On this day in 1994, the New York Rangers were five days removed from hoisting the Stanley Cup. The City That Never Sleeps was the sports capital of the world, and the Knicks were about to put the icing on the cake. They were only a fingertip away.
Before John Starks ever had a “John Starks in Game 7 of the Finals” moment, he had a brilliant performance in Game 6. The Knicks and Rockets split the first four games, and despite the fact that more eyes were on the O.J. Simpson chase than Game 5, the Knicks came away victorious, giving them their first chance to win a NBA championship in over 20 years.
Houston led for the majority of Game 6, but thanks to New York’s pesky shooting guard, the Knicks refused go away. Starks poured in 16 points in the fourth quarter alone, leading an amazing crunch time comeback. With under 10 seconds to go, the Knicks had the ball, trailing by two points. Game 6 all came down to one play:
No one knows if Starks’ attempt was going to go in, but the way he was shooting that night, I think it was just assumed. Olajuwon slipped, but like only legends can do, was still able to recover in time to barely get a finger on the ball. He ended the game with 30 points, 10 rebounds, and four blocks, but no block, perhaps in his whole career, was bigger than the one that saved Houston’s championship aspirations.
Starks finished with 27 points, but wasn’t able to carry over the same magic into Game 7 a few nights later. He shot 2-18 in the next contest, finishing with just eight points, and leaving fans to wonder what could’ve been if Olajuwon was just one step slower, if Starks would’ve been able to get his shot off just one fraction of a second faster, and if the Knicks had been able to hold off the Rockets for just one more game.