A franchise with a colorful history like the Knicks has more than enough memorable moments to furnish a list like this one. From John Starks’ emphatic throwdown against the Bulls to Jeff Van Gundy hanging on to Alonzo Mourning’s leg, we give you…
10 Most Memorable Moments in Knicks History
1. John Starks’ The Dunk
In Game 2 of the 1993 Eastern Conference finals, Michael Jordan and the Bulls were up by three, 91-88, with just under a minute to go and the ball in Knicks possession. Knicks guard John Starks then shook off his defender and unleashed one hell of a rack attack that posterized no less than His Airness and Horace Grant.
It brought all of Madison Square Garden to their feet and sparked an 8-0 New York run to win the game, 96-91. To immortalize the play, Knicks fans christened Starks’ rim rattler as “The Dunk.”
2. Larry Johnson’s Four-Point Play
We arrive at yet another 91-88 score down the stretch with the eighth-seeded Knicks trailing Indiana in Game 3 of the 1999 Eastern Conference finals. With only around five seconds to go, Knicks forward Larry Johnson drilled a booming three-point shot, plus a foul, causing pandemonium to break out in the Garden. Johnson calmly sank the lone charity and gave the Knicks the lead for good. They eventually took the series and became the first team to get to the finals as a No. 8 seed.
3. Allan Houston’s Game Winner
Being the eighth seeded team, the Knicks were huge underdogs in the 1999 Eastern Conference playoffs first round against fierce nemesis, the top ranked Heat. Miami failed to bully their rivals as the Knicks took them to a last and deciding Game 5. With only five seconds remaining in the game and the Heat up, 77-76, Allan Houston released a soft runner near the top of the key. The shot bounced and went in, giving the Knicks the win and the credit of being only the second eighth-seeded team to win a series.
4. Jeff Van Gundy Clings to Alonzo Mourning’s Leg
The heated Knicks-Heat rivalry took an unintentionally comical turn when Knicks coach Jeff Van Gundy stormed the court in a futile attempt to break up a fight between two massive human beings named Larry Johnson and Alonzo Mourning. No, Van Gundy did not step in between those two smashing boulders. Instead, he mightily clung on to Mourning’s leg like a blubbering child. In a later interview, Van Gundy laughed it off, saying that he wasn’t “in a normal thought process at that very moment”.
5. Reggie Miller’s Late Game Eruption
Reggie Miller was the bane of the Knicks’ existence. And his shocking performance towards the end of the first game of the 1995 Eastern Conference semifinals will always be his crowning glory when it comes to frustrating Knicks fans.
Here’s a quick summary: the Knicks are up by six with a mere 18 seconds left on the game clock. Miller hits a three. Lead down to three. Then Miller stole an inbound pass and stepped back for another trey, tying the game. John Starks flubs two freethrows on the other side before Miller snares down a rebound off a Patrick Ewing miss before getting fouled.
Miller coolly sank both charities and the rest was history.
6. LeBron James’ 52 point performance
James unleashed one hell of a performance in front of the Knicks’ home crowd back in 2009 with an all-around spectacular display of basketball skills. On that night, The King scored 52 points. More impressively, he came close to finishing the game with a triple double by posting 11 assists and nine rebounds.
7. Kobe Bryant Scores 61 points
Two days before LeBron James put on quite a show in the Garden, it was Kobe Bryant who torched the Knicks on the road with a 61-point production. It was the highest scoring output by a player in MSG since 1968.
8. Michael Jordan Comeback
When Jordan left the NBA for his first “retirement,” many teams like the Knicks were delighted because a league without His Airness meant they were a step closer to the championship. So when Jordan announced his return in 1995, you can just imagine the horror felt by his rivals.
And it was horror Jordan spread in his fifth game after returning against the Knicks. Jordan dropped 55 points to silence any doubts that the then 32-year old legend didn’t have it in him anymore.
9. Willis Reed Returns
The Knicks were in search of their first NBA title in franchise history and they were on the cusp of winning it when they took a 3-2 series lead against the Los Angeles Lakers in 1970. However, captain and center Reed injured his right thigh during Game 5. He missed Game 6, allowing Lakers center Wilt Chamberlain to wreak havoc inside and tow LA to a win, thus forcing a winner-take-all Game 7.
No one knew if Reed was going to play and the guessing game continued up until the warm-up. That’s when Reed jogged out of the tunnel to the delight of the home crowd. In pain, Reed made his first two shots before sitting the rest of the game.
That was all the Knicks needed as they were all inspired by Reed’s appearance. The Knicks ended up winning number ten on our list.
10. 1970 NBA Championship
After Willis Reed walked off the court, having made his first two shots, the immensely inspired Knicks were quick to capitalize on their newfound motivation to win. Guard Walt Frazier played one heck of a ball game, posting a mind-numbing stat line of 36 points, 19 assists, and seven rebounds to propel the Knicks to their first ever NBA title, beating the Lakers, 113-99.
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