August 15th 2005: The New York Knicks use their Amnesty Provision on Jerome Williams
As part of the 2005 NBA Collective Bargaining Agreement, the NBA agreed to include an Amnesty Provision to rid teams of one of their biggest contract regrets. This rule was colloquially known as the Allan Houston Rule due to the $100 million contract the Knicks offered him. Knee injuries forced Houston to miss 94 games over the previous 2 seasons. Houston also had 2 years and $40 million remaining on his contract.
However, in somewhat typical Knicks fashion, the Knicks decided not to amnesty Houston. Instead, the Knicks amnestied Jerome “Junkyard Dog” Williams. Williams had 3 more years remaining on a 7 year $40 million deal he signed with the Toronto Raptors back in 2001. The amnesty allowed the team to save $21 million in future luxury tax payments. Williams never played another game in the NBA.
The biggest surprise was not amnestying Houston. To make things even more baffling, Houston announced his retirement shortly before the beginning of the 2005-06 season. Saving $20 million would have got the Knicks closer out of the salary cap hell that plagued the team for most of the 2000s.
July 14th 1996: The Knicks 1996 Free Agency: Allan Houston, Chris Childs, Allan Houston
In one day, the New York Knicks officially transformed their roster to make a final championship run during the final stretch of Patrick Ewing’s prime. The Knicks acquired 3 key pieces to their starting lineup, including a new backcourt. First, the Knicks signed Chris Childs to a 6 year $24 million contract. The Knicks announced that they signed Allan Houston to a 7 year $56 million contract. Finally, the Knicks acquired former #1 overall pick Larry Johnson from the Charlotte Hornets for Anthony Mason & Brad Lohaus.
Heading into the 1996 free agency, the Knicks’ main goals were to find a 2nd superstar to pair with Ewing or find a core of young players to provide more offensive firepower. The original tea leaves suggested the Knicks sought Reggie Miller & Michael Jordan, but neither option was plausible. The Knicks signed Childs, 28, after a solid sophomore season with the New Jersey Nets where he averaged 12.8 points/game and 7.0 assists/game. The Knicks appreciated his toughness and poise on both ends of the floor. Childs replaced the older Derek Harper and immediately cemented his spot as the starting point guard.
Houston, 25, was one of the top free agent shooting guards on the market. He came off a season where he averaged a then-high 19.7 points/game and 2.3 three pointers made/game. He was known as a sharpshooter with the Pistons and brought that same dexterity to a Knicks roster that needed more perimeter shooting. Houston joined Childs in the starting lineup.
The most controversial move was acquiring Johnson for Lohaus and Mason. Johnson, 27, was on a long-term contract with 7 years and $84 million remaining. He also suffered a back injury during the 1993-94 season that would later hamper him during his Knicks tenure. Mason represented the tough and gritty Knicks defense of the early 90s. However, the team sought more offensive firepower and felt Johnson provided it despite the back issues. Additionally, the team was probably frustrated with the various on and off-court issues that plagued Mason during his Knicks tenure. Johnson never regained the athletic touch and offensive firepower he had during his early Charlotte days. He instead reinvented his game to become more of a perimeter threat and a clutch performer, especially in the 1999 NBA Playoffs.
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.
June 11th 1999: The New York Knicks make history in becoming the first #8 seed to reach the NBA Finals
Miracles. Only one word to define the 1998-99 season. After enduring the endless drama, on-court struggles, and injuries, the Knicks did the unthinkable and stormed past the #1 seed Miami Heat in the 1st round, the #4 seed Atlanta Hawks in the 2nd round, and the #2 seed Indiana Pacers to become the first #8 seed to reach the NBA Finals.
The Knicks defeated the Pacers 90-82 in Game 6 to advance to the Finals. This was done with Patrick Ewing on the sidelines and Larry Johnson sidelined most of the game due to a sprained right knee suffered in the 2nd quarter. Instead, the “role players” per se took charge in front of the roaring MSG crowd.
Allan Houston led the way with a team-high 32 points on 12-17 from the field. Latrell Sprewell scored 20 points, but his defensive energy was once again infectious for the Knicks team. Marcus Camby was an all-around force off the bench with 15 points, 9 rebounds, 2 steals, and 3 blocked shots in 37 minutes. Camby was the instrumental cog in the victory. While he was on the floor, the team was +26 and -18 while off.
The Knicks simply dominated on the free throw line. The team took 33 free throws, led by Houston (8-10), Camby (7-11), & Sprewell (6-6). The Pacers, on the other hand, only attempted 9 free throws.
The Knicks took control of the game in the 4th quarter. A Jalen Rose 3 point play with less than 29 seconds remaining put the Pacers down 86-82. However, the Knicks hit 4 more free throws and the Pacers simply conceded with 15 seconds remaining after Spree blocked Jalen Rose’s layup.
The MSG crowd went nuts as Chris Childs dribbled out the clock. Spree was running along the sidelines galvanizing the crowd. Jeff Van Gundy’s wife was shown in tears right after the buzzer sounded. Even with Patrick Ewing sidelined, he enjoyed the taste of seeing another NBA Finals. Just simply an ecstatic and priceless moment in Knicks history.
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.
May 16th 1999: Allan Houston hits the game-winning basket to upset the #1 seed Miami Heat and shock the NBA
Allan Houston made his mark in Knicks history with the game-winning basket with less than 5 seconds remaining to sink the Miami Heat 78-77. The Knicks became the 2nd #8 seed to upset the #1 seed in NBA history.1Nuggets were the first in 1994
The original play did not involve Houston hitting the game-winning basket. Latrell Sprewell originally had the ball in isolation, expecting to hit the game-winner. However, Spree nearly turned the ball over and the Knicks consequently reset possession with less than 5 seconds remaining. Charlie Ward fed Houston behind the three point arc. Houston then threw up a running floater that bounced off the front rim, then hit the back rim, and went in to put the Knicks ahead by 1 with 0.8 seconds.
The most iconic moment was Houston running to the other side of the floor pumping his fists in celebration with his teammates. The Heat crowd, teammates, and coaching staff were all left in shock after that basket. The Heat got one final opportunity to win the game, but Terry Porter missed the 35 foot heave and the Knicks clinched the ultimate playoff upset.
The Knicks were the underdogs throughout the entire regular season. The combo of a relatively new roster, shortened season, and an aging Patrick Ewing led to significant growing pains. There was a significant risk that the Knicks would miss the NBA playoffs for the first time since 1987. Additionally, there were rumblings regarding Jeff Van Gundy’s job security due to disagreements between him and Ernie Grunfeld. This victory calmed a lot of nerves within the Madison Square Garden faithful. For Van Gundy, this victory most likely helped secure his job with the organization.
May 14th 1997: Knicks/Heat Fight Round 1: Charlie Ward vs. PJ Brown
In the waning moments of a disappointing Game 5 loss against the Miami Heat, Charlie Ward & PJ Brown got into a nasty fight after trying to gain position for a rebound on the free throw line. After Tim Hardaway Sr hit the free throw, Ward rammed into PJ Brown trying to box out and Brown suplexed him to begin the melee. The fight ensued behind the baseline as coach Jeff Van Gundy & the various garbage time players on the floor, including John Wallace, attempted to separate the players.
Not learning the lessons from the 1994 NBA Playoffs, Patrick Ewing, John Starks, Larry Johnson, and Allan Houston all left the bench area to break up the fight. As a result, each of the 4 players were suspended one game each along with Charlie Ward. The NBA suspended PJ Brown 2 games for his role in the brawl.
With the multitude of suspensions, the NBA decided to stagger the suspensions, by last name order, over both Game 6 and 7. Ewing, Houston, & Ward were out for Game 6 and Johnson & Starks were out for Game 7. Although the Knicks were leading 3-2 in the series, the suspensions left the team severely undermanned. The Knicks lost both Games 6 and 7.
Before Game 6, the Knicks filed a lawsuit in the Southern District of New York to order a stay on the suspensions, arguing that the punishment should be determined in arbitration. The NBA Players Union sided with the Knicks alleging that the rule itself was never approved by the players in the collective bargaining agreement. On game day, the SDNY ruled in favor of the NBA arguing that the rule was plain and clear and within the rights of the league office.
The biggest “what-if” moment was determining how far the team would go into the NBA Playoffs. Had there been no suspensions, the Knicks most likely defeat the Heat and face off against the Chicago Bulls once again. The Bulls easily defeated the Heat in 5 games, but maybe the “new” Knick core of Ewing, Houston, & Larry Johnson provide a better fight.
May 14th 2003: Dave DeBusschere passed away
Dave DeBusschere passed away at the age of 63 after collapsing due to a heart attack. DeBusschere spent 6 seasons with the Knicks and won 2 championships. He was an 8 time All-Star and 6 time honoree of the All-Defensive Team. The Knicks retired his #22 and the NBA subsequently inducted him as one of the 50 Greatest Players in 1996. He was also inducted into the NBA Hall of Fame.
He also served in the Knicks front office and was responsible for drafting Patrick Ewing.
April 24th 1997: The New York Knicks defeat the Charlotte Hornets in Game 1 of the 1997 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals
The Knicks/Hornets rivalry intensified during the 1996-97 season after the Larry Johnson/Anthony Mason trade. LJ left the Hornets on a sour note after publicly requesting a trade due to a disillusionment regarding the direction of the franchise and a desire for a long-term contract. The trade left a severely bitter taste in Mase’s mouth. He felt resentment after the trade and alleged that Patrick Ewing played a role in his departure. Ewing & Mase clashed offensively over the course of their 5 year tenure. Mase clamored more touches during the Riley era & Ewing often complained about lack of touches during the short Don Nelson run.
During the regular season, the Hornets won 3 of the 4 matchups, including the last 3. Their last game in February delved into heated tensions at halftime where both John Starks & Glen Rice had to be separated after yelling “you want some of this” in the tunnel.
Despite the regular season acrimony, the real battle began on Game 1 when Mase returned to MSG and Larry Johnson faced off against his old team. To begin the playoffs, the Knick players wore warmup shirts with the slogan “make em feel ya.” Starks created the slogan on behalf of the team. Additionally, 8 of the players shaved their heads as part of the playoff tradition, including Allan Houston & LJ.
The Knicks did defeat the Hornets 109-99 in Game 1. It was the new Knicks – Houston, Childs, & LJ – that made the most contributions in the victory. Houston led the team with 25 points on 4-7 from three and LJ scored 20 on 2-4 from three. Chris Childs scored 14 points and had 8 assists. The Knicks held a 13 point lead at halftime, but the Hornets erased the lead by the end of the 3rd quarter. The Knicks eventually built a 10 point cushion in the 4th for the victory.
Despite the tenacious rivalry during the regular season, the Knicks handily swept the Hornets to advance to the Eastern Conference Semifinals.
April 9th 2002: Patrick Ewing plays his last game in MSG as a member of the Orlando Magic
In what will always be a weird sight in Knicks history, Patrick Ewing played what would be his last game in Madison Square Garden, but with the Orlando Magic. Ewing started for the Magic, for purposes of recognizing the moment, and had 5 points and 5 rebounds in 19 minutes. The Magic defeated the Knicks 108-97.
After playing sparingly throughout the game, Ewing re-entered the game with a minute remaining as the Magic were up 9. Ewing received a roaring ovation from the MSG faithful as his former teammates Charlie Ward, Kurt Thomas, Allan Houston, & Latrell Sprewell were on the floor. Ewing finished the final minute of the game as the crowd roared once again after the buzzer to commemorate Ewing’s career.
Ewing’s final season with Orlando was quite strange to almost any fan of the NBA. The sight of the Orlando Magic uniform and not seeing him in his signature #33 (Grant Hill wore the jersey at the time) was even more bizarre. Interestingly enough, Ewing played with perhaps the most talented and athletic teammate ever in Tracy McGrady. He also reunited with former teammates Monty Williams & Doc Rivers (as coach of the Magic).
The Magic victory helped them clinch a playoff spot and gave Ewing one more opportunity to taste the playoffs. The Knicks missed the playoffs for the first time since Ewing’s sophomore season.
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 crowd2he’s not that good of a player.
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.
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.
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.
February 25th 2012: Team New York (Allan Houston, Landry Fields, Cappie Pondexter) win the Haier Shooting Stars Competition
As part of the 2012 NBA All Star festivities, the Knicks had a team – Allan Houston, Landry Fields, and New York Liberty player Cappie Pondexter – represented in the Haier Shooting Stars competition (“Team New York”).
The competition consisted of the players making four shots in sequential order in different locations of increased difficulty. The first three shots typically featured a simple bank shot, a shot on the top of the key, and a three point shot. Each player in the team was responsible for making one of the three shots. The final shot was a halfcourt shot in which every player on the team is given the opportunity to make the basket.
The final round consisted of the Knicks squad and the Houston Rockets squad that included Chandler Parsons, Kenny Smith, and Sophia Young of the WNBA’s San Antonio Silver Stars (“Team Texas”). The Rockets took 47.6 seconds to complete the final round. The Knicks reached the half-court shot within 22 seconds. After multiple attempts, Allan Houston finally hit the half-court shot with 37 seconds remaining to win the contest for Team New York.
The Haier Shooting Stars competition lasted until 2016 when the NBA officially retired it from All Star weekend. Fields also participated in the 2012 Rising Stars competition during All Star weekend.
December 28, 1994: Grant Hill makes his MSG debut, but the Knicks prevail with the victory
The New York Knicks spoiled Grant Hill’s MSG debut with a 101-93 victory against the Detroit Pistons. Patrick Ewing led the Knicks with 30 points and 11 rebounds. Charles Smith also had a double double with 23 points and 10 rebounds.
Hill – the heralded rookie from Duke – scored 21 points, but shot 7-19 from the field and Anthony Mason stymied him on the defensive end. Hill represented a new era for the Pistons after Isiah Thomas retired after the 1993-94 season. Additionally, future Knick Allan Houston played 4 minutes off the bench, but didn’t contribute to his statline.
Despite the win, the Knicks faced another significant injury in the frontcourt. Herb Williams fractured his middle finger in his left hand after colliding with Anthony Mason grabbing a rebound. The Knicks were already without Charles Oakley, who was out until February after undergoing surgery on his toe.
Due to those injuries, the Knicks signed journeyman Greg Kite as a reinforcement in the front court. However, the Knicks waived Kite in February once Herb Williams returned from injury. Kite only played 16 minutes in 2 games, so he wasn’t relied upon in his brief tenure with the team.
December 14, 2003: Allan Houston passes Richie Guerin to be 5th all-time on the Knicks scoring list
Allan Houston passed Richie Guerin to become 5th on the Knicks all-time scoring list (10,392 points). Houston scored 39 points on 12-19 from the field and 12-12 from the free throw line to lead the Knicks to a 89-87 victory against the Washington Wizards in MSG. He hit the go-ahead basket with 18 seconds left.
The game sadly marked one of the few remaining highlights in Houston’s NBA career.
Houston underwent microfracture surgery on his right knee in June 2003. Prior to the surgery, Houston only missed 19 regular season games to that point. He had just finished the second year of his $100 million contract and played nearly 38 minutes a game during the first two seasons of the contract.
Ultimately, Houston faced chronic pain in both knees post-surgery. Despite averaging 18.5 points a game in the 2003-04 season, Houston missed 32 games with chronic knee injuries and didn’t play in the playoffs against the New Jersey Nets. The knee injuries persisted into the 2004-05 season and limited Houston to only 20 games played.
Houston retired only weeks before the beginning of the 2005-06 season. At the time, he still felt chronic knee pain and had 2 more years remaining on his contract. Despite retiring, he attempted to make a comeback in both the 2007 and 2008 training camps. Houston played 6 minutes in one 2007 preseason game and didn’t play in any 2008 preseason games.
Ironically, the NBA CBA created the “Allan Houston” rule meant to create a one-time amnesty of a player’s contract counting against the luxury tax. The Knicks were well above the luxury tax threshold and most expected the team to use the provision on Allan Houston. However, the Knicks used the exception on Jerome Williams.
Donnie Walsh hired Houston to be assistant to the president after his 2008 training camp stint. Walsh later promoted him to assistant GM where he remains to this date. He is the general manager of the Westchester Knicks G-League team.
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.
Then-Knicks GM Isiah Thomas continued his purge of the Scott Layden era by waiving Shandon Anderson. Like similar players in recent memory (hint: Joakim Noah), Anderson refused to take a significant paycut in the buyout and effectively received around $20 million of the $24 million remaining on his contract.
Anderson was one of many questionable questions by Scott Layden during the infamous summer of 2001. After averaging a paltry 8.7 points a game in 29 minutes, Layden felt necessary to offer Anderson a 6 year, $42 million contract and acquired him in a sign-and trade deal that shipped Glen Rice to the Houston Rockets while also absorbing Howard Eisley’s contract (2nd season of a 7 year $41 million contract). The baffling part of the contract was that it came right after Layden gave Allan Houston an extension worth $100 million.
While Anderson missed only 2 games in his 3+ seasons with the Knicks, his impact on the team did not match the contract he received. The signing resembled an era of players who lacked athleticism and excitement for a barely mediocre Knicks roster.
Perhaps his best memory as a Knick was the dunk highlighted in the video above.
November 1, 1946: Knicks play First ever game in NBA History
The first ever NBA game somehow happened in Canada. It featured the New York Knicks against the Toronto Huskies at the historic Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto, Ontario. New York native Ossie Schectman scored the first ever basket and led the Knicks to a 68-66 victory. Leo Gottlieb led the Knicks with 14 points.
The league was originally created as the Basketball Association of America (BAA) and comprised of 11 teams. Of the eleven teams in the inaugural 1946-47 season, only three teams are currently active in their original form: Boston Celtics, New York Knicks, & the Philadelphia (now Golden State) Warriors. The other eight teams folded or merged with other organizations.
The BAA was formed to find a way for hockey franchise owners to populate their large sports arenas on off days (i.e. MSG III, Boston Garden). The success of college basketball, especially in New York City, convinced certain franchise owners that there was a large enough market for a professional league.
Although the BAA was founded in 1946, there were already two established professional basketball leagues: the American Basketball League (ABL) and the National Basketball League (NBL). Unlike the BAA, these two leagues often played in small arenas or even high school gyms. Most of the teams in the league eventually disbanded or merged into the NBA.
After the BAA inaugural season, the Toronto Huskies disbanded. In 1949, the NBL merged with the BAA and was effectively renamed as the National Basketball Association (NBA).
November 1, 1996: Knicks commemorate 50 Year Anniversary of the first ever NBA game
To pay homage to the anniversary, both teams wore throwback uniforms honoring those original teams. In particular, the Toronto Raptors wore jerseys that represented the Toronto Huskies team.
The Knicks beat the Raptors 107-99. The game marked the Knicks debut of both Allan Houston and Larry Johnson. Houston led the team with 28 points and 3 steals. Johnson scored 12 points in 29 minutes. John Starks came off the bench and scored 22 points. With the Houston signing, Starks took the challenge of coming off the bench and ultimately received the 6th man of the year award at the end of the season.
Chris Childs’ Knick debut was delayed a few weeks due to a fractured fibula in his right leg. The injury gave Charlie Ward an opportunity to start the season and debut along with the first few weeks of the season. Ward scored only 4 points in the season debut, but had 8 assists. Charles Oakley did not play in the season debut due to a two-game suspension for instigating a fight with Charles Barkley in the preseason.
Of the three rookies the Knicks drafted in the 1996 NBA Draft, John Wallace made his NBA debut and had an auspicious start with a double double. Wallace’s comfort in the SkyDome would come in handy soon enough as he was traded to the Toronto Raptors in a deal that netted Chris Dudley.
Walter McCarty and Dontae’ Jones, the other two rookies, did not dress for the game due to a coach’s decision and a foot injury respectively. McCarty only played 35 games that season and Jones missed the entire season with his injury. Just like John Wallace, both were traded to Boston for Chris Mills before the 1997-1998 season. To maximize Patrick Ewing’s short window of contention, all three young players were sacrificed for immediate impact players.
Future Knick Marcus Camby made his NBA debut as well, coming off the bench to score 5 points in 15 minutes.
Former Knicks Doug Christie and Hubert Davis also played in the debut. Christie – acquired by the Raptors in the 1995 Expansion Draft – scored 24 points and had 7 assists and 4 steals. Davis – acquired by the Raptors for the Knicks’ own 1997 1st Round Pick – scored 6 points in 30 minutes. Davis was traded to the Raptors due to a glut of guards on the roster after the Allan Houston signing.