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The Most Knicks Moment Ever* Tournament: The Elite Eight

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Three rounds of voting down. Three to go.

Game 1 NBA Eastern Conference Finals - Chicago Bulls v New York Knicks Photo by Tom Berg/WireImage

And then there were four.

Four matchups, featuring eight nominees, each of whom’s won three rounds of voting already. Today’s Most Knicks Moment Ever* nominees each won their respective brackets, but only half will advance to the final four. Shit’s getting real. How real? P&T’s Yahweh and originator, Seth Rosenthal, gave his thoughts on one of the remaining candidates. Read on and get yourself some Seth, then vote for your Knicksiest moments. Y’all know you’re not getting a legit election come November. Enact the farce of democracy one last time, friends.

Linsanity vs. John Starks/The Dunk

Linsanity, that unimaginable, impressionist blur of space and time and talent that seemed to grow out of thin air and disappear even faster than it took off. If you stood too close you lost the forest for the trees, but from almost any distance it was miracle, masterpiece.

“The Dunk” — audacious, catharsis, expressionist; a 6’3” performance artist working 10+ feet above the Earth. It meant so much to so many — it still does — because in that moment, all the things the world is not paused, and held their breath, and we saw the world we dream of is no dream.

Poll

More Knicks moment?

This poll is closed

  • 50%
    Linsanity
    (277 votes)
  • 49%
    The Dunk
    (273 votes)
550 votes total Vote Now

Patrick Ewing’s missed finger-roll vs. J.R. Smith/“The Pipe”

1997 tends to be the season most Knick fans associate with “What if?”, but 1995 raises just as many maybes. That year the Knicks won 55 games, barely losing out on the top seed in the East. The team had progressed the three seasons prior, advancing to the second round in 1992, the conference finals in 1993 and Game 7 of the NBA Finals in 1994. Under Pat Riley, New York seemed to always be trending upwards.

That season Michael Jordan returned to Chicago after a brief retirement, but even with him back the Bulls were not “the Bulls”; their gap year between Horace Grant and Dennis Rodman featured Corie Blount and Dickey Simpkins at power forward. Orlando and Indiana were New York’s challengers, and the Knicks had played well against both, going a combined 5-2 against the Magic and Pacers during the regular season.

The Pacers stole Game 1 after Reggie Miller’s eight-points-in-nine-seconds outburst, and they led the best-of-seven 3-1 and led Game 5 by a point late before Patrick Ewing saved the day.

These were still the Pacers who couldn’t beat the Knicks. For the second consecutive postseason, Indiana could have closed New York out in Market Square Arena in Game 6; for the second straight year, they didn’t. So it’s late in Game 7, the Knicks always beat the Pacers, the Bulls aren’t “the Bulls,” the Knicks seem on an upward trend towards a title, and then...

And now for his thoughts on J.R. Smith’s use of metaphor, here’s Seth:

“I remember where I was when I saw the tweets. February 21, 2013 was the trade deadline, and not just any trade deadline. It was the rare recent trade deadline in which the Knicks were actually looking to improve the roster for the playoffs. It was also my first trade deadline sharing an apartment with my now-wife, Jill. She’d gotten used to me disappearing into my laptop for hours at a time, but big transaction days tested her. I spent too much of the prior July hunched over, tugging at my hair, refusing to go outside and enjoy the weather because, like, Raymond Felton had been spotted on James Dolan’s yacht or whatever. Blog blog blog blog.

And when you’re a blogger trying to also be a person, the only thing worse than those long windows of possible transaction are genuine out-of-the-blue surprises. I abandoned an extremely promising college party because Isiah Thomas was hospitalized. I disrupted a lovely family gathering because the Knicks signed Steve Novak. That kind of stuff. J.R. Smith was perhaps the greatest such threat to my peace and quiet. On the court, he was a wild card. Off the court, he could summon me to a computer at basically any hour, whether that was by staging an impromptu overnight bike rally in Times Square, posting a photo of someone’s ass on Twitter, or any number of things involving Rihanna.

Anyway, I’d made it very clear that February 21, 2013 was the trade deadline, but I’d also promised to not be a shithead. All parties involved remembered me skipping all 4th of July festivities to cover a Steve Nash trade that did not happen. So I agreed to go out for lunch and tag along for some errands, and tried to check my phone as little (or as furtively) as possible for updates on the Ronnie Brewer trade and the Kenyon Martin sighting and whatnot. And then, at Purdy’s Wine & Liquor in Saratoga Springs, NY, my phone blew up. I must have reacted in a way that stopped Jill from picking out a bottle of wine, or whatever she was doing. She asked if I need to go home and blog about a trade.

No. Earl had struck.

On this fraught day, someone had posted screenshots of J.R. Smith casually propositioning a teenager via Twitter direct messages: The now-infamous “You trying to get the pipe?” missives. This was an important fork in the road for my relationship.

I’ve checked the archives and confirmed: I did not rush home to write a one-off post about J.R. Smith’s pipe. I saved the story for a links post, and definitely left some clicks on the table in doing so.

You learn not to let J.R. derail your day. A trade? Maybe. But not J.R.”

Poll

More Knicks moment?

This poll is closed

  • 70%
    Patrick Ewing’s missed finger-roll
    (330 votes)
  • 29%
    "The pipe"
    (135 votes)
465 votes total Vote Now

Hubert Davis vs. P.J. Brown

The feelings these two memories stir are unmistakable. Hubert Davis getting fouled by Scottie Pippen late in Game 5 of 1994’s second round is the single moment most closely associated with beating the Bulls in those playoffs. There were so buzzer-beaters (none in New York’s favor), no iconic instants. But that doesn’t diminish the importance of eliminating Chicago for so many Knick fans.

There was never a single joy in the ‘90s as pure as beating the Bulls. Conquering Miami under Pat Riley felt like divine justice; proof of God, at least God the Father, the God who Sees All and Judges All. Beating Indiana was never the point: in ‘93 beating the Pacers took the Knicks to the second round, which was not a big deal; in ‘94 and ‘99 beating them put the Knicks in the Finals, which is almost always a bigger deal than getting to them. Beating Chicago after losing to them four of the prior five years felt gooooood.

P.J. Brown’s astonishing assault on Charlie Ward not only robbed the Knicks of their last real chance at a championship and their last shot at the Jordan Bulls, it also cut down the rare instance of a successful NYC sports re-tooling. The Knicks won 55 in ‘95, spent the next season transitioning away from Riley and then ultimately back in his direction with the promotion of Jeff Van Gundy from interim to head coach, then won 57 in ‘97. Damn you, Collier Brown Jr.!

Poll

More Knicks moment?

This poll is closed

  • 36%
    Hubert Davis Game 5 1994
    (121 votes)
  • 63%
    P.J. Brown Game 5 1997
    (207 votes)
328 votes total Vote Now

Patrick Ewing’s Achilles 1999 vs. Andrea Bargnani’s WTF in Milwaukee

You know what Ewing’s Achilles was with the Knicks? His greatness. He was so great he elevated not-ready-for-primetime-players to primetime playoff runs, in turn creating the false impression that Ewing’s teams always got close but could never go all the way, rather than recognizing that getting them that close was pretty much “all the way” as far as their ceiling. The Knicks weren’t great. He was. Just him.

That’s one reason why comparing Ewing to Willis Reed or Walt Frazier is so breathtakingly stupid: blending your greatness to bond with three or four other Hall-of-Famers is completely different than playing with three or four non-All Stars and hoping your greatness can carry them a while. It’s also a reason why his Achilles injury in the ‘99 ECF was such a cruel capstone of that season and his later Knick years.

Meanwhile, in defense of this...

I give you this.

Poll

Most Knicks ever?

This poll is closed

  • 53%
    Ewing’s Achilles in 1999
    (215 votes)
  • 46%
    Andrea Bargnani’s WTF
    (189 votes)
404 votes total Vote Now

BARGNANI WASN’T WAITING FOR NO CLOCK TO RUN OUT! HE JUST PLAYS TO WIN THE GAME!!!

The votes are open for a week. We’ll be back with results then. Mwah.