On This Date: Knicks extend Don Chaney’s contract

April 15th 2003: Knicks extend Don Chaney’s contract

After the Knicks went 37-45 during the 2002-03 season, GM Scott Layden gave Don Chaney a 3 year contract extension worth $7 million. Chaney had a record of 57-88 through his 1.5 seasons as head coach of the Knicks. Despite losing Antonio McDyess for the entire season, Chaney squeezed 37 wins out of a roster that was largely unathletic, old, and heavily dependent on Allan Houston’s production.

Unfortunately, the extension proved to be premature. After the Knicks started the 2003-04 season slow, the team fired Scott Layden & hired Isiah Thomas as the new GM. A month later, Isiah fired Chaney with more than 2 years left on his new contract. Fortunately, James Dolan didn’t seem to care much about paying former employees.

On This Date: Allan Houston and Kurt Thomas help defeat Jazz in OT

April 4th 2003: Allan Houston & Kurt Thomas are instrumental in defeating the Utah Jazz in overtime

Allan Houston hit the go-ahead basket with 4.4 seconds left in overtime and Kurt Thomas blocked John Stockton’s layup attempt at the end of the game to secure a 94-92 victory on the road against the Utah Jazz. Houston led the Knicks with 27 points on 9-17 from the field and 3-4 from three. Kurt Thomas led the frontcourt with 20 points, 9 rebounds, and 2 blocked shots, including the clutch block at the end of overtime.

The Knicks  had a 10 point lead midway in the 4th. In typical Knick fashion during that season, the team gave up the lead and had to win the game in overtime. The overtime effort was gritty as both teams only scored a combined 6 points in the extra period.

Former Utah Jazz players Shandon Anderson & Howard Eisley suited up for the Knicks. Shandon scored 17 points off the bench and surprisingly received boos from the Jazz crowd1.

The victory still kept the Knicks 3.5 games out of the final seed in the Eastern Conference. Despite having the worst athleticism and upside in the league, the team was still able to win a relatively high number of games.

On This Date: Allan Houston scores 50 points in victory

March 16th 2003: Allan Houston scores 50 points in a victory against the Milwaukee Bucks

In what amounted to be the 2nd straight disappointing season for the Knicks, Allan Houston brought a slight positive moment with his 2nd 50 point game in a 120-111 victory at home against the Milwaukee Bucks. Houston scored 50 on a very impressive 13-25 from the field, 6-14 from three, and 18-18 from the free throw line. The 18 free throws were even more impressive since Houston was known more as a perimeter scorer.

With this scoring outburst, Houston scored 50 points both at home and on the road. Before the season, Patrick Ewing was the last Knick to score more than 50 points in a game. Houston posted career high numbers of 22.5 points a game while playing all 82 games in the season. While Latrell Sprewell posted career-low numbers and Antonio McDyess sidelined for the entire season, Houston was the Knicks’ lone consistent offensive option. Unfortunately, injuries saddled Houston for the final 2 years of his career while his $100 million contract burdened the Knicks.

On This Date: Melo hits game-winner against the Grizzlies

March 9th 2011: Carmelo Anthony hits the game-winning basket to defeat the Memphis Grizzlies

Carmelo Anthony scored 31 points, but hit the biggest shot of the night with half a second left over Tony Allen to defeat the Memphis Grizzlies 110-108. Melo received the ball in the post on the weak side and went to work against Tony Allen, the Grizzlies’ best defender. All it took was a couple jab steps and Melo had enough room to hit the midrange shot over him. This was Melo’s first official game-winning basket as a Knick. As he made the basket, Melo famously yelled “I Do This” to the Grizzlies bench.

Melo also received help from Amare Stoudemire who scored 26 points on 13-22 from the field. Toney Douglas, starting in place of the injured Chauncey Billups, had a double double with 18 points and 10 assists.

The Knicks led by 14 at the end of the 3rd, but allowed the Grizzlies to come back and tie the game with less than 15 seconds remaining in the game. Melo’s game-winner prevented a potentially embarrassing collapse on the road.


March 9th 2003: MJ’s last official game in MSG

Michael Jordan played his last ever game in Madison Square Garden with the Washington Wizards. The game was nationally televised on ABC and was obviously a sold-out crowd in the Garden. Jordan had a vintage-like performance with 39 points, 7 rebounds, and 8 assists, but the Knicks won the game 97-96. The duo of Allan Houston & Latrell Sprewell combined for 48 points and helped the Knicks squeak victory.

On This Date: Patrick Ewing’s number retired and Anthony Mason passes away

February 28th 2003: Patrick Ewing’s number retired

Patrick Ewing’s number 33 was finally retired on this date in Madison Square Garden. The Knicks have not retired another number since this date. The ceremony was conducted during halftime of the matchup between the Knicks and the Magic. Marv Albert was the MC of the event.

The Knicks brought back some of Ewing’s coaches from John Thompson to Stu Jackson to Jeff Van Gundy. Additionally, Dave Checketts, Ernie Grunfeld, and Jeff Van Gundy were in attendance for the ceremony. Several of Ewing’s teammates were there including Bernard King, Louis Orr, Gerald Wilkins, Xavier McDaniel, Kenny Walker, Johnny Newman, John Starks, Doc Rivers, and Charles Oakley.

Furthermore, several Knick legends were in attendance including Cazzie Russell, Dick McGuire, Dick Barnett, Clyde Frazier, Earl Monroe, Dave DeBusschere, and Willis Reed. DeBusschere drafted Ewing in 1985 and this was one of his final public events before his death in May of 2003.

The Knicks invited various NBA legends from Michael Jordan, Julius Erving, Chris Mullin, Dikembe Mutombo, Charles Barkley, and Alonzo Mourning. Most of these players were Ewing’s arch rivals during his playing career. At the same time, Ewing, Zo, and Mutombo were Georgetown alums.

For the game itself, the Knicks won 118-110 in a double overtime thriller. Clarence Weatherspoon had 15 points and a career high 24 rebounds. However, it was Ewing’s former teammate Latrell Sprewell who stole the show with a triple double of 28 points, 11 rebounds, 11 assists, and 5 steals. He made 6-8 from three as well.


February 28th 2015: Anthony Mason passed away

Anthony Mason passed away on this date due to congestive heart failure. He suffered a massive heart attack earlier in the month. He was 48 at the time of his death.

Mase made his home in New York after spending the first few years of his basketball career shuffling between the NBA and various international basketball leagues. While being a pivotal role player for the Knicks with his tenacious defense, he blossomed into a nearly All-NBA player later in his career with the Charlotte Hornets and the Miami Heat. He showed adept point forward skills during those years, scoring, rebound, and pass the ball with ease. To an extent, Mase set the precedent for players such as Draymond Green having success in the modern NBA.

On This Date: Knicks crush Cavs and Latrell Sprewell remains with Knicks

December 2, 2002: The New York Knicks crushed the Cleveland Cavaliers 125-93 and Latrell Sprewell remains a Knick for the remainder of the season

The Knicks capped a three-game winning streak, crushing the Cleveland Cavaliers by 32 points. For the Cavs, this game marked the 15th straight loss for the team which further put them in greater odds to win the LeBron James sweepstakes.

Latrell Sprewell had a double double with 20 points and 11 assists. Allan Houston led the team with 29 points and 5 three pointers made. Kurt Thomas scored 22 points and set a career high with 6 blocked shots.

The day also marked the expiration of the Disabled Player Exception (DPE) granted after the Antonio McDyess season ending injury. The NBA granted the exception to the Knicks on October 18th (the day after the injury) for $4.55 million.

Per the 1999 CBA, the NBA could grant a DPE to players who definitely will be out for the entire NBA season.  The value of the DPE was the lower of 50% of the player’s current year salary or the average player’s salary during the preceding season. The average player’s salary ($4.55 million) was less than 1/2 of McDyess’ 2002-03 salary of $12.6 million.

The Knicks were trying to package Sprewell along with the DPE to acquire another player, specifically a big man who could provide some necessary rebounding and shot blocking.  However, the market for big men was in high demand and the Knicks weren’t able to find a deal that made sense for the roster.

The league revised the DPE guidelines in future CBAs to state that the value of the DPE was the lower of 50% of the player’s current year salary or the non-taxpayer’s mid-level exception.

On This Date: Latrell Sprewell returns to lineup after mysterious hand injury

November 16, 2002: Latrell Sprewell returns to the Knicks after suffering a broken right hand before training camp

Latrell Sprewell returned to the Knicks after missing the entire preseason and first eight games of the regular season with a right hand injury. Spree came off the bench to score 16 points in a 93-92 loss against the Philadelphia 76ers. Current assistant coach Howard Eisley (then Knicks point guard) had a double double with 16 points and 10 assists. The Knicks had an 8 point lead at the middle of the 4th quarter, but gave up the entire lead as the 76ers scored 17 of the final 25 points of the game. The loss dropped the Knicks to a 1-8 record.

Spree infamously came into training camp with a broken right hand suffered in a boating accident. There were conflicting reports on what exactly happened on the boating trip. Spree’s agent claimed it was due to dealing with choppy waters. However, other witnesses claimed Spree got into a fight with someone on the boat after an argument.

Sprewell would later try to sue Marc Berman and the New York Post for reporting that he broke his right little finger in a fight on his boat, but the case was dismissed.

Sprewell was consequently fined $250,000 for not informing the team of the injury and was told to stay away from the team until further notice. The fine eventually ballooned to $437,500.

The boating accident was the final straw in the front office’s dealings with Sprewell. While Spree was popular with fans, he often angered the front office and Dolan with failing to show up to mandatory events, including a media training session (leading to the infamous media policy) and team shootarounds.