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: Derek Harper/Jo Jo English Brawl

May 13th 1994: The Derek Harper/Jo Jo English Fight

Derek Harper entered into Knick folklore after wrestling with Jo Jo English in the 2nd quarter of Game 3 against the Chicago Bulls. After confronting each other at the three point line, the fight escalated into the stands starting an all-out brawl. The fight itself was right in front of NBA Commissioner David Stern, who predictably was shocked at what he was witnessing. Both benches cleared to breakup the fight, leading to separate tussles between players, including John Starks, and the security guards.

The Knicks ultimately lost Game 3 104-102. As for the repercussions, the NBA suspended Harper 2 games and English 1 game for their role in the brawl. The NBA fined more than 8 players on each team, outside of Harper & English, for leaving the bench in the altercation. Beginning in the next season, the NBA began to enforce 1 game suspensions for any player who leaves the bench during an altercation. This rule was provoked largely due to this fight and the infamous Greg Anthony/Suns brawl. Unfortunately for the Knicks, this rule change would come to bite them in the 1997 playoffs against the Miami Heat.

 

On This Date: Patrick Ewing has a 31 point, 19 rebound effort to defeat the Pistons

May 3rd 1992: Patrick Ewing scores 31 points and grabs 19 rebounds to help the Knicks advance past the Detroit Pistons

In the deciding game of the 1992 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, Patrick Ewing led the Knicks with 31 points and 19 rebounds to defeat the Pistons 94-87 to advance to the Eastern Conference Semifinals. It was another tough defensive battle, where both teams shot around 40% and below from the field. The Knicks, in year 1 of the Pat Riley era, mimicked the hard-nosed Bad Boy defense trademarked by Chuck Daly’s squad.

Xavier McDaniel, in his first and only season with the Knicks, contributed heavily in Game 5 scoring 19 points on 9-17 from the field. The X-Man and Isiah Thomas got tangled up during the game and had to be separated.

As for fellow rookie Greg Anthony and the relatively inexperienced Anthony Mason, both players enjoyed their first fruits of playoff success. Both of them played an integral role in Game 5 with their defense. Mase grabbed 11 rebounds off the bench and helped prevent Detroit’s rebounding menaces (Rodman, Salley, Laimbeer) from grabbing second chance opportunities. Anthony scored 9 points off the bench and had 4 steals and 1 blocked shot in 15 minutes.

On This Date: Knicks-Suns Brawl

March 23rd 1993: Knicks and Suns brawl

The Knicks got involved in one of the more infamous brawls in team history in a tussle against the Phoenix Suns. The tensions began between both Doc Rivers & Kevin Johnson. As the 2nd quarter wound down, KJ began to pressure Doc on an inbounds pass. KJ drew an offensive foul before the pass and both players confronted one another. Both benches cleared, but there were only offsetting technical fouls and no punches thrown. Pat Riley held John Starks back as he had a few words for Danny Ainge.

On the next play, KJ had the ball in his hands, but Doc drew a charge as he was driving into the lane. With 5 seconds left in the half, Doc had the ball for the final play. Doc drove past half court as Ainge guarded him. While he handed the ball off to Starks, KJ bulldozed into him to to end the half and the brawl began.

Doc steamrolled towards KJ and began to throw punches. None of the punches connected however. Ainge & Mason also got entangled in the scuffle. Both benches heavily cleared. The coaches thought they resolved everything temporarily until Greg Anthony showed up.

Anthony, dressed in the ever-so-typical 90s streetwear due to injury, sucker punched Kevin Johnson to reignite the brawl. More shoves were thrown and it got extremely ugly. Eventually, KJ, Ainge, Doc, Anthony, Starks, and Mase were ejected.

Unfortunately, the repercussions after the game hit the Knicks hard and forever altered the NBA’s treatment of altercations. The NBA suspended Doc & KJ for 2 games each, but decided to suspend Greg Anthony for the rest of the season for re-instigating the brawl. The NBA additionally fined 21 players for a combined $160,000, a then record at the time.

The league significantly changed the rules for addressing fights after the season. Players that threw a punch would automatically be ejected and suspended for a minimum of 1 game. Additionally, any player who leaves the bench during an altercation would be suspended for 1 game. The latter rule came to hurt the Knicks several times, including their infamous 1997 playoff matchup with the Miami Heat.

For Greg Anthony, this turned out to be one of the most famous moments in his NBA career.

On This Date: Knicks beat Vancouver Grizzlies in inaugural matchup

November 19, 1995: The newly franchised Vancouver Grizzlies make their first visit to MSG and lose to the New York Knicks 98-93

The 1995-96 season marked the inaugural season for the Vancouver Grizzlies. November 19th marked their first matchup against the New York Knicks in Madison Square Garden. In the 98-93 Knicks victory, Derek Harper led the team with 25 points, 5 assists, and 4 steals. Patrick Ewing had a double double with 13 points, 16 rebounds, and 3 blocks.

For the Grizzlies, former Knick Greg Anthony led the team with 18 points and 7 assists. Former Laker Byron Scott came off the bench to score 10 points. Their top draft pick, Bryant “Big Country” Reeves, scored  5 points in 10 minutes.

In addition to the Grizzlies, the Toronto Raptors also joined the NBA and also participated in the expansion draft.  Teams could protect 8 players who were under contract or restricted free agents.  Neither team could select any unrestricted free agents.  However, no team could lose more than one player in the expansion draft.  The Knicks protected Patrick Ewing, Charles Oakley, Derek Harper, John Starks, Charlie Ward, Charles Smith, Monty Williams, & Charlie Ward.

The Knicks consequently left Greg Anthony, Doug Christie, Herb Williams unprotected in the expansion draft.  For Greg Anthony, the team drafted Charlie Ward in the previous season and made Anthony expendable.  While Christie was a promising player, the Knicks thought Charlie Ward & Monty Williams had more potential.

Greg Anthony was the Grizzlies’ 1st pick and spent the next two seasons with the Grizzlies before jumping around the league with the Supersonics & Grizzlies, amongst notable teams.

Additionally, the Grizzlies hired former Knicks coach Stu Jackson to be the general manager.  Jackson lasted 5 seasons before accepting a position within the NBA league offices.  Jackson’s notable transactions included drafting Shareef Abdur-Rahim, Mike Bibby, & Steve Francis (who eventually forced a trade to the Rockets).