On This Date: Knicks broke 6 game losing streak as Ewing hit his first career 3 pointer

March 27th 1990: Knicks break 6 game losing streak as Ewing hit his first career 3 pointer

The Knicks defeated the Washington Bullets 119-100 to break a 6 game losing streak. Ewing led the way with 41 points, 12 rebounds, and 4 blocked shots. He was 14-22 from the field and 12-14 from the foul line. More impressively, Ewing made his first career three pointer. The three put the team up 18 with 1:44 remaining in the 3rd quarter. He would only make 18 more three pointers over the remainder of his career, the bulk of which occurred between the 1993-94 season and the 1995-96 season.

The game marked another matchup against former Knick Bernard King. King led the Bullets with 23 points, but it wasn’t enough to stop Ewing and the Knicks.

 

On This Date: Ewing scores a career high 51 points

March 24th 1990: Patrick Ewing scores a career high 51 points in a loss against the Boston Celtics

Despite losing 115-110 to the Boston Celtics in MSG, Patrick Ewing exploded for a career high 51 points in the effort. Ewing scored 51 on 20-29 from the field and 11-13 from the free throw stripe. Ewing also grabbed a ridiculously absurd 18 rebounds. The 51 points and 18 boards amounted to nearly half of the team’s total efforts on both ends.

Ewing simply put on a clinic in the post. He got almost any shot he wanted with a wide array of moves including turn around baskets, fade aways, and layups within the post. It seemed as if he would score any time he touched the ball. A complete dominant effort on the offensive end.


March 24th 1981: Knicks retire Dave DeBusschere’s number

The Knicks retired Dave DeBusschere’s #22 on this date. DeBusschere spent 6 seasons with the Knicks and was part of the team’s 2 championships. He was known as a very tenacious rebounder and defender, making 5 straight NBA All-Defensive Teams from 1969 until his retirement. He was selected to 4 straight NBA All-Star games from 1970-1974.

After his tenure in the NBA, DeBusschere spent his time working in the front office for the Nets in the 1970s before re-joining the Knicks front office in the 1980s. His lasting moment was winning the 1985 draft lottery to select Patrick Ewing with the #1 pick.

On This Date: Patrick Ewing dominates the Charlotte Hornets again

March 19th 1991: Patrick Ewing dominates the Charlotte Hornets for the third time this season

After scoring 50 and 38 points in the previous 2 meetings against the Charlotte Hornets, Patrick Ewing dominated once again with 41 points in a 97-79 victory on the road. Ewing scored 41 on 18-25 from the field, but also grabbed 8 rebounds, dished 7 assists, and blocked 3 shots in the dominant effort. Ewing led or tied the team in all 4 categories.

Ewing was the sole dominant force for the Knicks as he scored nearly half the team’s points. Only he and Kiki Vandeweghe scored in double figures for the team. Outside of Vandeweghe, Ewing scored nearly as many points as the rest of the roster. Most of the team struggled to shoot from the floor outside of Ewing. The win gave the Knicks 17 road wins, which surpassed their total from the previous season.

On This Date: Knicks fire Don Nelson and promote Jeff Van Gundy to head coach

March 8th 1996:  The New York Knicks fire Don Nelson and appoint Jeff Van Gundy as the new head coach

In one of the shortest head coaching tenures in modern NBA history, the Knicks fired Don Nelson after only 59 games despite a 34-25 record with the team. Unlike the Golden State Warriors, where Nelson feuded with Chris Webber, the entire team had issues with Nelson. Nelson favored a modern up-tempo style of basketball while the players wanted more of the same under the Pat Riley era. He centered the offense around Anthony Mason and unleashed his skills as a point-forward to the disdain of Patrick Ewing. Ewing obviously favored centering the offense from the low post. In the weeks leading up to his firing, Nelson benched John Starks and had Hubert Davis replace him in the 4th quarters of games.

The final straw was when Nelson stated – off the record with people in Madison Square Garden – that the Knicks had to move on from Patrick Ewing and try to trade him to Orlando for Shaquille O’Neal. The word caught back to Ewing and the relationship was toast. The core Knicks – led by Ewing – sparked a mini-insurrection until Ernie Grunfeld fired Nelson.

In reality, the Knicks roster were insistent on maintaining the status quo and the style of offense and defense that thrived under Pat Riley. Nelson wanted to implement a modern, but eccentric approach to basketball that an old veteran team was not willing to accept. Some of his initial philosophies, including using Anthony Mason as a point forward, have been incorporated in today’s modern NBA.

Jeff Van Gundy replaced Nelson as the interim head coach. Van Gundy, then 34, stuck around as an assistant coach dating back to the Stu Jackson era. His offensive and defensive philosophies were largely influenced from the Riley era. He centered the offense back around Ewing and re-emphasized defense. The Jeff Van Gundy Knicks personified tough defense while often sacrificing high scoring outputs on offense.

Furthermore, Van Gundy inherited assistant coach Don Chaney from Nelson’s coaching staff to be his full-time assistant coach until his resignation in 2001. During his tenure with the Knicks, he played a role in developing 3 assistant coaches that eventually became NBA head coaches in Tom Thibodeau, Steve Clifford, and Mike Malone.

On this date: Knicks score 133 in victory against the Spurs

March 21st 1988: The New York Knicks score a then-season high 133 points in a victory against the San Antonio Spurs

In a box score that would fit in with the modern NBA, the Knicks scored a then-season high 133 points in a 133-121 road victory against the San Antonio Spurs. The team shot over 52% from the field even though they only made 2 three point shots. Additionally, the Knicks attempted 45 free throws, but only made 31 of the attempts. Interestingly enough, the bench had just as many free throw attempts as the starting lineup, but only missed 4 free throws compared to 19 for the latter group.

6 Knicks scored in double figures in the victory. Rookie Mark Jackson continued his stellar Rookie of the Year campaign with 20 points, 7-10 from the field, and 14 assists. Johnny Newman led the Knicks in scoring with 25 points, on 12-21 from the field, and 7 assists. Patrick Ewing scored 23 points on 10-15 from the field.

The Knicks eventually broke their season high in scoring with 136 points in a road victory against the Philadelphia 76ers on April 5th 1988.

 

On This Date: Gerald Wilkins outscores MJ

March 6th 1987: Gerald Wilkins outscored Michael Jordan in a rare feat during the 1986-87 season

In a rare feat during the 1986-87 season, Gerald Wilkins outscored Michael Jordan 33-31 to help the Knicks defeat the Bulls 110-109 in Chicago. Patrick Ewing scored 31 points and hit the go-ahead basket with 8 seconds left. Ultimately it was Jawann Oldham, acquired by the Knicks from the Bulls before the season, who blocked Jordan’s final shot attempt to preserve the victroy.

Wilkins’ feat was impressive as it was only the 2nd time that a guard outscored MJ and only the 7th person overall to do so during the season. MJ averaged 37.1 points/game during the 1986-87 season, a feat only Wilt Chamberlain topped, Kobe Bryant nearly reached, and one that James Harden could potentially eclipse. It was impressive for any player to outscore MJ that season.

Wilkins was also on a torrid scoring streak, averaging nearly 28 points a game over his last 11 games. He went on to average over 19 points a game during the 1986-87 season. While not as flashy as his brother Dominique, Gerald did spend a few seasons participating in the dunk contest and was often the starting SG during his tenure with the Knicks.

His tough matchups unexpectedly, according to Wilkins, gave him the nickname of “Jordan Stopper” when the Cleveland Cavaliers signed him before the 1992-93 season. MJ outdueled Wilkins in the 1993 NBA Playoffs in what amounted to be their last playoff matchup against each other.

On This Date: Knicks defense stifles Clippers

March 5th 1992: The New York Knicks’ defense stifles the Los Angeles Clippers in MSG

When Pat Riley arrived in New York, his main goal was to bring the Detroit Bad Boys defensive culture to Madison Square Garden. The same style of basketball that stymied both the Chicago Bulls and Riley’s Lakers. Gone was the Showtime fast break styled offense trademarked in Los Angeles and in came a tough grind-it-out style of basketball personified by defense.

On this date, the Knicks used that newly formed defensive mantra to stop the Los Angeles Clippers 101-91. Patrick Ewing led the Knicks with a double double and had 31 points, 11 rebounds, and 6 blocks. Additionally, Mark Jackson had a double double with 18 points and 16 assists.

It was the Knicks defense in the 4th quarter that sealed the victory. The Knicks held the Clippers to only 11 points in the quarter including a scoreless stretch of 4 minutes and 27 seconds. Riley went with a 5 man unit of Ewing, Jackson, Anthony Mason, John Starks, and Kiki Vandeweghe over the remaining 8 minutes of the game. For Mark Jackson, it was equally impressive as Pat Riley often put him to the task to become a better defensive point guard.

The win marked the 4th straight game the Knicks held an opponent to under 100 points.

On This Date: Patrick Ewing’s number retired and Anthony Mason passes away

February 28th 2003: Patrick Ewing’s number retired

Patrick Ewing’s number 33 was finally retired on this date in Madison Square Garden. The Knicks have not retired another number since this date. The ceremony was conducted during halftime of the matchup between the Knicks and the Magic. Marv Albert was the MC of the event.

The Knicks brought back some of Ewing’s coaches from John Thompson to Stu Jackson to Jeff Van Gundy. Additionally, Dave Checketts, Ernie Grunfeld, and Jeff Van Gundy were in attendance for the ceremony. Several of Ewing’s teammates were there including Bernard King, Louis Orr, Gerald Wilkins, Xavier McDaniel, Kenny Walker, Johnny Newman, John Starks, Doc Rivers, and Charles Oakley.

Furthermore, several Knick legends were in attendance including Cazzie Russell, Dick McGuire, Dick Barnett, Clyde Frazier, Earl Monroe, Dave DeBusschere, and Willis Reed. DeBusschere drafted Ewing in 1985 and this was one of his final public events before his death in May of 2003.

The Knicks invited various NBA legends from Michael Jordan, Julius Erving, Chris Mullin, Dikembe Mutombo, Charles Barkley, and Alonzo Mourning. Most of these players were Ewing’s arch rivals during his playing career. At the same time, Ewing, Zo, and Mutombo were Georgetown alums.

For the game itself, the Knicks won 118-110 in a double overtime thriller. Clarence Weatherspoon had 15 points and a career high 24 rebounds. However, it was Ewing’s former teammate Latrell Sprewell who stole the show with a triple double of 28 points, 11 rebounds, 11 assists, and 5 steals. He made 6-8 from three as well.


February 28th 2015: Anthony Mason passed away

Anthony Mason passed away on this date due to congestive heart failure. He suffered a massive heart attack earlier in the month. He was 48 at the time of his death.

Mase made his home in New York after spending the first few years of his basketball career shuffling between the NBA and various international basketball leagues. While being a pivotal role player for the Knicks with his tenacious defense, he blossomed into a nearly All-NBA player later in his career with the Charlotte Hornets and the Miami Heat. He showed adept point forward skills during those years, scoring, rebound, and pass the ball with ease. To an extent, Mase set the precedent for players such as Draymond Green having success in the modern NBA.

On This Date: Mr Big Shot strikes in Miami and Ewing returns to MSG

February 27th 2011: Chauncey Billups strikes against the Miami Heat

Mr. Big Shot1 struck again, this time with the Knicks, on a 91-86 nationally televised victory against the Miami Heat in Florida.

Billups scored 16 points, but it was his clutch go-ahead three over Dwyane Wade with just over a minute remaining that made the difference in the Knicks thrilling victory. On the next possession, Billups stole a pass from Chris Bosh that led to two free throws for Shawne Williams.

This was a highly anticipated game after the Melo trade. Melo & LeBron went head-to-head the entire game; Melo led the way with 29 points and Bron scored 27. Amare Stoudemire had a double double with 16 points and 10 rebounds. He had the most pivotal play in the game with a game-saving block against LeBron to seal the victory.

The Knicks struggled in the outset trailing by 15 through the middle of the 2nd quarter. However, the team went on a 16-0 run to close the half with a 1 point lead. Billups contributed to 9 of the points with 2 threes and 1 assist during the run.


February 27th 2001: Patrick Ewing’s return to MSG

In one of the more awkward sights in Knicks history, Patrick Ewing returned to MSG wearing a Seattle Supersonics uniform. This was his first return to the Garden since the trade. Ewing scored 12 points in 32 minutes as the Knicks defeated the Sonics 101-92.

The Knicks gave Ewing a very nice tribute video thanking him for all his contributions and highlighted most of his accomplishments while with the team. The MSG faithful gave him a loud standing ovation as most of the fans and players on both teams stood and cheered for several minutes. One of those players was Ewing’s former battery mate Mark Jackson, recently acquired in a trade a week earlier. The MSG crowd chanted “Patrick Ewing” as well to much fanfare. Afterwards the MSG PA announcer introduced the Seattle Supersonics starting lineup. The PA announcer introduced Ewing first and the crowd roared. Watch more of the tribute below.

On This Date: Terry Cummings scores 18 to help the Knicks defeat the Bucks

February 26th 1998: Terry Cummings scores 18 to lead the Knicks to victory

With a myriad of injuries in the frontcourt, the Knicks relied on newly acquired Terry Cummings to help propel the Knicks to a 102-90 victory against the Milwaukee Bucks. Cummings came off the bench to score 18 points in 22 minutes.

The Knicks acquired Cummings, the 1983 NBA Rookie of the Year, from the Philadelphia 76ers for Ron Grandison & Herb Williams.2 Neither player played meaningful minutes for the Knicks before the trade.

With Patrick Ewing sidelined with a broken wrist, the Knicks relied on a diverse group of players to fill his minutes. Chris Dudley was the only traditional center on the roster that received a bulk of the starts. In the instance the team played small, the then-38 year old Buck Williams and Chris Mills received a chunk of minutes.

With Buck Williams sidelined until April due to arthroscopic knee injury, the Knicks acquired Cummings to reinforce the frontcourt depth. While a devastating knee injury zapped Cummings of most of his athleticism and scoring prowess, he could still be relied on for playing adequate defense and making the mid-range jump shot. At 37 years old, he was also another elder statesman in the Knick frontcourt.

After the Indiana Pacers exposed the Knicks’ overall age in the 1998 NBA Playoffs, the team shipping Cummings, along with John Starks and Chris Mills, to the Warriors shortly before the 1998-99 season for Latrell Sprewell.

On This Date: Several Knicks honored in the NBA’s 50 Greatest Players Ceremony

February 9th 1997: Several Knicks honored in the NBA’s 50 Greatest Players Ceremony

To commemorate the 50 year anniversary of the NBA, the league honored the 50 greatest players to play in the association. A panel of former players, coaches, and media members voted in the top 50 players. Then-NBA Commissioner David Stern announced the list on October 29th 1996 at the Grand Hyatt in New York City. The hotel was the site of the old Commodore Hotel. The hotel is where the NBA signed the inaugural charter 50 years earlier.

The ceremony occurred during the halftime of the 1997 NBA All star Game in Cleveland. At the time, 11 active players were chosen as the Top 50 players in the league, including a then-24 year old Shaquille O’Neal. Additionally, Dave DeBusschere, Walt “Clyde” Frazier, Jerry Lucas, Earl Monroe, Willis Reed, and Patrick Ewing represented the players who played (or in Ewing’s case, currently playing) for the Knicks.

On This Date: Knicks make statement in victory against the Seattle Supersonics

January 29, 1994: The New York Knicks make a statement to the #1 seed Seattle Supersonics in a road victory

The New York Knicks, in the middle of a three-game West Coast trip, sent a strong message to the #1 seed Seattle Supersonics with a 106-92 victory. Seven players scored in double figures, including the entire starting lineup, led by Patrick Ewing’s 21 points and 18 rebounds. Anthony Mason scored 17 points off the bench and Charles Oakley had a double double with 11 points and 10 rebounds. Despite trailing 58-51 at the end of the 1st half, the Knicks went on a 21-5 run in the 3rd quarter and outscored the Sonics 32-13 to take a 12 point lead heading into the 4th quarter.

Both the Knicks (29-11) & Sonics (31-9) cruised atop the standings in their respective conferences. Due to Micheal Jordan’s sudden retirement, many in the NBA circles believed that this game was a foreshadowing of an NBA Finals matchup. The youthful duo of Gary Payton & Shawn Kemp led the Sonics to victories and many highlight-reel plays. Detlef Schrempf & Kendall Gill provided ample scoring from the wing positions.

The Knicks eventually had the best record in Atlantic Division (#2 overall in the East) and the Sonics had the best record in the Western Conference. However, Dikembe Mutombo and the Denver Nuggets had different plans. The Nuggets surprisingly upset the Sonics in the 1st round of the Western Conference playoffs. The Knicks did make it to the NBA Finals, but instead faced Hakeem Olajuwon and the Houston Rockets.

On This Date: Latrell Sprewell trade, Knicks defensive streak, Remembering Ned Irish

January 21, 1999: The New York Knicks acquire Latrell Sprewell 

On the first day after the end of the 1998-99 NBA Lockout, the New York Knicks acquired the talented, but highly controversial Latrell Sprewell from the Golden State Warriors. In return, fan favorite John Starks, Chris Mills, & Terry Cummings departed for the Warriors. Sprewell spent most of the 1997-98 season suspended as a result of choking his coach PJ Carlesimo in practice. The Warriors shopped Sprewell to teams since the suspension. The Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs were the other potential suitors in trade rumors, but the Knicks ultimately provided the best offer.

Sprewell, then 28 years old, provided a combination of explosive scoring, youthful athleticism, and tenacious defense. He definitely had baggage, which included question marks about his character, his position on the team (Allan Houston was the starting shooting guard), and overall team chemistry. However, no one could question his potential and overall ceiling to a team on the cusp of contention trying to claw back into the NBA Finals in the waning years of the Patrick Ewing era.

Starks was undoubtedly a fan favorite and one of Ewing’s closest friends. Cummings & Mills were both serviceable bench players for the team. Knicks GM Ernie Grunfeld performed a significant facelift of the roster before the 1998-99 season. He noticed how the Miami Heat (Tim Hardaway, Jamal Mashburn, Alonzo Mourning) and Indiana Pacers (Antonio and Dale Davis) outhustled the tired legs of the older Knicks. Grunfeld determined it was necessary to sacrifice some veteran savvy for youthful athleticism to push for another NBA Finals run. As a result, the team swapped John Starks & Charles Oakley for Latrell Sprewell & Marcus Camby.

Sprewell came off the bench2, but became a pivotal player in the playoffs, especially after Patrick Ewing suffered a torn Achilles. He later became a starter for the Knicks and made the 2001 NBA All Star team.


January 21, 2001: The New York Knicks hold opponents to under 100 points for the 33rd straight game

As a testament to the defensive mentality in the Jeff Van Gundy era, the Knicks pulled off a 33-game streak of holding opponents to under 100 points. Their last game was on this date in a 87-74 loss against the Indiana Pacers. The Knicks began the streak by holding the Charlotte Hornets to 67 points on November 11, 2000. During the streak, the Knicks held opponents to 70 points and below three times and held ten additional opponents to under 80 points.

The streak remains as the 2nd longest streak in modern NBA history (post-1960). Only the 2003-2004 Detroit Pistons held opponents to under 100 points longer (38 games). As the NBA emphasizes more scoring and a pace-and-space game, I don’t believe any team will match the Knicks streak.


January 21, 1982: Ned Irish passed away

Ned Irish, the founding owner and president of the New York Knicks, passed away on this date at the age of 77. He started his career covering basketball games and promoted games at Madison Square Garden in the 1930s. His role as promoter helped spread awareness of the game heading into the 1940s.

Irish was one of the founders of the Basketball Association of America which later became the NBA in 1949. He was behind naming the Knicks as the New York Knickerbockers. The word “Knickerbocker” was used as a reference to New Yorkers and their Dutch heritage.

As owner and president of the Knicks, Irish left a lasting legacy in the NBA. He was responsible for allowing teams to keep their share of admission revenues. This proved beneficial for a major market team such as the Knicks. He was also instrumental in urging the American Basketball Association (ABA) to merge with the NBA.

Irish was originally a more hands-off owner, but became more hands-on in the 1950s heading into the early 1960s, similar to other familiar NY team owners (George Steinbrenner, James Dolan). His greatest move was convincing Red Holzman to coach the Knicks. He ceded control to Red and the Knicks won 2 championships under his ownership.

Irish was not an owner with much personality or candor. He was known to be unapproachable and cold at times, as discussed in Alan Hahn’s 2012 book “New York Knicks: The Complete Illustrated History.” However, his legacy is unquestionable. He became a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1964.

On This Date: Knicks play on MLK Day for the first time

January 19th 1987:  The New York Knicks host their first MLK day game

President Ronald Reagan passed historic legislation in 1983 to mark the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr Day as a national holiday. The law stated to observe MLK Day on the third Monday in January, which would then land approximately around MLK’s actual birthday of January 15th. The United States observed MLK Day for the first time in 1986.

A year later, the New York Knicks hosted the Boston Celtics for their first ever MLK Day game matinee. To the pleasure of many fans, the Knicks upset the defending champion Celtics 111-109. The duo of Patrick Ewing and Bill Cartwright led the team with 66 combined points. The Knicks had a 12 point lead with less than 6 minutes remaining.

However, Larry Bird led a comeback and tied the game with seconds remaining. Louis Orr dribbled down the court and hit the game winning bank shot inside the 3 point line to give the Knicks the upset victory. The shot was #24 on the top 25 game winning shots in Knicks history as shown in the video below:

Since that game, the Knicks started a tradition to play on MLK day. To this date, the team is 20-12 on the historic holiday.

On This Date: Red Holzman sets the Knick record for most coaching victories

January 12, 1974: Red Holzman sets club record in head coaching victories

The New York Knicks defeated the Golden State Warriors 96-80. In the victory, Red Holzman set a club record with 327 regular season victories. He surpassed the record held by Joe Lapchick. Lapchick coached the Knicks for eight seasons between 1948-1956.

Red eventually reached 613 total wins over 14 seasons with the Knicks. The team recognized his coaching feat by retiring the number 613 in the rafters in 1990. In a testament to the rapid turnover of coaches, no coach outside of Holzman or Lapchick coached more than seven seasons with the Knicks. Jeff Van Gundy coached part of the 1995-96 and 2001-02 seasons, but only coached five full seasons with the team. Only Van Gundy & Pat Riley exceeded 200 wins as Knick coaches (248 and 223 respectively).


January 12, 1989: The New York Knicks rout the Charlotte Hornets 106-89

The Charlotte Hornets made their first visit to Madison Square Garden as an inaugural franchise. Unfortunately for them, the Knicks routed the Hornets 106-89. Mark Jackson led the Knicks with 18 points, 5 assists, and 4 steals. Both Patrick Ewing and Charles Oakley netted double doubles.

The Knicks started the game very sloppy. The team committed 15 turnovers in the 1st half and held a tie game with the 9-24 Hornets roster. In a desperation move, coach Rick Pitino inserted Trent Tucker into the starting lineup for the 2nd half and the defensive pressure intensified. The Knicks went on a 15-0 run in the 3rd quarter and ballooned the lead to 22 points by the end of the 3rd quarter.

The 1988-89 season marked the Hornets’ inaugural season. The team was one of four franchises – the Miami Heat, Minnesota Timberwolves, and Orlando Magic were the other three – that the NBA included in their expansion plans. The Heat & Hornets began their inaugural season in 1988-89 while the Magic & Timberwolves began in 1989-90.

The Hornets struggled for their first few seasons, but stockpiled several young players including Muggsy Bogues, Kendall Gill, Larry Johnson, & Alonzo Mourning. The quartet helped lead the team to their first playoff berth in 1992-93. While upsetting the Boston Celtics in the first round of the playoffs, they faced strong headwinds against a veteran-laden Knicks roster. The Knicks easily routed the Hornets in 5 games.

 

On This Date: Queens native Metta World Peace returns to MSG as a rookie

January 11, 2000: Metta World Peace (f/k/a Ron Artest) returns to MSG as a rookie

In the 1999 NBA Draft, Ed Tapscott inexplicably drafted Frederic Weis over St. John’s own Metta World Peace. 99% of Knicks fans and media, alike, panned the selection. Even MWP himself was baffled the Knicks didn’t select the Queens native. The Chicago Bulls selected him right after the Knicks picked Weis.

On this date, MWP returned to MSG for the first time as a Chicago Bulls player. Additionally, Peekskill native Elton Brand – picked #1 overall in the 1999 NBA Draft – also made his rookie MSG debut. MWP led the Bulls with 24 points on 6-15 from the field with 4 assists and 2 steals. Elton Brand scored 22 points on 9-18 from the field.

However, the veteran-laden Knicks roster was too much for the Baby Bulls as they sailed to a 95-88 victory. The Knicks had 6 players score in double figures as Larry Johnson led the team with 19 points. Patrick Ewing had a double double with 14 points and 14 rebounds.

World Peace had an idiosyncratic NBA career to most standards. While known as one of the toughest defenders in the league, his volatile personality derailed most of his prime years. The Malice at the Palace forever tainted his career. His best years came with the Los Angeles Lakers, winning a championship ring with Kobe Bryant and Phil Jackson.

MWP did have a short run with the Knicks during the 2013-14 season. However, a combination of lack of playing time and CAA politics led to a buyout during the middle of the season. He did return to the Lakers for a few seasons, enjoying Kobe’s farewell season and mentoring some of the younger players on the roster.

On one hand, I could have seen MWP mesh well with a strong veteran presence in the 90s Knicks roster. The roster could have played a crucial mentorship role that he lacked early on in his career. However, I could also see that NYC would also be a distraction for him due to growing up here. Many NYC-bred basketball players did not succeed with the Knicks due to a myriad of reasons including high expectations and temptations.


January 11th 1997:  The New York Knicks sweep the Boston Celtics on “Throwback Weekend.”

To commemorate the 50 year anniversary of the NBA, the Knicks & Celtics participated in a back-to-back “Throwback Weekend.” The two teams were the only two franchises still playing in their original cities. The Knicks took a train ride up to Boston to play the first matchup on January 10th and returned to MSG to play the doubleheader the next evening. Legends from both teams including Bob Cousy, Bill Russell, Earl Monroe, and Dave DeBusschere attended the festivities. Legendary Celtics coach Red Auerbach was the team president.

Both teams wore special throwback uniforms that celebrated the 50 year anniversary of the NBA. The Knicks wore the following throwback uniforms:

As for the games itself, there was not a lot of competition. The Knicks swept the home-and-home series 111-98 and 112-99 respectively. The Knicks held a 17-game winning streak against the Celtics. The streak reached 21 games before the 94-85 loss on January 26, 1998.

While the Knicks were perennial playoff contenders in the 1990s, the Celtics were in a phase of rebuilding after the Larry Bird/Kevin McHale retirements and Reggie Lewis’ sudden death.

On This Date: Starks hits 8 threes to shock the Indiana Pacers

January 10, 1995:  John Starks ties a then-team record with 8 three-pointers to beat the Indiana Pacers

In the first game since the contentious 1994 Eastern Conference Finals matchup, John Starks tied a then-team record with 8 three-pointers made to stun Reggie Miller and the Indiana Pacers by a score of 117-105. Starks led the Knicks with 31 points and hit 8-11 from downtown and 10-16 overall from the field.

The Knicks frazzled the Pacers with their offensive firepower, shooting 61.8% from the field and dishing out 32 assists. Patrick Ewing scored 19 points on 9-21 shooting, but had a season-high 7 assists. Derek Harper had a double double with 16 points and 13 assists.

Charles Smith added 19 points. He had a small skirmish with Reggie Miller that nearly spilled into the locker room. With 2.3 seconds left in regulation, both players collided into the lane and received double technicals after exchanging words. After the game, Reggie tried to approach Smith in the locker room, but teammates held him back before doing so.

More importantly, Starks broke out of a slump with his offensive performance. After making the 1994 All Star team and posting career-high numbers, his offensive numbers took a dip that must have carried over from his infamous Game 7 performance in the 1994 NBA Finals. Starks had a slight drop in performance during the 1994-95 season, shooting 39.5% from the floor and averaging 15.3 points/game.

However, Starks became a more proficient three-point shooter, as evidenced by his output in this game. Starks averaged 2.7 threes/game for a total of 217 three pointers made, the first player to make 200 threes in the NBA. In the current pace-and-space era of the NBA where three pointers are shot at high volumes, this feat is quite remarkable.

 

On This Date: Knicks spoil Grant Hill’s MSG Debut

December 28, 1994: Grant Hill makes his MSG debut, but the Knicks prevail with the victory

The New York Knicks spoiled Grant Hill’s MSG debut with a 101-93 victory against the Detroit Pistons. Patrick Ewing led the Knicks with 30 points and 11 rebounds. Charles Smith also had a double double with 23 points and 10 rebounds. 

Hill – the heralded rookie from Duke – scored 21 points, but shot 7-19 from the field and Anthony Mason stymied him on the defensive end. Hill represented a new era for the Pistons after Isiah Thomas retired after the 1993-94 season. Additionally, future Knick Allan Houston played 4 minutes off the bench, but didn’t contribute to his statline.

Despite the win, the Knicks faced another significant injury in the frontcourt. Herb Williams fractured his middle finger in his left hand after colliding with Anthony Mason grabbing a rebound. The Knicks were already without Charles Oakley, who was out until February after undergoing surgery on his toe. 

Due to those injuries, the Knicks signed journeyman Greg Kite as a reinforcement in the front court. However, the Knicks waived Kite in February once Herb Williams returned from injury. Kite only played 16 minutes in 2 games, so he wasn’t relied upon in his brief tenure with the team.

On This Date: Reflecting on the history between the Knicks and Christmas Day

For me, Christmas Day has meant a few habitual traditions: watch the Christmas Day Parade, spend time with family, eat plenty of food, and watch basketball. Yes, basketball.

In recent years, the NBA schedule makers were kind enough to place the Knicks back onto the Christmas schedule. The Knicks have played on Christmas in eight of the past nine seasons.  

The Knicks have played the most Christmas Day games so far, with 52 games in the 72-year history of the NBA leading into this season. Most of the matchups were held in Madison Square Garden. The Lakers unsurprisingly are right behind the Knicks with 43 Christmas Day matchups.

The Knicks are 22-30 on Christmas Day. They have one more win than the Lakers (21-22) and have the most losses out of any team.  It doesn’t help that the Knicks lost six of the eight previous matchups.

The Knicks held the first Christmas Day game in NBA history in 1947 against the Providence Steamrollers. The game was held at 9pm and broadcasted on WCBS. Stan Lomax and Bob Edge called the game. The Knicks won the game 89-75 in the original Madison Square Garden.  Tommy Byrnes scored 20 points and Carl Braun scored 19.

The 1980s featured 2 of the most memorable Christmas games ever. Bernard King scored a then franchise-record 60 points in a 120-114 loss against the New Jersey Nets in 1984. 

In 1985, rookie Patrick Ewing helped the Knicks overcome a 25-point deficit to beat the Boston Celtics in double overtime.

The NBA decided to start the 2011-12 season on Christmas Day due to the lockout. The Knicks hosted the Boston Celtics and TNT broadcasted the game. The game marked the debut of Tyson Chandler. Carmelo Anthony & Amare Stoudemire combined for 58 points and Tyson Chandler blocked 6 shots in the 106-104 victory.  

The most memorable moment came at the end when Bill (now Henry) Walker contested Kevin Garnett’s jumpshot to seal the victory. Garnett inexplicably choked Bill Walker after the buzzer. To no one’s surprise, the NBA decided not to punish Garnett for his actions.

 

On This Date: David Lee’s game-winning tip-in and Patrick Ewing suffers career-altering wrist injury

December 15, 2006: David Lee defies basketball odds with the game-winning and buzzer-beating tip in

On Trent Tucker’s birthday, David Lee not only defied the Trent Tucker rule, but also most basketball odds with an unbelievable tip in with 0.1 seconds left in double overtime to beat the Charlotte Bobcats 111-109 in double overtime. 

Lee flashed to the top of the key and immediately reversed back to the basket and juked out Gerald Wallace to receive the tip courtesy of a sidelines out-of-bounds pass from Jamal Crawford. Lee, being ambidextrous, deftly reversed and used his right hand to tip the shot in, sending Madison Square Garden in a state of paranoia.

The MSG broadcast crew of Gus Johnson & Walt “Clyde” Frazier previewed the Trent Tucker game and reminded the viewers of the rule.  Once Lee hit the shot, Gus Johnson went in his usual state of frenzy.  

The MSG camera crew focused onto Michael Jordan2 and close friend Ahmad Rashad as Knicks fans heckled them after the victory.  Additionally, Patrick Ewing and Charles Oakley attended the game with Jordan.  Ironically all three players were active in the Trent Tucker game and re-witnessed history made again courtesy of David Lee.


December 20, 1997: Patrick Ewing suffers broken wrist in an injury that significantly alters the remainder of his career

In a franchise-altering move, Patrick Ewing suffered a broken wrist after attempting to receive an alley-oop pass in a matchup against the Milwaukee Bucks. Bucks center, and future Knick, Andrew Lang fouled Ewing mid-air and sent him into a dangerous fall. Ewing suffered a dislocated bone and a few torn ligaments in his right wrist, his shooting hand. He immediately had surgery days after and expected to miss the remainder of the season.

This marked the first time Ewing spent a significant amount of the season injured since his sophomore campaign. Over the course of his Knick career to date, Ewing was always reliable and durable. This injury forced the Knicks to quickly consider life without Ewing and to build a foundation not dependent on him.

Despite the injury, the Knicks went 43-39 and made it to the Eastern Conference Semifinals to face the Indiana Pacers in another rivalry matchup.  Defying most odds, Ewing made a remarkable comeback to return in Game 3 back home at MSG.  

Ewing’s return resulted in a triumphant victory in Game 3, but wasn’t enough to withstand the feisty Pacers roster. The Knicks lost the series in 5 games.

The wrist injury forever altered Ewing’s career. He was not able to regain his adept shooting much post-wrist injury. He suffered exponentially on offense and later suffered a torn Achilles in the 1999 playoffs. The Knicks acquired Sprewell & Marcus Camby before the 1998-99 season to prepare for life without Ewing.

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: Bernard King returns to MSG as a Washington Bullets player and Jeff Van Gundy unexpectedly quits

December 8, 1987: Bernard Kings makes his first visit to MSG as a member of the Washington Bullets

Bernard King returned to Madison Square Garden for the first time as a Washington Bullet. The Knicks got the last laugh in a 116-92 blowout victory. King came off the bench to score 19 points in 32 minutes.

Patrick Ewing & Bill Cartwright combined for 52 points and simply overpowered the Bullets’ frontcourt. Mark Jackson nearly had a triple double with 8 points, 8 rebounds, and 11 assists.

King missed the entire 1985-86 season and all but 6 games of the 1986-87 season recovering from the torn ACL.  In the 6 games, King averaged 22.7 points a game and shot nearly 50% from the field.

However, the Knicks decided against re-signing Bernard King in the summer of 1987 for various reasons.  At the time, the Knicks were afraid that King wouldn’t fully recover from the knee surgery.  At the same time, the front office didn’t like that King did most of his rehabilitation away from the team and barely attended games during the stretch.  Furthermore, the Knicks committed to rebuilding with Patrick Ewing, Mark Jackson, & Kenny Walker, amongst others, and thought that King would be a deterrence to the development process.

Despite the Knicks’ qualms, King was able to make a near-full recovery and had several productive seasons after his Knicks tenure.  He made the 1991 All Star team and averaged 28.4 points/game that season, including a 49 point effort against the Knicks.

The Knicks had a short stint of success in the Rick Pitino era and spent a lot of effort looking for small forwards after King’s departure.  Perhaps Bernard King would have made a difference.


December 8, 2001:  Jeff Van Gundy unexpectedly quits

In a day that marked the downward spiral of the New York Knicks in the 2000s, Jeff Van Gundy (JVG) abruptly resigned after a 10-9 record to start the season. The team won 5 of their last 6 games heading into the resignation.

He was known as one of the hardest working coaches in the league.  Many of his former assistant coaches currently coaching in the NBA possess the same traits as him. Six + years of coaching at high intensity took a toll on Van Gundy and his family.  JVG, then 39, was married with a 6 year old daughter and often longed to spend more time with his family.

JVG felt he was losing the team as early as the 2000-01 season, the same reason the Knicks traded Ewing.  The team wasn’t playing with the same intensity that they were reputed for during the 90s.  He often questioned the team’s effort and publicly stated that the team was “mailing it in” during some of the games.

Additionally, Van Gundy dealt with tragedy close to home as two of his close friends, Farrell Lynch & Bill Minardi, were killed in the September 11th attacks.  The culmination of events leading up to the season were tough to overcome.

JVG left the Knicks with a 248-172 record.  He spent nearly 7 years as an assistant coach under Stu Jackson, John MacLeod, Pat Riley, & Don Nelson.  As a head coach, he led the Knicks to an unexpected NBA Finals run in 1999.  Despite the success, he was nearly fired on multiple occasions and dealt with a highly publicized feud with GM Ernie Grunfeld that led to the latter’s dismissal.  Furthermore, he outlasted both Patrick Ewing and Dave Checketts, leaving him with few allies internally in the organization.

Don Chaney took over for JVG as interim coach.  It’s safe to say the Knicks never recovered after his resignation during the decade.  Likewise, JVG has admitted that he shouldn’t have resigned.

On This Date: Patrick Ewing scores 43 to withstand Dominique Wilkins and the Atlanta Hawks in Double Overtime

December 7, 1991:  Patrick Ewing & Dominique Wilkins face off in a head-to-head matchup, but Ewing comes out victorious in a 137-128 thriller in double OT

December 7th 1991 marked a head-to-head duel between two of the top scoring phenoms in the league: Patrick Ewing & Dominique Wilkins. Ewing dominated inside the paint with a variety of low post moves and a reliable midrange shot. Dominique dominated the game with an array of dunks, spin moves, and midrange jumpshots.

On this date, both players combined for 95 points in the Knicks double overtime thriller. Ewing scored 43 points with 14 rebounds, 2 steals, and 2 blocks on 55% shooting. Dominique scored 52 points shooting 57% from the field and 16-18 from the free throw stripe.

Additionally, Dominique’s younger brother Gerald Wilkins scored 26 points on 11-18 from the field to complement Ewing. Despite scoring exactly 1/2 the amount of points, the younger Wilkins came out victorious.

Unlike previous seasons, the Knicks showed an ability to persevere and mount timely comebacks. The team was down by 10 with 5 1/2 minutes left in the 4th quarter and were able to tie the game and send it to overtime.  The victory was equally impressive as it came off the 2nd game in a road back-to-back, of which the team lost the first game 103-92 to the Boston Celtics.

The victory put the Knicks at a record of 11-6.  The game was also their 3rd comeback victory of the season.

On This Date: Knicks fire Stu Jackson

December 3, 1990: Knicks fire Stu Jackson and hire John Macleod as head coach

The Knicks fired Stu Jackson and hired John MacLeod to take over as head coach. Jackson was an assistant on Rick Pitino’s staff dating back to his days coaching the Providence men’s basketball team. Once Pitino left the Knicks for the University of Kentucky, the Knicks hired Stu Jackson as head coach, marking him the third youngest coach in Knicks history, at the time.2

Jackson led the Knicks to a 45-37 record in his first season and upset the Boston Celtics in the 1st round of the playoffs. The Knicks fired Jackson in the following season after his Knicks started the season 7-8, losing 5 of their last 6 games, and 3 straight games at home.

His offensive philosophy was more conservative and half court oriented, which marked a significant contrast from Pitino’s uptempo style. However, the personnel largely resembled what Pitino looked for in his system resulting in a disjointed level of play. Additionally, there was a lot of tension around the team during that season. There were reports that Stu Jackson sparred with his assistant coaches placed on the team by General Manager Al Bianchi to oversee his performance. The players, including Mark Jackson and Patrick Ewing, took issue with various things from playing time, contract situations, and even traveling up to Westchester to practice.

John MacLeod returned to the NBA after the Dallas Mavericks fired him in the previous season. MacLeod developed a relationship with Bianchi during their tenure with the Phoenix Suns. MacLeod led the Knicks to a 39-43 record and lost to the eventual NBA champion Chicago Bulls in the first round of the playoffs.

Neither Bianchi or MacLeod lasted past the season.  The Knicks fired Bianchi in March 1991 and replaced by Dave Checketts. The team fired MacLeod after the regular season and subsequently hired Pat Riley as the new head coach. The rest is history.


December 3, 1968: Knicks beat Hawks by 33 points in Madison Square Garden

The New York Knicks handily beat the Atlanta Hawks 126-93 in Madison Square Garden. The Knicks had four players in double figures, including Dick Barnett (24 points), Walt “Clyde’ Frazier (20 points), Cazzie Russell (19 points), & Phil Jackson (15 points).

The win gave the Knicks their 11th win of the season (11-14). The team would eventually win 54 games and made the Eastern Division Semifinals under Red Holzman’s first full year as head coach of the team.

This game was the second of six matchups against the now-Atlanta Hawks. The Hawks moved to Atlanta from St. Louis beginning in the 1968-69 season. After refusing to remain in St. Louis, the team was sold to Atlanta-based real estate developer Tom Cousins and former Georgia governor Carl Sanders. Clyde Frazier grew up in Atlanta and finally got to play against his new home town team.

On This Date: Knicks score 133 to shock Pistons

November 23, 1988: Knicks utilize half-court trap and three pointers to shock the Detroit Pistons 133-111 in the Palace of Auburn Hills

The road to the championship for the Detroit Pistons, who went into the game 9-1, approached a bump in the road against Rick Pitino & the New York Knicks.  The combination of aggressive half-court traps and 3-point shots stifled the Pistons, who came into the game limiting opponents to only 98.6 points per game, a mark 2nd in the league.

Patrick Ewing led the way with 37 points, 12 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals, & 4 blocks and made 12-15 from the free throw line.  However, Johnny Newman & Trent Tucker played pivotal roles in the victory.  Newman & Tucker scored a combined 44 points on 8-13 from three.  The team overall shot 9-16 from three point distance.2

The game also showcased the combo point guard duo of Mark Jackson & Rod Strickland.  Both point guards got playing time together with the injury of Gerald Wilkins.  Jackson had a double double with 14 points and 14 assists.  Strickland had 9 points and 5 assists in 15 minutes.

The Pitino system frustrated the Pistons the entire night.  Pitino established the interior game with Ewing to draw fouls and open the floor for three point shots.  The team hit 35 free throws compared to 11 for the Pistons.  The aggressive trapping led to 22 Pistons turnovers and easy buckets (including threes) for the Knicks.  Future Knick GM Isiah Thomas committed 7 turnovers and, after the game, admitted the half-court press was “murder.”