one game for the melee.


April 2nd 2010: David Lee triple-double

David Lee earned the first triple double in his NBA career in a 128-117 loss on the road against his future team in the Golden State Warriors. Lee scored 37 points and had 20 rebounds and 10 assists. This was the Knicks’ first triple double since Latrell Sprewell in 2003.

It was one of the more impressive triple doubles in NBA history history. This was the first 30-20-10 triple double since Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in 1976. This was one of David Lee’s last major highlights with the Knicks before he departed for the Warriors in 2010 after the team signed Amare Stoudemire.

On This Date: Queens native Metta World Peace returns to MSG as a rookie

January 11, 2000: Metta World Peace (f/k/a Ron Artest) returns to MSG as a rookie

In the 1999 NBA Draft, Ed Tapscott inexplicably drafted Frederic Weis over St. John’s own Metta World Peace. 99% of Knicks fans and media, alike, panned the selection. Even MWP himself was baffled the Knicks didn’t select the Queens native. The Chicago Bulls selected him right after the Knicks picked Weis.

On this date, MWP returned to MSG for the first time as a Chicago Bulls player. Additionally, Peekskill native Elton Brand – picked #1 overall in the 1999 NBA Draft – also made his rookie MSG debut. MWP led the Bulls with 24 points on 6-15 from the field with 4 assists and 2 steals. Elton Brand scored 22 points on 9-18 from the field.

However, the veteran-laden Knicks roster was too much for the Baby Bulls as they sailed to a 95-88 victory. The Knicks had 6 players score in double figures as Larry Johnson led the team with 19 points. Patrick Ewing had a double double with 14 points and 14 rebounds.

World Peace had an idiosyncratic NBA career to most standards. While known as one of the toughest defenders in the league, his volatile personality derailed most of his prime years. The Malice at the Palace forever tainted his career. His best years came with the Los Angeles Lakers, winning a championship ring with Kobe Bryant and Phil Jackson.

MWP did have a short run with the Knicks during the 2013-14 season. However, a combination of lack of playing time and CAA politics led to a buyout during the middle of the season. He did return to the Lakers for a few seasons, enjoying Kobe’s farewell season and mentoring some of the younger players on the roster.

On one hand, I could have seen MWP mesh well with a strong veteran presence in the 90s Knicks roster. The roster could have played a crucial mentorship role that he lacked early on in his career. However, I could also see that NYC would also be a distraction for him due to growing up here. Many NYC-bred basketball players did not succeed with the Knicks due to a myriad of reasons including high expectations and temptations.


January 11th 1997:  The New York Knicks sweep the Boston Celtics on “Throwback Weekend.”

To commemorate the 50 year anniversary of the NBA, the Knicks & Celtics participated in a back-to-back “Throwback Weekend.” The two teams were the only two franchises still playing in their original cities. The Knicks took a train ride up to Boston to play the first matchup on January 10th and returned to MSG to play the doubleheader the next evening. Legends from both teams including Bob Cousy, Bill Russell, Earl Monroe, and Dave DeBusschere attended the festivities. Legendary Celtics coach Red Auerbach was the team president.

Both teams wore special throwback uniforms that celebrated the 50 year anniversary of the NBA. The Knicks wore the following throwback uniforms:

As for the games itself, there was not a lot of competition. The Knicks swept the home-and-home series 111-98 and 112-99 respectively. The Knicks held a 17-game winning streak against the Celtics. The streak reached 21 games before the 94-85 loss on January 26, 1998.

While the Knicks were perennial playoff contenders in the 1990s, the Celtics were in a phase of rebuilding after the Larry Bird/Kevin McHale retirements and Reggie Lewis’ sudden death.

On This Date: Knicks waive DeMarco Johnson

December 29th 1999: Knicks waive DeMarco Johnson

In a sign of gutting the legacy of the Ed Tapscott/Ernie Grunfeld era, the Knicks waived DeMarco Johnson. Johnson was on the injured list and the Knicks wanted to free up his spot for Rick Brunson on the active roster.  

The Knicks drafted Johnson 38th overall in the 1998 NBA Draft. He spent 4 years at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.1 Due to the lockout, DeMarco spent the 1998-99 season in Italy with Sony Milano.

Unfortunately, DeMarco played only 5 games with the Knicks and had a grand total of 6 points and 7 rebounds in 37 minutes. DeMarco represented another draft pick bust during the Grunfeld/Tapscott era. Players such as Rafer Alston, Cuttino Mobley, Jahidi White, Greg Buckner, and Ryan Bowen were drafted after him and had relatively productive NBA careers. The other Knicks 2nd round draft pick, and current Nets GM, Sean Marks had several productive seasons in the NBA despite being shipped to the Raptors in the Marcus Camby trade.

DeMarco Johnson never played another NBA game after the Knicks waived him. However, he carved a decade long career playing overseas in Italy and Spain. He is currently an assistant coach on the Hampton University basketball team. 

On This Date: Allan Houston and Latrell Sprewell score 30 points each to lead Knicks

November 27, 1999: Allan Houston & Latrell Sprewell score 30 points each to beat Orlando 99-96

Latrell Sprewell & Allan Houston displayed their potential as a dynamic duo in the victory against the Orlando Magic. In addition to 30 points scored, Sprewell had 5 rebounds, 6 assists, and made 9-9 free throws. Similarly, Houston had 6 rebounds and 5 assists while shooting 60% from the floor and making all 4 of his free throw attempts.

Additionally, Chris Childs bounced back from a slow start to the season and scored 15 points, making 3 three-pointers, and dished 6 assists in 27 minutes.  Childs hit a crucial three pointer near the end of regulation to help push the Knicks to victory. Similar to other players, Childs was mired in an early season slump highlighted by a lack of effort.  The post-NBA Finals hangover kicked into Childs and this game helped refocus him.

The Knicks started the season off slowly due to a myriad of injuries that hampered the front court. Patrick Ewing remained sidelined due to the torn Achilles tendon suffered in the Eastern Conference Finals against the Indiana Pacers. Marcus Camby was out due to a lingering knee injury and Larry Johnson was sidelined due to a pinched nerve in his back.  Back injuries persisted throughout Larry Johnson’s career and eventually forced him into retirement in 2001.

 

On This Date: Knicks beat Warriors and Sprewell returns to face old team

November 20, 1999: The New York Knicks get a 86-79 victory in Golden State in a game that marked Latrell Sprewell’s return to Oakland and John Starks’ first matchup against the Knicks

Two years after Latrell Sprewell infamously chocked his coach in practice, he returned to Oakland for the first time wearing a New York Knicks uniform. In Sprewell’s return, he posted 14 points, 6 rebounds, and 5 assists in 39 minutes in an 86-79 Knicks win.

John Starks, in his first matchup against his former team2, had a Starks-ian line with 10 points, 4 rebounds, 5 assists, and 4 steals in 30 minutes. Chris Mills & Terry Cummings, the other former Knicks included in the trade that brought Sprewell to New York, scored 17 and 10 points, respectively.

For Sprewell, this was a highly anticipated matchup against his former coach PJ Carlesimo, who he attacked in practice. The choke seen around the world 2 led to a year-long suspension and eventual trade to the New York Knicks.

Despite the choking incident, the Sprewell trade worked out very well for the Knicks. While Jeff Van Gundy’s plodding offensive system prevented Sprewell from exceeding 20 points a game, he was a fearless scorer that added much needed athleticism to an aging roster and brought the same level of defensive intensity that personified the Knicks teams of the 90s.  His clutch play in the 1999 playoffs resonate with Knick fans to this date.