On This Date: Wish Xavier McDaniel a Happy Birthday!

June 4th 1963: Xavier McDaniel’s Birthday

Xavier “X-Man” McDaniel celebrated his birthday on this date. The Seattle Supersonics drafted X-Man as the 4th overall pick in the 1985 NBA Draft. After several solid seasons with the Sonics, the team dealt X-Man to the Phoenix Suns early in the 1990-91 season.

Shortly before the 1991-92 season, the Suns traded McDaniel to the Knicks for Jerrod Mustaf, Trent Tucker, and a couple 2nd round picks. X-Man perfectly fit into Pat Riley’s system and culture providing the toughness and intensity that permeated throughout the locker room. He was known for his tough battles with Scottie Pippen in the 1992 NBA Playoffs.

Following the 1991-92 season, Knicks President Dave Checketts, for some strange reason, decided to wait until past September to try to re-sign X-Man. Unfortunately, X-Man and agent David Falk moved on from the Knicks and signed a three year contract with the Boston Celtics. Facing a gap at the small forward position, Checketts went ahead to acquire Charles Smith in a three-team deal that sent Mark Jackson to the Los Angeles Clippers and Doc Rivers to NY.

X-Man seemed a perfect fit for NY and perhaps Dave Checketts should have spent more energy keeping him on the roster.

On This Date: Knicks steal Game 1 from the Bulls in the 1992 Eastern Conference Semifinals

May 5th 1992: The New York Knicks steal Game 1 from the Chicago Bulls in the 1992 Eastern Conference Semifinals

The victory snapped a 14 game losing streak against the Bulls (including the playoffs) dating back to the 1989-90 season. Patrick Ewing led the way with 34 points, 19 rebounds, 6 blocked shots, & 5 assists. Xavier McDaniel followed Ewing with 16 points and 7 rebounds.

The duo’s production was essential in matching the Bulls’ dynamic duo of Michael Jordan & Scottie Pippen. Jordan & Pippen combined for 53 points on 20-41 from the field.

With the game tied 87 all in the closing minutes of the game, Ewing took over and hit the go-ahead basket with less than 34 seconds remaining. However, a few Pippen & Jordan misses led to Knick free throws to extend the lead to 5 and to secure the victory.

On This Date: Knicks begin post-Mark Jackson era with win

November 6, 1992: Knicks open 1992-1993 season with 106-94 win on the road against the Atlanta Hawks

Patrick Ewing led the Knicks with a double-double, scoring 22 points and grabbing 11 rebounds. The trio of  Anthony Mason, Charles Oakley, & John Starks each scored in double figures with 15, 10, & 18 points, respectively.  

More importantly, this game marked life in the post-Mark Jackson era. Right before the end of the offseason, the Knicks traded Mark Jackson in a three-way trade with the Orlando Magic and Los Angeles Clippers for Doc Rivers & Charles Smith.

For the Knicks, their plan was clear: make and win the NBA finals in Ewing’s prime.

This trade helped provide the Knicks with the necessary reinforcements to surround their franchise player. While Mark Jackson had a solid 1991-92 season, Doc Rivers provided the necessary veteran leadership at the point guard position. Additionally, Charles Smith, before being infamously known for the missed layups, was a former 20 point scorer that provided length and the ability to block shots at either forward position. More importantly, Smith helped fill a void once Xavier McDaniel left for the Boston Celtics in free agency.

Additionally, the Knicks also let Kiki Vandeweghe and Gerald Wilkins go after the end of the previous season. The team replaced both players by trading for both Rolando Blackman and Tony Campbell. Both players provided the necessary veteran presence at the guard and small forward positions respectively.

For Doc Rivers, this game was also important because it marked his return against his former team. Rivers ended the game only scoring 8 points, but did dish out 6 assists.  

Tony Campbell slotted into the vacated small forward position and scored 16 points, 5 rebounds, and 4 assists in his debut. Charles Smith came off the bench to score 8 points in 8 minutes.

On This Date: Pat Riley wins his first game as Knicks head coach and KCD make their debut

November 5th 1991: Pat Riley wins his first game as Knicks head coach and Knicks City Dancers make their debut.

The Knicks won their first game of the season, fittingly, at Madison Square Garden by routing the Milwaukee Bucks 113-85. This game marked the first win of the Pat Riley era after being blown out for the first two games of the season. Newly acquired Xavier McDaniel led the team with 28 points and 13 rebounds. Mark Jackson led the team with 9 assists and scored 16 points. Patrick Ewing scored 24 points and blocked 3 shots in 34 minutes.   

After ending the 1st half only up by 1, the Knicks went on a 40-13 run in the 3rd quarter to blow the game open. Mark Jackson assisted in the run with three steals during the run that led to transition layups for the Knicks. The win broke a 6 game losing streak against the Bucks.

The game encompassed the the evolution of Pat Riley’s coaching philosophy. While his Los Angeles Lakers’ embodied the fast-paced Showtime era during the 1980s, Riley instituted a philosophy built around tenacious Ewing.  For Riley, having Patrick Ewing, Charles Oakley, & Xavier McDaniels man the frontcourt helped quickly foster the identity on the floor.

The game also marked the debut of the Knicks City Dancers (KCD). The KCD was formed due to the efforts of Pamela Harris, who joined the Knicks as director of marketing in 1991 under then-president Dave Checketts. Harris was part of a team with Checketts that coincided with the MSG renovations in the summer of 1991. Harris considered the KCD as a way to improve entertainment for fans, allow better connection between the fans and organization, and also provide additional revenue streams for the team.

The KCD debuted at Madison Square Garden during the game. The KCD eventually became a more tamer, but equally prominent equivalent of the Laker Girls and has been a success for the organization since inception. Harris’ team were also behind creative various new events with the Knicks, but was equally responsible for overseeing the creation of the “Go NY Go NY Go” theme song of the 1993-94 season.