On This Date: Nate Robinson wins Summer League MVP

July 15th 2007: Nate Robinson wins the Vegas Summer League MVP

Although several Knicks rookies shined historically in the Vegas Summer League, it was Nate Robinson that redefined the thresholds of greatness in Sin City. After two relatively decent seasons in the NBA, Nate found motivation to continue to hone his skills in Vegas as he entered his third season. At the time, it was often rare to see 3rd year players return to Vegas barring a major injury or underachieving performance.

For Nate Rob, this was additional motivation. During the Knicks’ 5 game stretch in Vegas, Nate averaged 18.8 points/game and 6 assists/game on 48% from the field to win the Vegas Summer League MVP. He led the Knicks to a perfect 5-0 record in Vegas.

Nate took the Summer League energy to have a solid 3rd season in the NBA. He averaged 12.7 points/game mostly off the bench. He became a spark plug off the bench with Mike D’Antoni, averaging 17.2 points/game in the 2008-09 campaign.

On This Date: The 2005 NBA Draft

June 28th 2005: The New York Knicks 2005 NBA Draft – Channing Frye, Nate Robinson, David Lee

Isiah Thomas’ first draft with 1st round draft picks turned out to be quite a haul for the Knicks organization. With the 8th overall pick in the 2005 NBA Draft, the Knicks drafted Channing Frye out of Arizona. Frye was a relatively safe selection and filled an important need for the Knicks in the frontcourt. While Andrew Bynum & Danny Granger were both on the board, neither player warranted a selection in the top 8 picks before the draft.

The Knicks acquired the 21st overall pick from the Phoenix Suns on a draft day trade. The Knicks traded Kurt Thomas and the 54th overall pick (Dijon Thompson) to the Suns for Quentin Richardson & the 21st overall pick. The Knicks used the pick to select Nate Robinson. Robinson was a supreme athlete even though listed at below 5’9. He originally played football at Washington, but focused solely on basketball beginning his sophomore season. Richardson developed into a premiere three point shooter in his lone season in Phoenix, winning the three point competition and making 226 three point shots.

The Knicks acquired the 30th overall pick earlier in the year during a trade deadline trade with the San Antonio Spurs that also netted them Malik Rose. The Knicks used the pick to draft David Lee from Florida. Lee won the SEC’s men’s basketball tournament with Florida in his final season. Lee was an athletic forward who was also ambidextrous and could rebound with dexterity.

The three rooks provided the Knicks with a good return during their tenures. Frye had a successful rookie season, earning Rookie of the Month in November and earning a selection to the NBA All Rookie First Team. He suffered a season ending injury in March which cut his season short. Lee’s minutes were sporadic throughout the season, but he had a stretch of 13 starts between December and January. He became a double double threat during that short stretch. Robinson had more exciting stretches, but also showed inconsistency and immaturity during his rookie campaign with various locker room altercations. He did hit a game-winning three pointer against the Philadelphia 76ers after Thanksgiving. Additionally, Nate won the 2006 Slam Dunk Contest.

Quentin Richardson never regained his elite three point touch in Phoenix. As we learned later in a touching piece with the Players Tribune, Richardson’s brother was shot and killed in Chicago during his first season with the Knicks. The tragedy led to a bout of anger, depression, and binge drinking. His Knicks tenure was scarred by team dysfunction, injuries, and personal tragedies.

The Knicks dealt Frye to the Trailblazer on the 2007 NBA Draft. Lee & Robinson both remained with the team near the end of their first rookie contracts. Lee became a double double machine in his sophomore season and won the Rookie/Sophomore game MVP. Under Mike D’Antoni he became an All-Star in 2010. Robinson became into a scoring threat off the bench that excited fans with occasional in-game dunks. Under D’Antoni, Nate even became a 6th man of the year candidate after he averaged 17 points/game. Unfortunately, tensions with D’Antoni and overall immaturity led to his trade during the 2010 Trade Deadline.

On This Date: Eddy Curry scores a career high 43 points to defeat the Milwaukee Bucks

April 7th 2007: Eddy Curry scores a career high 43 points to help the Knicks defeat the Milwaukee Bucks

Eddy Curry scored a career high 43 points, and hit a game-tying 3 pointer to force overtime, to help the Knicks defeat the Bucks on the road 118-113. The Knicks ran a masterful SLOB1 where Nate Robinson curled and cut from the three point corner to the top of the three point arc. (via screens set by Curry & Channing Frye) The tiny room of space allowed Curry to be wide open at the three point corner. Knick rookie Mardy Collins inbounded the ball and threw it to him for the game-tying 3 point swish, the first of the season.

Curry scored 43 on 17-20 from the field, 25 of which was earned after halftime. He also had 13 rebounds and 2 steals. Both Nate Robinson & Mardy Collins received significant minutes due to injuries to Stephon Marbury, Steve Francis, & Jamal Crawford (who was out for the season). Nate had 34 points – on 5-13 from three – and had 7 assists and 2 steals in the start.

Collins had an even more impressive statline for the night. In nearly 51 minutes of action, Collins had a near triple double with 19 points, 12 rebounds, 8 assists, and 5 steals.

On This Date: Nate Robinson wins the 2006 NBA Slam Dunk Contest

February 18th 2006: Nate Robinson wins the 2006 NBA Slam Dunk Contest

Nate Robinson made headlines as a rookie during the 2006 All Star Weekend by winning the Slam Dunk Contest over Andre Iguodala in controversial fashion. The dunk contest featured the defending champion Josh Smith, Iggy, Hakim Warrick (of Syracuse fame), and Nate. Nate was obviously the shortest competitor in the contest since Spud Webb won in 1986.2

Iggy and Nate faced off in the finals of the dunk contest. Robinson’s first dunk in the finals was a through-the-legs windmill from an off-the-backboard pass. However, it took Nate more than 3 minutes (a ton of attempts) to actually make the dunk. He received a 44/50 on that attempt. After Iggy scored a perfect score on his first dunk, Nate Rob decided to surprise the crowd by bringing out Spud Webb and dunking over him. This dunk resulted in a perfect score. The final round ended up in a tie score that led to a dunk-off.

During the dunk-off, Nate missed his first 13 attempts and eventually received a 47/50 on the dunk. Iguodala purportedly had a better dunk, but the judges decided to give him a 46/50. As a result, Nate won the dunk contest in controversy as fans of Iguodala accused the judges of rigging the score.

In the aftermath of the dunk contest, a time limit was added so that you had to make your dunk within a certain prescribed amount of time. Despite the change, Nate participated in 3 of the next 4 contests winning both in 2009 and 2010. Just like his records in Summer League, he maintains the All-Time record for most Slam Dunk contest victories with 3.


February 18th 2010: Knicks acquire Tracy McGrady

In the path to potentially acquiring LeBron, the Knicks made another salary cap move by acquiring Tracy McGrady from the Houston Rockets in a three-way deal that sent Larry Hughes to the Sacramento Kings and Jordan Hill, Jared Jeffries, and the 2012 1st round draft pick to the Houston Rockets. In return, the Knicks also received Sergio Rodriguez from the Kings. The deal was made to clear Jared Jeffries’ contract for the Summer of 2010. In return, the Knicks had to part with both Jordan Hill, their 1st round draft pick in the 2009 NBA Draft, and a 2012 1st round pick that became Royce White.

Hill spent his NBA career as a backup big man on several teams. While the Knicks didn’t necessarily miss him, the team could have drafted other players such as Demar Derozan, Jrue Holiday, or Jeff Teague. Sadly, the team was only one pick away from drafting Stephen Curry.

T-Mac was mostly a relic of his past greatness during his short tenure with the team. Back injuries significantly diminished his potential impact on the team after the trade deadline. His athletic body was instead a lumbering 30 year old that was on his last legs in the NBA. Sergio Rodriguez had a few decent moments as a backup point guard for the team. After the season ended, he departed for Real Madrid. He spent his next 6 seasons with the team. After one year with the Philadelphia 76ers, he joined CSKA Moscow.


February 18th 1984: Bill Bradley’s number retired

The Knicks retired Bill Bradley’s number 24 on his date in a home matchup against the New Jersey Nets. By this time, Bradley was a U.S. Senator for the state of New Jersey and was running a re-election campaign. Bradley won re-election and remained Senator until retiring in 1996.

On This Date: Nate Robinson scores 41 points off the bench

January 1, 2010: Nate Robinson scores 41 points off the bench to lead the Knicks to an overtime victory against the Atlanta Hawks

In an appropriate beginning to a new year, Nate Robinson returned from a month-long exile in the doghouse to lead the Knicks to a thrilling overtime victory in Atlanta. Nate scored 41 points on 18-24 from the field and 3-5 from three. He also had 6 rebounds and 8 assists.

Despite a close first half, the Knicks well-patented 3rd quarter of doom led to a 13 point deficit. The Knicks stormed back to tie the game at the end of regulation. The Knicks scored 13 points in OT to get a much-needed victory on the road. After going on an 8-3 run to start the month of December, the team lost 3 of the last 4 games.

Coincidentally, Nate was placed into Mike D’Antoni’s doghouse beginning in December. D’Antoni lost patience with Nate over the previous several weeks beginning with an ill-fated joke to shoot at the wrong basket after the end of the 1st quarter in a road game against the New Jersey Nets:

After that play, he benched Nate for the rest of the game. Even after scoring 22 fourth quarter points in a 114-102 loss against the Magic in MSG, D’Antoni sent Nate to the bench with a DNP ironically against the Magic on the road.

Nate sat on the bench for a month until this game. Despite the victories with Nate glued to the bench, it didn’t make much sense because D’Antoni only employed 7-8 man rotations. It took injuries to both Larry Hughes and Jonathan Bender to finally get Nate back into the rotation on New Year’s day. During Nate’s absence, rookie Toney Douglas received the majority of the point guard minutes off the bench.

During his Knick tenure, Nate Robinson frustrated head coaches, alike, with his decision making on the floor. While Nate was in the doghouse, his agent Aaron Goodwin requested a trade in December 2009.2 D’Antoni quickly grew tired of Nate and was traded – along with Marcus Landry – at the deadline to the Boston Celtics for Eddie House, J.R. Giddens, & Bill Walker.

 

 

On This Date: Knicks-Nuggets Brawl and Patrick Ewing becomes Knicks all-time leading scorer

December 16, 2006: The New York Knicks and Denver Nuggets engage in the worst brawl since the Malice in the Palace

A game that was seemingly heading into a blowout loss for the Knicks turned into one of the most infamous days in team history.  With 1:15 left in the game and the Nuggets up 19, Knick rookie Mardy Collins flagrantly fouled future Knicks JR Smith by the neck as he was driving to the hoop for a dunk.

Both players shoved each other and Nate Robinson further instigated the brawl by shoving and tackling JR Smith.  Various players went to separate both JR and Nate including Jared Jeffries and future Knick Carmelo Anthony.

Melo inexplicably decided to punch Mardy Collins and ran away from him as both Jared Jeffries & Collins both ran up to half court to confront him.  Unlike the Malice in the Palace, the altercation didn’t involve fan interaction.  However, the refs ejected all 10 players on the court in an unprecedented move.

In the aftermath of the brawl, Nate Robinson received a 10 game suspension for instigating the fight.  Mardy Collins received a 6 game suspension for the foul by the neck and Jared Jeffries received a 4 game suspension for chasing Carmelo Anthony.  Jerome James received a 1 game suspension for leaving the bench.

The NBA suspended Carmelo Anthony 15 games for reigniting the brawl with the punch.  The NBA suspended JR Smith 10 games for tussling with Nate Robinson.

Despite the player suspensions, the NBA decided not to suspend either Isiah Thomas or George Karl for their roles in the fight.  The NBA briefly investigated Isiah for a potential role in triggering the fight.  Isiah supposedly warned Melo not to go into the paint.  However, there wasn’t sufficient evidence to suspend him.  Several outlets also criticized Karl for leaving his star players in the game during a blowout.

This was one of the last significant brawls that involved multiple punches and lengthy suspensions.2  The melee further exposed the chaos around the Knicks and Nate Robinson’s relative lack of maturity that haunted him throughout his NBA career.  However, Carmelo Anthony & JR Smith faced significant repercussions after the brawl.  The brawl pained a negative image onto Melo and it took many years for him to shed that negative depiction of him.  For JR Smith, the brawl further cemented his reputation as a headcase in the league.


December 16th 1993:  Patrick Ewing becomes the Knicks All-Time Leading Scorer

Patrick Ewing had a double double with 27 points and 11 rebounds to lead the Knicks past the Los Angeles Lakers 108-85.  Ewing became the Knicks all-time leading scorer and past Walt “Clyde” Frazier’s record of 14,617 points.

Ewing ended up with 23,665 points as a New York Knick.  To put that number in perspective, Allan Houston scored 11,165 points in just over 8 seasons as a Knick.  Carmelo Anthony scored 10,186 points in nearly 6+ seasons as a Knick.

It’s fair to say that any current Knick would need to remain with the team for more than 15 years to come remotely close to reaching Ewing’s scoring record.

On This Date: Knicks retire Clyde’s Number and the Amare buzzer beater that wasn’t

December 15, 1979: Knicks Retire Walt “Clyde” Frazier’s number in the rafters

The Knicks hung up Walt “Clyde” Frazier’s #10 in the Madison Square Garden rafters. His number was the 2nd number retired by the team after Willis Reed in 1976.

Clyde played his first 10 seasons with the Knicks. He spent the 1978 and ’79 seasons with the Cleveland Cavaliers, but injuries hobbled him during his tenure with the team. Due to his age and health, the Cavaliers waived him 3 games into the 1979-80 season and Clyde retired shortly afterwards.

Clyde ended his career as a 7-time All Star and a 2 time NBA Finals Champion. He retired as the Knicks all-time leader in points (14,617) until Patrick Ewing eclipsed that mark. His 4,791 assists still remains the Knicks all-time career high. The NBA enshrined him into the hall of fame in 1987.


December 15, 2010:  The Amare Stoudemire game-winner that wasn’t

In the bright lights of Madison Square Garden and in the eyes of millions watching on ESPN, Amare Stoudemire almost sent shockwaves around the world with a buzzer beating three against the Celtics.

Amare swished a three, but released the shot at least 0.2 seconds past the buzzer. By the time Amare caught the basketball, he was still turning to take the shot. Additionally, Landry Fields passed the ball a little bit too low for him.

With that said, the game was another thriller for Knicks fans. Amare led the team with 39 points, his 9th straight game of 30+ points. That streak remains a Knicks record to date.

The Knicks held a solid lead for most of the game until the Celtics made a significant run in the 4th quarter. In the end, it was Knick killer Paul Pierce who hit the game-winning basket over Amare.  To me, the best Celtics moment was ex-Knick Nate Robinson flipping over Pierce celebrating the basket.2

On This Date: Carmelo Anthony scores 37 points and Kevin Durant makes his debut in MSG

December 12, 2015: Carmelo Anthony scores 37 points to beat the Portland Trailblazers and snap a 4 game losing streak

Carmelo Anthony went on a hot streak and scored a season high 37 points in a 112-110 victory in Portland against the Trailblazers. Melo scored 37 on a very efficient 13-21 from the field and 9-9 from the free throw line. He also had 6 rebounds, 1 steal, and 2 blocked shots.

Melo scored 20 points in the 1st half, but was scoreless until the final minute of the game where he scored 6 points off free throws to seal the victory. Fellow New Yorkers Lance Thomas & Kyle O’Quinn scored a combined 13 points in the 4th quarter off the bench to help the Knicks overcome a 10 point deficit to win the game.

Entering the quarter with a 10 point deficit, the Knicks went on a 12-2 run to start the quarter to take the lead fueled by the bench. The bench scored 46 points in the game and helped the Knicks outscore the Blazers 36-24 in the 4th quarter. The contribution offset a scoreless performance from our rookie unicorn Kristaps Porzingis.

The win snapped the Knicks’ 4 game losing streak.


December 12, 2007: Kevin Durant makes his MSG Debut as part of the Seattle Supersonics

Kevin Durant made his first visit2 to Madison Square Garden special by scoring 30 points in a 117-110 victory against the New York Knicks. Durant scored 30 points on 11-20 from the field and was simply too much of a force for the Knicks to handle.

Former Knick Kurt Thomas had 9 points and 8 rebounds. The Sonics acquired Kurt in a trade with the Phoenix Suns in the offseason.  Future MSG Postgame color analyst Wally Szczerbiak came off the Sonics bench to score 12 points. The Sonics acquired Wally and Jeff Green in the Ray Allen trade.

For the Knicks, Jamal Crawford & Zach Randolph scored a combined 56 points. David Lee & Nate Robinson scored a combined 28 points off the bench, but the Sonics bench proved to be too much for the Knicks as they combined for 53 points.

This was the last game the Seattle Supersonics played in Madison Square Garden. After the season, the Sonics officially relocated to Oklahoma City and are now the OKC Thunder. The last visible memory of the Sonics was Russell Westbrook & Serge Ibaka flashing the stock jerseys during the 2008 NBA Draft.

On This Date: Nate Robinson hits game winning three in post-Thanksgiving thriller

November 26, 2005: Nate Robinson wins the game for the Knicks in OT against Allen Iverson & the Philadelphia 76ers

The New York Knicks & Philadelphia 76ers certainly turned this post-Thanksgiving Saturday into a basketball thriller at Madison Square Garden. Nate Robinson hit the buzzer-beating three in the right corner in overtime to stun the 76ers by a score of 105-102.

After the 76ers took a 13 point lead coming out of the 1st half, the Knicks had a 14-point turnaround to take a 1 point lead by the end of the 3rd quarter. Stephon Marbury & Allen Iverson went back and forth against each other the entire game. Marbury ended the game with a team-high 33 points and 6 assists. Allen Iverson had a team-high 40 points, the first time he scored 40 points against the Knicks in his career.

After the Knicks took a 3 point lead with less than 20 seconds left in the 4th quarter, Chris Webber tied the game on a tip-shot before the end of regulation to send the game to overtime.

Although Marbury & Iverson went back and forth the entire overtime, Nate Robinson was the final hero of the game. On the final possession, Marbury was able to find Nate in the right corner after Iverson came to help off of him. Nate hit the three over a leaping Iverson to send Madison Square Garden into a frenzy.

The game marked Nate’s first breakout game with the Knicks. In 32 minutes of action, Nate score a then-high 17 points in 32 minutes. In an overall tumultuous season, this represented one of a few highlights for Nate Robinson.

 

On This Date: Larry Brown wins his first game as Knicks coach after 0-5 start

November 13, 2005: Larry Brown finally leads Knicks to his first victory as head coach with a 105-95 victory in Sacramento

Larry Brown won his first game as Knicks head coach after an 0-5 start. Rookie Channing Frye led the Knicks with 19 points and 6 rebounds off the bench. Stephon Marbury led the team with 39 minutes played, resulting in 17 points and 7 assists.

Larry Brown signed a 5 year $50 million contract to coach the Knicks after leading the Pistons to consecutive NBA Finals berths. Despite the excitement and high expectations, chaos marred the team to start the season. Through six games, Brown changed the starting lineup three times, played 11 or 12 players every game, and gave many of the players’ unpredictable minutes.

Additionally, Nate Robinson sparred with Jerome James (height difference of 16 inches) during a team practice before the West Coast trip.

Despite the win, the season ultimately became a public embarrassment for the organization and fans alike. Brown’s tendencies to shake up rotations and publicly admonishing his players created unnecessary distractions for the team. Furthermore, in-fighting between players and coaches only created a corrosive environment not suitable for the rookies or veterans alike.

The lack of a semblance of a team led to a 23-59 record and Brown was ultimately fired at the end of the year with more than $40 million remaining on his contract.