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.   Continue reading →

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. Continue reading →

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.   Continue reading →

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. Continue reading →

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.   Continue reading →

On This Date: Knicks acquire Sidney Green

sidney green.jpgCredit: Jonathan Daniel/Allsport

October 29th 1987: The New York Knicks acquire Sidney Green

The New York Knicks acquired Sidney Green from the Detroit Pistons for Ron Moore and a 1988 2nd round pick. The team sought a true power forward to align with Patrick Ewing. The idea of playing both Bill Cartwright & Patrick Ewing simply wasn’t plausible anymore. Having two centers in the lineup hampered the team’s big man depth and created additional vulnerabilities against the elite power forwards such as Charles Barkley, Karl Malone, and Kevin McHale, amongst others. Continue reading →

Former Knicks GM Al Bianchi passes away at the age of 87

Nathaniel S. Butler/Getty Images

Former Knicks GM Al Bianchi passed away from natural causes today at the age of 87. He served as the team’s general manage from 1987-1991 and oversaw playoff teams during his entire tenure.

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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. Continue reading →

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 bench2, 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.