On This Date: The Knicks trade Patrick Ewing

September 20th 2000: The New York Knicks trade Patrick Ewing

In what seemed like a long time coming, the New York Knicks finalized a four-team trade that dealt their franchise player Patrick Ewing to the Seattle Supersonics.  The full trade details are shown below:

The New York Knicks trade:

Patrick Ewing, Chris Dudley, 2001 1st Round Pick

The New York Knicks acquire:

Lazaro Borrell, Travis Knight, Luc Longley, Vernon Maxwell, Glen Rice, Vladimir Stepania, 2001 1st Round Pick via the Los Angeles Lakers, two 2001 2nd Round Picks via the Seattle Supersonics, 2002 1st Round Pick via the Supersonics

The Phoenix Suns trade:

Luc Longley

The Phoenix Suns acquire:

Chris Dudley, 2001 1st Round Pick via the New York Knicks

The Los Angeles Lakers trade:

Travis Knight, Glen Rice, 2001 1st Round Pick

The Los Angeles Lakers acquire:

Emanuel Davis, Greg Foster, Horace Grant, Chuck Person

The Seattle Supersonics trade:

Lazaro Borrell, Emanuel Davis, Greg Foster, Horace Grant, Vernon Maxwell, Chuck Person, Vladimir Stepania, two 2001 2nd Round Picks, 2002 1st Round Pick

The Seattle Supersonics acquire:

Patrick Ewing

 

The Ewing trade was in the works for most of the offseason. Ewing requested a trade after not receiving a two-year extension he requested early in the offseason. He was also uncomfortable being a supporting player at the age of 38 and felt the toll of acrimonious relationships between the team, fans, and media after not being able to lead the Knicks to an NBA championship. The divorce seemed inevitable after the 1999-00 season ended. The team almost felt hampered by Ewing’s presence on the floor both offensively and defensively. The team played much faster, and even better, without him on the floor.

For most of August that year, the Knicks worked the phone lines to formulate a trade. The original trade that almost went through involved the Detroit Pistons and would have resulted in the Knicks acquiring both Glen Rice & Vin Baker. However, the Pistons got cold feet and the Knicks tried to find another team to finish the deal. That team eventually became the Phoenix Suns.

As we all know now, the Ewing trade didn’t help any of the parties involved. Ewing never received his contract extension or played any meaningful playoff minutes in his final two seasons with the Sonics & Magic.

The Knicks perhaps wished they acquired Baker. Glen Rice never seemed to fit in New York and was dealt in the subsequent offseason. Luc Longley only played 25 games in New York before retiring due to a degenerative condition in his left ankle. Of the remaining potpourri of players acquired in the trade, only Travis Knight remained on the team past the 2000-01 season. He played minimal minutes in New York through the 2002-03 season before retiring from the NBA. The remaining players were waived shortly before the beginning of the 2000-01 season.

To add insult to injury, the Knicks did not capitalize on any of the draft picks acquired. The Knicks dealt both of their 1st round picks in separate deals to acquire Othella Harrington & Mark Jackson. Additionally, none of the 2nd round picks played in the NBA.

In hindsight, Ewing admitted he should not have requested a trade. He was better off finishing his career in NY after the 2000-01 season. Instead of acquiring albatross contracts, the Knicks could have let Ewing’s $18 million salary expire and acquire more premier free agents in the 2001 off-season. Perhaps the team would not have fallen in a cycle of failure and mediocrity

 

On This Date: The Knicks sign Ernie Grunfeld

September 10th 1982: The New York Knicks sign Ernie Grunfeld

The New York Knicks signed Ernie Grunfeld to a contract on this date. Grunfeld reunited with his former college teammate Bernard King.1 Grunfeld backed up King at the small forward for most of his tenure with the Knicks. Grunfeld spent his final season in the NBA alongside then-rookie Patrick Ewing.

After his NBA career ended, Grunfeld remained within the Knicks organization in various capacities. He first became the Knicks radio analyst for the MSG network between 1986-89. He then transitioned into an assistant coach on Stu Jackson’s bench (alongside future head coach Jeff Van Gundy) before moving up to the front office in the 1990-91 season.

He remained in the front office after the Knicks hired Dave Checketts in 1991. He eventually became the Knicks GM in 1993. During his tenure within the front office, the Knicks were perennial playoff contenders, including two NBA Finals runs in both 1994 and 1999.

However, the Grunfeld’s tenure with the Knicks took a turn for the worse with the 1998-99 lockout season. His long-simmering feud with Jeff Van Gundy came to a boil throughout the season. Van Gundy wasn’t happy with the departure of team veterans Charles Oakley & John Starks. Grunfeld acquired Marcus Camby & Latrell Sprewell before the season in the aftermath of the 1998 NBA Playoffs. Both the Indiana Pacers & Miami Heat showed Grunfeld that the Knicks needed to get more athletic at all positions in order to help Ewing get one more Finals run. Clearly, Van Gundy thought otherwise.

As expected, the 1998-99 lockout season got off on a rough note. Grunfeld & Van Gundy publicly disagreed on playing time with regards to Camby & Sprewell. Their feud became public as the team struggled to win games. Their disputes funneled into the press as each faction (Grunfeld, Van Gundy) used the various beat reporters (NY Times, NY Post, NY Daily News) to air their frustrations with each other.2

The disagreements angered and frustrated the new Knicks ownership. Then-vice chairman James Dolan & the late Marc Lustgarten gave Checketts an ultimatum to fire one of Grunfeld or Van Gundy. Checketts kept Van Gundy and Grunfeld’s time as a Knick executive ended.

Grunfeld immediately became the new Milwaukee Bucks GM for the 1999-2000 season. The Bucks made the playoffs for 3 of the 4 seasons under Grunfeld’s watch. They went to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2001, losing to the Philadelphia 76ers. Unfortunately, Grunfeld couldn’t propel the Bucks into a Finals contender and thus was let go after the 2002-03 season.

Grunfeld became the GM of the Washington Wizards beginning in 2003. He remained with the team until 2019. His tenure as Wizards GM was highly controversial. Despite various splashes over the years (Gilbert Arenas, Antawn Jamison, Caron Butler, John Wall, Bradley Beal, etc.), the team was largely mediocre during the Grunfeld era. His teams never propelled past the 2nd round of the NBA playoffs during his first 5 years as GM. Afterwards, there was a long spell of rebuilding between the end of the Gilbert Arenas era that ushered in a new core of John Wall, Bradley Beal, & Otto Porter.

Unfortunately, poor draft picks (Jan Vesely), general negligence of draft picks, and bad contracts (Ian Mahinmi, Andrew Nicholson) ruined the future of the new core. Grunfeld could never build a team around Wall & Beal that would help them reach the Eastern Conference Finals. The beginning of the end was the supermax given to John Wall. After John Wall’s devastating injury during the 2018-19 season, the Wizards went on a rebuilding mode. Out went Otto Porter and ultimately the Wizards finally fired Grunfeld after the season ended. For many Wizards fans, it was a long time coming.

 

On This Date: Knicks sign Allan Houston, Chris Childs, and trade for Larry Johnson

July 14th 1996: The Knicks 1996 Free Agency: Allan Houston, Chris Childs, Allan Houston

In one day, the New York Knicks officially transformed their roster to make a final championship run during the final stretch of Patrick Ewing’s prime. The Knicks acquired 3 key pieces to their starting lineup, including a new backcourt. First, the Knicks signed Chris Childs to a 6 year $24 million contract. The Knicks announced that they signed Allan Houston to a 7 year $56 million contract. Finally, the Knicks acquired former #1 overall pick Larry Johnson from the Charlotte Hornets for Anthony Mason & Brad Lohaus.

Heading into the 1996 free agency, the Knicks’ main goals were to find a 2nd superstar to pair with Ewing or find a core of young players to provide more offensive firepower. The original tea leaves suggested the Knicks sought Reggie Miller & Michael Jordan, but neither option was plausible. The Knicks signed Childs, 28, after a solid sophomore season with the New Jersey Nets where he averaged 12.8 points/game and 7.0 assists/game. The Knicks appreciated his toughness and poise on both ends of the floor. Childs replaced the older Derek Harper and immediately cemented his spot as the starting point guard.

Houston, 25, was one of the top free agent shooting guards on the market. He came off a season where he averaged a then-high 19.7 points/game and 2.3 three pointers made/game. He was known as a sharpshooter with the Pistons and brought that same dexterity to a Knicks roster that needed more perimeter shooting. Houston joined Childs in the starting lineup.

The most controversial move was acquiring Johnson for Lohaus and Mason. Johnson, 27, was on a long-term contract with 7 years and $84 million remaining. He also suffered a back injury during the 1993-94 season that would later hamper him during his Knicks tenure. Mason represented the tough and gritty Knicks defense of the early 90s. However, the team sought more offensive firepower and felt Johnson provided it despite the back issues. Additionally, the team was probably frustrated with the various on and off-court issues that plagued Mason during his Knicks tenure. Johnson never regained the athletic touch and offensive firepower he had during his early Charlotte days. He instead reinvented his game to become more of a perimeter threat and a clutch performer, especially in the 1999 NBA Playoffs.

On This Date: The New York Knicks hire Don Nelson

July 6th 1995: The New York Knicks hire Don Nelson as their next head coach

Weeks after Pat Riley abruptly resigned, the Knicks went ahead to hire Don Nelson as their next head coach. Nelson came off a campaign where he resigned from the Warriors mid-season after starting the year 14-31. He spent much of the 1993-94 season embroiled in a conflict with their #1 pick Chris Webber.

Nelson sought to bring an uptempo pace to a Knick roster largely built in their halfcourt motions. The match was basically doomed from the start. Although starting the season on a high note, the Knicks hit a rough patch after the New Year. Tensions arose between Nelson, Patrick Ewing & John Starks.

Nelson de-emphasized Ewing’s role in the offense and made Anthony Mason the focal point. Although Mason had a then-career year with the Knicks showcasing his point forward abilities, Ewing was frustrated with his role on offense. Additionally, Nelson reduced Starks’ playing time for Hubert Davis.

The climax occurred when word got out that Nelson wanted the Knicks to trade Ewing in order to pursue Shaquille O’Neal in free agency. This point marked the beginning of the end of his coaching tenure with the organization.

The Knicks fired Nelson midseason after posting a 34-25 record. The conflicts proved to be too much to overcome. The Knicks appointed Jeff Van Gundy as the interim head coach. Van Gundy remained the head coach through the 2001-02 season. Additionally, Van Gundy retained Don Chaney, an original Nelson assistant, as his main assistant coach. Chaney took over as head coach in 2001 after Van Gundy abruptly resigned.

In hindsight, Nelson sought to implement a modern offense that teams would eventually replicate. However, the older personnel on the roster were not equipped to run his offense at the time.

On This Date: Bill Cartwright/Charles Oakley trade

June 27th 1988: The New York Knicks trade Bill Cartwright for Charles Oakley in a draft-day trade

The New York Knicks completed one of the more successful draft-day deals in franchise history when they traded Bill Cartwright to the Chicago Bulls for Charles Oakley and a 1st and 3rd round pick swap in the 1988 NBA Draft.

Cartwright largely felt out of place in New York as Patrick Ewing cemented his role as the franchise cornerstone at center. While Charles Oakley had dominant rebounding seasons with the Bulls, he was deemed expendable after the team drafted Horace Grant in the previous season. As the Knicks needed a true power forward and the Bulls needed a formidable center, this swap made perfect sense.

Additionally, the pick swap gave the Bulls the 11th pick and the Knicks the 19th pick. To further shore up the frontcourt, the Bulls drafted Will Perdue. The Knicks drafted Rod Strickland, despite having Rookie of the Year Mark Jackson as the team’s main point guard. Strickland was traded to the Spurs in his sophomore season after demanding a trade due to a lack of playing minutes.

Ultimately, the trade proved to be a win-win for both teams. Cartwright enjoyed several productive seasons with the Bulls including winning 3 championships during Jordan’s first three-peat. Oakley served as the Knicks’ power forward for 10 seasons and was the perfect frontcourt partner for Ewing. Some of his accomplishments included making an NBA All Star Game and earning a selection to the NBA All Defensive Team in 1994.

On This Date: Hakeem Olajuwon blocks John Starks’ potential game-winning 3 to force a Game 7

June 19th 1994: Hakeem Olajuwon blocks John Starks’ three point shot to force a pivotal Game 7

The New York Knicks were one three point shot away from winning the 1994 NBA Finals. Well, maybe it wasn’t that close, but it sure felt like it for Knicks fan. With the Knicks down 86-84 and 5.5 seconds remaining, Pat Riley drew up a play for John Starks. Starks was the hottest Knick player in Game 6 with 27 points on 9-17 from the field and 5-9 from three. Ewing set a screen for Starks to drive to the left side of the court. Unfortunately, Hakeem Olajuwon switched onto Starks. As Starks put up the potentially title-winning three point shot, Hakeem blocked the shot and the Rockets defeated the Knicks 86-84 to tie the series and force the pivotal Game 7 in Houston.

There are so many what-if moments tied back to this game. Had Hakeem not blocked the shot, it seemed that Starks would have made the three. Starks was the most productive Knick during the game and deserved the final opportunity to win the series. Unfortunately, this loss and missed shot carried onto Game 7 with his 2-18 performance.

On This Date: Knicks draft Ewing

June 18th 1985: The New York Knicks draft Patrick Ewing

The fortunes of the Knicks’ franchise rose to an upswing on this date when the Knicks drafted Georgetown center Patrick Ewing with the #1 overall pick in the 1985 NBA Draft. Ewing was the consensus selection for the top pick. Ewing had one of the most successful collegiate careers in NCAA history as he reached the Finals in 3 of his 4 seasons – winning in 1984 – and was consensus All-American for 3 straight seasons. The Knicks’ future was immediately bright.

Ewing went on to win the 1985 Rookie of the Year and shortly after began a decade long run of dominance as one of the league’s durable and proficient centers. Of his many accomplishments, Ewing was an 11x All-Star, member of the original 1992 Dream Team, and one of the 50 Greatest Players of All Time. The Knicks retired his number in 2003 and was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2008.

Outside of Ewing, the Knicks also drafted Gerald Wilkins in the 2nd round. Wilkins, the younger brother of Dominique Wilkins, was the Knicks starting SG for most of his tenure in NY and had a scoring average that peaked at 19.1 in his sophomore campaign. Additionally, the Knicks drafted PG Fred Cofield in the 4th round. Cofield spent most of his basketball career in the Continental Basketball Association (CBA). The Knicks later hired Cofield as a scout in 2017 as part of their front office restructuring beginning with the hire of Scott Perry.

On This Date: The OJ Game

June 17th 1994: The New York Knicks win Game 5, but the game was overshadowed by the infamous OJ Simpson car chase

The New York Knicks defeated the Houston Rockets 91-84 to take a 3-2 series lead. Patrick Ewing had another dominant performance with 25 points, 12 rebounds, and a then-NBA Finals record 8 blocked shots.3 John Starks had 19 points, 7 rebounds, and 6 assists on 7-14 from the field.

For as amazing as the victory was for the Knicks, the game was largely overshadowed by the OJ Simpson car chase. The white Ford Bronco driving up I-5 on a slow chase from the cops. Helicopters overlooking the Bronco as it sped by police officers. Most of the NBC affiliate stations put the game on split-screen to show the car chase live. For most fans, the audio of the NBC news coverage was front and center while the game was on the side. KNBC in Los Angeles didn’t even put the game on TV and just focused its attention on the chase.

Most people know the background behind the OJ Simpson murder case, so it’s not necessary to rehash here. According to Jeff Van Gundy, Al Cowlings, the driver of the Ford Bronco, allegedly drove the car slow along I-5 to listen to the NBA Finals on radio. Additionally, because of the OJ car chase, we also missed Anthony Mason & Hakeem Olajuwon nearly coming to blows.

On This Date: Knicks play their first NBA Finals game in MSG since 1973

June 12th 1994: The New York Knicks drop Game 3 of the 1994 NBA Finals, their first NBA Finals game in MSG since 1973

21 years after their last NBA championship, the New York Knicks returned to MSG to host the Houston Rockets in Game 3 after splitting the first 2 games in Houston. Unfortunately, the Knicks couldn’t protect their short-lived home court advantage and lost 93-89.

The Knicks fell behind early, trailing by as many as 16 points in the 1st half and even by 14 points in the 3rd quarter. The Knicks had to rely on one of their signature 4th quarter rallies to get back into the game and take the lead midway through the 4th quarter. Unfortunately, Sam Cassell proved to be a thorn on the Knicks’ side in Game 3. Cassell scored the last 7 Rockets points, including a go-ahead 3 point shot to give the Rockets a 89-88 lead.

Shortly after the 3, one of the most controversial calls occurred in the game. The refs called an offensive foul on Patrick Ewing after he set a “moving screen” on Vernon Maxwell to get John Starks open for a 3 point shot. After looking at multiple replays, I still can’t see the moving screen.

After the offensive foul, Cassell hit 2 more free throws to put the Rockets up 3. After John Starks missed a couple three point shots, Hakeem Olajuwon fouled him with less than 4 seconds left to put him on the line to shoot 2. Starks needed to make the first and miss the second FT. Starks followed the command, but Otis Thorpe grabbed the defensive rebound with 2.8 seconds remaining. Unfortunately, Starks committed an out-of-bounds foul and Cassell hit 2 more FTs to seal the victory.

For the Knicks, Derek Harper led the way with 21 points, 7 assists, and 4 steals on 9-15 from the field and 3-7 from three. Unfortunately, neither John Starks nor Patrick Ewing got into any consistent offensive rhythm. Ewing struggled from the field with 18 points, on 9-29 from the field, 13 rebounds, and 7 blocked shots. Hakeem Olajuwon’s defense proved to be too much for Ewing in Game 3. Starks scored 20 on 6-16 from the field. Hakeem had a near quadruple double with 21 points, 11 rebounds, 7 assists, and 7 blocked shots.

On This Date: Knicks become the first #8 seed to reach the NBA Finals

June 11th 1999: The New York Knicks make history in becoming the first #8 seed to reach the NBA Finals

Miracles. Only one word to define the 1998-99 season. After enduring the endless drama, on-court struggles, and injuries, the Knicks did the unthinkable and stormed past the #1 seed Miami Heat in the 1st round, the #4 seed Atlanta Hawks in the 2nd round, and the #2 seed Indiana Pacers to become the first #8 seed to reach the NBA Finals.

The Knicks defeated the Pacers 90-82 in Game 6 to advance to the Finals. This was done with Patrick Ewing on the sidelines and Larry Johnson sidelined most of the game due to a sprained right knee suffered in the 2nd quarter. Instead, the “role players” per se took charge in front of the roaring MSG crowd.

Allan Houston led the way with a team-high 32 points on 12-17 from the field. Latrell Sprewell scored 20 points, but his defensive energy was once again infectious for the Knicks team. Marcus Camby was an all-around force off the bench with 15 points, 9 rebounds, 2 steals, and 3 blocked shots in 37 minutes. Camby was the instrumental cog in the victory. While he was on the floor, the team was +26 and -18 while off.

The Knicks simply dominated on the free throw line. The team took 33 free throws, led by Houston (8-10), Camby (7-11), & Sprewell (6-6). The Pacers, on the other hand, only attempted 9 free throws.

The Knicks took control of the game in the 4th quarter. A Jalen Rose 3 point play with less than 29 seconds remaining put the Pacers down 86-82. However, the Knicks hit 4 more free throws and the Pacers simply conceded with 15 seconds remaining after Spree blocked Jalen Rose’s layup.

The MSG crowd went nuts as Chris Childs dribbled out the clock. Spree was running along the sidelines galvanizing the crowd. Jeff Van Gundy’s wife was shown in tears right after the buzzer sounded. Even with Patrick Ewing sidelined, he enjoyed the taste of seeing another NBA Finals. Just simply an ecstatic and priceless moment in Knicks history.

On This Date: Knicks advance to the 1994 NBA Finals and the LJ 4 Point Play

June 5th 1994: The New York Knicks advance to the 1994 NBA Finals

The New York Knicks advanced to the NBA Finals for the first time in more than 20 years after defeating the Indiana Pacers 94-90. The game was back and forth with less than a minute remaining in the 4th quarter. With less than 35 seconds remaining, Dale Davis threw down a dunk to put the Pacers up 90-89. Little did they know that those would be the last points the Pacers scored in the game.

After Pat Riley called a time out, John Starks received the ball and drove to the basket from the right hand side of the court. Starks threw up a missed layup, but Patrick Ewing was there to throw down the go-ahead iconic tip-dunk with 26 seconds remaining to put the Knicks ahead 91-90.

The Pacers worked the clock and Reggie Miller received a pass off the curl which he subsequently airballed out of bounds to the delight of the MSG faithful. With 4.2 seconds remaining, Starks received the inbounds pass and was, surprisingly, flagrantly fouled by Reggie Miller. After the foul, Ewing was shown putting both his arms up (as shown in the iconic photos) in the air knowing he was off to the NBA Finals. He gave the courtside fans a high five and even bear hugged a fan along the way.

Starks hit one of the two free throws off the flagrant foul and subsequently hit an additional 2 free throws to seal the victory. Ewing ended Game 7 on a historic effort with 24 points, 22 rebounds, 7 assists, and 5 blocked shots.


June 5th 1999: Larry Johnson’s 4 point play

Without Patrick Ewing and down 91-88 with 12 seconds remaining in Game 3 of the 1999 Eastern Conference Finals, the Knicks were in desperation mode to save the game. There were two choices: hit a quick 2 and foul or attempt a 3. Charlie Ward was the inbounds passer from the sideline by the Indiana Pacers bench. The Pacers tipped the inbounds pass, but it landed in Larry Johnson’s palms.

LJ took 4 seconds off the clock before making a move off of Antonio Davis.He drove left towards the sideline and Davis fouled him as he shot the 3 with less than 7 seconds remaining. Miraculously, LJ made the shot and the MSG crowd roared. The various TV replays showed the Garden crowd literally going nuts after the shot was made. It was a priceless moment.

LJ ran down to the other side of the basket about to celebrate only to be held back by Chris Childs & Latrell Sprewell. LJ completed the 4 point play to put the Knicks up 92-91. After the Pacers called a timeout, Mark Jackson threw up a desperation shot over pressure defense that missed to help the Knicks win Game 3.

Larry Johnson helped carry the Knicks in Game 3 after Patrick Ewing’s injury sidelined him for the remainder of the playoffs. LJ led the Knicks with 26 points and 3 three pointers, including the iconic 4 point play. The momentum of Game 3 didn’t carry over to Game 4, but it definitely played a role in winning both Games 5 & 6 to head to their 2nd NBA Finals in the decade.

On This Date: Patrick Ewing ruled out for remainder of the 1999 NBA Playoffs due to torn Achilles

June 3rd 1999: Patrick Ewing ruled out for remainder of 1999 NBA Playoffs due to torn Achilles tendon

Game 2 of the 1999 Eastern Conference Finals marked the last game Patrick Ewing played in the 1999 NBA Playoffs. Tests after the game revealed that Ewing suffered a partial tear of his left Achilles tendon. The injury sidelined Ewing for the remainder of the playoffs as well as the beginning of the 1999-00 season. He was not able to participate in a 2nd and majestic NBA Finals run with the Knicks. In hindsight, a 37 year old Ewing probably would have had little impact in defeating the San Antonio Spurs.

Achilles tendinitis bothered Ewing throughout the entire 1998-99 season. The combination of the shortened schedule, recovery from the wrist injury in the 1997-98 season, and age/not being in the best game shape resulted in nagging injuries. Ewing felt the Achilles pop after playing 40 minutes in Game 1 of the ECF. He played through the injury in Game 2 until team doctors realized the achilles was torn.

At 37 years old, the Achilles injury proved devastating for the remainder of Ewing’s career. His impact on the floor was largely diminished. The team decided to build without Ewing and traded him before the 2000-01 season.

On This Date: The Charles Smith game

June 2nd 1993: The Charles Smith game

With the Knicks down 95-94 at home in Game 5 of the 1993 Eastern Conference Finals, Charles Smith miraculously missed 4 point blank layups to give the Bulls a surprising upset victory in Madison Square Garden for a 3-2 series lead. With around 10 seconds remaining in the 4th quarter, Patrick Ewing drove to the paint. He lost the ball and it went directly to Smith. Smith was not able to get a shot off on 4 attempts before the Bulls recovered the ball.

The Knicks never recovered after the disappointing home loss. After taking an initial 2-0 series lead, the Bulls won 4 straight games to head to their 3rd straight NBA Finals. As for Smith, he isn’t shy to discuss the missed opportunities in public occasions. As a Bridgeport, CT native, he couldn’t avoid those conversations either. After having a relatively successful business career upon retirement, Smith transitioned into a role serving as president of the National Basketball Retired Players Association. His main objective was to improve the welfare for retired players in the form of benefits, pensions, etc. He also established the transition assistance program to provide financial counseling to former basketball players to transition into the second phase of their life. The impetus of this program was the increasing number of players that filed for bankruptcy.

On This Date: Larry Johnson scores 25 to help tie the 2000 ECF 2-2

May 29th 2000: Larry Johnson leads the Knicks with 25 points to tie the series between the New York Knicks & Indiana Pacers

With Patrick Ewing sidelined due to a sprained right foot and Latrell Sprewell & Marcus Camby hobbled with a bad foot and knee respectively, Larry Johnson took the initiative to lead the New York Knicks past the Indiana Pacers 91-89 to tie the series 2-2. LJ scored 25 points and hit a couple clutch three pointers to give the Knicks a cushion after the Pacers cut a 17 point halftime deficit down to 1 with 6 minutes remaining in the 4th quarter. LJ hit all 5 of his three point attempts and played 44 minutes overall.

The Knicks also received positive contributions from Charlie Ward & Kurt Thomas. Ward scores 16 points on 4-6 from three and had 7 assists, 6 rebounds, and 3 steals. Ward was the key playmaker for the Knicks in transition and within the halfcourt offense, especially finding LJ for looks. Thomas scored 16 points off the bench and had 6 rebounds and 4 assists in 35 minutes. Chris Dudley started in Ewing’s absence, but only played 8 minutes due to Kurt’s productivity.

Latrell Sprewell & Marcus Camby were both hobbled throughout the game due to injuries. Spree fractured his 5th metatarsal in his left foot near the end of Game 3, but played nearly the entire game and scored 12 points despite being hurt. Camby also went down with a knee sprain in Game 3, but returned to secure 8 rebounds and 3 blocks in 18 minutes off the bench.

On This Date: Houston & Sprewell combine for 60 points to defeat the Indiana Pacers

May 27th 2000: Allan Houston & Latrell Sprewell combine for 60 points to defeat the Indiana Pacers in Game 3 of the 2000 Eastern Conference Finals

Down 2-0 to the Indiana Pacers and without Patrick Ewing due a sprained right foot, Allan Houston & Latrell Sprewell stepped up to defeat the Indiana Pacers at home 98-95 in Game 3 of the 2000 Eastern Conference Finals. Houston & Spree combined for 60 points to carry the Knicks offense.

The Knicks also played most of the game without Marcus Camby who suffered a sprained right knee early in the 2nd quarter. Camby suffered various knee injuries over the course of the season missing 23 games during the regular season.

Surprisingly, both Houston & Spree were mostly defended 1v1 throughout the entire game. The Pacers players openly questioned their coaching staff’s defensive strategy after the game. Pacers head coach Larry Bird even benched Knick killer Reggie Miller for nearly the final 2 minutes of the game after the Knicks cut the lead to 6.

On This Date: Knicks defeat Pacers in Game 2 of the 1994 ECF

May 26th 1994: The New York Knicks defeat the Indiana Pacers in Game 2 of the 1994 Eastern Conference Finals

The New York Knicks handled their business at home in the first two games of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Pacers. The Knicks defeated the Pacers 89-78 in Game 2. Patrick Ewing scored 32 points and grabbed 13 rebounds in 45 minutes. Derek Harper had an all-around effort with 18 points, 6 rebounds, and 8 assists. The Knicks, up 2-0, remained undefeated at home in the playoffs heading into Indiana.

Their home winning streak was in jeopardy with around 3 minutes remaining in the 3rd quarter as the Knicks were down 62-57. The Knicks, however, went on an 18-2 run to leap ahead by 11 with less than 8 minutes remaining in the 4th quarter. The run put the Knicks up for good.

On This Date: Ewing & Starks lead the Knicks past the Bulls in Game 1 of the 1993 ECF

May 23rd 1993: Patrick Ewing & John Starks score 25 points each to lead the Knicks past the Bulls in Game 1 of the 1993 Eastern Conference Finals

Patrick Ewing & John Starks scored 25 points each to help the Knicks defeat the Bulls 98-90 in Game 1 of the 1993 Eastern Conference Finals. Ewing also grabbed 17 rebounds and had 2 steals & 2 blocked shots in 44 minutes. Starks scored 25 on 5-7 from the three point arc and had 4 assists & 2 steals. The Knicks outscored the Bulls 43-29 in the final 19 minutes of the game after the Bulls established a 4 point lead at halftime.

The Knicks had the #1 seed in the Eastern Conference heading into the 1993 NBA Playoffs. The Knicks started the series with home court advantage and had a prime opportunity to prevent a Bulls’ three-peat after taking a 2-0 series lead. Unfortunately, the Knicks blew the 2-0 lead and the Bulls went on to secure the three-peat.

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: Ewing & Sprewell help the Knicks finish the Heat in Game 7

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May 21st 2000: Latrell Sprewell & Patrick Ewing help the New York Knicks close out the Miami Heat in Game 7 of the 2000 Eastern Conference Semifinals

The Knicks & Heat faced off against each other in a rematch of the previous year battle. Similar to 1999, both teams fought until the final deciding game where the Knicks once again defeated the Heat on the road in a close matchup. This was the 3rd time in the previous 4 seasons where the Knicks defeated the Heat in Miami.

Patrick Ewing & Latrell Sprewell scored a combined 44 points to help defeat the Heat 83-82. Ewing had a double double with 20 points and 10 rebounds on 5-10 from the field and 10-12 from the free throw line. Spree led the Knicks with 24 points, scoring 20 in the 1st half, and 5 assists. The duo helped withstand Alonzo Mourning’s 29 points, 13 rebounds, & 5 blocked shots.

Game 7, like the entire series, had a seesaw feeling to it. The Heat ended the 1st quarter up 9, but the Knicks stormed back to take a 6 point lead by halftime. The Heat eventually tied the game by the end of the 3rd and showed signs of extending the lead early on the 4th. Chris Childs turned out to be an X-Factor for the Knicks in Game 7 scoring 15 points, including the first 10 Knicks points in the 4th quarter, to keep the team in the game.

Ewing had one of the most pivotal plays with less than 1:30 left in the game. Down 1, Ewing received the ball in the post as Mourning gambled to steal the ball from him. Ewing deftly turned around for the go-ahead dunk that put the Knicks up 83-82. Those were the final points scored in the game.

On This Date: Knicks hire Hubie Brown as head coach

May 20th 1982: Knicks hire Hubie Brown as head coach

Less than a week after Red Holzman announced his retirement, the Knicks hired Hubie Brown as the new head coach. Before gracing the NBA airwaves with his commentary and basketball tutorial videos, Hubie spent more than 4 seasons coaching the Knicks.

Hubie enjoyed decent success early on taking the Knicks to the semifinals in his first 2 seasons with the team. However, debilitating injuries to both Bill Cartwright (foot) and Bernard King (knee) put the Knicks on a downward spiral for the rest of his tenure. Patrick Ewing also missed 32 games during his rookie campaign due to various injuries, including his knee. Essentially Hubie never had a full squad after the 1983-84 campaign.

Additionally, his high intensity and rigid approach to coaching eventually wore off on the team. His insistence for 10 man rotations and a peculiar decision to play Ewing at power forward alongside Cartwright marked a disappointing end to his Knicks tenure. After the Knicks fired Hubie in 1986, he didn’t return to coaching until 2002 with the Memphis Grizzlies.

On This Date: Patrick Ewing’s Game Winner against the Pacers saves the Knicks season

May 17th 1995: Patrick Ewing’s game-winner against the Indiana Pacers in Game 5

With the Knicks down 3-1 in the playoff series and on the brink of a potentially disappointing upset, Patrick Ewing saved the Knicks season with a running 7 foot basket with 1.8 seconds remaining to defeat the Indiana Pacers 96-95. The victory put the Knicks down 3-2 heading to Indiana for Game 6.

After losing home court advantage in Game 1 due to Reggie Miller’s heroics, the Knicks won Game 2, but lost the next 2 games in Indiana. Entering Game 5 down 3-1, there was plenty of pressure for the Knicks to win the final 3 games.

After Game 5, the Knicks did win Game 6 in Indiana, but was not able to close out the series in Game 7 at home. The loss ultimately resulted in Pat Riley’s abrupt resignation.

On This Date: Allan Houston’s Game Winner shocks the Heat and the NBA

May 16th 1999: Allan Houston hits the game-winning basket to upset the #1 seed Miami Heat and shock the NBA

Allan Houston made his mark in Knicks history with the game-winning basket with less than 5 seconds remaining to sink the Miami Heat 78-77. The Knicks became the 2nd #8 seed to upset the #1 seed in NBA history.2

The original play did not involve Houston hitting the game-winning basket. Latrell Sprewell originally had the ball in isolation, expecting to hit the game-winner. However, Spree nearly turned the ball over and the Knicks consequently reset possession with less than 5 seconds remaining. Charlie Ward fed Houston behind the three point arc. Houston then threw up a running floater that bounced off the front rim, then hit the back rim, and went in to put the Knicks ahead by 1 with 0.8 seconds.

The most iconic moment was Houston running to the other side of the floor pumping his fists in celebration with his teammates. The Heat crowd, teammates, and coaching staff were all left in shock after that basket. The Heat got one final opportunity to win the game, but Terry Porter missed the 35 foot heave and the Knicks clinched the ultimate playoff upset.

The Knicks were the underdogs throughout the entire regular season. The combo of a relatively new roster, shortened season, and an aging Patrick Ewing led to significant growing pains. There was a significant risk that the Knicks would miss the NBA playoffs for the first time since 1987. Additionally, there were rumblings regarding Jeff Van Gundy’s job security due to disagreements between him and Ernie Grunfeld. This victory calmed a lot of nerves within the Madison Square Garden faithful. For Van Gundy, this victory most likely helped secure his job with the organization.

On This Date: Knicks/Heat Fight Round 1: Charlie Ward & PJ Brown

May 14th 1997: Knicks/Heat Fight Round 1: Charlie Ward vs. PJ Brown

In the waning moments of a disappointing Game 5 loss against the Miami Heat, Charlie Ward & PJ Brown got into a nasty fight after trying to gain position for a rebound on the free throw line. After Tim Hardaway Sr hit the free throw, Ward rammed into PJ Brown trying to box out and Brown suplexed him to begin the melee. The fight ensued behind the baseline as coach Jeff Van Gundy & the various garbage time players on the floor, including John Wallace, attempted to separate the players.

Not learning the lessons from the 1994 NBA Playoffs, Patrick Ewing, John Starks, Larry Johnson, and Allan Houston all left the bench area to break up the fight. As a result, each of the 4 players were suspended one game each along with Charlie Ward. The NBA suspended PJ Brown 2 games for his role in the brawl.

With the multitude of suspensions, the NBA decided to stagger the suspensions, by last name order, over both Game 6 and 7. Ewing, Houston, & Ward were out for Game 6 and Johnson & Starks were out for Game 7. Although the Knicks were leading 3-2 in the series, the suspensions left the team severely undermanned. The Knicks lost both Games 6 and 7.

Before Game 6, the Knicks filed a lawsuit in the Southern District of New York to order a stay on the suspensions, arguing that the punishment should be determined in arbitration. The NBA Players Union sided with the Knicks alleging that the rule itself was never approved by the players in the collective bargaining agreement. On game day, the SDNY ruled in favor of the NBA arguing that the rule was plain and clear and within the rights of the league office.

The biggest “what-if” moment was determining how far the team would go into the NBA Playoffs. Had there been no suspensions, the Knicks most likely defeat the Heat and face off against the Chicago Bulls once again. The Bulls easily defeated the Heat in 5 games, but maybe the “new” Knick core of Ewing, Houston, & Larry Johnson provide a better fight.


May 14th 2003: Dave DeBusschere passed away

Dave DeBusschere passed away at the age of 63 after collapsing due to a heart attack. DeBusschere spent 6 seasons with the Knicks and won 2 championships. He was an 8 time All-Star and 6 time honoree of the All-Defensive Team. The Knicks retired his #22 and the NBA subsequently inducted him as one of the 50 Greatest Players in 1996. He was also inducted into the NBA Hall of Fame.

He also served in the Knicks front office and was responsible for drafting Patrick Ewing.

On This Date: Knicks win NBA Draft Lottery

May 12th 1985: Knicks win NBA Draft Lottery

1985 marked the first year the NBA instituted the draft lottery system to determine the draft order of the non-playoff bound teams. At the time, each non-playoff team received a lottery envelope to determine their draft position and had the same probability of receiving the #1 pick. In 1987, the lottery was modified so that only the first 3 picks were determined by the lottery. By 1990, the system shifted to a weighted system where the worst team had the best odds of receiving the #1 pick.

The Knicks, with team president Dave DeBusschere as the team’s representative, won the first ever NBA Draft Lottery. The Knicks beat the Indiana Pacers, who subsequently received the #2 overall pick. There was a near consensus that Patrick Ewing was the #1 overall pick. The Knicks, with the #1 overall pick, drafted Ewing and the rest is history.

Various NBA conspiracy theorists claimed that the draft lottery was rigged in favor of the Knicks to save the franchise. Conspiracy theorists believed that the NBA wanted Ewing in New York for box office reasons. There was another conspiracy theory that the Knicks envelope was frozen beforehand and allowed Stern to easily pick it up in the lottery. Most of those theories seem quite ludicrous, but I’ll take whatever’s necessary for the team to land Zion Williamson.


May 12th 1990: Patrick Ewing’s 45 points lifts the Knicks past the Pistons in Game 3

Down 0-2 in the 1990 Eastern Conference Semifinals, Ewing carried the New York Knicks with 45 points, 13 rebounds, 6 assists, & 3 blocked shots to defeat the Detroit Pistons 111-103 in Game 3. Ewing scored 45 on 14-24 from the field and 17-18 from the free throw line.

The victory helped the Knicks snap a couple streaks the Pistons held, including 12 straight playoff wins & a 4 game road winning streak. Unfortunately, the 1990 Detroit Pistons proved to just be too dominant as they won the next 2 games to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals. The Pistons ultimately won their 2nd consecutive NBA Championship.

On This Date: Patrick Ewing & Alonzo Mourning face off in the playoffs for the first time

May 9th 1993: Patrick Ewing & Alonzo Mourning’s first NBA Playoffs matchup

Former Georgetown Hoya alums Patrick Ewing & Alonzo Mourning faced each other in the NBA Playoffs for the first time on this date. For Ewing, this was his 6th straight season in the playoffs. For Zo, this was his 1st experience in the NBA Playoffs as this was his rookie campaign with the Charlotte Hornets. After Ewing graduated from Georgetown in 1985, the university waited 3 years until Mourning & Dikembe Mutombo both arrived on campus to man the Hoya frontcourt.

As for the playoff game itself, the vastly experience Knicks defeated the Hornets 111-95 in Game 1. This was the Hornets’ first year in the NBA Playoffs. Ewing won the battle against Zo with 33 points, 10 rebounds, and 4 blocked shots. Zo had a respectable performance with 27 points, 13 rebounds, and 4 blocks, but also committed 7 turnovers. His lack of experience2 proved to be costly as Ewing took advantage of him both defensively and offensively. Zo allowed Ewing to feast on the perimeter where his patented jump shot proved to be key to victory.

Anthony Mason had a double double off the bench with 11 points, 11 rebounds, & 5 assists in 38 minutes. There were several former and future Knicks on the Hornets roster at the time. Larry Johnson, a then 2nd year player, missed most of the game with a sprained right leg. Former Knicks Johnny Newman & Sidney Green played a decent role for the Hornets in Game 1. Newman started and scored 18 points in 28 minutes. Future Knick David Wingate, who’d become merely a garbage time presence with the team, entered in garbage time for the Hornets.