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The Most Knicks Moment Ever* Round of 32, Part 2

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Things are heating up.

Philadelphia 76ers V New York Knicks Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images

Welcome to the last half of the Most Knicks Moment Ever* round-of-32 voting. The first half got underway last weekend, resulting in a mix of blowouts and close calls. There are several strong contenders in today’s matchups. Take a look-see and indulge in the farce that is democracy: vote!

Joy Division II semifinals

  • KNICKS CLOSE OUT BOSTON IN BOSTON 1990 VS. JAMAL CRAWFORD’S “THE INVENTION”

These two beat strong opponents in the first round — knocking out the Celtics in 2013 is the only playoff series the Knicks have won since they traded Patrick Ewing, and Gus Johnson’s “three...” call of Jamal Crawford’s wild game-winner in Denver is as good as any Beethoven.

Eliminating the Celtics was the brilliant first star of the ‘90s Knicks many bright spots. Knocking off their greatest rival is always, always delicious, and Patrick Ewing being the best player in a series that featured Larry Bird when he was still a 24/10/8 kinda guy was the perfect nightcap. I mean “nightcap,” like, the drink. Vodka, Grand Marnier, espresso and turbinado sugar. Tasty.

There are moments of such surprise in sports, moments that break from the usual game play and dilute to give you the pure best stuff that first drew you to the game. In baseball, a notoriously difficult game to simulate or master, it’s grace.

In soccer, where feet are king, it’s robbing your opponent of his.

In basketball, it’s magic improvised and translated to competitive ballet.

Poll

More joy?

This poll is closed

  • 72%
    Knocking out the Celtics in 1990
    (115 votes)
  • 27%
    The Invention
    (44 votes)
159 votes total Vote Now

  • NATE ROBINSON’S 41 @ ATL VS. HUBERT DAVIS FOULED BY SCOTTIE PIPPEN

These two were twin winners in the first round, with Nate’s 41 winning the vote 65-44 and the competent officiating of Hue Hollins winning its vote 66-45. There is some sadness with these joys. Six weeks after Robinson’s explosion he was a Celtic, traded along with Marcus Landry for Henry Walker, Eddie House and the immortal J.R. Giddens. That’s not a cheap shot. That phrase sounds like an R.L. Stine book or a garage band or the name of the first cool person you ever crushed on’s pet ______ [whatever animal you consider exotic].

Nate brought a burst of heat to a season that was already cold and left for dead. Hubert broke the then-curse of the Knicks and Game 5s against the Bulls. In 1989, 1992 and 1993, the teams were tied 2-2, Chicago won Game 5 and Chicago won the series. This time the Knicks finally went up 3-2 and won the series in seven. Thanks, guys.

Poll

Joy?

This poll is closed

  • 18%
    Nate Robinson’s 41
    (28 votes)
  • 81%
    Hubert Davis winning Game 5
    (121 votes)
149 votes total Vote Now

“I choose violence” semifinals

  • DOC RIVERS/KEVIN JOHNSON VS. JOHN STARKS/REGGIE MILLER HEADBUTT

My favorite Game of Thrones characters was Cersei Lannister. As vicious as she was as often as she was, it was her vulnerability that stayed with me. There’s a clarity in moments of total vulnerability that some people spend their lives chasing and others spend running away from. When Cersei chooses violence, a vulnerability has been triggered — she’s being threatened by the same people who kidnapped and abused her before. Look at how deliberately clear-eyed she is when she makes her choice.

Doc Rivers and John Starks may not appear clear-eyed given their reactions in their respective clips, but I think both men felt infused with moral clarity. That shit feels good.

Rivers and Kevin Johnson had been pecking at each other throughout the first half, but on the play where Rivers gets drilled he was 100% focused on the game, completely vulnerable to KJ dropping him violently.

It was like the prequel to Dale Hunter’s crime against Pierre Turgeon.

Doc clearly saw blood. I don’t think a jury in the world would convict him. People cannot be allowed to drop you and then jog off to a safe locker room. That is not how a society survives.

As far as Starks, we’re talking Reggie Miller. There’s not a jury outside of Indiana who wouldn’t acquit Starks and throw him a ticker tape parade.

Poll

More?

This poll is closed

  • 25%
    Doc Rivers vs. KJ with a side of Greg Anthony
    (43 votes)
  • 74%
    John Starks headbutts Reggie Miller
    (125 votes)
168 votes total Vote Now

  • The P.J. BROWN BRAWL VS. CHARLES OAKLEY/CHARLES BARKLEY

Even if Charles Oakley hadn’t recently blasphemed Patrick Ewing, this would be a tough one for him to pull out. Oakley/Barkley, that’s schoolyard fight of the year, the one even the teachers are pumped for. Come for the fisticuffs. Stay for the rare and refreshing case of a play-by-play man 100% dismissing his analyst’s point of view as John Andariese defends Oakley and Marv Albert is having none of it.

The P.J. Brown Misjustice was so big. If you remember that time, you remember the anger. The hurt. The bitter bloody taste of knowing something wrong is happening and that you can’t stop it. Plus it put fans in a weird position that we don’t hear about anymore.

The Knicks were up 3-2 after the suspensions were announced. Brown was out the rest of the series for Miami. The New York suspensions were staggered: Ewing, Allan Houston and Charlie Ward were out for Game 6, while Larry Johnson and John Starks would miss the game after. If the Knicks lost, that’d be Game 7 at Miami. But if they closed the Heat out in Game 6, Starks and LJ would miss Game 1 of the conference finals against Chicago. The Knicks led Game 6 entering the fourth. If they’d won, then lost Game 1 to the Bulls and gone on to lose a tight series, we’d always have wondered, in that dimension as in this one: why the hell did this have to happen?

Poll

Which does it for you?

This poll is closed

  • 30%
    Charles Oakley vs. Charles Barkley
    (48 votes)
  • 69%
    P.J. Brown vs. human decency
    (108 votes)
156 votes total Vote Now

Injuries

  • Patrick Ewing’s Achilles 1999 VS. Amar’e Stoudemire & the fire extinguisher

This matchup features two injuries that may not have ultimately derailed a Knicks postseason, but did rob fans of the gift of hope. Imagine a world with no Hail Marys. The prayer or the end-zone longshots. What a gray, colorless void.

Ewing’s Achilles injury in ‘99 was kind of the perfect capstone on an epoch of close-but-no-cigars. Most of the ‘90s Knicks’ playoff runs were ruined by singular events: Michael Jordan; the Charles Smith sequence; John Starks/2-of-18; the missed finger-roll; the P.J. Brown brawl; the Ewing Achilles. The Big Fella was no longer the Prime Patrick we saw the rest of the decade, but with him active the Knicks could at least throw a frontcourt of Ewing, Marcus Camby and Larry Johnson at the Spurs. You know who New York’s starting center was in Games 1 and 2 of the Finals?

A few minutes before Stoudemire sliced open his hand punching the glass casing around a fire extinguisher, the Knicks lost Game 2 of their first-round series against Miami. That was their fifth game against the Heat that year and their fifth loss. Even if Stoudemire hadn’t missed Game 3, even if he’d never hurt himself and instead put up peak performances the rest of that series, New York wasn’t beating the LeBron/Wade/Bosh Heat with a starting backcourt of Baron Davis and Iman Shumpert. Though that wasn’t the most miscast Shump would ever be in his career.

But a healthy Amar’e would at least have given the L’s a different look. Not only did Stoudemire get only 36 shots over the entire series versus 124 for Carmelo Anthony, he didn’t even get half as many as J.R. Smith. As we know all too well from this cursed century, losing has layers. It can be captivating to behold or it can suck the life out of you. Ewing and Stoudemire’s injuries weren’t why the Knicks lost, but they did make it harder to sit through the inevitable.

Poll

Sadder injury?

This poll is closed

  • 82%
    Patrick Ewing’s Achilles
    (134 votes)
  • 17%
    Amar’e Stoudemire’s hand slice
    (28 votes)
162 votes total Vote Now

  • KRISTAPS PORZINGIS’ TORN ACL VS. ALL THE KP INJURIES

The Kristaps Porziņģis years were similar to the French Revolution: shorter than people expected, widespread suffering caused by a number of factors, and eventually executions. In KP’s case, the torn ACL that marked the end of his Knick tenure was the guillotine dropping.

The sprained left ankle, lower back tightness, sore left knee, left knee irritation, general “illness” and other assorted niggles he accumulated over his two-and-a-half years in New York probably played a role in the health compromises that culminated in the devastating ACL. While that’s what ended the Porziņģis era, the endless parade of bang-ups before then robbed the fanbase of the ability to breathe easy and dream big. The series of injuries foreshadowed the big one. I don’t know which was sadder.

Poll

More depressing KP injury?

This poll is closed

  • 74%
    The ACL
    (121 votes)
  • 25%
    The everything that led up to the ACL
    (42 votes)
163 votes total Vote Now

LOL/WTF

  • ANDREA BARGNANI’S THREE-POINTER @ MIL VS. MIKE WOODSON “BLAME BENO”

It takes a special someone to defeat Andrea Bargnani’s near-suicideal dunk attempt against the 76ers. Sometimes the only way to best a Bargs is with the worst of a Bargs.

Today the guilty Italian faces off with a guiltless Slovenian. “Blame Beno” was one of the first round’s big winners, taking 86% of the votes. Bargnani’s shot was unexpected, head-scratching and just plain sad. Mike Woodson’s shot at Udrih? Ditto.

Poll

Which is the Knicksier moment?

This poll is closed

  • 54%
    Andrea Bargnani’s ill-timed 3
    (89 votes)
  • 45%
    Mike Woodson blaming Beno Udrih for J.R. Smith’s ill-timed 3
    (73 votes)
162 votes total Vote Now

  • MICHAEL JORDAN’S DOUBLE-NICKEL VS. ALEXEY SHVED’S WHATEVER THAT WAS

Also unexpected: when MJ brought MJ back at the expense of the ‘95 Knicks.

Also unexpected:

I certainly don’t LOL at Jordan’s 55-point game, but it’s legit WTF. I appreciate it the way I appreciate that some $1000 bottles of red wine must be amazing. But my basic bitch ass is happy as can be with a $10 bottle of Barefoot pink Moscato. (I’m truly happiest with that Moscato and some weed, but my connection is no longer a thing, so if anyone reading this lives in or anywhere near Rochester and has the hook-up...holler at your boy)

Shved’s abortion does make me LOL. It did in 2015 and it has for five years since. It’s also pretty unadulterated WTF.

Poll

Who ya got: the WTF or the LOL?

This poll is closed

  • 46%
    MJ’s WTF
    (73 votes)
  • 53%
    Alexey Shved’s LOL
    (83 votes)
156 votes total Vote Now