On This Date: Earl Barron has a career night

April 6th 2010: Earl Barron has a career night

In the waning moments of what the Knicks expected to be the last losing season before the Summer of LeBron, it was relative newcomer Earl Barron who had a night to remember. Barron had a double double with 17 points and 18 rebounds in the 104-101 victory against the Boston Celtics.

The Knicks signed Earl Barron to a contract for the remainder of the season to see what he could bring to the team. Barron last played significant minutes with the Miami Heat in the 2007-08 season before going overseas in Italy. In the 7 games he played with the Knicks, he had 4 double digit rebounding games, including this 18 rebound night. Barron would bounce around and play sporadic minutes with several teams before having a 2nd cup of coffee with the Knicks near the end of the 2012-13 season.


April 6th 2014: JR Smith sets Knick record for most 3s in a game

JR Smith breaks John Starks & Latrell Sprewell’s Knick record for the most 3s in a game. JR hit 10-22 from downtown to score 32 points. Unfortunately, the Knicks lost the game 102-91 on National TV.

On This Date: Melo scores 62

January 24th 2014: Carmelo Anthony breaks Bernard King’s scoring record with 62 points

Carmelo Anthony cemented his way into Knicks folklore as he broke Bernard King’s scoring record with 62 points against the Charlotte Bobcats (now Hornets) in MSG. Melo simply destroyed the Bobcats in every way possible, from threes, mid-range shots, free throws, post-ups, signature jab-steps, and dunks.

Melo started the game with 20 points in the 1st quarter alone. He nearly outscored the Bobcats on his own in the first quarter as the Knicks led 30-21 after the 1st. Melo ended the 1st half with 37 points as the Knicks led 67-46. His signature moment was hitting a buzzer-beating three pointer at half court to end the half. After he hit that shot, I, along with the Knicks faithful, knew we are witnessing history.

The Knicks continued to increase their lead in the 3rd quarter. Melo broke his own career high of 50 points with 4 minutes left in the quarter. By the end of the quarter, the Knicks led by 35 points, but Melo had 56 points.

Understanding the history of the moment, coach Mike Woodson left Melo in the game in the beginning of the quarter to break the record. Melo tied King’s record with less than 10 minutes to go in the 4th with a pair of free throws. Finally, Melo broke King’s record with a leaner and received a roaring ovation from the fans.

Melo’s 62 points not only broke King’s record, but also broke Kobe Bryant’s scoring record of most points scored (61) in MSG. The game was special because Melo idolized Bernard King growing up. Similar to King, Melo had a King-like approach on the offensive end. He scored 62 points on 35 shots (23-35), hit 6-11 from the three point arc, and hit all 10 of his free throws. To my surprise, the Bobcats mostly guarded Melo in single-man coverage.

As a Knicks fan, I only bore witness to the end of the Knick playoff run in the 1990s and the minimal playoff success in the early 2010s. Melo’s offensive performance remains one of the greatest games I’ve watched in my young lifetime.

 

On This Date: The Chris Smith era ends

December 31, 2013: The New York Knicks waive Chris Smith

As perhaps an auspicious start to a new year, the Knicks waived Chris “Da Gawd” Smith, the brother of JR Smith, to re-sign Jeremy Tyler.

Da Gawd initially joined the Knicks 2012 Summer League team. The team gave him a training camp invite, but was cut before the season after suffering a season-ending left patella injury that required surgery.

Smith re-appeared on the 2013 Summer League team. The Knicks subsequently signed him to a contract that guaranteed him $490,000 if he was on the opening day roster. Because Jeremy Tyler underwent foot surgery before training camp, Smith made the roster and received his guaranteed salary. Tyler was cleared to play in December for the Erie Bayhawks, the Knicks D-League affiliate.

Da Gawd played all of 2 uneventful minutes with the Knicks. He hasn’t appeared in the NBA since and is currently a free agent. He last played for the Maccabi Kiryat Motzkin of the Liga Leumit. 

After the Knicks waived Chris Smith, JR Smith posted an instagram photo alluding to “betrayal:”

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#OnceAgain

A post shared by JR Smith (@teamswish) on

Fans, media, and players alike criticized the signing as a sign of nepotism. Additionally, the move reeked of a favor made to CAA, the agency that represented both the Smiths, Carmelo Anthony, Mike Woodson, and many members of the Knicks & MSG Sports. Brandon Jennings squabbled with JR Smith on Twitter about the signing. The NBA later fined JR $25,000 after sending a tweet threatening to send “street homies” to Detroit.

When JR Smith signed a 3-year, $18 million extension in the summer of 2013, it’s possible that one of the stipulations was to sign Chris to a contract. This was also part of a larger ploy to retain Carmelo Anthony in the summer of 2014. Both Melo & JR Smith are close friends dating back to their days with the Nuggets.

Although Melo re-signed with the Knicks, the CAA influence slowly dissipated. Metta World Peace alluded to many of the issues with CAA when he was cut in February 2014. Additionally, Phil Jackson slowly removed a lot of the CAA handlers and staffers associated within the organization.

Despite the vitriol against the Smiths, the one silver lining out of this ordeal was Chris Brickley. Brickley played a year of basketball with Chris Smith at Louisville under Rick Pitino. He eventually trained both of the Smiths over the next two seasons. With the recommendation of JR Smith & Rick Pitino, the Knicks hired Brickley in 2013 as a player development coach.

Brickley confided with Melo during his tenure with the organizations. His workouts with Melo became notorious on Instagram and sparked future workouts with NBA stars alike. Due to the increased popularity, the Knicks & Brickley mutually parted ways in 2017. For Brickley, this allowed him to expand his horizons beyond just the Knicks. For the Knicks, this allowed the team to keep some of their player development protocols in secret for purposes of competitive advantage.

Brickley later formed the BlackOps basketball training and workout program. He runs sessions during the offseason for high school, college and NBA players alike. The sessions include individual drills and scrimmages. 

Most of the sessions are held at Life Time Athletic at Sky, a gym designed by Melo that opened in 2016. Coincidentally, Kristaps Porzingis rents a few penthouses in Sky that gives him unlimited access to the Life Time Athletic health club and basketball court.