On This Date: The Knicks sign Ernie Grunfeld

September 10th 1982: The New York Knicks sign Ernie Grunfeld

The New York Knicks signed Ernie Grunfeld to a contract on this date. Grunfeld reunited with his former college teammate Bernard King.1 Grunfeld backed up King at the small forward for most of his tenure with the Knicks. Grunfeld spent his final season in the NBA alongside then-rookie Patrick Ewing.

After his NBA career ended, Grunfeld remained within the Knicks organization in various capacities. He first became the Knicks radio analyst for the MSG network between 1986-89. He then transitioned into an assistant coach on Stu Jackson’s bench (alongside future head coach Jeff Van Gundy) before moving up to the front office in the 1990-91 season.

He remained in the front office after the Knicks hired Dave Checketts in 1991. He eventually became the Knicks GM in 1993. During his tenure within the front office, the Knicks were perennial playoff contenders, including two NBA Finals runs in both 1994 and 1999.

However, the Grunfeld’s tenure with the Knicks took a turn for the worse with the 1998-99 lockout season. His long-simmering feud with Jeff Van Gundy came to a boil throughout the season. Van Gundy wasn’t happy with the departure of team veterans Charles Oakley & John Starks. Grunfeld acquired Marcus Camby & Latrell Sprewell before the season in the aftermath of the 1998 NBA Playoffs. Both the Indiana Pacers & Miami Heat showed Grunfeld that the Knicks needed to get more athletic at all positions in order to help Ewing get one more Finals run. Clearly, Van Gundy thought otherwise.

As expected, the 1998-99 lockout season got off on a rough note. Grunfeld & Van Gundy publicly disagreed on playing time with regards to Camby & Sprewell. Their feud became public as the team struggled to win games. Their disputes funneled into the press as each faction (Grunfeld, Van Gundy) used the various beat reporters (NY Times, NY Post, NY Daily News) to air their frustrations with each other.2

The disagreements angered and frustrated the new Knicks ownership. Then-vice chairman James Dolan & the late Marc Lustgarten gave Checketts an ultimatum to fire one of Grunfeld or Van Gundy. Checketts kept Van Gundy and Grunfeld’s time as a Knick executive ended.

Grunfeld immediately became the new Milwaukee Bucks GM for the 1999-2000 season. The Bucks made the playoffs for 3 of the 4 seasons under Grunfeld’s watch. They went to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2001, losing to the Philadelphia 76ers. Unfortunately, Grunfeld couldn’t propel the Bucks into a Finals contender and thus was let go after the 2002-03 season.

Grunfeld became the GM of the Washington Wizards beginning in 2003. He remained with the team until 2019. His tenure as Wizards GM was highly controversial. Despite various splashes over the years (Gilbert Arenas, Antawn Jamison, Caron Butler, John Wall, Bradley Beal, etc.), the team was largely mediocre during the Grunfeld era. His teams never propelled past the 2nd round of the NBA playoffs during his first 5 years as GM. Afterwards, there was a long spell of rebuilding between the end of the Gilbert Arenas era that ushered in a new core of John Wall, Bradley Beal, & Otto Porter.

Unfortunately, poor draft picks (Jan Vesely), general negligence of draft picks, and bad contracts (Ian Mahinmi, Andrew Nicholson) ruined the future of the new core. Grunfeld could never build a team around Wall & Beal that would help them reach the Eastern Conference Finals. The beginning of the end was the supermax given to John Wall. After John Wall’s devastating injury during the 2018-19 season, the Wizards went on a rebuilding mode. Out went Otto Porter and ultimately the Wizards finally fired Grunfeld after the season ended. For many Wizards fans, it was a long time coming.

 

On This Date: Knicks draft Charlie Ward & Monty Williams

June 29th 1994: The New York Knicks draft Charlie Ward & Monty Williams

Fresh off an NBA Finals run, the Knicks went into the 1994 NBA Draft trying to find role players who could play meaningful minutes on a playoff squad. With the 24th pick in the NBA Draft, the Knicks first drafted Monty Williams out of Notre Dame. Monty’s basketball career nearly ended before stepping foot on Notre Dame’s campus because of a heart condition. Midway through his college career, he realized all of his symptoms reversed and he was ready to resume his playing career. Monty did not play basketball in college for two seasons because of his heart ailments.

The Knicks also had the 26th pick in the draft due to a 1991 trade with the Atlanta Hawks that sent Maurice Cheeks off to Atlanta. The Knicks received Tim McCormick and the Hawks’ 1994 1st round pick. The Knicks drafted Charlie Ward from Florida State. Ward was not only the starting point guard for FSU, but was a Heisman winning quarterback.

Williams played more, albeit relatively sparingly overall, than Ward during their rookie campaigns. Williams made 23 starts in 41 games mostly due to a toe injury that sidelined Charles Oakley for nearly 30 games. However, Ward started received more minutes as Williams’ playing time dwindled under Don Nelson. Due to the lack of playing time and a subsequent trade request, the Knicks shipped Williams, along with Charles Smith, to the San Antonio Spurs in February 1996.

Ward eventually received consistent minutes as the team’s backup point guard and took over the starting role beginning in the 1997-98 season. He remains the only Knick rookie in the last 25 years to receive a contract extension after his rookie deal.

On This Date: Bill Cartwright/Charles Oakley trade

June 27th 1988: The New York Knicks trade Bill Cartwright for Charles Oakley in a draft-day trade

The New York Knicks completed one of the more successful draft-day deals in franchise history when they traded Bill Cartwright to the Chicago Bulls for Charles Oakley and a 1st and 3rd round pick swap in the 1988 NBA Draft.

Cartwright largely felt out of place in New York as Patrick Ewing cemented his role as the franchise cornerstone at center. While Charles Oakley had dominant rebounding seasons with the Bulls, he was deemed expendable after the team drafted Horace Grant in the previous season. As the Knicks needed a true power forward and the Bulls needed a formidable center, this swap made perfect sense.

Additionally, the pick swap gave the Bulls the 11th pick and the Knicks the 19th pick. To further shore up the frontcourt, the Bulls drafted Will Perdue. The Knicks drafted Rod Strickland, despite having Rookie of the Year Mark Jackson as the team’s main point guard. Strickland was traded to the Spurs in his sophomore season after demanding a trade due to a lack of playing minutes.

Ultimately, the trade proved to be a win-win for both teams. Cartwright enjoyed several productive seasons with the Bulls including winning 3 championships during Jordan’s first three-peat. Oakley served as the Knicks’ power forward for 10 seasons and was the perfect frontcourt partner for Ewing. Some of his accomplishments included making an NBA All Star Game and earning a selection to the NBA All Defensive Team in 1994.

On This Date: Knicks finally defeat the Bulls to advance to the 1994 ECF


May 22nd 1994: The New York Knicks finally defeat the Chicago Bulls to advance to the 1994 Eastern Conference Semifinals

Between 1988-1993, the New York Knicks had no answer on how to defeat the Chicago Bulls in the NBA Playoffs. On this date in 1994, the Knicks finally defeated the Bulls (albeit sans Michael Jordan) in Game 7 87-77 that marked their first ever playoff matchup victory against their rivals. The victory took all 7 games as each team traded home victories. The New York Knicks, with the #2 overall seed, had home court advantage in the series.

The Game 7 victory required herculean efforts from the Knick big men. The Bulls held Ewing scoreless in the 1st half due to foul trouble. However, Ewing exploded in the 2nd half and ended with 18 points, 17 rebounds, and 6 assists. Charles Oakley had a monster night with 17 points, 20 rebounds (11 on the offensive end), 4 assists, and 3 steals.

Greg Anthony also had a very productive game for the Knicks. Anthony scored 7 points, but was part of a crucial run where the Knicks scored 8 straight points in the end of the 3rd quarter. Due to Anthony’s performance, he played the final 15 minutes of the game.

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: Knicks make statement in victory against the Seattle Supersonics

January 29, 1994: The New York Knicks make a statement to the #1 seed Seattle Supersonics in a road victory

The New York Knicks, in the middle of a three-game West Coast trip, sent a strong message to the #1 seed Seattle Supersonics with a 106-92 victory. Seven players scored in double figures, including the entire starting lineup, led by Patrick Ewing’s 21 points and 18 rebounds. Anthony Mason scored 17 points off the bench and Charles Oakley had a double double with 11 points and 10 rebounds. Despite trailing 58-51 at the end of the 1st half, the Knicks went on a 21-5 run in the 3rd quarter and outscored the Sonics 32-13 to take a 12 point lead heading into the 4th quarter.

Both the Knicks (29-11) & Sonics (31-9) cruised atop the standings in their respective conferences. Due to Micheal Jordan’s sudden retirement, many in the NBA circles believed that this game was a foreshadowing of an NBA Finals matchup. The youthful duo of Gary Payton & Shawn Kemp led the Sonics to victories and many highlight-reel plays. Detlef Schrempf & Kendall Gill provided ample scoring from the wing positions.

The Knicks eventually had the best record in Atlantic Division (#2 overall in the East) and the Sonics had the best record in the Western Conference. However, Dikembe Mutombo and the Denver Nuggets had different plans. The Nuggets surprisingly upset the Sonics in the 1st round of the Western Conference playoffs. The Knicks did make it to the NBA Finals, but instead faced Hakeem Olajuwon and the Houston Rockets.

On This Date: Latrell Sprewell trade, Knicks defensive streak, Remembering Ned Irish

January 21, 1999: The New York Knicks acquire Latrell Sprewell 

On the first day after the end of the 1998-99 NBA Lockout, the New York Knicks acquired the talented, but highly controversial Latrell Sprewell from the Golden State Warriors. In return, fan favorite John Starks, Chris Mills, & Terry Cummings departed for the Warriors. Sprewell spent most of the 1997-98 season suspended as a result of choking his coach PJ Carlesimo in practice. The Warriors shopped Sprewell to teams since the suspension. The Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs were the other potential suitors in trade rumors, but the Knicks ultimately provided the best offer.

Sprewell, then 28 years old, provided a combination of explosive scoring, youthful athleticism, and tenacious defense. He definitely had baggage, which included question marks about his character, his position on the team (Allan Houston was the starting shooting guard), and overall team chemistry. However, no one could question his potential and overall ceiling to a team on the cusp of contention trying to claw back into the NBA Finals in the waning years of the Patrick Ewing era.

Starks was undoubtedly a fan favorite and one of Ewing’s closest friends. Cummings & Mills were both serviceable bench players for the team. Knicks GM Ernie Grunfeld performed a significant facelift of the roster before the 1998-99 season. He noticed how the Miami Heat (Tim Hardaway, Jamal Mashburn, Alonzo Mourning) and Indiana Pacers (Antonio and Dale Davis) outhustled the tired legs of the older Knicks. Grunfeld determined it was necessary to sacrifice some veteran savvy for youthful athleticism to push for another NBA Finals run. As a result, the team swapped John Starks & Charles Oakley for Latrell Sprewell & Marcus Camby.

Sprewell came off the bench3, but became a pivotal player in the playoffs, especially after Patrick Ewing suffered a torn Achilles. He later became a starter for the Knicks and made the 2001 NBA All Star team.


January 21, 2001: The New York Knicks hold opponents to under 100 points for the 33rd straight game

As a testament to the defensive mentality in the Jeff Van Gundy era, the Knicks pulled off a 33-game streak of holding opponents to under 100 points. Their last game was on this date in a 87-74 loss against the Indiana Pacers. The Knicks began the streak by holding the Charlotte Hornets to 67 points on November 11, 2000. During the streak, the Knicks held opponents to 70 points and below three times and held ten additional opponents to under 80 points.

The streak remains as the 2nd longest streak in modern NBA history (post-1960). Only the 2003-2004 Detroit Pistons held opponents to under 100 points longer (38 games). As the NBA emphasizes more scoring and a pace-and-space game, I don’t believe any team will match the Knicks streak.


January 21, 1982: Ned Irish passed away

Ned Irish, the founding owner and president of the New York Knicks, passed away on this date at the age of 77. He started his career covering basketball games and promoted games at Madison Square Garden in the 1930s. His role as promoter helped spread awareness of the game heading into the 1940s.

Irish was one of the founders of the Basketball Association of America which later became the NBA in 1949. He was behind naming the Knicks as the New York Knickerbockers. The word “Knickerbocker” was used as a reference to New Yorkers and their Dutch heritage.

As owner and president of the Knicks, Irish left a lasting legacy in the NBA. He was responsible for allowing teams to keep their share of admission revenues. This proved beneficial for a major market team such as the Knicks. He was also instrumental in urging the American Basketball Association (ABA) to merge with the NBA.

Irish was originally a more hands-off owner, but became more hands-on in the 1950s heading into the early 1960s, similar to other familiar NY team owners (George Steinbrenner, James Dolan). His greatest move was convincing Red Holzman to coach the Knicks. He ceded control to Red and the Knicks won 2 championships under his ownership.

Irish was not an owner with much personality or candor. He was known to be unapproachable and cold at times, as discussed in Alan Hahn’s 2012 book “New York Knicks: The Complete Illustrated History.” However, his legacy is unquestionable. He became a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1964.

On This Date: Red Holzman sets the Knick record for most coaching victories

January 12, 1974: Red Holzman sets club record in head coaching victories

The New York Knicks defeated the Golden State Warriors 96-80. In the victory, Red Holzman set a club record with 327 regular season victories. He surpassed the record held by Joe Lapchick. Lapchick coached the Knicks for eight seasons between 1948-1956.

Red eventually reached 613 total wins over 14 seasons with the Knicks. The team recognized his coaching feat by retiring the number 613 in the rafters in 1990. In a testament to the rapid turnover of coaches, no coach outside of Holzman or Lapchick coached more than seven seasons with the Knicks. Jeff Van Gundy coached part of the 1995-96 and 2001-02 seasons, but only coached five full seasons with the team. Only Van Gundy & Pat Riley exceeded 200 wins as Knick coaches (248 and 223 respectively).


January 12, 1989: The New York Knicks rout the Charlotte Hornets 106-89

The Charlotte Hornets made their first visit to Madison Square Garden as an inaugural franchise. Unfortunately for them, the Knicks routed the Hornets 106-89. Mark Jackson led the Knicks with 18 points, 5 assists, and 4 steals. Both Patrick Ewing and Charles Oakley netted double doubles.

The Knicks started the game very sloppy. The team committed 15 turnovers in the 1st half and held a tie game with the 9-24 Hornets roster. In a desperation move, coach Rick Pitino inserted Trent Tucker into the starting lineup for the 2nd half and the defensive pressure intensified. The Knicks went on a 15-0 run in the 3rd quarter and ballooned the lead to 22 points by the end of the 3rd quarter.

The 1988-89 season marked the Hornets’ inaugural season. The team was one of four franchises – the Miami Heat, Minnesota Timberwolves, and Orlando Magic were the other three – that the NBA included in their expansion plans. The Heat & Hornets began their inaugural season in 1988-89 while the Magic & Timberwolves began in 1989-90.

The Hornets struggled for their first few seasons, but stockpiled several young players including Muggsy Bogues, Kendall Gill, Larry Johnson, & Alonzo Mourning. The quartet helped lead the team to their first playoff berth in 1992-93. While upsetting the Boston Celtics in the first round of the playoffs, they faced strong headwinds against a veteran-laden Knicks roster. The Knicks easily routed the Hornets in 5 games.

 

On This Date: Knicks spoil Grant Hill’s MSG Debut

December 28, 1994: Grant Hill makes his MSG debut, but the Knicks prevail with the victory

The New York Knicks spoiled Grant Hill’s MSG debut with a 101-93 victory against the Detroit Pistons. Patrick Ewing led the Knicks with 30 points and 11 rebounds. Charles Smith also had a double double with 23 points and 10 rebounds. 

Hill – the heralded rookie from Duke – scored 21 points, but shot 7-19 from the field and Anthony Mason stymied him on the defensive end. Hill represented a new era for the Pistons after Isiah Thomas retired after the 1993-94 season. Additionally, future Knick Allan Houston played 4 minutes off the bench, but didn’t contribute to his statline.

Despite the win, the Knicks faced another significant injury in the frontcourt. Herb Williams fractured his middle finger in his left hand after colliding with Anthony Mason grabbing a rebound. The Knicks were already without Charles Oakley, who was out until February after undergoing surgery on his toe. 

Due to those injuries, the Knicks signed journeyman Greg Kite as a reinforcement in the front court. However, the Knicks waived Kite in February once Herb Williams returned from injury. Kite only played 16 minutes in 2 games, so he wasn’t relied upon in his brief tenure with the team.

On This Date: “Bomb Squad” roster wins their first regular season game against the Chicago Bulls

November 8th 1988:  Knicks win 1st game of the regular season to officially begin the “Bomb Squad” era

After losing the first two games of the regular season on the road, the Knicks got back into control in the friendly confines of Madison Square Garden. Johnny Newman scored a then-career high 35 points in a 126-117 home victory against the Chicago Bulls in Madison Square Garden. Newman scored 35 efficiently, shooting 12-15 from the field, 2-3 from three, and 9-10 from the free throw line.  

Patrick Ewing, hampered with foul troubled during the first two regular season games, bounced back with 18 points, 18 rebounds, and 5 blocks. Charles Oakley faced his former team for the 1st time and ended the game with a modest statline of 6 points and 6 rebounds.

The 1988-1989 season was famously known to fans as the “Bomb Squad” era.

20 years before Mike D’Antoni came into MSG to encourage his players to shoot more threes, Rick Pitino instructed his roster to perform the same task. Pitino believed it was necessary to surround Ewing with enough three point shooters to provide the big man with space to feast in the paint.

The Knicks set a record with 386 three pointers made and 1,147 attempted. The 1,147 was over 400 attempts higher than the record set in the previous season. The Knicks won 52 games in the regular season and Ewing led the team scoring 23 points a game while hitting a career high 57% from the field.

The “Bomb Squad” consisted of Mark Jackson, Rod Strickland, Trent Tucker, Johnny Newman, & Gerald Wilkins. Tucker shot 2-3 from three in the game and led the team with three pointers made during the season (118 made at 40%). Johnny Newman ended up tripling his three-point attempts from the season before and ended the year with 97 three-pointers made on 287 attempts (34%). Mark Jackson, in his sophomore season, doubled his three point attempts and ended the season shooting 81-240 from three in 72 games. Strickland funnily never got comfortable shooting threes and never shot many threes after leaving the Knicks.

The temptation of the NCAA and the recruiting power lured Pitino to the Kentucky Wildcats. The “Bomb Squad” era slowly flamed out as the team reverted back to attempting a more normal, or normal at the time, 710 three-pointers, which still ranked 5th in the league. Pitino brought a very innovative style of basketball to the Knicks and it only makes us wonder what would have happened if he remained with the team during Ewing’s prime.

On This Date: Ewing scores 44 to lead Knicks to win in Cleveland

November 7th 1993: Ewing scores 44 points to lead the Knicks to an 115-107 overtime win in Cleveland

Ewing won the battle against the former #1 pick (1986) Brad Daugherty with 44 points and 10 rebounds in 43 minutes. Daugherty led the Cavs with 26 points and 11 rebounds in 45 minutes.  Danny Ferry had 21 points for the Cavs while Mark Price scored 19 points and 12 assists.

Charles Oakley nearly had a 20-20 effort with 19 points and 22 rebounds. Doc Rivers led the team with 11 assists. 

After the Knicks exited the 1st half down 11, the team made a mounted comeback in the 3rd quarter to cut the lead to 2.  Despite shooting 2-13 from the field, John Starks hit the game-tying three to force the game to overtime.

The Knicks controlled the game in overtime and their defense held the Cavs scoreless in the final 4 minutes.

On This Date: Knicks begin post-Mark Jackson era with win

November 6, 1992: Knicks open 1992-1993 season with 106-94 win on the road against the Atlanta Hawks

Patrick Ewing led the Knicks with a double-double, scoring 22 points and grabbing 11 rebounds. The trio of  Anthony Mason, Charles Oakley, & John Starks each scored in double figures with 15, 10, & 18 points, respectively.  

More importantly, this game marked life in the post-Mark Jackson era. Right before the end of the offseason, the Knicks traded Mark Jackson in a three-way trade with the Orlando Magic and Los Angeles Clippers for Doc Rivers & Charles Smith.

For the Knicks, their plan was clear: make and win the NBA finals in Ewing’s prime.

This trade helped provide the Knicks with the necessary reinforcements to surround their franchise player. While Mark Jackson had a solid 1991-92 season, Doc Rivers provided the necessary veteran leadership at the point guard position. Additionally, Charles Smith, before being infamously known for the missed layups, was a former 20 point scorer that provided length and the ability to block shots at either forward position. More importantly, Smith helped fill a void once Xavier McDaniel left for the Boston Celtics in free agency.

Additionally, the Knicks also let Kiki Vandeweghe and Gerald Wilkins go after the end of the previous season. The team replaced both players by trading for both Rolando Blackman and Tony Campbell. Both players provided the necessary veteran presence at the guard and small forward positions respectively.

For Doc Rivers, this game was also important because it marked his return against his former team. Rivers ended the game only scoring 8 points, but did dish out 6 assists.  

Tony Campbell slotted into the vacated small forward position and scored 16 points, 5 rebounds, and 4 assists in his debut. Charles Smith came off the bench to score 8 points in 8 minutes.

On This Date: Charles Oakley makes his Knicks debut

November 4th 1988:  Charles Oakley makes his Knicks debut against the Boston Celtics

Charles Oakley made his Knicks debut and grabbed a double-double (11 points & 11 rebounds) in an 122-115 overtime loss against the Boston Celtics. Oakley was one of six players who scored in double figures that night. Patrick Ewing led the Knicks with 28 points, while Mark Jackson and Johnny Newman both scored 19 points each.

The Chicago Bulls traded Oakley to the Knicks on the day of the 1988 NBA Draft for Bill Cartwright. Of the 9 trades between the Bulls & Knicks, this trade ended up being a win-win for both team. Oakley became expendable as a result of the rapid development of Horace Grant. The Knicks relegated Cartwright to be Ewing’s backup. New York needed a power forward who could rebound while the Bulls needed a center who could score. This trade met the demands of both teams.

Oakley anchored the power forward position for the next decade and used his toughness on both ends of the floor to help the team achieve more than a decade of playoff berths and an NBA finals appearance.

Cartwright immediately became the Bulls starting center. While he was not scoring a high number of points, he eventually was an integral part of the Bulls’ first championship trifecta.

One hidden gem in the Oakley trade was the swap of 1st round picks. The Bulls used the Knicks’ pick to draft Will Perdue. Perdue would be a decent backup center who was part of 4 championship teams in his NBA career.

The Knicks ended up drafting Rod Strickland. Although he had a solid rookie season in New York, he became frustrated as Mark Jackson’s backup and demanded a trade in the following year (reminds me of a former Knick last year). He was later shipped to the Spurs in for Maurice Cheeks.

P.S. there’s 3 degrees of separation between NYC basketball legends Rod Strickland & Stephon Marbury.  Can anyone guess the link?

On This Date: Knicks Open 1990-1991 Season with an overtime win against the Charlotte Hornets

November 2nd 1990:  Knicks open the season with a 134-130 overtime win against the Charlotte Hornets

Patrick Ewing led the team with 38 points, 12 rebounds, 7 blocks, and 4 assists on 14-23 FGM and 10-14 FTM. Ewing was joined by 4 other players who scored in double figures, including 25 points from Gerald Wilkins, and 22 points and 7 assists from Mark Jackson. Additionally, Charles Oakley secured 15 rebounds and 4 assists for the Knicks.  

The game also marked the debut of Knick rookie Jerrod Mustaf, picked 17th by the organization in the 1990 NBA Draft. Mustaf scored 4 points in 13 minutes. Mustaf played sparingly during his rookie campaign and was dealt shortly before the 1991-92 season, along with Trent Tucker and two second-round draft picks for Xavier “X-Man” McDaniels. Mustaf only played four nondescript seasons in the league and X-Man had a productive season with the Knicks before departing in free agency in the following season.

The Knick bench also featured several notable players who started the season with injuries. One of those players was a tenacious guard in John Starks. Starks notoriously made the roster after he sprained his right knee trying to dunk over Patrick Ewing. Since Starks was a training camp invite, the team could only release him if he was fully healthy by December. As his recover period went beyond December, the Knicks were forced to keep him on the roster.

Additionally, Trent Tucker was on the roster, but was not active for the game due to a bruised heel. Tucker is now infamously known for the the “Trent Tucker Rule” where a shot can’t be taken if there is less than 0.3 seconds on the clock. The Trent Tucker Rule was officially adopted for the 1990-1991 season after Tucker hit the infamous shot on MLK day in the previous season. Tucker was later traded, with Mustaf, for X-Man.

Kenny “Sky” Walker was also on the bench, but was hindered by chronic knee injuries that season.  The rash of injuries ultimately led him overseas with a 2-year pitstop with the Washington Wizards (f/k/a/ Bullets).