It can be easy to forget that anything has ever gone right for the Knicks, but 34 years ago this week the team won the first ever NBA draft lottery, which led to the team taking Patrick Ewing and 15 seasons of competitive basketball in New York.
Tonight will either end up as one of the most important nights in franchise history or just another evening of pain, so in the interest of collecting as much positive juju as possible, let’s look back at the last time everything broke right for the Knicks: the 1985 NBA draft lottery.
Conspiracies aside, heading into the 1985 lottery, the Knicks were coming off a 24-58 season, good for third worst in the NBA. The ‘Bockers were still led by Bernard King, who had averaged 32.9 points per game in 55 games the previous year before tearing his ACL, and otherwise the roster wasn’t much to write home about.
Unfortunately, Ewing and King would never play a single game together. If that ACL injury hadn’t happened, would a Knicks team featuring both Ewing and King have reached the promised land? King thinks so, according to this 2013 interview with the New York Post, in which he said the following:
“I thought we’d have won a championship together, and that’s my only regret. I would have had no problem integrating my skills with Patrick because it would have been his team.”
Anyway, back to the lottery. The Indiana Pacers and Golden State Warriors, which each finished the 1984-85 season at 22-60, were the only teams with worse records than the Knicks, although the way the lottery worked back then, every non-playoff team had the same chance to snag the first selection.
Interestingly, tanking was part of the reason for the new lottery system that year. The Houston Rockets, among other teams, had been accused of purposely being bad in the regular season in order to try and secure the top pick in the draft so they could change their franchise’s fortunes. Thus, the NBA stepped in and made it so that tanking wouldn’t give you the best position to land the top pick.
If that all sounds oddly familiar, it’s because this year represents the first lottery with new rules that are meant to discourage tanking. Because of that, the Knicks only have a 14% chance to win the top draft pick tonight, even though they were the worst team in the NBA. If history can repeat itself to the point that tonight’s lottery, like the one in 1985, represents a year in which NBA is trying to figure out the tanking problem, then there’s no reason history can’t repeat itself again by making the Knicks the big winners of the evening.
The Knicks are certainly all in on the hype train, and have been attempting to bend the universe to their will by having Ewing himself represent the team on the dais tonight. Dave DeBusschere famously represented the Knicks in 1985, but he passed away in 2003, so it’s up to the Big Fella to provide some big time luck.
New Yorkers of all stripes have been doing their part, actually. For instance, the New York Post recently interviewed rabbis, priests and even self-described witches who have been praying, or perhaps in some cases attempting to use black magic, to secure the top spot in the draft for the Knicks. P&T is, of course, hosting a viewing party tonight, which will perhaps turn into a funeral, depending on the outcome, and our very own Alex Wolfe was quoted by longtime Knicks beat reporter Marc Berman in a story about the occasion.
Tonight’s lottery takes place in Chicago, and the results will be aired on ESPN at 8:30 pm. This is what we’ve all been waiting for. We’ve been craving the promised land for years, and Zion Williamson seems like just the guy to get us there. Then again, Shams Charania, NBA insider for The Athletic, is reporting that if the Knicks do land the first pick, they will try to trade it, along with other assets, for Anthony Davis.
Welp. Maybe Zion just isn’t in the cards. Then again, maybe the Knicks wouldn’t end up going through with a trade of the first pick, which they would of course have to get first. Being a Knicks fan is so fun!
How are you attempting to sway the basketball gods so that they’ll show mercy and turn this year into a repeat of the 1985 lottery? Let us know in the comments.