Some good things have happened on June 5 for the New York Knicks. You usually have to be a very good team in order for that to be the case, since at this point you’re probably playing in the Conference Finals. The Knicks used to do that sort of on the reg, which is where our two classic moments for today’s Throwback Thursday come from. And they both come against the Indiana Pacers. Oh, those Pacers.
June 5, 1994 – Ewing’s greatest performance?
The 90s Knicks were a fun bunch for the fanbase, a rugged, tough, defense-first, use-every-foul, fight when need be and sometimes just for the hell of it group that seemed to perfectly embody the nature of the city it played in. To this day, guys like Anthony Mason and Larry Johnson still get huge cheers whenever they’re shown on the big screen at The Garden.
But the 90s Knicks were about Patrick. And unfortunately – much like the many stars of today are experiencing right now – Ewing’s heyday went smack up against the prime of a transcendent, once-in-a-generation guy that always seemed crash every potential party. In 1993-94, however, Michael Jordan decided to try and play baseball, leaving a cave-sized opportunity for the East’s other top teams and stars to make it to the Finals. You could hardly fault Ewing in other years, what with his Robin being John Starks, but there was no doubt that in ’94, Ewing HAD to get the Knicks to the Finals.
Of course, things are easier said than done, and the Knicks found themselves trailing 3-2 with a must-win game in Indiana to force a seventh and deciding game. Ewing put up 17 pts and 10 rebs, but it was John Starks’ 26 points that sent the Knicks and Pacers back to The Garden. Then it was really Ewing’s time.
Stats don’t often do justice to a team’s or player’s performance. They never really tell the full story. But Ewing’s stat-line from June 5, 1994 makes a profound statement:
44 minutes, 24 points (10-of-23), 22 rebounds (11 offensive, 11 defensive) 5 blocks, 7 assists
That is absurd.
We all know what happened in the Finals against the Rockets, but let’s not discuss that now (or ever again, frankly).
June 5, 1999 – The 4-point play
Instead, let’s fast-forward five years to 1999, when the 8-seed Knicks were improbably back in the East Final against, again, the Pacers, during the lockout-shortened season. It was a pretty crucial Game 3, with the teams having spit the opening pair in Indiana. The Knicks were down by…ah whatever. Let’s just watch it again. And again.
It cannot be said enough how great of a call that was by the official. Textbook hand check, folks.