On This Date: Knicks/Heat Fight Round 1: Charlie Ward & PJ Brown

May 14th 1997: Knicks/Heat Fight Round 1: Charlie Ward vs. PJ Brown

In the waning moments of a disappointing Game 5 loss against the Miami Heat, Charlie Ward & PJ Brown got into a nasty fight after trying to gain position for a rebound on the free throw line. After Tim Hardaway Sr hit the free throw, Ward rammed into PJ Brown trying to box out and Brown suplexed him to begin the melee. The fight ensued behind the baseline as coach Jeff Van Gundy & the various garbage time players on the floor, including John Wallace, attempted to separate the players.

Not learning the lessons from the 1994 NBA Playoffs, Patrick Ewing, John Starks, Larry Johnson, and Allan Houston all left the bench area to break up the fight. As a result, each of the 4 players were suspended one game each along with Charlie Ward. The NBA suspended PJ Brown 2 games for his role in the brawl.

With the multitude of suspensions, the NBA decided to stagger the suspensions, by last name order, over both Game 6 and 7. Ewing, Houston, & Ward were out for Game 6 and Johnson & Starks were out for Game 7. Although the Knicks were leading 3-2 in the series, the suspensions left the team severely undermanned. The Knicks lost both Games 6 and 7.

Before Game 6, the Knicks filed a lawsuit in the Southern District of New York to order a stay on the suspensions, arguing that the punishment should be determined in arbitration. The NBA Players Union sided with the Knicks alleging that the rule itself was never approved by the players in the collective bargaining agreement. On game day, the SDNY ruled in favor of the NBA arguing that the rule was plain and clear and within the rights of the league office.

The biggest “what-if” moment was determining how far the team would go into the NBA Playoffs. Had there been no suspensions, the Knicks most likely defeat the Heat and face off against the Chicago Bulls once again. The Bulls easily defeated the Heat in 5 games, but maybe the “new” Knick core of Ewing, Houston, & Larry Johnson provide a better fight.


May 14th 2003: Dave DeBusschere passed away

Dave DeBusschere passed away at the age of 63 after collapsing due to a heart attack. DeBusschere spent 6 seasons with the Knicks and won 2 championships. He was an 8 time All-Star and 6 time honoree of the All-Defensive Team. The Knicks retired his #22 and the NBA subsequently inducted him as one of the 50 Greatest Players in 1996. He was also inducted into the NBA Hall of Fame.

He also served in the Knicks front office and was responsible for drafting Patrick Ewing.

On This Date: Knicks win NBA Draft Lottery

May 12th 1985: Knicks win NBA Draft Lottery

1985 marked the first year the NBA instituted the draft lottery system to determine the draft order of the non-playoff bound teams. At the time, each non-playoff team received a lottery envelope to determine their draft position and had the same probability of receiving the #1 pick. In 1987, the lottery was modified so that only the first 3 picks were determined by the lottery. By 1990, the system shifted to a weighted system where the worst team had the best odds of receiving the #1 pick.

The Knicks, with team president Dave DeBusschere as the team’s representative, won the first ever NBA Draft Lottery. The Knicks beat the Indiana Pacers, who subsequently received the #2 overall pick. There was a near consensus that Patrick Ewing was the #1 overall pick. The Knicks, with the #1 overall pick, drafted Ewing and the rest is history.

Various NBA conspiracy theorists claimed that the draft lottery was rigged in favor of the Knicks to save the franchise. Conspiracy theorists believed that the NBA wanted Ewing in New York for box office reasons. There was another conspiracy theory that the Knicks envelope was frozen beforehand and allowed Stern to easily pick it up in the lottery. Most of those theories seem quite ludicrous, but I’ll take whatever’s necessary for the team to land Zion Williamson.


May 12th 1990: Patrick Ewing’s 45 points lifts the Knicks past the Pistons in Game 3

Down 0-2 in the 1990 Eastern Conference Semifinals, Ewing carried the New York Knicks with 45 points, 13 rebounds, 6 assists, & 3 blocked shots to defeat the Detroit Pistons 111-103 in Game 3. Ewing scored 45 on 14-24 from the field and 17-18 from the free throw line.

The victory helped the Knicks snap a couple streaks the Pistons held, including 12 straight playoff wins & a 4 game road winning streak. Unfortunately, the 1990 Detroit Pistons proved to just be too dominant as they won the next 2 games to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals. The Pistons ultimately won their 2nd consecutive NBA Championship.

On This Date: Willis Reed scores 38 to lead the Knicks past the Lakers in Game 3 of the 1970 NBA Finals

April 29th 1970: Willis Reed scores 38 points to propel the Knicks past the Lakers in Overtime

Willis Reed scored 38 points from the Knicks, who overcame a 14 point halftime deficit to defeat the Lakers on the road in overtime 111-108. After trailing 56-42 in the 1st half, the Knicks, led by Dave DeBusschere & Dick Barnett, stormed back to tie the game with minutes left in regulation. The Knicks did take the lead 102-100 with 3 seconds left, but Jerry West hit a miraculous buzzer-beating half-court shot to tie the game. Unfortunately for Jerry West, the NBA did not adopt the three point line until 1979, so the shot only tied the game.

In overtime, Barnett & Reed helped clinch the victory for the Knicks. With 38 points, Reed started off the series with a scoring average of 31.3 ppg. However, his main heroics would come near the end of the NBA Finals.

 

On This Date: Ewing scores a career high 51 points

March 24th 1990: Patrick Ewing scores a career high 51 points in a loss against the Boston Celtics

Despite losing 115-110 to the Boston Celtics in MSG, Patrick Ewing exploded for a career high 51 points in the effort. Ewing scored 51 on 20-29 from the field and 11-13 from the free throw stripe. Ewing also grabbed a ridiculously absurd 18 rebounds. The 51 points and 18 boards amounted to nearly half of the team’s total efforts on both ends.

Ewing simply put on a clinic in the post. He got almost any shot he wanted with a wide array of moves including turn around baskets, fade aways, and layups within the post. It seemed as if he would score any time he touched the ball. A complete dominant effort on the offensive end.


March 24th 1981: Knicks retire Dave DeBusschere’s number

The Knicks retired Dave DeBusschere’s #22 on this date. DeBusschere spent 6 seasons with the Knicks and was part of the team’s 2 championships. He was known as a very tenacious rebounder and defender, making 5 straight NBA All-Defensive Teams from 1969 until his retirement. He was selected to 4 straight NBA All-Star games from 1970-1974.

After his tenure in the NBA, DeBusschere spent his time working in the front office for the Nets in the 1970s before re-joining the Knicks front office in the 1980s. His lasting moment was winning the 1985 draft lottery to select Patrick Ewing with the #1 pick.

On This Date: Several Knicks honored in the NBA’s 50 Greatest Players Ceremony

February 9th 1997: Several Knicks honored in the NBA’s 50 Greatest Players Ceremony

To commemorate the 50 year anniversary of the NBA, the league honored the 50 greatest players to play in the association. A panel of former players, coaches, and media members voted in the top 50 players. Then-NBA Commissioner David Stern announced the list on October 29th 1996 at the Grand Hyatt in New York City. The hotel was the site of the old Commodore Hotel. The hotel is where the NBA signed the inaugural charter 50 years earlier.

The ceremony occurred during the halftime of the 1997 NBA All star Game in Cleveland. At the time, 11 active players were chosen as the Top 50 players in the league, including a then-24 year old Shaquille O’Neal. Additionally, Dave DeBusschere, Walt “Clyde” Frazier, Jerry Lucas, Earl Monroe, Willis Reed, and Patrick Ewing represented the players who played (or in Ewing’s case, currently playing) for the Knicks.

On This Date: 1969-70 Knicks named Top 10 team in NBA history

January 8, 1997: The NBA chose the 1969-70 New York Knicks as one of the Top 10 teams in NBA history

To celebrate the 50 year anniversary of the NBA, the league chose the 1969-70 Knicks as one of the Top 10 greatest teams in history. Members of the print and broadcast media that cover the NBA compiled a list of teams to nominate.

The 1969-70 Knicks had a record of 60-22 and won their first NBA championship. Four players on that team – Walt Frazier, Bill Bradley, Dave DeBusschere, & Willis Reed – were inducted into the NBA Hall of Fame. Additionally, Clyde, DeBusschere, & Reed were concurrently on the NBA 50 Greatest Players list.

 

On This Date: Knicks rout Warriors in team-wide effort

December 21, 1971: The New York Knicks rout the Golden State Warriors in an embodiment of the team-first culture

The New York Knicks routed the Golden State Warriors 113-87. All five starters scored in double figures. Walt “Clyde” Frazier led the team with 27 points, 8 rebounds, and 5 assists. Bill Bradley and Dick Barnett scored 23 and 18 points respectively.

Additionally, both Jerry Lucas & Dave DeBusschere grabbed 19 and 18 rebounds respectively. The two players combined for 37 of the team’s 63 total rebounds.  Lucas had a productive season replacing Willis Reed, who was hobbled with left knee tendinitis the entire season.

In an embodiment of the team culture, the Knicks’ starting lineup combined for 22 of the team’s 26 assists. Three players (Clyde, Lucas, DeBusschere) each had 5 assists while Bradley dished 4 assists.  

On This Date: Knicks win 18th straight game in comeback fashion

November 28, 1969: Knicks win 18th straight game with historic comeback against the Cincinnati Royals

The New York Knicks mounted an epic comeback to win their 18th consecutive game, a team record that still stands as of today.

Down 105-102 with less than 16 seconds remaining in the game, Dave DeBusschere stole the inbounds pass for a breakaway dunk. Down 1, the Knicks ran a tough halfcourt trap and Walt “Clyde” Frazier stole the ball with less than 10 seconds to go.  Frazier missed the shot attempt, but was able to grab an offensive rebound and drew a foul with 2 seconds remaining. The Royals attempted to ice Frazier by calling a timeout before taking both FTs. However, Frazier hit both FTs to take the lead.  Willis Reed stole the inbounds pass and the Knicks came out of the game as victors.

As an embodiment of the teamwork that permeated the roster, 5 Knicks scored in double figures. Frazier led the team with 27 points and Willis Reed scored 19 points.

It’ll be a long time before another Knicks team eclipses the 18 game winning streak set by the 1969-70 championship team.

On This Date: Knicks finish game on 19-0 run to beat the Milwaukee Bucks

November 18, 1972: Knicks make history by ending game on 19-0 run to beat the Milwaukee Bucks 87-86

In one of the most memorable comebacks in NBA history, the New York Knicks scored the final 19 points of the game to beat the Milwaukee Bucks 87-86 at Madison Square Garden. The team was down by as much as 20 points and clawed back into the game in the middle of the 4th quarter. After a few key baskets by Earl Monroe and Dave DeBusschere and a few clutch defensive stops, the team was only down by 1 point with 47 seconds left in the game.

After the Bucks’ Lucius Allen missed two free throws, Earl Monroe hit the go-ahead basket to win the game.

Bob Wolff and former Knick Cal Ramsey called the game on the radio. Marv Albert called the game on television for the Knicks.

Not only was the comeback memorable, but it was noteworthy that it was against a Milwaukee Bucks roster that comprised of future hall of famers Kareem Abdul-Jabbar & Oscar Robertson.  This game set the precedent for the Knicks’ style of play and it eventually led to their 2nd NBA Championship.