New York Knicks


New York Knicks
New York Knicks
2011–12 New York Knicks season
New York Knicks logo
Conference Eastern
Division Atlantic
Founded 1946
History New York Knicks
(1946–present)
Arena Madison Square Garden
City Manhattan, New York City, New York
Team colors Blue, Orange, Silver, White
                   
Owner(s) James Dolan/Madison Square Garden, Inc.
General manager Glen Grunwald (interim)[1]
Head coach Mike D'Antoni[1]
D-League affiliate Erie BayHawks
Championships 2 (1970, 1973)
Conference titles 8 (1951, 1952, 1953, 1970, 1972, 1973, 1994, 1999)
Division titles 4 (1971, 1989, 1993, 1994)
Retired numbers 9 (10, 12, 15, 15, 19, 22, 24, 33, 613)
Official website
Kit body knicksh.png
Home jersey
Kit shorts knicksh.png
Team colours
Home
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Away jersey
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Team colours
Away

The New York Knickerbockers,[2] prominently known as the Knicks, are a professional basketball team based in New York City. They are part of the Atlantic Division of the Eastern Conference in the National Basketball Association (NBA). The organization was a founding member of the Basketball Association of America in 1946 and joined the NBA after the BAA and National Basketball League merged.

The Knicks are one of only two teams of the original National Basketball Association still located in its original city (the other being the Boston Celtics). The "Knickerbocker" name comes from the pseudonym used by Washington Irving for his A History of New York, which name became applied to the descendants of the original Dutch settlers of what later became New York, and later, by extension, to New Yorkers in general.[2]

The Knicks were successful during their early years and were constant playoff contenders. Beginning in 1950, the Knicks made three consecutive appearances the NBA Finals, all of which were losing efforts. Subsequently, the team began to falter and it was not until the late sixties when Red Holzman became head coach did the Knicks begin to regain their former dominance. Holzman successfully guided the Knicks to two championships in 1970 and 1973.

Though a consistent playoff contender afterwards, New York struggled to recapture their former success. In the past decade the Knicks have only made the playoffs twice most recently losing to the Boston Celtics in the first round of contention under the lead of Amar'e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony.

Contents

History of the New York Knicks

Early years (1946–1967)

Basketball, particularly college basketball, was a growing and increasingly popular sport in New York City.[3] Hockey was also highly popular and generated considerable profits however the arenas were not used often and generally remained empty.[3] Boston Garden owner Walter A. Brown began to wonder what may happen if the hockey arenas hosted basketball games when no hockey games were being played.[3] On June 6, 1946, Brown and a group of eighteen other businessmen met at the Hotel Commodore in New York City and after discussion, charter franchises were granted and thus the Basketball Association of America (or BAA) was born.[4]

It was on this same day that Ned Irish, a college basketball promotor and retired sportswriter, was granted a franchise in New York.[5] Irish felt he could make professional basketball profitable and therefore felt New York was ready for a professional basketball team.[5] As President of Madison Square Garden, Irish was prepared to usher the sport of basketball into a new era.[5] He named his franchise the Knickerbockers following a meeting with staff members who chose various names out of a hat, selecting the name they liked the best.[2][6][7]

With no college draft in the league's initial year, there was no guarantee that the Knicks or the league itself would thrive especially without a league-wide structure.[6] The Knickerbockers held their first training camp in the Catskill Mountains at the Nevele Country Club.[8] Twenty-five players were invited to attend with camp taking place for approximately three weeks.[8] With a roster assembled and a head coach to guide the team in Neil Cohalan, the Knickerbockers took on the Toronto Huskies at Toronto's Maple Leaf Gardens on November 1, 1946 in what would be the franchise's first game—as well as the BAA's.[8] A low scoring affair presented in front of 7,090 spectators, the Knickerbockers went on to defeat the Huskies 68–66 with Leo Gottlieb leading the Knicks in scoring with twelve points.[6][8]

With Madison Square Garden's crowded schedule, the Knicks were forced to play many of their home games at the 69th Armory Regiment during the team's early existence.[5] The Knicks went on to finish their inaugural campaign with a 33–27 record and a playoff berth under Cohalan despite a dismal shooting percentage of 28%.[6] The Knicks faced the Cleveland Rebels in the quarterfinals overcoming the Rebels winning two games to the Rebels' one.[9] However the Knicks were swept by the Philadelphia Warriors in two games in the semi-finals.[9]

The following season, the Knicks added American-Japanese guard Wataru Misaka, the first non-Caucasian professional basketball player, to their roster, in what is considered as an important step in basketball history.[10] Additionally, Cohalan was replaced with Joe Lapchick who quit his coaching job with St. John's University to accept the position with New York.[11] Under Lapchick, the Knicks made nine straight playoff appearances beginning in 1947.[12] In his first season, Lapchick guided the team to a 26–22 record with the team finishing second in the Eastern division. The Knicks faced the Baltimore Bullets in the quarterfinals spliting the series 1–1. The Knicks however could not overcome the Bullets and were eliminated from contention. Lapchick's second year produced similar results as the team finished with a 32–28 record and a third straight playoff appearance. The Knicks defeated the Bullets in a rematch of their previous encounter in 1947 winning the series 2–1. The team however struggled against the Washington Capitols and lost the series 1–2.

Lapchick was responsible for leading the Knicks during their early success. However, these ventures never culminated with a win in the NBA Finals.

Prior to the beginning of the 1949–50 season, the BAA merged with the National Basketball League to form the National Basketball Association with the BAA absorbing six teams from its former competitor.[12] Despite division realignments, the Knicks remained in the Eastern Division.[12] The team continued its dominance under Lapchick winning forty games however they lost the Eastern Division finals to the Syracuse Nationals.[12]

The following season, the Knicks made history signing Sweetwater Clifton to a contract thus, becoming the first professional basketball team to sign an African American player.[12] During this same season, the Knicks finished their year with a respectable 36–30 record though they place third in their division, they managed to secure a playoff spot and began the first of three consecutive trips to the NBA Finals.[12] In spite of their success, the Knicks could not overcome the Rochester Royals despite a valiant comeback after losing the first three games of the Finals.[12] The next two years, in 1952 and 1953, New York lost to the Minneapolis Lakers in the Finals.[12]

It was during this early period, the Knicks developed their first standout players in Carl Braun who retired as the Knicks leading scorer with 10,449 points before later being surpassed by the likes of Patrick Ewing, Walt Frazier and Willis Reed.[12] Harry Gallatin and Dick McGuire were also well known standouts on the team and later entered the Basketball Hall of Fame.[12]

Following these back-to-back losses, the Knicks made the playoffs in the subsequent two years with no success. Lapchick resigned as the team's head coach in January 1956 citing health-related issues.[13] Vince Boryla made his debut in February 1956 as the Knicks' new coach in a win over the St. Louis Hawks[14] however after two seasons of poor performance and no playoff appearances, Boryla tendered his resignation from the team in April 1958.[15]

Looking to regain their former dominance, Andrew Levane was named the head coach and in his first year, the results were significantly better as the team finished with a 40–32 record, securing their playoff spot.[16] However, the Knicks could not manage to get past the Eastern Division semi-finals.[16] The Levane-led squad fared poorly to begin the 1959–60 season and under mounting pressure Levane resigned and was immediately replaced by Carl Braun, who became the team's first player-coach.[17] The team did not fare much better under Braun and the Knicks hired Eddie Donovan, who helped build up St. Bonaventure's basketball team, in 1961.[18] During Donovan's tenure, New York failed to achieve a playoff berth and, as a testament to their struggles, on March 2, 1962 the Knicks, playing the Philadelphia Warriors in Hershey, Pennsylvania, became infamously involved in Wilt Chamberlain's scoring an NBA-record 100 points against the Knicks in a 169–147 Warriors victory.[12][16]

In 1964, the franchise's fortunes began to take a steady turn. The Knicks drafted center Willis Reed, who made an immediate impact on the court and was named NBA Rookie of the Year for his efforts.[12] However, the head coach carousel was still spinning. In an attempt to reorganize, the Knicks named former standout Harry Gallatin as head coach while promoting Donovan to general manager.[19] After a slow start in 1965, Dick McGuire, another former Knick, replaced his former teammate Gallatin midway through the season.[16] Though he failed to guide the Knicks to the playoffs in 1965, he managed to do so the following season, however the Knicks lost in the Eastern Division semi-finals.[16] McGuire was abruptly replaced midway through the 1967–68 season after the team began the season with a 15–22 record.[16]

Championship years (1967–1975)

With the Knicks under .500, the team decided to hire Red Holzman whose impact was immediate. Under his direction, the Knicks went 28–17 and finished with a 43–39 record thus salvaging a playoff berth however, the Knicks were again vanquished in the Eastern Division semi-finals by the Philadelphia 76ers.[16] However their roster was slowly coming together piece by piece. Rookies Phil Jackson and Walt Frazier were named to the NBA All-Rookie Team while Dick Barnett and Willis Reed performed in the 1968 NBA All-Star Game.[12]

William 'Red' Holzman guided the Knicks to two championships during his tenure.

The following season, the team acquired Dave DeBusschere from the Detroit Pistons, and the team went 54–28.[16][20] In the ensuing playoffs, the team made it past the first round of the playoffs for the first time since 1953, sweeping the Baltimore Bullets in three games, before falling to the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Division finals.[21]

Walt 'Clyde' Frazier

In the 1969–70 season, the Knicks had a then-single-season NBA record 18 straight victories en route to a 60–22 record, which was the best regular season record in the team's history.[22][23] After defeating the Bullets in the Eastern Division semifinals and the Milwaukee Bucks in the Eastern Division finals, the Knicks faced the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA Finals.[22] With the series tied at 2–2, the Knicks would be tested in Game 5. Willis Reed tore a muscle in his right leg in the second quarter, and was lost for the rest of the game.[24] Despite his absence, New York went on to win the game, rallying from a 16–point deficit.[24]

Without their injured captain the Knicks lost Game 6, setting up one of the most famous moments in NBA history.[24] Reed limped onto the court before the seventh game, determined to play through his pain.[24] He scored New York's first two baskets before going scoreless for the remainder of the contest.[24] Although he was not at full strength, Reed's heroics inspired the Knicks, and they won the game by a score of 113–99, allowing New York to capture the title that had eluded them for so long.[24] Reed, who had been named the All-Star MVP and the league's MVP that season, was named MVP of the Finals thus, becoming the first player to attain all three awards in a single season.[24]

The Knicks' success continued for the next few years. After losing to the Bullets in the 1971 Eastern Conference finals, the team, aided by the acquisitions of Jerry Lucas and Earl "The Pearl" Monroe, returned to the Finals in 1972.[12] This time the Knicks fell to the Lakers in five games.[12] The next year, the results were reversed, as the Knicks defeated the Lakers in five games to win their second NBA title in four years.[25] The team had one more impressive season in 1973–74, as they reached the Eastern Conference finals, where they fell in five games to the Celtics.[26] It was after this season that Willis Reed announced his retirement, and the team's fortunes took a turn for the worse.[27]

After the championship years (1975–1985)

In the 1974–75 season, the Knicks posted a 40–42 record, their first losing record in eight seasons. However, the record still qualified them for a playoff spot, though the Knicks lost to the Houston Rockets in the first round.[12] After two more seasons with losing records,[16] Holzman was replaced behind the bench by Willis Reed who signed a three year contract.[28] In Reed's first year coaching the team, they posted a 43–39 record and made it to the Eastern Conference semifinals, where they were swept by the Philadelphia 76ers.[29] The next season, after the team got off to a 6–8 start,[30] Holzman was rehired as the team's coach as Reed had angered Madison Square Garden president Sonny Werblin.[31][32] The team did not fare any better under Holzman's direction, finishing with a 31–51 record, their worst in thirteen years.[30]

After improving to a 39–43 record in the 1979–80 season, the Knicks posted a 50–32 record in the 1980–81 season.[12] In the ensuing playoffs, the Chicago Bulls swept them in two games.[12] Holzman retired the following season as one of the winningest coaches in NBA history. The team's record for that year was a dismal 33–49.[12] However, Holzman's legacy would continue through the players he influenced. One of the Knicks' bench players and defensive specialists during the 1970s was Phil Jackson. Jackson went on to coach the Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers to eleven NBA championships, surpassing Red Auerbach for the most in NBA history. Jackson has cited Holzman as a significant influence on his career in the NBA.[33]

Hubie Brown replaced Holzman as coach of the Knicks, and in his first season, the team went 44–38 and make it to the second round of the playoffs, where they were swept by the eventual champion Philadelphia 76ers.[34] The next season, the team, aided by new acquisition Bernard King, improved to a 47–35 record and returned to the playoffs.[12] The team beat the Detroit Pistons in the first round with an overtime win in the fifth and deciding game, before losing in second round once again, this time in seven games to the Celtics.[12] The team's fortunes again turned for the worse the next season, as they lost their last twelve games to finish with a 24–58 record.[12] The first of these losses occurred on March 23, 1985, where King injured his knee and spent the next 24 months in rehabilitation.[12]

The Patrick Ewing era (1985–2000)

Patrick Ewing

As a result of the Knicks' dismal performance in the 1984–85 season, the team was entered into the first-ever NBA Draft Lottery.[35] The team ended up winning the number one pick in that year's NBA Draft. They used the pick to select star center Patrick Ewing of Georgetown University.[35] In Ewing's first season with the Knicks, he led all rookies in scoring (20 points per game) and rebounds (9 rebounds per game), and he won the NBA Rookie of the Year Award.[36] The team would not fare as well, though, as they struggled to a 23–59 record in his first season.[16]

During Ewing's second season, the team started with a 4–12 record and head coach Hubie Brown was dismissed in favor of assistant Bob Hill.[37] Under Hill, the Knicks had brief successes but went on to lose seventeen of their twenty-one final games of the season to finish 20–46 under Hill and 24–58 on the season.[38][39] Hill was dismissed at seasons end.[40]

The team immediately turned around in the 1987–88 season with the hiring of Rick Pitino as head coach, who, only months prior to his hiring, led Providence College to the Final Four, turning around a program that had struggled prior to his arrival.[40] Combined with the selection of point guard Mark Jackson, who won the NBA Rookie of the Year Award and garnered MVP consideration, in the draft and with Ewing's consistently stellar play, the Knicks made the playoffs with a record of 38–44, where they were defeated by the Celtics in the first round.[41][42]

The resurgence continued the following season as the team traded backup center Bill Cartwright for power forward Charles Oakley before the season started and then posted a 52–30 record, which was good enough for their first division title in eighteen years and their fifth division title in franchise history.[43][44][45] In the playoffs, they defeated the 76ers in the first round before losing to the Chicago Bulls in the Eastern Conference semi-finals.[44]

Prior to the start of the 1989–1990 season, Pitino departed from New York to coach for the University of Kentucky leaving many stunned by his departure.[46] Assistant Stu Jackson was named as Pitino's replacement becoming the team's fourteenth head coach and the youngest head coach in the NBA, at the time, at the age of thirty-two.[47] Under Jackson's direction, the Knicks went 45–37 and defeated the Celtics in the first round of the playoffs, winning the final three games after losing the first two. They went on to lose to the eventual NBA champion Detroit Pistons in the next round.[48] Jackson and the Knicks struggled to a 7–8 record to begin the 1990–91 season and Jackson was replaced by John McLeod who led the Knicks to a 32–35 record, ending the season with a 39–43 record overall that was good enough to earn the team another playoff appearance. The Knicks were swept in the first round by the eventual NBA champion, Chicago Bulls.[49]

Sensing that the team needed a better coach in order to become a championship contender, new Knicks president Dave Checketts hired Pat Riley prior to the 1991–92 season. Riley, who coached the Lakers to four NBA titles during the 1980s, implemented a rough and physical style emphasizing defense. That season, the team, which now included fan favorite John Starks, improved with a 51–31 record, good enough for a first place tie in the Atlantic Division. After defeating the Pistons in the first round of the playoffs, the team battled with the Bulls for seven games, before once again letting the Bulls get the best of them.

The 1992–93 season proved to be even more successful, as the Knicks won the Atlantic Division with a 60–22 record. Before the season, the Knicks traded Mark Jackson to the Los Angeles Clippers for Charles Smith, Doc Rivers, and Bo Kimble while also acquiring Rolando Blackman from the Dallas Mavericks. The team made it to the Eastern Conference finals, where once again they met the Bulls. After taking a two games-to-none lead, the Knicks lost the next four games.

After the Bulls' Michael Jordan made what would be his first retirement from basketball prior to the 1993–94 season, many saw this as an opportunity for the Knicks to finally make it to the NBA Finals. The team, who acquired Derek Harper in a midseason trade with the Dallas Mavericks, once again won the Atlantic Division with a 57–25 record. In the playoffs, the team played a then NBA-record 25 games (the Boston Celtics played 26 games in the 2008 playoffs); they started by defeating the New Jersey Nets in the first round before finally getting past the Bulls, defeating them in the second round in seven games. In the Eastern Conference Finals, they faced the Indiana Pacers, who at one point held a three games-to-two lead. They had this advantage thanks to the exploits of Reggie Miller, who scored 25 fourth quarter points in Game 5 to lead the Pacers to victory. However, the Knicks won the next two games to reach their first NBA Finals since 1973.

In the finals, the Knicks would play seven low-scoring, defensive games against the Houston Rockets. After splitting the first two games in Houston, the Knicks would win two out of three games at Madison Square Garden, which also hosted the New York Rangers first Stanley Cup celebration in 54 years following their win over the Vancouver Canucks in Game 7 of their finals during the series. (A Knicks win would have made the Garden the first building to host a Cup winner and an NBA champ in the same season.) In Game 6, however, a last-second attempt at a game-winning shot by Starks was tipped by Rockets center Hakeem Olajuwon, giving the Rockets an 86–84 victory and forcing a Game 7. The Knicks lost Game 7 90–84, credited in large part to Starks's dismal 2-for-18 shooting performance and Riley's stubborn refusal to bench Starks, despite having bench players who were renowned for their shooting prowess, such as Rolando Blackman and Hubert Davis available. The loss denied New York the distinction of having both NBA and NHL championships in the same year. Nevertheless, the Knicks had gotten some inspiration from Mark Messier and the Rangers during the finals.

The next year, the Knicks were second place in the Atlantic Division with a 55–27 record. The team defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers before facing the Pacers again in the second round. The tone for the Knicks–Pacers series was set in Game 1, as Miller once again became a clutch nuisance to the Knicks by scoring eight points in the final 8 seconds of the game to give the Pacers a 107–105 victory. The series went to a Game 7, and when Patrick Ewing's last-second finger roll attempt to tie the game missed, the Pacers clinched the 97–95 win. Riley resigned the next day, and the Knicks hired Don Nelson as their new head coach.

However Nelson's uptempo approach clashed with the Knicks' defensive identity, and during the 1995–96 season, Nelson was fired after 59 games, and, instead of going after another well-known coach, the Knicks hired longtime assistant Jeff Van Gundy, who had no prior experience as a head coach. The Knicks ended up with a 47–35 record that year, and swept the Cavaliers in the first round of the playoffs before losing to the eventual champion Bulls (who had an NBA record 72 wins in the regular season) in five games.

In the 1996–97 season, the Knicks, with the additions of such players as Larry Johnson and Allan Houston, registered a 57–25 record. In the playoffs, the Knicks swept the Charlotte Hornets in the first round before facing the Miami Heat (coached by Riley) in the second round. The Knicks took a 3–1 lead in the series before a brawl near the end of Game 5 resulted in suspensions of key players. Many of the suspended Knicks players, Ewing in particular, were disciplined not for participating in the altercation itself, but for violating an NBA rule stipulating that a benched player may not leave the bench during a fight (the rule was subsequently amended, making it illegal to leave the "bench area"). With Ewing and Houston suspended for Game 6, Johnson and Starks suspended for Game 7, and Charlie Ward suspended for both, the Knicks lost the series.

The 1997–98 season was marred by a wrist injury to Ewing on December 22, which forced him to miss the rest of the season and much of the playoffs. The team, which had a 43–39 record that season, still managed to defeat the Heat in the first round of the playoffs before having another meeting with the Pacers in the second round. Ewing returned in time for game two of the series. This time, the Pacers easily won the series in five games, as Reggie Miller once again broke the hearts of Knicks fans by hitting a tying three-pointer with 5.1 seconds remaining in Game 4, en route to a Pacers overtime victory. For the fourth straight year, the Knicks were eliminated in the second round of the playoffs.

Prior to the lockout-shortened 1998–99 season, the Knicks traded Starks in a package to the Golden State Warriors for 1994's 1st team all league shooting guard Latrell Sprewell (whose contract was voided by the Warriors after choking Warriors' head coach P. J. Carlesimo during the previous season), while also trading Charles Oakley for Marcus Camby. After barely getting into the playoffs with a 27–23 record, the Knicks started a Cinderella run. It started with the Knicks eliminating the #1 seeded Heat in the first round after Allan Houston bounced in a running one-hander off the front of the rim, high off the backboard, and in with 0.8 seconds left in the deciding 5th game. This remarkable upset marked only the second time in NBA history that an 8-seed had defeated the 1-seed in the NBA playoffs, and also the first (and currently only) time it happened in the Eastern Conference. After defeating the Atlanta Hawks in the second round four games to none, they faced the Pacers yet again in the Eastern Conference Finals. Despite losing Ewing to injury for the rest of the playoffs prior to Game 3, the Knicks won the series (aided in part to a four-point play by Larry Johnson in the final seconds of Game 3) to become the first eighth-seeded playoff team to make it to the NBA Finals. However, in the Finals, the San Antonio Spurs, with superstars David Robinson and Tim Duncan, proved too much for the injury-laden Knicks, who lost in five games. The remarkable fifth game of this Finals is remembered for its 2nd half scoring duel between the Spurs' Tim Duncan and the Knicks' Latrell Sprewell, and was decided by a long jumper by Avery Johnson with 47 seconds left to clinch the title for the Spurs.

The 1999–2000 season would prove to be the last one in New York for Ewing, as the Knicks, who had a 50–32 record that season, defeated Miami in another dramatic 7-game series in which Ewing's dunk with over a minute remaining in game 7, provided the winning margin in a 1-point road victory. They would however lose in the Eastern Conference Finals to the Pacers in six games. After the season, Ewing was traded on September 20, 2000, to the Seattle SuperSonics, and the Ewing era, which produced many successful playoff appearances but no NBA championship titles, came to an end.

Post-Ewing era plummet (2000–2008)

The current version of Madison Square Garden has been the home of the Knicks since 1968.

Despite the loss of Ewing, the Knicks remained successful in the regular season, as they posted a 48–34 record under the direction of Houston and Sprewell.[50] In the first round of playoff contention, however, New York fell to the Toronto Raptors in five games, failing to get past the first round of the playoffs for the first time in a decade.[51] After a poor start to the season, the Knicks managed to get above .500 with a 10–9 record.[52] In spite of their recent success, Van Gundy unexpectedly resigned as head coach on December 8, 2001 explaining he had "lost focus" and would no longer be able to properly coach the team.[53] The team, which named longtime assistant Don Chaney as their new head coach, ended the season with a 30–52 record, and for the first time since the 1986–87 season, they did not qualify for the playoffs.[16][52]

In October 2002, the team elected to extend Chaney's contract for another year thus, allowing him to coach the team despite their dismal performance following Van Gundy's departure.[54] Rather than rebuilding, the Knicks opted to add veterans to the roster, namely Antonio McDyess who had been dealing with knee problems the past few years.[55][56] Furthermore, the Knicks were criticized by many analysts as multiple players on the roster were overpaid in lew of their poor performances thus, causing salary cap problems that would persist until Donnie Walsh took over as team president.[55][57] McDyess injured his knee during the team's third preseason game and was subjected to further operations in April 2003 after a CT scan revealed the injured knee necessitated he undergo bone-graft surgery.[56] The Knicks managed only seven wins in their first twenty games, setting the tone for the rest of the season which they completed with a 37–45 record; their second consecutive season without a playoff appearance.[58]

After a 10–18 start to the 2003–04 season, the Knicks underwent a massive overhaul. Isiah Thomas was named the Knicks' president on December 22, 2003 upon the firing of Scott Layden.[59] Thomas continued to restructure the team firing Chaney after an unproductive tenure and hired Hall of Famer Lenny Wilkens to coach the team.[60] Additionally, Thomas orchestrated multiple trades, including one that brought point guard Stephon Marbury to the team.[61] The team qualified for the playoffs that year with a 39–43 record, but were swept by the New Jersey Nets in the first round.[62] The series included a highly publicized spat between the Knicks' Tim Thomas and Nets' Kenyon Martin, in which Thomas all but challenged Martin to a fight and called him "Fugazy."[63] The following season, the Knicks struggled to a 17–22 record before Wilkens resigned as head coach.[64] Herb Williams, who had previously coached the team in a game against the Orlando Magic prior to the team hiring Wilkens, took over as interim head coach for the remainder of the season and did not fair much better as the Knicks ended their season with a 33–49 record and out of playoff contention.[62][64][65]

Hoping to find a leader that could put the team back on track, New York hired Larry Brown to coach the team.[66] Brown, who idolized the team during his childhood, was well regarded for his coaching abilities and his arrival brought a sense of hope to the franchise.[66] Hoping to find the next Patrick Ewing, the Knicks drafted center Channing Frye and signed centers Jerome James and Eddy Curry, the former prior to the season and the latter during the season.[67] Curry, who reportedly had a worrying heart condition, refused to take a controversial DNA test, and fell out of favor with John Paxson, Chicago's general manager.[68] The Bulls signed-and-traded him to the Knicks along with Antonio Davis for Tim Thomas, Michael Sweetney, the Knicks 2006 first round pick, and the right to swap first-round picks with the Knicks in 2007, as well as 2007 and 2009 second-round picks.[68] Isiah Thomas did not lottery-protect the picks, and the Knicks forfeited the second pick in the 2006 draft, and the ninth in the 2007 draft. With a bloated payroll, the Knicks stumbled to the second worst record in the NBA that season, at 23–59.[69][70] The season concluded with the firing and $18.5 million buy-out of head coach Larry Brown after one season.[69][71]

With the departure of Brown, team president Isiah Thomas took over the head coaching responsibilities.[69] Thomas continued his practice of signing players to high priced contracts while the franchise struggled to capitalize on their talent on the court. As a testament to their struggles, on December 16, 2006, the Knicks and the Denver Nuggets broke into a brawl during their game in Madison Square Garden. With multiple players still serving a suspension as a result of the brawl, on December 20, 2006, David Lee created one of the most memorable plays in recent Knicks history, and served as a bright spot as the team's struggles persisted, during a game against the Charlotte Bobcats. With a tie game and 0.1 seconds left on the game clock in double overtime, Jamal Crawford inbounded from the sideline, near half-court. The ball sailed towards the basket, and with that 0.1 seconds still remaining on the game clock, Lee tipped the ball off of the backboard and into the hoop.[72] Because of the Trent Tucker Rule, a player is allowed solely to tip the ball to score when the ball is put back into play with three-tenths of a second or less remaining. Because of this rule, the rarity of Lee's play increases. The Knicks won, 111–109 in double overtime.[72] The Knicks improved by ten games in the 2006–2007 campaign in spite of injuries that ravaged the team at the end of the year; they ended with a 33–49 record, avoiding a 50-loss season by defeating the Charlotte Bobcats 94–93 on the last day of the season.

During the 2007 offseason, the organization became embroiled in further controversy away from the basketball court. Anucha Browne Sanders, a former Knicks executive, had filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against Isiah Thomas and Madison Square Garden.[73] Faced with a trial, the jury returned a verdict finding Thomas and Madison Square Garden liable for sexual harassment.[74] The jury also levied $11.6 million in punitive damages against Madison Square Garden though this was later reduced to $11.5 million in a settlement between both parties.[74] The ordeal proved embarrassing for the franchise, revealing sordid details about Knicks management and the environment at Madison Square Garden.[74] The Knicks struggled as they opened their 2007 campaign with a 2–9 record leaving many Knicks fans, frustrated with the franchise's lack of progress under Thomas, called for the coach's firing—the chant "Fire Isiah" became a common occurrence during the Knicks' home games.[75][76] On November 29, 2007, the Knicks were handed one of their worst defeats in their history by the Boston Celtics, with a final score of 104–59.[77] This matched their third-largest margin of defeat.[77] New York went on to post an eighth consecutive losing season and tied the franchise mark for their worst record ever, at 23–59.[16]

A New Direction (2008–present)

The Knicks in action at Madison Square Garden in the 2008–09 season

James Dolan hired former Indiana Pacers President Donnie Walsh on April 2, 2008 to take over Isiah Thomas's role as team president.[78] At the introductory press conference, Walsh, while not proclaiming to be a savior, did set goals which included getting the team under the salary cap and bringing back a competitive environment.[79] Upon the conclusion of the 2007–2008 regular season, Walsh fired Thomas, and on May 13, 2008, officially named former Phoenix Suns head coach Mike D'Antoni as head coach.[80][81] D'Antoni signed a four-year, $24 million deal to coach the team.[81] The Knicks, holding the sixth pick in the 2008 NBA Draft, selected Danilo Gallinari on May 20, 2008.[82]

On November 21, 2008, the Knicks dealt one of their top scorers, Jamal Crawford, to the Golden State Warriors for Al Harrington.[83] Hours later, New York traded Zach Randolph, along with Mardy Collins to the Los Angeles Clippers for Cuttino Mobley and Tim Thomas, with the intention of freeing cap space for the 2010 offseason, when top-flight players such as LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, and Amar'e Stoudemire would be available.[83] In February 2009, the Knicks traded Tim Thomas, Jerome James, and Anthony Roberson to the Chicago Bulls for Larry Hughes, in addition to sending Malik Rose to the Oklahoma City Thunder for Chris Wilcox.[84][85]

Additionally, the long standing controversy with Stephon Marbury ended when the two sides agreed to a buy-out of Marbury's contract, which allowed him to sign with the Celtics when he cleared waivers on February 27, 2009.[86] In spite of a volatile roster, the Knicks improved by nine wins from the previous season in D'Antoni's first season, to finish 32–50, coinciding with the emergence of forward/center David Lee, who led the league with 65 double-doubles, and the continued development of guard Nate Robinson and swingman Wilson Chandler.[87][88][89][90]

In the 2009 NBA Draft, the Knicks selected forward Jordan Hill after targets such as Stephen Curry, Jonny Flynn, and Ricky Rubio were off the board; and guard Toney Douglas with the eight and 29th picks, the latter of which was acquired from the Los Angeles Lakers.[91] Shortly afterwards, New York executed a trade with the Memphis Grizzlies in which the Knicks acquired Darko Miličić in exchange for Quentin Richardson.[91] The Knicks got off to their worst ten game start in franchise history, producing nine losses, with just one win.[92] The Knicks responded by winning 9 games and losing 6 in December.[93] On January 24, 2010 the Knicks suffered their worst home loss in Madison Square Garden history against the Dallas Mavericks in front of a sellout crowd. The 50-point loss was also the second-worst in Knicks franchise history.[94]

On February 17 the Knicks shook up the roster, trading Miličić to the Minnesota Timberwolves for Brian Cardinal and cash considerations.[95] A day later, the Knicks and Celtics swapped guard Nate Robinson for shooting guard Eddie House. The deal also included forward Marcus Landry going to the Celtics and the Knicks acquiring bench players J. R. Giddens and Bill Walker.[96] The Knicks also acquired All-Star forward Tracy McGrady from the Houston Rockets and point guard Sergio Rodriguez from the Sacramento Kings in a three-way trade. The deal sent the Knicks shooting guard Larry Hughes to Sacramento and forward Jordan Hill and power forward Jared Jeffries to Houston. The trades, orchestrated to give the Knicks more cap space for the summer of 2010, netted the Knicks $30 million of cap space.[97] About three weeks after these team-changing trades, the Knicks played the Dallas Mavericks at American Airlines Center and blew them out by a score of 128–94 for their largest win of the season.[93][98] However, the Knicks were eliminated from playoff contention in late March 2010 and completed their season with a 29–53, a regression from their first season under D'Antoni.[93][99]

Arrival of Amar'e Stoudemire, Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups

The Knicks and former Phoenix Suns forward/center Amar'e Stoudemire came to an agreement on July 5, 2010.[100] The sign and trade was made official on July 8 as Stoudemire agreed to an approximately $100 million contract over the span of five years.[100] Team president Donnie Walsh recognized the signing of Stoudemire as a turning point for the future of a Knicks team that had struggled in recent years.[101] The Knicks continued to redesign their roster trading David Lee to the Golden State Warriors for Anthony Randolph, Kelenna Azubuike and Ronny Turiaf.[102] The Knicks also struck deals with former Bobcats point guard Raymond Felton and Russian center Timofey Mozgov.[102] The Knicks regained their title as the most valuable franchise in the NBA following these acquisitions, though this was mainly due to the arrival of Stoudemire, whose star power allowed the team to resurge; the Knicks sold out their full-season ticket inventory for the first time since 2002.[103]

D'Antoni along with Stoudemire and the core of young players, including Felton, Danilo Gallinari, Mozgov, Wilson Chandler and rookie Landry Fields, piloted the Knicks to a 28–26 record prior to the All-Star break marking the first time the team had been above the .500 mark at that point of the season since 2000.[104] In spite of the team's mounting success,[105] New York made a push to acquire Denver Nuggets standout Carmelo Anthony. After months of speculation, on February 21, 2011, Anthony was traded to New York, with teammates Chauncey Billups, Shelden Williams, Anthony Carter, and former Knick Renaldo Balkman. Denver acquired Felton, Gallinari, Chandler, Mozgov, Kosta Koufos, a 2014 first-round draft pick, the Warriors' second round draft picks for 2013 and 2014 and $3 million in cash. In addition, the Knicks sent Anthony Randolph and Eddy Curry to the Minnesota Timberwolves and in return the Timberwolves' Corey Brewer was sent to the Knicks.[106][107]

The Knicks clinched their first playoff berth since the 2004 NBA Playoffs in a rout of the Cleveland Cavaliers on April 3, 2011.[108] Carmelo Anthony ensured the franchise's first winning season since 2000 on April 10, 2011, against the Indiana Pacers, as Anthony scored the game winning basket for the Knicks and subsequently blocked Danny Granger's shot in the final seconds of the game.[109] The Knicks were ultimately eliminated from contention in the first round on April 24, 2011 by the Boston Celtics, losing the series 4–0.[110] In spite of Donnie Walsh's successful efforts to help rebuild the franchise, he decided not to return as the team's president and general manager, electing to step down at the end of June 2011 citing the uncertainty surrounding his ability to continue to manage the daily operations of the team.[111] Glen Grunwald was elected as interim president and general manager.[111]

Personnel

Current roster

New York Knicks rosterv · d · e
Players Coaches
Pos. # Name Height Weight DOB (Y–M–D) From
F 7 Anthony, Carmelo (C) 6 ft 8 in (2.03 m) 230 lb (104 kg) Syracuse
F 32 Balkman, Renaldo 6 ft 8 in (2.03 m) 208 lb (94 kg) South Carolina
G 4 Billups, Chauncey 6 ft 3 in (1.91 m) 202 lb (92 kg) Colorado
F 2 Brown, Derrick (FA) 6 ft 8 in (2.03 m) 227 lb (103 kg) Xavier
G 25 Carter, Anthony (FA) 6 ft 2 in (1.88 m) 195 lb (88 kg) Hawaiʻi
G 23 Douglas, Toney 6 ft 2 in (1.88 m) 200 lb (91 kg) Florida State
G/F 6 Fields, Landry 6 ft 7 in (2.01 m) 210 lb (95 kg) Stanford
F/C 55 Harrellson, Josh (DP) 6 ft 10 in (2.08 m) 275 lb (125 kg) Kentucky
F/C 9 Jeffries, Jared (FA) 6 ft 11 in (2.11 m) 240 lb (109 kg) Indiana
G 18 Mason, Roger (FA) 6 ft 5 in (1.96 m) 212 lb (96 kg) Virginia
G 11 Rautins, Andy 6 ft 4 in (1.93 m) 194 lb (88 kg) Syracuse
G 21 Shumpert, Iman 6 ft 5 in (1.96 m) 212 lb (96 kg) Georgia Technote=DP*
F/C 1 Stoudemire, Amar'e (C) 6 ft 10 in (2.08 m) 249 lb (113 kg) CCHS (FL)*
F/C 14 Turiaf, Ronny 6 ft 10 in (2.08 m) 247 lb (112 kg) Gonzaga
G/F 5 Walker, Bill 6 ft 6 in (1.98 m) 220 lb (100 kg) Kansas State
F 3 Williams, Shawne (FA) 6 ft 9 in (2.06 m) 225 lb (102 kg) Memphis
F 13 Williams, Shelden (FA) 6 ft 9 in (2.06 m) 250 lb (113 kg) Duke
Head coach
Assistant coach(es)
Athletic trainer(s)

Legend
  • (C) Team captain
  • (DP) Unsigned draft pick
  • (FA) Free agent
  • (IN) Inactive
  • (S) Suspended
  • Injured Injured
  • * High school

RosterTransactions
Last transaction: 2011-06-23

Basketball Hall of Famers and Retired numbers

New York Knicks Basketball Hall of Famers & Retired Numbers
Players
Number Name Positions Seasons Year elected Number Name Positions Seasons Year elected
6 Tom Gola G/F 1962–1966 1976 10 Walt Frazier PG 1967–1977 1987
11 Harry Gallatin F/C 1948–1957 1991 12 Dick Barnett G 1965–1973
15 Earl Monroe G 1972–1980 1990 15 Dick McGuire G 1949–1957 1993
19 Willis Reed C 1964–1974 1982 22 Dave DeBusschere PF 1969–1974 1983
24 Bill Bradley SF/SG 1967–1977 1982 32 Jerry Lucas C 1971–1974 1980
33 Patrick Ewing C 1985–2000 2008
Management
Number Name Positions Seasons Year elected Number Name Positions Seasons Year elected
613 Red Holzman Coach 1967–1977, 1978–1982 1986 Hubie Brown Coach 1982–1986 2005
Larry Brown Coach 2005–2006 2002 Pat Riley Coach 1991–1995 2008
Lenny Wilkens Coach 2004–2005 1998
Enshrined in the Basketball Hall of Fame
Uniform number officially retired by the team

Management

Team Presidents

Owners

Head coaches

High points

Franchise leaders

Statistic Total Player
Games Played 1,039 Patrick Ewing
Minutes Played 37,586 Patrick Ewing
Field Goals 9,260 Patrick Ewing
Field Goal Attempts 18,224 Patrick Ewing
Field Goal Percentage .565 David Lee
Three-point Field Goals 982 John Starks
Three-point Field Goal Attempts 2,848 John Starks
Three-point Field Goal Percentage .449 Hubert Davis
Free Throws 5,126 Patrick Ewing
Free Throw Attempts 6,904 Patrick Ewing
Free Throw Percentage .886 Mike Glenn
Offensive Rebounds 2,580 Charles Oakley
Defensive Rebounds 8,191 Patrick Ewing
Rebounds 10,759 Patrick Ewing
Assists 4,791 Walt Frazier
Steals 1,114 Patrick Ewing
Blocked Shots 2,758 Patrick Ewing
Turnovers 3,321 Patrick Ewing
Personal Fouls 3,676 Patrick Ewing
Points 23,665 Patrick Ewing

Individual awards

All-NBA First Team

All-NBA Second Team

NBA All-Defensive First Team

NBA All-Defensive Second Team

NBA All-Rookie First Team

NBA All-Rookie Second Team

Rivalries

Boston Celtics

It has recently been noted that the Boston Celtics and the Knicks have started a rivalry in the 2010-11 NBA season. Although this has been said, players have downplayed the idea of a rivalry.[124]

Chicago Bulls

Indiana Pacers

Miami Heat

New Jersey Nets

The Nets are one of the Knicks fiercest rivals due mainly to their close proximity (the teams are separated by roughly 8 miles) which will get even closer once the Nets relocate to Brooklyn, NY for the 2012-2013 season. Upon their transfer to the NBA, the Nets were cited for "encroaching" on the Knicks territory, and were penalized with a fine which made it impossible for the former ABA champions to retain their star Julius Erving. Although both teams play in what is considered the New York market, the Knicks always receive more notoriety in the media, no matter how the two teams are faring. Additionally, as New Jerseyans are typically subject to jokes about their state from New Yorkers, Nets fans from NJ hold a particular animosity towards New York's club. Although for most of their respective histories, the Nets and Knicks had traded dominance in the NY area, the rivalry began to heat up in the early 2000s. With the trade of Stephon Marbury to the Suns for Jason Kidd, the Nets became the class of the Eastern Conference in 2001. Due to the long-noted discrepancy in media coverage between the New York and New Jersey ball clubs, upon being signed Kidd promised the Nets would no longer play second fiddle to the Knicks.[125]

The rivalry was again turned up a notch, when NY native Stephon Marbury, the once vilified point guard in New Jersey who was traded for Kidd, was traded to the Knicks in 2004. Marbury and Kidd had their own rivalry, with Kidd being the consensus best-point-guard-in-the-league[126] and Marbury declaring himself the league's best point guard.[127] The two stars who had once been traded for one another now found each other on opposite sides of an intense rivalry and their respective teams were motivated to prove their supremacy in the metropolitan area. Some members of the Knicks went so far as to say that they wanted to face New Jersey (the reigning two time Eastern Conference champion at the time) in the playoffs.[128] The Nets would sweep the Knicks in the first round of the 2004 playoffs. Though both teams have seen a fluctuation of success in recent years, the rivalry between the two teams and their fans remains fierce.

Since purchasing the Nets in 2010 Mikhail Prokhorov, Russia's richest man, has taken frequent jabs at the Knicks and their ownership. He has stated that he wishes to "turn Knicks fans into Nets fans" [129] when the team relocates, and that he was happy the Nets caused the Knicks to "overpay" for Carmelo Anthony (by increasing their own offers in the "Carmelo Sweepstakes").[130] Both sides have begun marketing in earnest throughout Manhattan and Brooklyn, often proclaiming they are the sole "team of the borough" with billboards displaying their newly acquired superstars, Carmelo Anthony and Deron Williams.[131] The Knicks responded to the Nets' marketing push with a television commercial stating "You can walk like us, you can talk like us, but you ain't never gonna be like us" prompting Prokhorov to respond: "I think we'd more like to be like the Lakers (winners of 17 NBA championships)".[132]

When the Knicks travel to New Jersey to play the Nets, the arena is often evenly split between fan bases. This is due in part to the fact that the two teams are separated by only the Hudson River, however a contributing factor is that tickets at the Prudential Center (in Newark, NJ) are comparatively cheaper than those sold at Madison Square Garden. The atmosphere is often tense amongst "warring" fan bases trying to establish control of the "home court advantage". This would be most comparable to Lakers vs Clippers (both teams play home games at the Staples Center), NCAA basketball tournament games, and the NFL Super Bowl where a neutral arena is chosen.

Philadelphia 76ers

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Bibliography

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  • Schumacher, Michael (2008), Mr. Basketball: George Mikan, the Minneapolis Lakers, and the Birth of the NBA (Reprint ed.), University of Minnesota Press, ISBN 0816656754 

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