On This Date: Knicks sign Dikembe Mutombo

October 9th 2003: The New York Knicks sign Dikembe Mutombo

In desperate need for a big man, the New York Knicks signed free agent Dikembe Mutombo, and his iconic finger wag, to a 2 year contract. Mutombo, then 37, still proved to be a shot blocker that the Knicks lacked for more than 2 seasons. Additionally, Mutombo was one of the taller Knicks on a roster that often featured big men shorter than 6’10.

Mutombo played in 65 games for the Knicks and averaged 1.9 blocks/game. His 123 blocked shots were the most in a season since Marcus Camby in 2001 and wasn’t surpassed until Amare Stoudemire in 2011 (150 blocked shots). He blocked 10 shots in a game against the New Jersey Nets in January 2004, a team record that still stands to this date.

On This Date: Amare Stoudemire retires as a Knick

July 26th 2016: Amare Stoudemire retires a New York Knick

Amare Stoudemire officially signed a one-day contract with the New York Knicks to announce his retirement from the NBA. The Knicks originally signed Amare to a 5 year contract worth $100 million in 2010. He was the first superstar to join the Knicks in free agency ever.

Amare had a near-MVP start to his Knicks career. The acquisition of Carmelo Anthony mid-season allowed the Knicks to make the playoffs for the first time since 2004. However, injuries prevented the Knicks from realizing Amare’s true potential.

A nagging back injury limited Amare’s explosiveness during the lockout season. Despite making the playoffs once again, Stoudemire started showing signs of decline as a player. Knee injuries limited Stoudemire to 29 games during the 54 win campaign.

Stat returned to play 65 games during the 2013-14 season. While he showed some signs of his old self, he largely accepted a supporting role on the team, including coming off the bench. He averaged a career low 11.9 points/game.1

The 2014-15 season was a disaster for the Knicks. The team decided to buyout the remainder of Amare’s contract to allow him to join a playoff contender. He joined the Mavericks for the remainder of the season. His final season, 2015-16, came with Dwyane Wade and the Miami Heat.

On This Date: Knicks sign Ronnie Brewer

July 25th 2012: The New York Knicks sign Ronnie Brewer

The New York Knicks continued to add more defensive oriented pieces to the roster by signing Ronnie Brewer to a contract. Brewer played the previous 2 seasons with the Chicago Bulls and was part of coach Tom Thibodeau’s bench mob. At 6’7 with a long wingspan, the Knicks expected Brewer to provide a defensive identity off the bench.

Brewer started the season as the team’s starting small forward due to Amare Stoudemire’s knee injury. Ultimately, Iman Shumpert’s return from a torn ACL pushed Brewer out of the rotation. As the Knicks sought to shore up their frontcourt depth, the team traded Brewer mid-season to the Oklahoma City Thunder for a future 2nd round pick. The team used the spot to sign Kenyon Martin.

On This Date: Knicks sign Raymond Felton (the first time around)

July 12th 2010: The New York Knicks sign Raymond Felton to a two-year contract

The 2nd biggest splash for the New York Knicks in the 2010 NBA Free Agency was not LeBron James, but rather Raymond Felton. The Knicks signed him to a 2 year contract worth nearly $15 million. Felton was the top free agent point guard on the market. Felton, drafted 5th overall by the Bobcats in the 2005 NBA Draft, missed only 11 games during his first 5 years in the league. His best season with the Bobcats came in the 2007-08 season where he averaged 14.4 points/game and 7.4 assists/game. Larry Brown coached Felton in the previous 2 seasons, leading the Bobcats to the playoffs in the preceding year.

With the Knicks, Felton joined forces with Mike D’Antoni, who attempted to unleash his scoring and passing abilities in a fast-paced offense. Alongside Amare Stoudemire, Felton proved to be an adroit pick and roll partner. In his first season, Felton averaged a then career high 17.1 points/game and 9.0 assists/game in a career high 38.4 minutes/game.

The Knicks ultimately dealt Felton to the Denver Nuggets in the Carmelo Anthony trade. The team eventually re-acquired him in a sign-and-trade before the 2012-13 season, albeit at a lower contract value of 3 years/$10 million. Unfortunately, Felton’s production in his second roundabout with the team never matched his half-a-season performance under Mike D’Antoni.

On This Date: The Knicks sign-and-trade David Lee to the Golden State Warriors

July 9th 2010: The New York Knicks signed-and-traded David Lee to the Golden State Warriors

In response to the Amare Stoudemire signing, the New York Knicks signed and traded David Lee to the Golden State Warriors. In return, the Knicks received Anthony Randolph, Kelenna Azubuike, Ronny Turiaf, and a 2012 and 2013 2nd round pick. Lee signed a 6 year contract worth near $80 million.

Lee was a rare Knick that lasted through his original rookie contract and his qualifying offer. Lee made the NBA All Star Team in the prior season and proved to be a double double machine with the capability of hitting the midrange basket at ease. Ultimately, the Knicks’ pursuit of superstars made Lee expendable.

Lee had 4 solid seasons with the Warriors including an All Star berth in 2013. A strained left hamstring during the 2014-15 preseason completely changed the fortunes for the Warriors team. The injury opened up an opportunity for Draymond Green. After that, the rest was history. Lee won a championship in 2015, but spent his final 3 seasons between the Boston Celtics & San Antonio Spurs.

As for the Knicks acquired in the trade, Turiaf made an immediate impact as both a starter and as a backup center. Randolph played sparingly with the Knicks and Azubuike missed the entire season due to a knee injury he suffered in the previous season. He never played with the Knicks as the team waived him shortly after the trade deadline.

Randolph was sent to the Timberwolves as part of the Carmelo Anthony trade. The two 2nd round picks acquired went to the Denver Nuggets in the trade. The Knicks dealt Turiaf in the Tyson Chandler sign-and-trade.

On This Date: Amare Stoudemire agrees to join the Knicks

June 8th 2010: Amare Stoudemire agrees to sign with the New York Knicks

The Knicks are back! The 4 words that undeniably changed the trajectory of the Knicks franchise heading into the next decade. With the Knicks’ back against the wall in the LeBron James sweepstakes, the team agreed to a 5 year $99.7 million contract. The hope was that Amare would be the second piece needed to lure LeBron to NY. The Knicks spent basically two years doing whatever was possible from a salary cap perspective to lure LeBron. Unfortunately, the Knicks didn’t foresee the Miami Heat, who ended up freeing up enough space to team LeBron with Dwyane Wade & Chris Bosh.

The Phoenix Suns, then run by General Manager Steve Kerr, were hesitant to offer Amare a 5 year contract due to his previous knee issues from 2005. Kerr believed that there was a minimal shelf life for players that underwent microfracture surgeries like Amare did. Kerr also wanted to fully insure Amare’s contract. Donnie Walsh, on the other hand, didn’t find his knee issues to be much of an issue and gave him a full 5 year maximum contract uninsured.

At the same time, the Knicks spent 2 years dumping assets and salaries all for the pursuit of LeBron. Striking out on all the star free agents was not a good look for the franchise. The team needed to sell sponsorships and tickets. Amare could do that and, no offense, bringing back David Lee wasn’t the answer anymore.

As Kerr predicted, the Amare era didn’t last that long on the court. After having a near MVP first season with the Knicks, multiple injuries limited Amare to only 76 of a possible 148 games over the next 2 seasons. Back injuries first surfaced during the 2011 playoffs during a pregame dunk. He then suffered a bulging disk in his back during the lockout campaign that kept him out for almost a month. To add insult to injury, Amare injured his wrist after punching a fire extinguisher in the playoffs against the Miami Heat. A knee injury suffered in training camp eventually forced Amare to miss most of the 2012-13 season.

By the time the 2013-14 season began, Amare (at the age of 31) was essentially a shell of his former shelf. His presence as a dominating #1 or #2 option were long gone. He was not a 30+ minute player anymore. His offensive explosiveness was reduced to occasional dunks and the more routine midrange buckets. Although Amare played 65 games in the campaign, he was seen as an albatross as the Knicks missed the playoffs for the first time in his Knicks tenure.

The 2014-15 season proved to be a dumpster fire from the get-go. After the decision to tank early in January, Amare’s days with the Knicks were just about finished. The Knicks eventually bought him out well before the deadline for him to sign with a playoff contender. Amare signed with the Dallas Mavericks and played limited minutes with the team. He spent his final NBA season in his native state of Florida with the Miami Heat.

Amare left two lasting legacies with the Knicks: his MVP-esque season and Carmelo Anthony. Amare had an undeniably historic start with the Knicks. The streak of 30 point games electrified the Garden. Amare literally carried the team. He was also instrumental in convincing Carmelo Anthony to come home in New York, even if it meant trading most of the young assets and draft picks. With Melo, the Knicks reached the playoffs for 3 straight seasons, the first such-standing streak since the late 1990s.

However, Amare was never a true fit on the floor with Carmelo Anthony. Amare’s offensive game suffered as Melo’s prospered over time. The acquisition of Tyson Chandler also hurt Amare’s role on the team on both ends of the floors. In the end of the day, Amare did help bring the Knicks back to a level or relevance missing for nearly a decade.

On This Date: The New York Knicks acquire Antonio McDyess

June 26th 2002: The New York Knicks acquire Antonio McDyess on Draft Day

Fresh off their first season out of the playoffs, the New York Knicks were in a strange position: scouting potential lottery picks. The Knicks spent little to no time scouting 1st round picks over the past 10 seasons as the team played deep into the playoffs. Knicks GM Scott Layden, facing significant criticism from fans and analysts from his questionable signings, trades, etc., was in deep pressure to make a bold draft choice.

Hearing significant boos and “Fire Layden” chants on draft night, the Knicks drafted Maybyner “Nene” Hilario with the 7th pick. Fans immediately booed the pick as they expected anyone else including Chris Wilcox, Amare Stoudemire, UConn standout Caron Butler, and even Jared Jeffries at the minimum. Instead of dealing with the criticism of drafting Nene, Layden went even further and traded the pick.

The Knicks traded Nene, along with Mark Jackson & Marcus Camby, to the Denver Nuggets for Antonio McDyess, the 25th pick in the NBA Draft, and a 2003 2nd round pick. Layden orchestrated this trade simply because he thought this was the best chance to get back into the NBA playoffs. He thought McDyess would be that athletic frontcourt presence that would complement the Knicks core players. Camby came off a year where he only played in 29 games due to injury. Jackson, then 37 years old, was on the downside of his career.

The trade didn’t benefit the Knicks on any angle. The team had high hopes for McDyess entering the preseason. Fans thought he nearly regained most of his athleticism until he tore his patellar tendon after a putback dunk. McDyess missed the entire 2002-03 season and only played 18 games with the Knicks before the team dealt him to Phoenix for Stephon Marbury. Camby got over his injury woes to have a generally healthy and productive tenure with Denver. He was on the NBA All-Defensive teams from 2005-08, winning the NBA Defensive Player of the Year in 2007. Nene’s had a productive career in the NBA as both a starting center and as a backup. He just came off a season as the backup center for the Houston Rockets.

The 25th overall draft pick in the 2002 NBA Draft became Frank Williams. After he played sparingly during his rookie season, he received decent minutes in his sophomore season and was slated to receive decent minutes as a backup PG until Isiah Thomas acquired Marbury. He was traded to the Bulls in the next season and left the NBA afterwards. The 2003 2nd round pick, however, became Maciej Lampe. Despite the cheers for the pick, Lampe turned out to be a bust in the NBA.

On This Date: Knicks win the 1973 NBA Finals

May 10th 1973: Knicks are the 1973 NBA Champions

The Knicks won their 2nd NBA Championship by defeating the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 5 102-93. This was the 3rd time the Knicks faced the Lakers in the NBA Finals in the previous 4 seasons. The Lakers defeated the Knicks in 5 games in the 1972 NBA Finals. The 1973 NBA Finals was nearly the opposite of the previous season. Whereas the Knicks won Game 1 of the 1972 NBA Finals, the Lakers won Game 1 of the 1973 NBA Finals. Both teams subsequently won the next 4 games to secure the championship.

This time around, Earl Monroe was a part of the 1973 NBA Championship Knicks. Monroe averaged 16 points/game on 53% shooting during the NBA Finals. Willis Reed once again won the NBA Finals MVP.


May 10th 2008: Knicks agree to hire Mike D’Antoni as their next head coach

Mike D’Antoni agreed to a 4 year $24 million deal to coach the New York Knicks. After firing Isiah Thomas as head coach, this was Donnie Walsh’s first and paramount move as the new Knicks President & GM.

Ever since Steve Kerr became the Suns GM before the 2007 NBA Draft, there was always a subtle tension between him and D’Antoni. Kerr wanted to emphasize more of a defensive presence on the team. Kerr also wanted to hire Tom Thibodeau as D’Antoni’s lead defensive coach, but the latter purportedly refused the request.

The Phoenix Suns allowed D’Antoni to interview with other teams after a disappointing first round playoff exit. At the time, D’Antoni still had 2 years and $9 million left on his coaching contract. The Bulls also showed interest in D’Antoni, but ultimately the Knicks provided the best offer.

From the moment the Knicks hired D’Antoni, there was one main organizational goal: clear cap space for 2010 and LeBron. As Donnie Walsh traded the long-term contracts, D’Antoni established his faster paced system onto the more inferior Knicks roster. The Knicks mostly achieved mediocre results: the team was poor defensively and D’Antoni stubbornly played short rotations while sacrificing the opportunity to play some of the younger players.

Pressure intensified after 2010 when the Knicks signed Amare Stoudemire & eventually acquired Carmelo Anthony. The lack of chemistry and time, due to the lockout, did not allow D’Antoni to build an offensive system around those two players. Additionally, the Knicks continued to struggle defensively. Mounting pressure near the middle of the 2011-12 shortened season forced D’Antoni to resign, months before finishing his 4 year contract. Since at least the Pat Riley era, D’Antoni is the only coach that completed a majority of his coaching contract before either resigning or being fired.

 

On This Date: Knicks comeback from 0-2 to advance to the 1990 Eastern Conference Semifinals

May 6th 1990: The New York Knicks, down 0-2, come back and advance to the 1990 Eastern Conference Semifinals after defeating the Boston Celtics

Against a stacked Boston Celtics roster containing Hall of Famers Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, & Robert Parrish, amongst others, the New York Knicks defeated the Boston Celtics on the road 121-114 in Game 5 to advance to the Eastern Conference Semifinals. The Knicks had not won a regular season game in Boston in the last 6 years or a playoff game in 16 years. The Knicks became the third team in NBA history to win a best-of-5 series after being down 0-2.

Ewing led the way for the Knicks with 31 points, 8 assists, 10 rebounds, and 4 blocked shots in 47 minutes. The younger legs of Charles Oakley cooked the older McHale with a commanding double double (26 points, 17 rebounds, 4 assists). In a battle of veteran PGs, Maurice Cheeks went back-and-forth with Dennis Johnson and scored 21 points on 8-10 from the field. Cheeks also played the entire 48 minutes.

This matchup marked the temporary halt to the Knicks/Celtics rivalry. As the Knicks dominated throughout the 1990s, the Celtics fell into a rebuilding mode after debilitating injuries to Bird & McHale and the tragic death of Reggie Lewis. As the Knicks slipped to the doldrums in the 2000s, the Celtics began their quest to contend in the playoffs, culminating in a championship in 2008. The Knicks & Celtics would not reappear in the playoffs until 2011 when Carmelo Anthony & Amare Stoudemire teamed up.

On This Date: Melo’s 42 point playoff outburst against the Boston Celtics

April 19th 2011: Carmelo Anthony caries Knicks with 42 points in Game 2 loss

Without Chauncey Billups due to a knee injury and Amare Stoudemire in the 2nd half due to back spasms (after attempting dunks in practice), Carmelo Anthony single handedly willed the Knicks during this game. Melo scored 42 points and had 17 rebounds and 6 assists. He led the Knicks in just about every offensive category. However, it wasn’t enough to defeat the Boston Celtics as the Knicks lost 96-93.

In prime Melo fashion, he scored from all over the court. Whether it was in the paint, in the midrange (via his signature jab steps), or from the three point arc, Melo was proficient and neither Jeff Green or Paul Pierce could stop him alone. He kept the team in the game despite being severely outmanned by the defending Eastern Conference champions.

Ultimately, Kevin Garnett hit the go-ahead basket in the final seconds. Melo tried to feed the ball to Jared Jeffries after seeing a double team, but Jeffries fumbled the go-ahead pass and the Celtics stole the ball from him.

Melo’s performance in Game 2 made me wonder what happened if the NBA Lockout didn’t happen. Perhaps a proper offseason would have helped coach D’Antoni fully utilize Melo’s talents (especially on the passing end). We may have seen a souped up Olympic Melo, but that memory will only exist in our dreams.


April 19th 1996: Patrick Ewing records his only triple double

Patrick Ewing recorded his only triple double in his NBA career with 28 points, 15 rebounds, and 11 assists. Unfortunately, the Knicks lost to the Charlotte Hornets 115-108. The game was merely important for the Knicks to establish playoff seeding and home court advantage in the first round of the Eastern Conference Playoffs. Future Knick Larry Johnson hurt the Knicks with 28 points and 18 rebounds.

 

On This Date: Knicks hire Phil Jackson

March 18th 2014: Knicks hire Phil Jackson as President of Basketball Operations

The Knicks brought back Phil Jackson into the organization as the new President of Basketball Operations on a 5 year $50 million contract. The Knicks previously courted him on several occasions (back in 1999 and 2005) to coach the team, but was rejected due to a myriad of reasons (mostly related to the fact that the team wasn’t as talented). Phil spent most of his playing career with the Knicks where he won 2 championships as a player.

Ever since the team relieved Glen Grunwald of his duties, James Dolan went into full pursuit to find a full-time President of Basketball Operations. Steve Mills returned to the organization to become the interim President of Basketball Operations. At the same time, Madison Square Garden recently acquired the Great Western Forum for the main purpose to renovate the arena to serve as an entertainment venue rivaling the nearby Staples Center.

Through the entertainment business and his own musical ambitions, Dolan maintained a long-standing friendship with Irving Azoff. In 2013, both Azoff and Dolan formed a joint venture – Azoff MSG Entertainment LLC – that served to fuel MSG Entertainment’s presence in the live event industries.

It was at one of Azoff’s parties in late 2013 where Dolan met Phil Jackson. Azoff setup the courtship beforehand to help broker the relationship. Phil advised Dolan on certain basketball transactions (including not trading anymore 1st round picks and nixing the Kyle Lowry/Iman Shumpert trade) over the course of the next few months. Things further progressed in March and the team finalized the hire on March 18th.

Phil Jackson’s hire brought massive expectations to the organization. Many expected the team to re-establish their winning culture and use the influence of Phil’s 11 rings to get back to the NBA Finals. Others expected the Knicks to bring back the triangle offense.

In the months after the hire, Phil had several looming questions to answer. After Phil fired Mike Woodson and traded both Raymond Felton and Tyson Chandler, he was left with a major decision involving Carmelo Anthony. Melo unsurprisingly opted out of his contract at the end of the season. It was assumed that Dolan told Phil that Melo had to be a part of the long-term future of the organization. Therefore, Melo signed a 5 year $124 million extension with a no-trade clause.

Unfortunately, the Melo signing was one of many ill-fated decisions that destroyed Phil’s tenure with the team. Phil hired Derek Fisher with the intention to run the triangle offense. However, the team was not able to grasp the offense and immediately spiraled out of contention before the new year hit. Phil quickly went on a firesale and JR Smith, Iman Shumpert, and Amare Stoudemire were all gone from the team before the All Star Break. Additionally, Melo suffered knee soreness that required surgery. Due to his desire to play in the All Star Game, he postponed the surgery to after the ASB. The injury and surgery severely impacted Melo’s game to this date on both the offensive and defensive end.

Phil seemed to strike gold in the 2015 NBA Draft with the Kristaps Porzingis selection. However, Phil made a rash decision to fire Derek Fisher midway towards the 2015-16 season after only 1.5 years with the team. Phil later hired Jeff Hornacek as the new head coach.

Phil decided to embark on a win-now mission during the 2016 offseason and traded for Derrick Rose while signing Joakim Noah to a massive 4 year $72 million contract and Courtney Lee to a 4 year $50 million contract. The 2016-17 season also proved to be a mess, but it was mainly due to the fact that Phil publicly criticized Melo throughout the entire season. The side-effect to the Melo drama was that Kristaps Porzingis became disenchanted with the organization and decided to skip the exit meeting.

The final straw occurred during the 2017 NBA Draft where Phil tried to trade Porzingis to various teams and seriously considered to buyout Carmelo Anthony. Dolan rejected both ideas and ultimately both parties agreed to part ways. Phil’s last move was drafting both Frank Ntilikina and Damyean Dotson in the 2017 NBA Draft.

The remaining remnants of Phil’s tenure are Lance Thomas, Ntilikina, Dotson, and Joakim Noah’s contract that has been stretched until 2022. Phil did not trade any 1st round picks during his tenure, though he did give up several 2nd round picks in miscellaneous trades. Ultimately it seemed that Phil was never prepared to handle the responsibilities required to be President of Basketball Operations. His mindset was stuck on being a coach and that overshadowed what everyone else was doing within the organization. His public feud with Melo and the Noah free agent signing added dark stains to his professional legacy within the NBA.

On This Date: Mike D’Antoni resigns

March 14th 2012: Mike D’Antoni resigns

Mike D’Antoni resigned from the team on this date, days after the Knicks lost another close game on national TV on the road against the Chicago Bulls. D’Antoni, in the final year of his contract, was on the hotseat for most of the season. The NBA Lockout significantly reduced the amount of time D’Antoni could spend to create an offensive system and strengthen team chemistry. Because of the lockout, the team had little practice time and often had bouts of back-to-back-to-back games.

D’Antoni could never find a way to successfully mesh the trio of Carmelo Anthony, Amare Stoudemire, and Tyson Chandler. Melo & Amare in particular did not come into the season in great shape (due to the lockout) and D’Antoni was not able to find a way to build an offensive system that could take advantage of their strengths.

Additionally, the team lacked a point guard for most of the season. After the team amnestied Chauncey Billups, the team relied on Mike Bibby & Toney Douglas to reign in the point guard duties for the early stretch of the season. Both players struggled (for obvious reasons) and consequently led to Melo & Amare’s struggles.

Furthermore, the rise of Jeremy Lin added additional pressure on the team to mesh in the 2nd half of the season. Once Melo returned from injury, both he and Lin could not seem to complement each other and the team continued to lose games.

Most of the attention focused on the clash in styles between Carmelo Anthony & Mike D’Antoni. While neither of them had a public outburst, it seemed that there just was not enough time to successfully build proper synergy between the two of them. After the big trade in February 2011, the entire team basically flipped over and there just was not enough time to develop a system. D’Antoni had an uptempo offensive system while Melo preferred a system that favored more isolation-heavy options.

At the time of his resignation, the Knicks were 18-24 and just suffered a 6 game losing streak (their 2nd 6-game losing streak of the season). Mike Woodson took over interim duties and the team reverted more to an isolation-heavy offense with an emphasis on defense. The Knicks went 18-6 to end the season to reach the playoffs. The Heat defeated the Knicks in 5 games.


March 14th 1992: Dick McGuire’s jersey retired

Dick McGuire’s number 15 was retired for the 2nd time on this date. The Knicks previously retired the number in 1986 for Earl Monroe. McGuire spent more than 8 decades with the Knicks as a player, coach, scout, and team executive. He was responsible for discovering various draft picks, including the point guard duo of Mark Jackson and Rod Strickland.

 

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: Mr Big Shot strikes in Miami and Ewing returns to MSG

February 27th 2011: Chauncey Billups strikes against the Miami Heat

Mr. Big Shot2 struck again, this time with the Knicks, on a 91-86 nationally televised victory against the Miami Heat in Florida.

Billups scored 16 points, but it was his clutch go-ahead three over Dwyane Wade with just over a minute remaining that made the difference in the Knicks thrilling victory. On the next possession, Billups stole a pass from Chris Bosh that led to two free throws for Shawne Williams.

This was a highly anticipated game after the Melo trade. Melo & LeBron went head-to-head the entire game; Melo led the way with 29 points and Bron scored 27. Amare Stoudemire had a double double with 16 points and 10 rebounds. He had the most pivotal play in the game with a game-saving block against LeBron to seal the victory.

The Knicks struggled in the outset trailing by 15 through the middle of the 2nd quarter. However, the team went on a 16-0 run to close the half with a 1 point lead. Billups contributed to 9 of the points with 2 threes and 1 assist during the run.


February 27th 2001: Patrick Ewing’s return to MSG

In one of the more awkward sights in Knicks history, Patrick Ewing returned to MSG wearing a Seattle Supersonics uniform. This was his first return to the Garden since the trade. Ewing scored 12 points in 32 minutes as the Knicks defeated the Sonics 101-92.

The Knicks gave Ewing a very nice tribute video thanking him for all his contributions and highlighted most of his accomplishments while with the team. The MSG faithful gave him a loud standing ovation as most of the fans and players on both teams stood and cheered for several minutes. One of those players was Ewing’s former battery mate Mark Jackson, recently acquired in a trade a week earlier. The MSG crowd chanted “Patrick Ewing” as well to much fanfare. Afterwards the MSG PA announcer introduced the Seattle Supersonics starting lineup. The PA announcer introduced Ewing first and the crowd roared. Watch more of the tribute below.

On This Date: Melo’s first game as a Knick

February 23rd 2011: Melo’s first game as a Knick

Carmelo Anthony’s first game in the Knick uniform was majestic. MSG network heavily promoted the game with a riveting commercial incorporating quotes from Melo stating how he was born in Brooklyn, NY and idolized Bernard King. The commercial used the intro from the song “I’m Coming Home” by Diddy (with the group Dirty Money) & Skylar Grey.

MSG decided to air the starting lineup featuring the commercial along with video clips of the current lineup. The end of the clips showed headshots of all the players, ending with Melo. For this game, the starting lineup entered from the hallway leading into the locker room. The Knicks PA announcer introduced Carmelo Anthony first. Melo received a huge applause from the fans.

As for the game, the Knicks beat the Bucks 114-108. While both Carmelo Anthony & Chauncey Billups struggled from the field, both scored 27 and 21 points respectively in their debuts. Melo had a double double with 10 rebounds and Billups had 8 assists and 6 rebounds. Amare Stoudemire mostly deferred to Melo in the game, but was able to score 19 points.

The Knicks were barely hovering above .500 before the trade. After being 7 games above .500 in early January, the Knicks went on a 6 game losing streak and largely struggled as the team faced various injuries (Gallinari) and fatigue. After the trade, the Knicks went through quite some difficulty integrating both Melo & Amare into D’Antoni’s system. It was tough at times because both Melo & Amare operated in the same areas on offense. Additionally, the Knicks went through a 6 game losing streak during the middle of March that seriously jeopardized their chances to make the playoffs. However, the Knicks went on a 7 game winning streak near the end of the season to push them to the playoffs.

On This Date: Linsanity hits Toronto

February 14th 2012: Linsanity strikes in Toronto

On Valentine’s Day in 2012, Jeremy Lin gave Knicks fans more reasons to love him with a dagger three-point shot to defeat Jose Calderon and the Toronto Raptors 90-87 in the Air Canada Centre.

Lin had a double double with 27 points and 11 assists, but the most important shot was the final one that broke the hearts of Raptors fans. After Tyson Chandler grabbed an Iman Shumpert missed jumpshot, Lin received the ball for the final shot. Lin organized right around halfcourt as Calderon retreated past the three-point line expecting Lin to drive to the basket. Instead, Lin stepped ahead to hit the dagger three.

The game also marked the return of Amare Stoudemire after being away from the team due to the death of his brother. Amare was rusty in his return, but scored 21 points and grabbed 9 rebounds. Contrary to popular expectations, we never saw the Amare/Jeremy Lin battery pick-and-roll tandem come to full fruition during Linsanity. A combination of missed games, added muscle (which slowed him down considerably), and a lack of cohesion with Tyson Chandler stunted the potential pick-and-roll potential.

Ironically, Jeremy Lin recently signed with the Raptors after being bought out by Atlanta.

On This Date: Linsanity Part 3: Lin scores 38 to defeat the Lakers

February 10th 2012: Jeremy Lin scores 38 points to defeat Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers

On a Friday night nationally televised broadcast that would have originally featured Kobe Bryant against the duo of Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire, Linsanity stole the show once again and shocked the Lakers with a 92-85 victory. With both Melo and Amare inactive, it was Lin who scored a then-career high 38 points to lead the team.

The Knicks started the game strong, led by Lin’s 9 points and a very tenacious defensive pressure. The MSG crowd went in a frenzy after Jared Jeffries and Bill (now Henry) Walker double teamed Metta World Peace, leading to a turnover and easy layup for Lin.

The Lakers didn’t seem to have a solution to defend the pick-and-roll. Likewise, Derek Fisher had no chance attempting to guard Jeremy Lin, allowing him to score at will, go to the line 13 times, and even fall victim to a nasty spin-cycle as shown below:

Kobe Bryant scored 34 points to lead the Lakers. Before the game, Kobe mentioned that he had no clue about Lin or Linsanity. After the game, he gave Lin credit for his excellent performance. The two would re-unite on the Lakers for the 2014-15 season which proved to be quite a tumultuous time for both players and the franchise.


February 10th 2010: Carl Braun passed away

Carl Braun passed away on this date in 2010. Braun spent the bulk of his NBA career with the Knicks and was one of the top guards in the league. He made the NBA All-Star team 5 years in a row from 1953-1957. Braun was one of the Knicks’ first stars who impressed the crowds with his scoring and shooting ability. As a rookie, he scored 47 points in a game against the Providence Steamrollers. He spent his final two years with the Knicks as a player-coach before playing his final year with the Boston Celtics who won the NBA finals.

His 10,449 points ranks #5 on the All-Time Knicks record. Only Patrick Ewing, Clyde Frazier, Willis Reed, and Allan Houston scored more points for the franchise.

On This Date: Day 2 of Linsanity and KP’s devastating ACL injury

February 6th 2012: Jeremy Lin makes his first start and helps beat the Utah Jazz

Day 2 of Linsanity gives Jeremy Lin his first career NBA start on way to a 99-88 Knicks victory. Lin put up 28 points, 7-9 from the free throw line, and 8 assists. He continued to dazzle fans with his uncanny ability to drive into the paint and make acrobatic layups. Near the end of the 4th quarter, Lin hit a three at the end of the shot clock and stuck his tongue out and gave us a signature wink.

One recipient of Lin’s 8 assists was Tyson Chandler. While Chandler continued to be a defensive presence, Lin rewarded him with scoring opportunities on the pick and roll. Another recipient was Steve “Discount Double Check” Novak. Novak received several passes from Lin that led to wide open threes. Novak scored 19 points off the bench on 5-8 shooting from three. Beginning with this game, Novak continued to receive consistent minutes off the bench and served as a major three-point threat.

The most important story outside the victory was the absence of both Carmelo Anthony & Amare Stoudemire. Melo only played 5 minutes before pulling his groin. The injury sidelined him for the next 7 games, which represented the entire tenure of Linsanity. Amare was away from the team following the death of his brother in a car crash.


February 6th 2018:  Kristaps Porzingis tears his ACL.

In what nobody knew would represent Kristaps Porzingis final game in New York, the 7′ 3″ unicorn tore his ACL after landing awkwardly following a dunk on Giannis Antetokounmpo. Due to the graphic nature of the injury, we decided not to post the video. The dunk had put the Knicks ahead by a point. The injury itself put a damper on the game and the remainder of the season.

KP’s friend Willy Hernangomez witnessed the injury firsthand on the Knicks bench. The Knicks traded Willy the next day as part of a busy trade deadline that involved acquiring Emmanuel Mudiay.

The injury put the Knicks in position to refuse an extension offer to Porzingis in the offseason. Had he stayed healthy, it’s possible he would have tried to negotiate a designated rookie extension which would have allowed him to earn a higher percentage of the cap based on performance criteria.

Once it was clear he would miss most of the 2018-19 season, there was no way for him to meet any of the performance parameters that would lead to a higher salary, and therefore, the Knicks could theoretically offer him the same extension offer in 2019 as they could have in 2018. It therefore made sense for them to wait to see if he returned healthy and maintain cap space from his reduced cap hold. Whether this strategy frustrated Porzingis is yet to be fully reported. And whether the injury cast doubt on the Knicks willingness to offer him a max contract has also not yet been fully reported.

The Knicks traded Porzingis just before the one-year anniversary of the trade after he provided the front office with a 4-team list of teams where he preferred to be traded and threatened to rehab in Spain if not traded by the deadline. It appears that both sides were ready to move on, as the Knicks were considering offers for Porzingis before he officially made it clear that he wanted out of New York. Of course, it was no secret that Porzingis was unhappy, so the Knicks were not surprised by what they learned in the meeting requested by him and his brother before the trade.

On This Date: The Birth of Linsanity

February 4, 2012: Linsanity Begins

The New York Knicks, losers of 11 of their previous 13 games, needed a jolt to spark the team. The trio of Carmelo Anthony, Amare Stoudemire, and Tyson Chandler were not meshing, partially due to the lockout.

The team also lacked point guard production since amnestying Chauncey Billups before the season. Toney Douglas significantly struggled with starter minutes. Mike Bibby was beyond his prime. Baron Davis was still sidelined with a back injury. While rookie Iman Shumpert showed promise with his athleticism and defensive awareness, he did not have a natural feel as a point guard. With the Knicks down 20-16 to the then-putrid New Jersey Nets, coach Mike D’Antoni finally unleashed Jeremy Lin.

Due to the lack of point guard depth and Iman Shumpert’s injury in the first game of the season, the Knicks claimed Lin off waivers in December. Lin spent most of the first month of the season shuffling between the Knicks and the Erie Bayhawks of the D-League. The Knicks almost cut him near the end of January, but Baron Davis suffered a minor setback in his recovery and the Knicks just came off a bad loss against the Boston Celtics.

Lin came off the bench to play most of the 1st half against the Nets. He helped the Knicks cut a 10-point deficit down to two by halftime. He brought a new level of energy with his defense, aggressiveness attacking the paint, and passing. Players such as Landry Fields and Toney Douglas, who struggled for most of the season, felt revitalized during the game. He showed excellent chemistry with Tyson Chandler by feeding him several alley-oop passes.

Lin also played most of the 2nd half. With the Knicks down 72-70 to start the 4th, Lin continued to impress and shock the MSG faithful. He scored 12 of his 25 points in the 4th quarter and did most of his damage against Deron Williams. He attacked with pizzazz and scored a ton of difficult layups to excite the crowd.  The crowd, overall, was in awe of his performance.

Lin ended with 25 points on 10-19 from the field and 8 assists. This game forced D’Antoni to start his in the next game against the Jazz and thus began the short, but fun Linsanity era. Additionally, the game helped reenergize Madison Square Garden and helped fuel a 7 game winning streak.

On This Date: Knicks beat the Pistons in London

January 17, 2013: The New York Knicks defeat the Detroit Pistons in London

Beginning in the 2010-11 season, the NBA expanded their horizons by playing regular season games overseas. While this was not their first experiment in doing so – the NBA held a couple games in Japan during the 1990s – it became more of a tradition beginning this season. The games would be brand as either the “NBA China Games,”  “NBA Japan Games,” or “NBA London Games.”

Beginning in the 2012-13 season, the NBA rebranded those series as the NBA Global Games. The Knicks played their first ever regular season game overseas in London against the Detroit Pistons in the O2 arena. The Knicks were the road team in the matchup.

The Knicks previously played overseas in various exhibition and preseason games. Their first game was in 1990 as part of the McDonald’s Championship. The championship was an exhibition game that featured an NBA team (Knicks) competing against a club team from Europe, Australia, and South America. The Knicks later played a preseason game in Mexico in 1993 and Paris in 2010.

Before the game, the Knicks spent time touring London, interacting with younger fans at community outreach events and visiting the Tower Bridge. These events were done in unison to help promote the game of basketball in the United Kingdom. While basketball is popular in many different countries, it does not have the same influence in London due to the lack of professional teams in the country.

As for the game itself, the Knicks easily won the game 102-87. Carmelo Anthony led the way with 26 points and Amare Stoudemire scored 17 off the bench. The game also marked Iman Shumpert’s first regular season game since the horrific ACL injury in Game 1 of the 2012 playoffs. Shumpert returned to the starting lineup and scored 8 points in less than 15 minutes of action.

On This Date: Reflecting on the history between the Knicks and Christmas Day

For me, Christmas Day has meant a few habitual traditions: watch the Christmas Day Parade, spend time with family, eat plenty of food, and watch basketball. Yes, basketball.

In recent years, the NBA schedule makers were kind enough to place the Knicks back onto the Christmas schedule. The Knicks have played on Christmas in eight of the past nine seasons.  

The Knicks have played the most Christmas Day games so far, with 52 games in the 72-year history of the NBA leading into this season. Most of the matchups were held in Madison Square Garden. The Lakers unsurprisingly are right behind the Knicks with 43 Christmas Day matchups.

The Knicks are 22-30 on Christmas Day. They have one more win than the Lakers (21-22) and have the most losses out of any team.  It doesn’t help that the Knicks lost six of the eight previous matchups.

The Knicks held the first Christmas Day game in NBA history in 1947 against the Providence Steamrollers. The game was held at 9pm and broadcasted on WCBS. Stan Lomax and Bob Edge called the game. The Knicks won the game 89-75 in the original Madison Square Garden.  Tommy Byrnes scored 20 points and Carl Braun scored 19.

The 1980s featured 2 of the most memorable Christmas games ever. Bernard King scored a then franchise-record 60 points in a 120-114 loss against the New Jersey Nets in 1984. 

In 1985, rookie Patrick Ewing helped the Knicks overcome a 25-point deficit to beat the Boston Celtics in double overtime.

The NBA decided to start the 2011-12 season on Christmas Day due to the lockout. The Knicks hosted the Boston Celtics and TNT broadcasted the game. The game marked the debut of Tyson Chandler. Carmelo Anthony & Amare Stoudemire combined for 58 points and Tyson Chandler blocked 6 shots in the 106-104 victory.  

The most memorable moment came at the end when Bill (now Henry) Walker contested Kevin Garnett’s jumpshot to seal the victory. Garnett inexplicably choked Bill Walker after the buzzer. To no one’s surprise, the NBA decided not to punish Garnett for his actions.

 

On This Date: Knicks retire Clyde’s Number and the Amare buzzer beater that wasn’t

December 15, 1979: Knicks Retire Walt “Clyde” Frazier’s number in the rafters

The Knicks hung up Walt “Clyde” Frazier’s #10 in the Madison Square Garden rafters. His number was the 2nd number retired by the team after Willis Reed in 1976.

Clyde played his first 10 seasons with the Knicks. He spent the 1978 and ’79 seasons with the Cleveland Cavaliers, but injuries hobbled him during his tenure with the team. Due to his age and health, the Cavaliers waived him 3 games into the 1979-80 season and Clyde retired shortly afterwards.

Clyde ended his career as a 7-time All Star and a 2 time NBA Finals Champion. He retired as the Knicks all-time leader in points (14,617) until Patrick Ewing eclipsed that mark. His 4,791 assists still remains the Knicks all-time career high. The NBA enshrined him into the hall of fame in 1987.


December 15, 2010:  The Amare Stoudemire game-winner that wasn’t

In the bright lights of Madison Square Garden and in the eyes of millions watching on ESPN, Amare Stoudemire almost sent shockwaves around the world with a buzzer beating three against the Celtics.

Amare swished a three, but released the shot at least 0.2 seconds past the buzzer. By the time Amare caught the basketball, he was still turning to take the shot. Additionally, Landry Fields passed the ball a little bit too low for him.

With that said, the game was another thriller for Knicks fans. Amare led the team with 39 points, his 9th straight game of 30+ points. That streak remains a Knicks record to date.

The Knicks held a solid lead for most of the game until the Celtics made a significant run in the 4th quarter. In the end, it was Knick killer Paul Pierce who hit the game-winning basket over Amare.  To me, the best Celtics moment was ex-Knick Nate Robinson flipping over Pierce celebrating the basket.2