New York Knicks: The 6 Greatest Knicks Postseason Moments Ever
If you were a Knicks fan in the '90s, the playoffs didn't really seem special. The Knicks were a good team, and a well-managed one at that, so the postseason was just a part of life. Then, Isiah Thomas took over and fans were left with nothing but memories of the glory days. From the championship teams of the '70s to some classic matchups 20 years later, the Knicks playoff history is ripe with phenomenal moments.
Seeing as how the team is probably bound for another early exit this year, all I and my fellow fans will be able to do is reminisce about a time when basketball teams were actually teams and not so much superstars surrounded by a multitude of role players.
Thus, allow me to take you all down memory lane as we look at the six greatest moments in Knicks postseason history.
No. 6: Larry Johnson's 4-Point Play
The Knicks were major underdogs in 1999, making the postseason as a No. 8 seed and without center Patrick Ewing for much of the playoffs. Still, they went on a great run and entered Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals back home at Madison Square Garden with the series tied at a game apiece against their rival Indiana Pacers.
Sure enough, the No. 2 Pacers controlled most of the game. With 11.9 second remaining, the Knicks had possession and trailed 91-88. Forward Larry Johnson got the ball and searched for a shot. With just over five seconds remaining, Johnson was fouled while putting up a three-pointer. By nothing short of a miracle, the shot went in and the Knicks suddenly had a chance at a four-point play.
Johnson drained the free throw and the Knicks held on to win, 92-91, taking a 2-1 edge in the series.
No. 5: 1999 Eastern Conference Champions
Knicks fans remember this game fondly, as it clinched a trip to the 1999 NBA Finals. However, this game is a little more special for me.
I was 13 years old and on a road trip vacation with my family. After some much-rehearsed begging and pleading, my parents agreed to let me stay in the hotel room to watch Game 6 while they and my siblings went out to dinner.
The Knicks had a 3-2 lead entering the contest and controlled the pace from start to finish, taking 33 free throws to Indiana's nine. At the final buzzer, New York was up 90-82 and thus became the only No. 8 seed to date to make the NBA Finals. It is also probably the only time in human history where a 13-year-old trashed a hotel room in happiness.
No. 4: John Starks' Immortal Dunk
If you grew up in the '90s and were a Knicks fan, chances are that the Chicago Bulls made you groan on more than one occasion, especially in the playoffs. Both teams faced off in the 1993 Eastern Conference Finals. In Game 2, with the Knicks having taken the first game, Chicago appeared to be ready to even the series.
With less than a minute to go, the Bulls led 91-88 and the Knicks had the ball. The next thing that happened seemed so unlikely that people couldn't help but be shocked—6'3" guard John Starks drove the lane and unleashed the fury with a powerful left-handed dunk over both Horace Grant and Michael Jordan, two mainstays of the first Bulls dynasty.
Sure enough, the Knicks went on an 8-0 run and won the game. They may have lost the series, but this moment was unforgettable enough to make fans look back on it with a smile.
No. 3: Knicks Finally Beat the Bulls
OK, so maybe the Knicks just won the 1994 Conference Semis because Michael Jordan was retired at the time. Still, both teams managed to give us a dramatic seven-game series that left each fan on the edge of their seat.
The Knicks then won the Conference Finals before losing to the Houston Rockets in seven games in the NBA Finals.
No. 2: Allan Houston's Tip Shot
Being a Knicks fan means hating the Miami Heat with a passion, and I'm talking about hating them long before LeBron James decided to take his talents to South Beach. The first round of the 1999 NBA playoffs marked a rematch between the two talented squads, with the Knicks beating Miami the previous season. This time, the top-seeded Heat were looking for revenge.
Sure enough, Miami led 77-76 with under five seconds remaining in the fifth and deciding game. Playoff magic was on the Knicks side again as Allan Houston made his now-legendary tip shot to seal a victory for the No. 8-seeded Knicks. At the time, they were just the second No. 8 seed to eliminate a No. 1 seed.
No. 1: Willis Reed Plays Hurt
Finally, we come to the Knicks' greatest postseason moment and one of the most inspiring moments in sports history. It occurred during Game 7 of the 1970 NBA Finals, when the Knicks played Wilt Chamberlain and the dangerous Los Angeles Lakers.
Though New York had home-court advantage, they appeared to be at a slight disadvantage. Star center Willis Reed missed Game 6 with a torn thigh muscle and was doubtful for Game 7. Without him, Chamberlain would own the paint.
Still, Reed surprised the fans by joining the team on the court for warm-ups before the game and fired up the crowd. This inspired his teammates as they went on to control the game from start to finish, winning 113-99 and giving the Knicks their first championship.
Naturally, Reed was named Finals MVP.