New York Knicks: The 15 Greatest Moments at Madison Square Garden
The New York Knicks' 66-season franchise history can best be described as one long roller coaster ride, filled with extreme highs and extreme lows.
Despite recent stretches of futility in many fans' recent memories, the team has made postseason appearances in 41 seasons since their inaugural 1946 campaign. From Willis Reed, to Patrick Ewing, to Carmelo Anthony, the Knickerbockers have never lacked talent at the top.
The boys in the orange and blue have never failed to provide excitement for the most passionate fans in all of basketball.
Madison Square Garden is the mecca of basketball. Let's take a look at the top 15 reasons why.
15: December 20, 2006, David Lee Executes the Greatest Buzzer-Beater Ever?
2006 was a season that didn't feature many exciting moments, but one snapshot from Isiah Thomas' first season as New York Knicks head coach made the cut.
After forcing the game into double-overtime against the Charlotte Bobcats, the Knicks found themselves tied with 0.1 seconds left to play in the period. A third overtime looked all but certain until Jamal Crawford hooked up with David Lee to provide quite possibly the most exciting buzzer-beater in NBA history.
Under the infamous Trent Tucker Rule, it isn't possible to legally get a jumpshot off with less than three tenths of a second on the clock, so an alley-oop was the Knicks' only option here.
The tactic is rarely is pulled off, but the 49-loss Knicks managed to pull out the victory over Michael Jordan's squad—something that gave the dominant 1990s New York teams fits.
14: February, 20, 2012, Linsanity Takes MSG by Storm, Beats Kobe's Lakers
Short-lived, yes, but Linsanity was unlike anything that NBA fans had ever seen before.
Adrenaline was riding high in the Garden, as Lin had seemingly morphed a declining season into one filled with youthful hope and aspiration. Expectations were sky-high from Knicks fans, even if those expectations may have seemed a little far-fetched.
Lin dropped 38 points, a career-high, on Kobe's Lakers that night, including a dagger corner-three late in the fourth to send the Lakers away and the Garden faithful into a frenzy.
Linsanity is dead and gone, but February of 2012 will rest in Knicks lore as one of the best periods to be a Knicks fan ever .
13: November 18, 1972, Knicks Mount Largest Comeback in NBA History
In the fourth quarter of a November 1972 matchup between the Bucks and the eventual-champion Knicks, Milwaukee found themselves up 86-68.
The score was tied at the half, but Oscar Robertson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and the Bucks were up by as much as 20 over New York on the Garden floor.
That was until the Knicks closed out the game on a 19-0 run to defeat Milwaukee 87-86, after a fourth quarter when New York outscored the Bucks 29-16.
12: April 13, 1998, Alonzo Mourning vs. Larry Johnson & Jeff Van Gundy
Game 4 of the 1998 Eastern Conference quarterfinals resulted in a win for the Knicks, just as the series did, but that's irrelevant here.
Alonzo and LJ had history dating back to their Hornets days. Ever since Charlotte drafted Mourning, the two were never a good fit. After contract battles, Mourning demanded a trade and ended up in Miami, which irked Johnson, who later hopped on board as a New York Knick. The stage was set.
With seconds to play in the Knicks' five-point win over 'Zo's Heat, LJ and Mourning got a little too physical for each other's liking. The results were swings thrown by both enforcers, with a helpless Jeff Van Gundy thrown into the mix, as well.
Both players were suspended for two games, but this monumental brawl was a testament to the mindset of that era's Knicks and will rest at No. 12 on our list.
11: April 8, 2012, Carmelo Anthony's Comeback vs. Bulls
On April 8th, 2012, Carmelo Anthony's Knicks were fighting for their playoff lives against the top-seeded Chicago Bulls. It was a back-and-forth battle until the fourth quarter, when Chicago seemed to have taken control late.
But Anthony wouldn't let the Knicks fade.
Down by three with just seconds remaining, Melo launched a three over Taj Gibson to send the game into overtime.
In the extra period, the scene was similar: the Knicks were down two, with Anthony face-to-face with Bulls forward Luol Deng in the closing seconds.
Carmelo showed Knicks fans exactly why they traded four starters to haul him in a season before, and drained a game-clinching three to score his 41st, 42nd, and 43rd points of the Easter Sunday afternoon.
10: December 25, 1984, Bernard King Drops 60 on Christmas Day vs. Nets
On Christmas Day, 1984, the Knicks took on their rival New Jersey Nets at Madison Square Garden. Neither team had playoff hopes at the time, but that didn't make this particular game any less memorable.
One season removed from becoming the first player in decades to record back-to-back 50-point games, Bernard King was on the fast track to New York royalty. His Christmas Day 1984 performance solidified that.
King made 19 of his 30 shots and 22 of his 26 free throws to log the first 60-point game of his career, a career high.
It was a losing effort for the Knicks, who didn't have much of a surrounding cast to court around King. The rising star tore his ACL later that season, and never was the player Knicks fans saw in the early '80s.
Regardless, King's 60-point performance earns him the tenth-best Knicks showing in the history of Madison Square Garden.
9: February 28, 2003, Patrick Ewing's 33 Hung from the Rafters
The New York Knicks drafted Patrick Ewing with the first overall pick of the 1985 NBA Draft, and from that point forward, he was the face of New York basketball.
In 15 seasons wearing orange and blue laundry, Ewing averaged 23 points and 10 rebounds to go along with three blocks. Despite never reaching the ultimate goal in Gotham, Ewing is revered in New York as the leader of hard-nosed Knicks teams that earned the respect of New York City.
On February 28, 2003, Ewing was honored for his years in the Garden. His up-and-down relationship with Knicks fans evaporated into a love affair, as the blue and orange 33 was raised to the MSG rafters, never to be worn again by any New York Knick.
8: June 21, 1999, Knicks Beat Spurs in Game 3 of NBA Finals
The 1999 Knicks were the first eighth-seeded team to reach the NBA Finals. On June 21, 1999, they became the first eighth-seeded team to win a game in the NBA Finals.
It turned out being the team's only Finals win that year, but it didn't much matter to the Garden faithful, who were more than grateful to see their Cinderella Knicks in the Finals at all.
Go ahead and bookmark the accompanying video for when you have 20 minutes to burn off, and watch the condensed version of the Knicks' victory over San Antonio.
7: May 8, 1973, Knicks Set Up Their Second Championship on the Garden Floor
The 1972-73 New York Knicks, led by Walt Frazier, Bill Bradley and Dave DeBusschere, managed to polish off the Los Angeles Lakers in five games to take home the team's second (and most recent) NBA Championship.
Before they sealed the deal in L.A., though, they needed to win some crucial games at home—and that they did.
The Knicks moved within one victory of a title with a game four win over Wilt Chamberlain's Lakers, by a score of 103-98.
DeBusschere added 33 points to the Knicks' total, while Willis Reed tacked on 21 and set the Knicks up for a title-clinching game five two days later at The Forum.
6: May 22, 1994, Knicks Finally Escape Bulls, Advance to Finals with Game 7 Win
1994 marked the Knicks' first playoff series against the Michael Jordan-less Chicago Bulls, and it was everything that New York hoped for.
A season removed from the Knicks' best regular season finish in franchise history, Pat Riley's '93-94 team had something left to prove. With Michael Jordan gone to the White Sox farm system, there would never be a better time to stick it to Phil Jackson's Bulls team.
The Knicks faced off with Chicago in the Eastern Conference semifinals, in a series that fittingly dragged on to an excruciating seventh game at MSG.
The 'Bockers pulled out a gutsy, 10-point victory over the Scottie Pippen-led Bulls squad. Patrick Ewing, Charles Oakley, John Starks, and Charles Smith all scored in double-figures and the Knicks were back in the NBA Finals for the first time since 1973.
5: June 11, 1999, Knicks Become First 8th Seed to Reach NBA Finals
Prior to 1999, every single eighth-seeded team in either conference had failed to defy the odds and reach the NBA Finals.
That year's Knicks squad changed that.
The team that played much of the playoffs without Patrick Ewing ended up knocking off the first-seeded Heat, second-seeded Pacers, and fourth-seeded Hawks to reach the Finals, where they ultimately lost four games to one.
Game six of the Eastern Conference Finals was perhaps New York City's biggest basketball party, as the underdog Knicks finally trumped the rest of the Eastern powerhouses, to call themselves Eastern Conference champions once again.
The Garden floor could have been confused with a party scene as soon as the final horn sounded, ensuring that Allan Houston, Latrell Sprewell, Marcus Camby, and Larry Johnson had just led a team of scrappy reserves to the land of the NBA elite.
4: June 5, 1994, Patrick Ewing Dunks the Knicks into the Finals
It's important to note that moments four through two are possibly the toughest to differentiate, and the three are basically interchangeable, but Patrick Ewing's Game 7 of the 1994 Eastern Conference Finals versus Indiana will go down as one of the greatest postseason performances in Knicks history.
His 24 points and 22 rebounds all but secured the Knicks a spot in the 1994 NBA Finals, and his tip-slam off a missed John Starks layup with 27 seconds left in the game gave the team a one-point lead over Reggie Miller's Pacers—a lead they would never relinquish.
Ewing was just three assists shy of a triple double, and his two blocks and two steals filled out the rest of his stat sheet.
This was perhaps Ewing's defining moment as a New York Knick.
3: May 25, 1993, The Dunk
It's a play that's defined by a simple name: The Dunk.
With less than a minute remaining in the Knicks' matchup against Chicago in the 1993 Eastern Conference Finals, the Knicks held a 91-88 lead.
If they could hold on, they would take a convincing 2-0 lead on Michael Jordan's Bulls and be just two wins away from their first finals appearance in two decades.
With the ball in his hands, John Starks drove to his right off a pick set by Patrick Ewing. There was nothing but Knicks blue paint in his sight. Starks took one dribble, two dribbles. He took off with both feet, and was surprisingly met by Bulls center Horace Grant. Starks drove through the 6'10" defender as if he was a cardboard cut-out, cocked back his left arm, and powered the ball through the net.
The Garden fans were in a frenzy, and for good reason. They just witnessed the best dunk in NBA playoff history.
The jam finished off the Bulls and gave the Knicks a 2-0 lead in the series. Unfortunately for New York, it would be their last victory of the series. Jordan's Bulls would come back to win four straight and steal the series from Pat Riley's Knicks. They won the NBA Finals a month later in Phoenix.
2: June 5, 1999, Larry Johnson's Four-Point Play
With the 1999 Eastern Conference Finals tied at one game apiece, the Knicks were staring a 2-1 deficit right in the eyes. Down by three with just 12 seconds left, New York needed a miracle, and that's exactly what they got.
The ball was inbounded to Larry Johnson, who chucked up a three-pointer while making contact with Antonio Davis to get the whistle.
The shot dropped, and the Garden faithful rose as one.
Johnson made the free throw, giving the Knicks the lead they would never give back. The Knickerbockers won the game, and eventually the series, in the process becoming the first eight seed to ever reach the NBA Finals.
1: May 8, 1970, Willis Reed Plays Through Pain, Knicks Win First Championship
You know the story by now.
In the fifth game of the 1970 NBA Finals, Willis Reed suffered a severe thigh injury that held him out of Game 6, and left him very questionable for Game 7 at Madison Square Garden.
In dramatic fashion, Reed came barging onto the Garden floor during warmups before the series' final game. He took and made the game's first two shots, sending the Knicks faithful into a frenzy.
Those two buckets would be Reed's only points of the game. From there, Clyde Frazier took over the spotlight. He put on one of the best performances in NBA postseason history, racking up 36 points an 18 assists to lead the Knickerbockers to a 113-99 victory and the first championship in franchise history.
The first 14 moments on this list may be debated forever, but Willis Reed's heroics and Clyde's leadership easily locked the team's first ever championship—it's the clincher as the greatest Knicks moment ever on the Madison Square Garden hardwood.
Follow John Dorn on Twitter at @JSDorn6 for more Knicks talk.
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