On This Date: Knicks stave off ferocious comeback against the Seattle Supersonics

January 23, 1972: The New York Knicks withstand a late-game comeback against the Seattle Supersonics.

The Knicks nearly averted trouble to hold onto a 101-99 victory on the road against the Seattle Supersonics. The Knicks led by as much as 20 points by halftime and even had a 15 point lead with 4 minutes remaining in the game. The Sonics went on a 9-0 run and cut the lead down to 6 with less than 40 seconds in regulation.

A combination of Earl Monroe fouling out, an unfortunate traveling call, and a costly turnover cut the lead down to 2 and gave the Sonics an opportunity to tie the game. However, Phil Jackson and Walt Frazier made the final defensive stop to seal the victory.

Monroe led the Knicks with 27 points. Clyde nearly had a triple double with 13 points, 10 assists, and 7 rebounds. Future Knicks Spencer Haywood and Lenny Wilkens (coach) were on the Supersonics roster. Haywood was an All-Star for the Sonics for 4 seasons before the Knicks acquired him in a trade in 1975. Haywood teamed up with Bob McAdoo for slightly more than 3 seasons.

Lenny Wilkens served a unique role as player-coach of the Sonics. He was one of the last player-coaches in the NBA. He spent two separate stints as a player-coach with both the Seattle Supersonics & Portland Trailblazers from 1969-1972 and 1974-75. After Wilkens retired from his playing career in 1975, he became a full-time coach for the Blazers before rejoining the Sonics in 1977.

The game was also nationally televised on ABC. For viewing purposes, the game had to be played at 11:00AM pacific time. Up until the David Stern era, most nationally televised basketball games (and televised games in general) were viewed on tape-delay so families could watch in the evening hours on the weekend.

On This Date: Lenny Wilkens resigns

January 22nd 2005: Lenny Wilkens resigned as head coach of the New York Knicks

The Lenny Wilkens era lasted just over one year as he abruptly resigned from the Knicks. After leading the Knicks to a playoff berth in the 2003-04 season, Wilkens faced strong headwinds once the new year hit. The Knicks started the season 16-13, but then lost 9 of the next 10 games. The losing streak happened right when Stephon Marbury foolishly boasted that he was the greatest point guard in the NBA. The remarks came on the eve of the Knicks matchup against Jason Kidd and the New Jersey Nets.

Despite being a Brooklyn native, Wilkens never fully acclimated to the high level of scrutiny coaching in New York City. Wilkens spent most of his tenure caring for his mother who was seriously ill. Additionally, Wilkens never had the luxury of building his own coaching staff with the Knicks. Upon his hire, Lenny inherited three assistant coaches including Greg Brittenham, Herb Williams, & Nuggets Coach Mike Malone. Isiah subsequently added Mark Aguirre and George Glymph to the coaching staff. Wilkens was only able to add Dick Helm to his coaching staff, but Isiah fired him shortly after the 2004-05 season and Brendan Suhr replaced him. The conditions around his coaching staff definitely wasn’t ideal for any head coach.

Herb Williams replaced him as interim coach for the rest of the season.

On This Date: Knicks fire Don Chaney

January 14, 2004:  The Don Chaney era ends

The Don Chaney era came to an end on this date as Isiah Thomas fired him shortly before their impending game against the Orlando Magic. After going through a morning shootaround, Chaney and assistant coaches Brendan Malone & Lon Kruger received notice that they were relieved of their duties.

The news came of no surprise to Chaney, outside of perhaps the timing of the firing. Despite serving as an assistant coach under both Don Nelson and Jeff Van Gundy, Chaney wasn’t able to replicate their success. He was 72-112 in the 2+ seasons as head coach of the Knicks. He took over the interim coaching duties after Jeff Van Gundy suddenly resigned. Chaney inherited a roster of aging veterans, fringe youth players, and injury-prone players. Both Marcus Camby & Antonio McDyess missed significant chunks of games with injuries during his tenure.

At the time of the firing, the Knicks were 15-24. Despite rumors of hiring Chuck Daly & Mike Fratello, Isiah instead selected Lenny Wilkens as the new head coach. Wilkens, a Brooklyn native, returned home after the Raptors fired him at the end of the 2002-03 season. Wilkens had moderate success as the Knicks head coach with a 40-41 record and a playoff berth in his first season. He resigned midway during the 2004-05 season and ultimately retired from coaching.


January 14, 2018:  Knicks call up Trey Burke

The Knicks called up Trey Burke from the Westchester Knicks on this date. Burke initially signed with the Knicks during the preseason, but was waived only a few days later. Rather than playing overseas or with the Oklahoma City Thunder, as originally rumored, Burke decided to hone his point guard skills with the Westchester Knicks.

After having a solid rookie season, Burke gradually fell out of the rotation between his stints with the Jazz & Wizards. Knowing that his success in the NBA would hinge on his point guard skills, he found an opportunity in the G-League as a prime opportunity to develop. While in the G-League, Burke averaged 26.6 points, 2.7 threes/game, 5.5 assists/game, and 1.9 steals/game.

Burke had a sizzling start to his Knicks career, including a 42-point game against the Charlotte Hornets. Burke has had a rough start to the 2018-19 season after suffering strings of DNPs and a mild MCL sprain. Despite the minor setbacks, his stint in the G-League will forever ingrain the work ethic needed to earn minutes in the NBA.