New York Knicks: NBA History at Madison Square Garden
New York Knicks History and Highlights.
The New York Knicks were one of the founding members of the Basketball Association of America, which, three years after its creation in 1946, would merge with the National Basketball League to become the NBA.
Today, the Knicks compete in the Atlantic Division of the Eastern Conference and have one of the largest fandoms despite not having won an NBA championship for almost 50 years. Since 1968, the Knicks have played their home games in the world’s most famous arena – the Madison Square Garden in Manhattan.
The Knicks Early Years
In the early years, the Knicks built a reputation as one of the best teams in the league after making three consecutive final appearances in the 1950s. However, despite this promising start, it wasn’t until the dawn of the 1970s that they would eventually win their first NBA championship.
That first NBA championship win would come in the 1969-70 season, 24 seasons after the Knicks’ were established. That season, they started with a 23-1 record in the first 24 games, setting a record that would stand until the 2015 Golden State Warriors’ 24-0 start. They then concluded the season with a 60-22 record and set another NBA record with 18 consecutive wins.
The road to the championships saw the New York Knickspass by the Baltimore Bullets and the Milwaukee Bucks to reach the NBA Finals, where the Los Angeles Lakers were waiting. Here the Knicks managed to win in seven games, sealing the championship with a 113-99 win in the decisive game.
That game is considered by many to be the best Game 7 in the history of the league, due in no small part to the heroic performance of the Knicks center Willis Reed. After suffering a severe thigh injury and a torn muscle in Game 5 that kept him out of Game 6, Reed was considered unlikely to play in Game 7. However, against all odds, he made it, causing fans in Madison Square Garden to erupt when he appeared on court for the warmups.
Reed started the game making the first two field goals for the New York Knicks, which were his only points in the game. But he made all the difference with his defense on Wilt Chamberlain, the best center at the time, limiting him on 2-of-9 shooting from the field in the first half. Walt Frazier was the top scorer for the Knicks that night with 36 points.
Head coach Red Holzman led the Knicks to another NBA championship in the 1972-73 season after the team finished the regular season with a 57-25 record. Walt Frazier, Dave DeBusschere, and Willis Reed were the leaders of that team as well. Once again, the Los Angeles Lakers were the opponent in the NBA Finals series, but this time, the Knicks took care of business in 5 games.
The Knicks’ fans had to wait more than 20 years for the next finals appearance of their team. It all started with the New York Knicks selecting Patrick Ewing as the top pick of the 1985 NBA Draft. The center from Georgetown was the cornerstone of the Knicks team for the next 15 years. In the early 1990s, the New York Knicks were one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference, and their series against Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls were legendary, even if they couldn’t defeat the Bulls with MJ on the team. However, when Jordan decided to take a break from basketball, they went to the finals.
It was the 1993-94 season when the Knicks made it to the NBA Finals for the first time since 1973. They finished second in the Eastern Conference with a 57-25 record. They then defeated the New Jersey Nets 3-1 in the opening round of the playoffs, before defeating the Bulls and the Indiana Pacers in seven games to find their way to the finals, where they faced the Houston Rockets with Hakeem Olajuwon.
Unfortunately, the Knicks would just miss out on taking the championship victory. After establishing an early 3-2 lead, they then lost Game 6 by 2 points, bringing the finals to a tie. In the decider, the Knicks would go down to the Rockets by 6 points. The New York Knicks fans who witnessed that season are still hurt by the 0-of-11 shooting from deep in Game 7 by their favorite player John Starks.
Soon after, the Knicks were back in the Playoffs but fell short again. In the 1998-99 season, the New York Knicks finished eighth in the Eastern Conference but beat the odds to make it to the NBA Finals, where they lost 4-1 to the San Antonio Spurs. With Patrick Ewing injured in the playoffs, all the load was on Latrell Sprewell and Alan Houston, who simply couldn’t defeat the Spurs with David Robinson and young Tim Duncan, despite pulling off some minor miracles.
The 2000s were a real struggle for the team. The team front office was constantly changing the roster, and, even if they had the most expensive squad at times, they could barely make the Playoffs.
The signing of Carmelo Anthony in 2013 brought new hope for the New York Knicks fans, but they never made it past the second round with him. The Knicks are trying to sign some of the top free agents available every summer, but for some reason, those players seem to avoid the Big Apple.