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 Shot1 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: Knicks acquire Melo

February 22nd 2011: Carmelo Anthony finally traded to the Knicks

In one of the most anticlimactic deals of the 2011 trade deadline, the Knicks finally acquired Melo from the Denver Nuggets in what amounted to be a 3-team trade. The trade is broken down below:

Knicks traded:

Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler, Raymond Felton, Timofey Mozgov, Eddy Curry, Anthony Randolph, 2012 2nd round pick, 2013 2nd round pick, 2014 1st Round Pick, 2016 1st Round Pick Swap

Knicks acquired:

Carmelo Anthony, Chauncey Billups, Renaldo Balkman, Corey Brewer (later waived), Anthony Carter, Sheldon Williams, 2016 1st round pick swap (Nuggets)

Nuggets traded:

Carmelo Anthony, Chauncey Billups, Anthony Carter, Sheldon Williams, 2015 2nd round pick, 2016 1st round pick swap

Nuggets acquired:

Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler, Raymond Felton, Timofey Mozgov, 2012 2nd round pick (Knicks), 2013 2nd round pick (Knicks), 2014 1st round pick (Knicks), 2016 1st round pick swap (Knicks), Kosta Koufos

Timberwolves traded:

Corey Brewer, Kosta Koufos

Timberwolves acquired:

Eddy Curry, Anthony Randolph, 2015 2nd round pick (Nuggets)

This was a very large trade. After the Knicks lost out on LeBron James in the Summer of 2010, the team faced pressure to find a second star to team up with Amare Stoudemire to compete against the Miami Big 3. The Nuggets and Carmelo Anthony were also looking to separate as well. Melo proclaimed to his close friends, at his wedding, of his intentions to join the Knicks.

Donnie Walsh began engaging the Nuggets on various trade offers early on in the season. He was reluctant to give up significant assets for Melo because he assumed he could sign him outright in free agency. As the season progressed, the Nuggets felt a greater sense of urgency to deal Melo to acquire some long-term assets. Likewise, the Nuggets and Knicks were also aware of the impending lockout.

Melo was particularly interested in going to the Knicks before the lockout in order to lock in guaranteed money through an extension. If Melo waited until after the lockout, his market value could have decreased as well.

Heading into the All-Star Break, both Melo & the Nuggets were motivated to get the deal done. Donnie Walsh was also motivated to get the deal done, but was hesitant in giving up an exorbitant package. Melo eventually met with James Dolan during the All Star weekend to discuss the parameters of a trade. Dolan wanted to get a deal done; he was afraid of not capitalizing on the cap space generated from Donnie Walsh’s moves in the prior two seasons.

The deal finalized on February 22nd and ended up becoming a larger package due to the number of assets transferred between both teams. Melo fulfilled his dream to become a New York Knick.

While the package to acquire Melo was substantial, the trade benefitted the Knicks in the long run. Any trade package for Melo would require trading Gallo, who became a fan favorite in MSG. Both Melo & Gallo had a similar style of play. Additionally, Gallinari had several injury-laden seasons since the trade. Wilson Chandler was a free agent at the end of the season and would have to be included in any deal. Chauncey Billups eventually replaced Felton, who the team re-acquired two years later. The loss of Mozgov stung many Knick fans initially, but Tyson Chandler eventually soothed his departure over time.

The inclusion of multiple picks did sting for the franchise as the team reverted back to their losing ways in 2014. The team could have used those picks to accelerate the rebuild during those seasons. However, sacrificing those picks helped the team acquire Melo and fueled a stretch of three straight seasons in the playoffs during his 6+ year tenure. For a franchise that missed the playoffs in all, but one year since 2002, the fans were hungry to get back and compete with the behemoths in the Eastern Conference. Furthermore, the MSG faithful witnessed history with Melo’s 62 point performance in 2014.

The most controversial aspect of the Melo trade is the assertion that the team should have waited until free agency to acquire him. While that assertion sounds good in theory, it was simply not practical due to the impending lockout and the uncertainty surrounding whether they could make a deal work under the new rules.


February 22nd 2001:  Knicks re-acquire Mark Jackson

The Knicks re-acquired Mark Jackson on this date from the Toronto Raptors, along with Muggsy Bogues, for Chris Childs and a 2002 1st round pick (Kareem Rush). The team desperately needed an upgrade at the PG position and acquired Jackson to help the team get back into the playoffs. Jackson took over the starting PG role through the 2001-02 season before he was shipped to Denver in the Antonio McDyess trade.

On This Date: Knicks defeat the Spurs in Spree’s return to MSG

February 12th 2017: Latrell Sprewell and James Dolan bury the hatchet as the Knicks defeat the Spurs

The Knicks snapped a 4-game losing streak with a 94-90 victory against the San Antonio Spurs on a nationally televised broadcast. Carmelo Anthony led the way with 25 points (including 3 three-pointers), 7 rebounds, and 2 assists. Kristaps Porzingis scored 16 points and blocked 4 shots. Willy Hernangomez made his second start of the season and had 12 points, 9 rebounds, and 3 steals. Willy’s minutes increased steadily after a shoulder injury sidelined Noah for the remainder of the season.

Despite the victory, it off-the-court headlines dominated the story. Throughout the 2016-17 season, Phil Jackson sent veiled shots at Carmelo Anthony expressing disappointment that he’s not a “star” in the realm of a Michael Jordan or Kobe Bryant. Days before the game, Phil sent a cryptic tweet aimed at Melo:

Additionally, Charles Oakley was arrested only a few days earlier after an altercation with security personnel during the Knicks/Clippers game. Oakley allegedly hurled some parting shots at James Dolan. Dolan subsequently alerted security to escort him out. Oak was subsequently banned from MSG for one year.

To quell the PR backlash, Dolan decided to reconcile with Latrell Sprewell and ended their 13+ year feud. Spree sat courtside with Dolan, Bernard King, and Larry Johnson. Since the moment, Spree has spent plenty of games courtside at Madison Square Garden and participated in various Knicks charitable causes.

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: Knicks fire Derek Fisher

February 8th 2016: The New York Knicks fire Derek Fisher

After compiling a 40-96 record as head coach, the Knicks fired Derek Fisher on this date in 2016. Fisher was only in the middle of his second season in a 5-year contract. Despite having a limited roster for much of the 2014-15 season, Fisher rebounded to help the Knicks reach a 22-22 record to start the 2015-16 season. However, things seemed to unravel quickly afterwards losing 9 of the next 10 games.

The trio of Carmelo Anthony, Kristaps Porzingis, and Lance Thomas (yes, Lance Thomas) helped the Knicks stay at .500 until January. However, Melo’s ankle injury against the Celtics in the middle of January sidelined him for the next several games. Lance Thomas, who provided solid defense and three-point shooting, was sidelined for three games during that losing stretch.

However, it was a combination of various on-court and off-court issues that plagued Fisher’s 2015-16 season, and Knicks tenure as a whole. Fisher started the season on a rough note with the Matt Barnes controversy. Additionally, his offensive and defensive schemes left a lot to be desired. Fisher seemed committed to running the triangle offense upon being hired, but would never fully implement, coach, and execute its various intricacies. Additionally, he even began to waver from running the offense and integrated a pseudo system that had no identity or rhythm. Defensively, the Knicks continued to get torched on the pick-and-roll. The team often employed their big men to drop back to the rim allowing open layup lines.

The icing on the cake were two peculiar comments made off the court. Fisher mentioned on the Michael Kay show that he wouldn’t be disappointed if the team didn’t make the playoffs. This statement was surprising because the Knicks had a veteran-laden team and no draft picks in 2016. Additionally, he took a minor shot at impending free agent Rajon Rondo when the latter mentioned his displeasure about playing in the triangle offense.

Ultimately, Fisher’s inexperience might not have been the best match for coaching in New York; he entered the coaching ranks fresh out of retirement.

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: 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: Knicks win Double OT MLK thriller

January 18th 2016: The New York Knicks defeat the Philadelphia 76ers in a double overtime Martin Luther King Day thriller

The New York Knicks perhaps didn’t expect a MLK Day matinee against the five win Philadelphia 76ers to extend into double overtime. The Knicks held a 18 point lead in the 3rd quarter. However, the Philadelphia 76ers clawed back into the game, led by Ish Smith, Robert Covington & Nerlens Noel to tie the game and took a 96-93 lead with 3.4 seconds left in the 4th quarter.

Carmelo Anthony came to the rescue by connecting on a three pointer to tie the game. The game went into double overtime, but the Knicks, led by Langston Galloway and Robin Lopez, took charge in the period to get the 119-113 victory.

Melo played more than 49 minutes on a sore ankle, but had a respectable statline of 19 points, 7 rebounds, and 7 assists. He struggled from the field (7-28), but had the pivotal three before the end of regulation. Arron Afflalo led the Knicks with 25 points. Kristaps Porzingis had a double double with 16 points and 12 rebounds, but left the game in the 4th quarter with a right foot injury.

The win brought the Knicks to a 19-11 record on MLK Day.

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: Derrick Rose goes missing

January 9, 2017: Derrick Rose goes missing

In one of the many bizarre events of the 2016-17 season, Derrick Rose disappears shortly before a Monday night home game against the New Orleans Pelicans. D-Rose attended shoot-around in the afternoon, but left unannounced soon after. The team later announced that Rose was not with the team due to a “family situation.”

The mysterious disappearance confused everyone from the coaching staff to the players. No one seemed to know where Rose was and whether his well-being was ok. Brandon Jennings started for Rose in his absence as the Knicks lost 110-96 against the Pelicans.

In a sign of a frustrating night, both Carmelo Anthony and Kyle O’Quinn were ejected from the game. Melo received two technical fouls and O’Quinn committed a flagrant 2 foul on Anthony Davis. Davis injured his hip on the play and exited the game as a result.

Rose returned to the team the next day, but the team fined him $200,000 for a failure to properly communicate in a timely response. He admitted he flew to Chicago to attend to a family matter. Rose did apologize to his teammates, coaching staff, and front office. There was an initial rumor of discontent with head coach Jeff Hornacek due to his 4th quarter benching against the Bucks, but Rose dispelled that thought in a post-practice interview.

While Rose had his best overall year since his run with injuries, the 2016-17 season was frustrating for both him and the team. Rose regained a lot of his quickness and athleticism, but was lackluster on the defensive end. His season was cut short due to torn cartilage in his knee that required arthroscopic surgery.

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:”

View this post on Instagram

#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.

 

On This Date: JR Smith hits game-winner in Phoenix

December 26, 2012: JR Smith hits game-winning basket to stun the Phoenix Suns 

In what almost amounted to be a post-Christmas Day hangover, JR Smith helped the Knicks avoid a back-to-back disappointment with the game-winner. This was his 2nd game-winner after stunning the Charlotte Bobcats earlier in the month.

JR came off the bench to score 27 points in 37 minutes. Despite not hitting a three point shot, he had 6 rebounds, 5 assists, and 5 steals. Jason Kidd scored 23 points, on 8-16 from the field and 5-8 from three, with 6 rebounds and 8 assists. Tyson Chandler had a double double with 14 points and 12 rebounds.  

The team was without both Carmelo Anthony & Raymond Felton. Melo missed the game with a hyperextended right knee he suffered when Marcus Camby fell on his leg during the Christmas Day game against the Lakers. Felton injured his finger going after a loose ball in the Lakers game and was subsequently out for the next 4-6 weeks.

After the Suns took a 2 point lead in the 1st quarter, the Knicks took a 10 point lead by halftime. Jared Dudley helped lead the Suns to tie the game after 3 quarters. JR and Kidd helped keep the Knicks in the 4th until the former hit the game winning basket at the buzzer.

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-Nuggets Brawl and Patrick Ewing becomes Knicks all-time leading scorer

December 16, 2006: The New York Knicks and Denver Nuggets engage in the worst brawl since the Malice in the Palace

A game that was seemingly heading into a blowout loss for the Knicks turned into one of the most infamous days in team history.  With 1:15 left in the game and the Nuggets up 19, Knick rookie Mardy Collins flagrantly fouled future Knicks JR Smith by the neck as he was driving to the hoop for a dunk.

Both players shoved each other and Nate Robinson further instigated the brawl by shoving and tackling JR Smith.  Various players went to separate both JR and Nate including Jared Jeffries and future Knick Carmelo Anthony.

Melo inexplicably decided to punch Mardy Collins and ran away from him as both Jared Jeffries & Collins both ran up to half court to confront him.  Unlike the Malice in the Palace, the altercation didn’t involve fan interaction.  However, the refs ejected all 10 players on the court in an unprecedented move.

In the aftermath of the brawl, Nate Robinson received a 10 game suspension for instigating the fight.  Mardy Collins received a 6 game suspension for the foul by the neck and Jared Jeffries received a 4 game suspension for chasing Carmelo Anthony.  Jerome James received a 1 game suspension for leaving the bench.

The NBA suspended Carmelo Anthony 15 games for reigniting the brawl with the punch.  The NBA suspended JR Smith 10 games for tussling with Nate Robinson.

Despite the player suspensions, the NBA decided not to suspend either Isiah Thomas or George Karl for their roles in the fight.  The NBA briefly investigated Isiah for a potential role in triggering the fight.  Isiah supposedly warned Melo not to go into the paint.  However, there wasn’t sufficient evidence to suspend him.  Several outlets also criticized Karl for leaving his star players in the game during a blowout.

This was one of the last significant brawls that involved multiple punches and lengthy suspensions.2  The melee further exposed the chaos around the Knicks and Nate Robinson’s relative lack of maturity that haunted him throughout his NBA career.  However, Carmelo Anthony & JR Smith faced significant repercussions after the brawl.  The brawl pained a negative image onto Melo and it took many years for him to shed that negative depiction of him.  For JR Smith, the brawl further cemented his reputation as a headcase in the league.


December 16th 1993:  Patrick Ewing becomes the Knicks All-Time Leading Scorer

Patrick Ewing had a double double with 27 points and 11 rebounds to lead the Knicks past the Los Angeles Lakers 108-85.  Ewing became the Knicks all-time leading scorer and past Walt “Clyde” Frazier’s record of 14,617 points.

Ewing ended up with 23,665 points as a New York Knick.  To put that number in perspective, Allan Houston scored 11,165 points in just over 8 seasons as a Knick.  Carmelo Anthony scored 10,186 points in nearly 6+ seasons as a Knick.

It’s fair to say that any current Knick would need to remain with the team for more than 15 years to come remotely close to reaching Ewing’s scoring record.

On This Date: Carmelo Anthony scores 37 points and Kevin Durant makes his debut in MSG

December 12, 2015: Carmelo Anthony scores 37 points to beat the Portland Trailblazers and snap a 4 game losing streak

Carmelo Anthony went on a hot streak and scored a season high 37 points in a 112-110 victory in Portland against the Trailblazers. Melo scored 37 on a very efficient 13-21 from the field and 9-9 from the free throw line. He also had 6 rebounds, 1 steal, and 2 blocked shots.

Melo scored 20 points in the 1st half, but was scoreless until the final minute of the game where he scored 6 points off free throws to seal the victory. Fellow New Yorkers Lance Thomas & Kyle O’Quinn scored a combined 13 points in the 4th quarter off the bench to help the Knicks overcome a 10 point deficit to win the game.

Entering the quarter with a 10 point deficit, the Knicks went on a 12-2 run to start the quarter to take the lead fueled by the bench. The bench scored 46 points in the game and helped the Knicks outscore the Blazers 36-24 in the 4th quarter. The contribution offset a scoreless performance from our rookie unicorn Kristaps Porzingis.

The win snapped the Knicks’ 4 game losing streak.


December 12, 2007: Kevin Durant makes his MSG Debut as part of the Seattle Supersonics

Kevin Durant made his first visit2 to Madison Square Garden special by scoring 30 points in a 117-110 victory against the New York Knicks. Durant scored 30 points on 11-20 from the field and was simply too much of a force for the Knicks to handle.

Former Knick Kurt Thomas had 9 points and 8 rebounds. The Sonics acquired Kurt in a trade with the Phoenix Suns in the offseason.  Future MSG Postgame color analyst Wally Szczerbiak came off the Sonics bench to score 12 points. The Sonics acquired Wally and Jeff Green in the Ray Allen trade.

For the Knicks, Jamal Crawford & Zach Randolph scored a combined 56 points. David Lee & Nate Robinson scored a combined 28 points off the bench, but the Sonics bench proved to be too much for the Knicks as they combined for 53 points.

This was the last game the Seattle Supersonics played in Madison Square Garden. After the season, the Sonics officially relocated to Oklahoma City and are now the OKC Thunder. The last visible memory of the Sonics was Russell Westbrook & Serge Ibaka flashing the stock jerseys during the 2008 NBA Draft.

On This Date: Knicks beat the Nets and Robin Lopez outduels his brother

December 4, 2015: In a battle of the Lopez brothers, Robin beats Brook as the New York Knicks beat the Brooklyn Nets 108-91 in MSG.

In an ESPN-televised broadcast2, the Knicks went on a three point barrage to beat the Nets in a wire-to-wire victory. The Knicks scored 42 points in the 1st quarter to build a 21 point lead that proved insurmountable to the Nets. The win put the Knicks at a 10-10 record to start the season.

Carmelo Anthony led the team with 28 points and 5 three pointers made. Kristaps Porzingis had a double double with 19 points, 3-4 from the three point arc, and 10 rebounds. Robin Lopez (RoLo) only scored 7 points, but had 3 blocks to beat his brother Brook (BroLo).  This was the first matchup of the Lopez rivalry in New York.

Contrary to popular thought, the Lopez brothers did not live together in their one shared season in New York. The issue was not between brothers, but rather their respective cats.

Kirsten Fleming of the New York Post documented the catfight during the 2015-16 season.  Fleming spoke to RoLo to discuss the genesis of the rivalry:

“Brook’s cat is very two-faced,” Robin tells The Post. “Everybody loves Brook’s cat. To everybody’s face, he’s such a nice cat. And it may sound like I’m joking, but I am dead serious. He acts like a lazy, sweet cat when everybody is looking. But when their heads turn, he’ll try to chase after [my cat] Edward. The second I lay eyes on him, he’ll act like, ‘I’m a cherub. I’m innocent.’ I’m not buying it.”

Clearly the cats had the utmost priority in their sibling rivalry.

On This Date: Carmelo Anthony hits game-winning shot against Timberwolves

November 30, 2016:  Carmelo Anthony hits game winner over Andrew Wiggins and the Minnesota Timberwolves

Carmelo Anthony countered an off-shooting night by making the game-winning basket against Andrew Wiggins. Melo used his signature jab-step to get space against Wiggins to hit the midrange jump shot. This was Melo’s 2nd game-winning basket in 5 days hitting the go-ahead shot against the Charlotte Hornets.

Coming into the game, the major anticipation was the matchup between fellow sophomores Kristaps Porzingis & Karl Anthony Towns. Porzingis had a well-rounded game with 29 points on 55% from the floor, 8 rebounds, 4 assists, and 2 blocks. Towns, on the other hand, scored a then-career high 47 points and 18 rebounds on 68% shooting and 17-20 from the free throw line.

For the Knicks, Brandon Jennings & Mindaugas Kuzminskas both made significant contributions off the bench.  Jennings had 12 points and 7 assists and was integral to Porzingis’ offensive outburst in the game.  Kuz scored 14 points on 4-5 from three.

On This Date: Melo scores 29 to lead Knicks past Pistons 121-100

November 25, 2012: Carmelo Anthony scores 29 points to lead Knicks past Pistons 121-100

The Knicks jumped out of the gate with a hot start to the 2012-13 season. In their matchup against the Pistons, they showcased the formula that would lead the team to their first Eastern Conference Semifinals since the 1999-2000 season.

Carmelo Anthony led the way with 29 points and made 4-5 from three. Raymond Felton had a double double with 14 points and 10 assists. Additionally, the Knicks received excellent production from the second unit. JR Smith came off the bench with a double double -> 15 points, 10 rebounds, and 5 assists. Steve Novak scored 18 points, with 5-7 from three.  Rasheed Wallace also scored 15 points and made 3-5 from three. The team collectively hit 17-33 from three and were 28-31 from the free throw stripe.

The game also featured two interesting quirks that personified the season. First, Jason Kidd sported a tilted headband after receiving an accidental elbow from Lance Stephenson a few games earlier. Second, we saw Carmelo Anthony incorporate the “three to the dome” celebration after every three point make. Rasheed Wallace brought the celebration to the team and Melo made it his signature move during his tenure with the Knicks.

The Knicks also continued to use the two-PG starting lineup with Jason Kidd & Raymond Felton. The decision was a result of Amare Stoudemire’s knee injury that sidelined him for most of the season. The small lineup moved Melo to the 4 and consequently had one of his best seasons in his career.  While the personnel on the roster was slightly flawed2, teams began to incorporate the small ball lineups frequently and its become commonplace now in the NBA.

On This Date: Ewing scores in double figures for the 214th consecutive game

November 12, 1991: Ewing hits double figures in points for the 214th consecutive game

Patrick Ewing scored 24 points and grabbed 11 rebounds in a 98-96 win on the road against the New Jersey (now Brooklyn) Nets. The game marked the 214th straight game (a Knick record) Ewing scored in double figures. The streak was ultimately broken the next game when Ewing was held to only 6 points.

The streak began on January 16, 1989 and covered almost 2.5 seasons. The streak represented Ewing’s consistency and is one of the reasons he will forever be one of the greatest Knicks. From the 1987-1988 season (age 25 season) through the 1996-1997 season (age 34 season), Ewing only missed 22 games and averaged 20 points per game each season.

The streak is more impressive in that the 2nd longest streak in team history is held by Walt “Clyde” Frazier at 124 games. Carmelo Anthony had 109 straight games of double figure points and Ewing had another streak of 106 straight games.

Due to free agency and the unpredictability of injuries in today’s NBA, I don’t know if any other Knick player will ever come close to breaking Ewing’s record.

On This Date: Porzingis’ first Knicks moment that wasn’t

November 11th, 2015: Kristaps Porzingis almost hits a game winning three against the Charlotte Hornets, but was waved off by a split second.

Kristaps Porzingis first exciting moment as a Knick didn’t end up counting. He was just a small pinch of a second away from shocking the NBA with a thrilling game-winning shot. With 0.6 seconds left and the game on the line, the Knicks ran a SLOB (sidelines out of bounds) triangle set with Lance Thomas inbounding the ball. Carmelo Anthony flashed up to the top of the key and set a screen against both Marvin Williams & Cody Zeller. Porzingis set a nice juke and received a pass from Lance Thomas behind the line.

As Porzingis hit the three, most of the teammates, announcers, and fans (even myself) thought Porzingis got the ball out right before the buzzer hit.  After further review, it was determined that the shot was released just a split second after the buzzer and thus lost 95-93.

Porzingis ended the game with 10 points and 15 rebounds.  Carmelo Anthony led the team with 29 points.

One controversial point discussed after the game was whether the clock was set properly before the Porzingis three.  Some people discussed whether more time should have been added after Zeller hit the go-ahead layup.  Even adding 0.1 seconds on the clock would have allowed Porzingis to get the ball out of his hands before the buzzer.

The other less controversial question is whether Porzingis would have gotten a shot off faster if Lance Thomas provided the pass closer to his shoulders rather than his hips.  Lance’s pass forced Porzingis to waste a few tenths of a second with the shot release.

Regardless of the outcome, the game was exciting for Knicks fan and reminded the NBA of Porzingis’ unlimited potential.