On This Date: Knicks win the 1973 NBA Finals

May 10th 1973: Knicks are the 1973 NBA Champions

The Knicks won their 2nd NBA Championship by defeating the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 5 102-93. This was the 3rd time the Knicks faced the Lakers in the NBA Finals in the previous 4 seasons. The Lakers defeated the Knicks in 5 games in the 1972 NBA Finals. The 1973 NBA Finals was nearly the opposite of the previous season. Whereas the Knicks won Game 1 of the 1972 NBA Finals, the Lakers won Game 1 of the 1973 NBA Finals. Both teams subsequently won the next 4 games to secure the championship.

This time around, Earl Monroe was a part of the 1973 NBA Championship Knicks. Monroe averaged 16 points/game on 53% shooting during the NBA Finals. Willis Reed once again won the NBA Finals MVP.


May 10th 2008: Knicks agree to hire Mike D’Antoni as their next head coach

Mike D’Antoni agreed to a 4 year $24 million deal to coach the New York Knicks. After firing Isiah Thomas as head coach, this was Donnie Walsh’s first and paramount move as the new Knicks President & GM.

Ever since Steve Kerr became the Suns GM before the 2007 NBA Draft, there was always a subtle tension between him and D’Antoni. Kerr wanted to emphasize more of a defensive presence on the team. Kerr also wanted to hire Tom Thibodeau as D’Antoni’s lead defensive coach, but the latter purportedly refused the request.

The Phoenix Suns allowed D’Antoni to interview with other teams after a disappointing first round playoff exit. At the time, D’Antoni still had 2 years and $9 million left on his coaching contract. The Bulls also showed interest in D’Antoni, but ultimately the Knicks provided the best offer.

From the moment the Knicks hired D’Antoni, there was one main organizational goal: clear cap space for 2010 and LeBron. As Donnie Walsh traded the long-term contracts, D’Antoni established his faster paced system onto the more inferior Knicks roster. The Knicks mostly achieved mediocre results: the team was poor defensively and D’Antoni stubbornly played short rotations while sacrificing the opportunity to play some of the younger players.

Pressure intensified after 2010 when the Knicks signed Amare Stoudemire & eventually acquired Carmelo Anthony. The lack of chemistry and time, due to the lockout, did not allow D’Antoni to build an offensive system around those two players. Additionally, the Knicks continued to struggle defensively. Mounting pressure near the middle of the 2011-12 shortened season forced D’Antoni to resign, months before finishing his 4 year contract. Since at least the Pat Riley era, D’Antoni is the only coach that completed a majority of his coaching contract before either resigning or being fired.

 

On This Date: Mike D’Antoni resigns

March 14th 2012: Mike D’Antoni resigns

Mike D’Antoni resigned from the team on this date, days after the Knicks lost another close game on national TV on the road against the Chicago Bulls. D’Antoni, in the final year of his contract, was on the hotseat for most of the season. The NBA Lockout significantly reduced the amount of time D’Antoni could spend to create an offensive system and strengthen team chemistry. Because of the lockout, the team had little practice time and often had bouts of back-to-back-to-back games.

D’Antoni could never find a way to successfully mesh the trio of Carmelo Anthony, Amare Stoudemire, and Tyson Chandler. Melo & Amare in particular did not come into the season in great shape (due to the lockout) and D’Antoni was not able to find a way to build an offensive system that could take advantage of their strengths.

Additionally, the team lacked a point guard for most of the season. After the team amnestied Chauncey Billups, the team relied on Mike Bibby & Toney Douglas to reign in the point guard duties for the early stretch of the season. Both players struggled (for obvious reasons) and consequently led to Melo & Amare’s struggles.

Furthermore, the rise of Jeremy Lin added additional pressure on the team to mesh in the 2nd half of the season. Once Melo returned from injury, both he and Lin could not seem to complement each other and the team continued to lose games.

Most of the attention focused on the clash in styles between Carmelo Anthony & Mike D’Antoni. While neither of them had a public outburst, it seemed that there just was not enough time to successfully build proper synergy between the two of them. After the big trade in February 2011, the entire team basically flipped over and there just was not enough time to develop a system. D’Antoni had an uptempo offensive system while Melo preferred a system that favored more isolation-heavy options.

At the time of his resignation, the Knicks were 18-24 and just suffered a 6 game losing streak (their 2nd 6-game losing streak of the season). Mike Woodson took over interim duties and the team reverted more to an isolation-heavy offense with an emphasis on defense. The Knicks went 18-6 to end the season to reach the playoffs. The Heat defeated the Knicks in 5 games.


March 14th 1992: Dick McGuire’s jersey retired

Dick McGuire’s number 15 was retired for the 2nd time on this date. The Knicks previously retired the number in 1986 for Earl Monroe. McGuire spent more than 8 decades with the Knicks as a player, coach, scout, and team executive. He was responsible for discovering various draft picks, including the point guard duo of Mark Jackson and Rod Strickland.