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This Week In Knicks History: Patrick Ewing becomes all-time Knicks scoring leader

The big man’s milestone occurred a quarter century ago at MSG

Rick Pitino Knicks
Patrick Ewing knew how to put the ball in the hoop

There are many memorable moments sprinkled throughout the 15 seasons that Patrick Ewing roamed the hardwood for the New York Knicks, including 25 years ago this week when the big man broke the team’s all-time scoring record at Madison Square Garden during a 108-85 blowout of the Los Angeles Lakers.

For some reason there doesn’t seem to be any easily available video from the game that Ewing passed Walt “Clyde” Frazier to take his rightful seat as all-time Knicks scoring champion, which took place on December 16th, 1993. Ewing, 31-years-old at the time, had 27 points and 11 rebounds on the night, and his record setting basket was a 12-foot jumper with 9:39 to play in the third quarter, according to the game recap from the New York Times. The MSG crowd continued standing and cheering for Ewing until the Lakers called a timeout with just over 9 minutes left in the quarter, per the recap.

In the immediate aftermath of Ewing’s historic basket, Frazier, unsurprisingly a good sport about the whole thing, went over to the Knicks bench, shook hands with the guy who had just passed him for most ever points as a Knick, and posed for photos.

As of the end of the win over the Lakers — a team that at the time was led by Nick Van Exel, Doug Christie and Vlade Divac — Ewing had 14,618 points, one more than Frazier’s 14,617. Today, Ewing still stands as the top Knicks point-getter in history, having scored 23,665 in total. For reference, Kristaps Porzingis has 3,312 total points thus far in his career. If Porzingis comes back, immediately starts putting up his pre-injury average of 23 points per game and never gets hurts again, it’ll take him almost 11 full seasons to catch Ewing.

Knicks all-time scoring leaders

  1. Patrick Ewing 23,665
  2. Walt Frazier 14,617
  3. Willis Reed 12, 183
  4. Allan Houston 11,165
  5. Carl Braun 10,449
  6. Richie Guerin 10,392
  7. Carmelo Anthony 10,186
  8. Earl Monroe 9,679
  9. Dick Barnett 9,442
  10. Bill Bradley 9,217

For those of you who are wondering why you don’t remember much fanfare surrounding the night Ewing surpassed Frazier, it’s because Doc Rivers tore his ACL mere minutes after the record setting play. The injury overshadowed Ewing’s big night; the New York Times even led its game recap by saying that a “potentially serious knee injury to Doc Rivers turned a milestone night for Patrick Ewing into a night of concern for the Knicks.”

Even Ewing was unable to focus completely on his milestone, saying after the game that it “means a lot to him” but adding multiple times that his and the team’s “thoughts are with [Rivers.]”

Rivers would go on to miss the rest of the season, and less than a month after the injury, the Knicks traded for Derek Harper, a player who endeared himself to fans with dogged defense and an overall leader-like demeanor. The Knicks would go on to make the NBA Finals, where they faced the Houston Rockets. The series went seven games, and the outcome isn’t important. What is important is that 25 years ago this week Ewing made his mark by becoming the Knicks all-time scoring leader.

Cheers to the Big Fella! And while there may be no available video of that specific game, there are highlights from a game that took place just a few weeks later, in early January 1994; Ewing posted 36 points and 16 rebounds in a win over the San Antonio Spurs, and the highlights truly showcase what a beast Ewing was during the 1993-94 season, a year he averaged 24.5 points, 11.2 rebounds and 2.7 blocks per game and finished 5th in the voting for MVP.