September 17th 1983: The New York Knicks re-acquire Ray Williams
The New York Knicks re-acquired their former 1st round pick Ray Williams via two separate trades. The Knicks first traded backup shooting guard Vince Taylor and a 1984 1st round pick to the Indiana Pacers for future Hawks GM Billy Knight. The Knicks subsequently traded Knight to the Kansas City Kings for Williams. Continue reading →
June 9th 1978: The New York Knicks draft Micheal Ray Richardson with the 4th overall pick in the 1978 NBA Draft
To a shock of a few people in Knicks land, the team drafted Micheal “Sugar” Ray Richardson with the 4th overall pick in the 1978 NBA Draft. The Knicks went into the draft looking for a center, a need glaring since Willis Reed’s retirement in 1974, and set their eyes on Rick Robey. However, the Indiana Pacers drafted Robey with the 3rd overall pick and the Knicks pivoted to Richardson afterwards.
After a solid rookie season, Richardson immediately thrusted into a perennial All-Star with the Knicks. He had a penchant for gathering triple double1his 18 triple doubles still ranks 2nd in Knicks franchise history and stealing the ball with gusto. However, a combination of on-court and off-the court issues, including an excessive drug and partying habit, led the Knicks to trade him for Bernard King. Ironically, King recently recovered from an alcohol problem that plagued him during his early seasons with the Nets & Jazz.
One of the biggest regrets out of the draft obviously was what if the Knicks drafted Larry Bird instead of Sugar Ray. It’s important to note that at Bird intended to finish his collegiate career at Indiana. Many teams, including the Knicks weren’t willing to wait a year for Bird. At the time, teams had one full calendar to sign a player drafted in the previous season before the draft rights relinquished. The Celtics decided to wait for Bird to finish his senior year and signed him a week before the NBA Draft to a 5 year $3.25 million contract. The NBA subsequently changed the draft rules where teams were barred from drafting players before they were ready to sign. Essentially, collegiate players lost eligibility once the withdrawal date (May 29th in this draft) passed.
March 20th 1981: Knicks clinch home court advantage in the 1st round of the playoffs with a victory against the Indiana Pacers
The Knicks clinched home court advantage in the 1st round of the playoffs with a 110-107 victory against the Indiana Pacers. Bill Cartwright hit two go-ahead free throws to put the Knicks up 106-105 with a minute remaining in the game. Micheal Ray Richardson hit a crucial three pointer with 13 seconds remaining in the same to seal the victory.
Cartwright & Richardson both led the Knicks with a combined 50 points. Richardson played 46 minutes and also had 11 assists and 4 steals. The victory marked the Knicks’ 5th straight and was also the 5th straight game where the team shot more than 50% from the field.
The victory set the stage for the Knicks to host either the Indiana Pacers or the Chicago Bulls beginning on March 31st 1981. The 1980-81 season was the last where the regular season ended before the end of March. The Knicks eventually hosted the Chicago Bulls in the playoffs, but were swept in the first round a best-of-three playoff series. The NBA playoffs eventually expanded in the 1983-84 season to incorporate 16 teams as well as expanding the first round to a best-of-five series.
March 4th 1982: Micheal Ray Richardson nearly accomplished a quadruple double
Despite the fact that Magic Johnson & Kareem Abdul-Jabbar scored a combined 59 points, the Knicks defeated the Lakers at home 129-119 in overtime.
Micheal “Sugar Ray” Richardson nearly accomplished the rare quadruple double with 28 points, 9 rebounds, 9 assists, and 7 steals.
The Knicks drafted Sugar Ray in the 1978 NBA Draft. He reached the All-Star game three seasons in a row as a Knick and delighted fans with his penchant to achieve triple doubles. His 18 triple doubles within his four-year tenure with the team still ranks 2nd all time in franchise history.
Only 4 players accomplished the rare feat of a quadruple double: Nate Thurmond, Alvin Robertson, Hakeem Olajuwon, and David Robinson. Many players came just short of reaching that elusive feat. It was quite an accomplishment for Sugar Ray to be only a handful of steals and one assist & rebound short.
Decenber 23, 2003: Latrell Sprewell returns to Madison Square Garden to taunt James Dolan
Latrell Sprewell returned to Madison Square Garden as a member of the Minnesota Timberwolves and got the last laugh in a 98-92 victory against the Knicks. Spree scored 31 points and combined for 84 points with Kevin Garnett & Sam Cassell2the rest of the team only had 14 combined points in the victory.
Spree repeatedly hurled profanities toward Knicks owner James Dolan during his patented revenge game. It came to the point where Spree received a technical near the end of the 4th quarter for sparring with Knicks assistant coach Lon Kruger. Kruger told Spree to quit the taunting. The NBA later fined Spree $25,000 for excessive taunting.
Spree & Dolan have had an acrimonious relationship during the latter’s tenure as principal owner of the Knicks. Spree angered Dolan by leaving early from several team-mandated media training sessions. He also suffered the inexcusable boating accident shortly before the 2002-03 season. Dolan had enough of Spree’s “character issues” and ordered then-GM Scott Layden to trade him.
Fortunately, Spree & Dolan reconciled in 2017. We now see Spree courtside at Knicks games or attending various team alumni and charitable events.
December 23, 1980: Micheal Ray Richardson sets a Knick record with 9 steals in a game
In the 117-114 loss against the Chicago Bulls, Micheal “Sugar” Ray Richardson set a Knicks record with nine steals in a game. Sugar Ray had a statline of 19 points, 6 rebounds, 6 assists, and 9 steals.
Despite his short tenure with the Knicks, Sugar Ray was adroit in passing the ball and showed a penchant for stealing the ball. His 2,244 assists in four seasons still remains the 10th highest mark in team history. His 810 steals is remarkably 3rd all-time in Knicks franchise history.
November 17, 1979: Larry Bird makes his first visit to MSG, but he is out-dueled by Michael Ray Richardson.
Larry Bird scored 19 points in his Madison Square Garden (MSG) debut against the New York Knicks in a 113-109 loss. Although drafted 6th overall in the 1978 NBA Draft, Bird spent the 1978-79 season back at Indiana to finish his senior year of college. The NBA later prohibited players from re-establishing college eligibility (known as the Bird Collegiate Rule) if they declare for early eligibility and hire an agent.
Bird faced off against sophomore Micheal Ray Richardson, drafted #4 overall in the 1978 draft. Richardson scored 22 points. Bill Cartwright, a rookie drafted 3rd in the 1979 NBA Draft, scored 20 points and Ray Williams led the team with 35 points.
While this game marked Bird’s first visit to MSG, no rivalry established between both teams during the prime of his career. While Bird and the Boston Celtics won 3 NBA Finals (with 5 appearances) during the 1980s, the Knicks largely avoided them during the 1980s by either missing the playoffs or getting knocked out early. However, both teams met in the 1984 Eastern Conference semifinals. The Celtics scrapped out a victory in 7 games and eventually won the championship.