History Of The New York Knicks
The New York Knicks, short for “Knickerbockers”, play in New York City’s famous Madison Square Garden. The Knicks were members of the now-defunct Basketball Association of America, which merged with the National Basketball League to form the National Basketball Association in 1949. In the NBA’s first ten years, the Knicks played in three straight NBA Finals games, from 1951-1953. They are one of only two teams from the original NBA that are still located in the same city. The Knicks won their first game against the Toronto Huskies, 68-66. The Knicks continued to field respectable teams in the 1950s, but witnessed a marked decline in the 1960s.
From 1960-1966, the Knicks finished in last place in their division each year. Two of the worst losses in Knicks history happened during this time: a 162-100 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers, and Wilt Chamberlain’s famous 100 point game was against the Knicks on March 3, 1962. Over the next few years, the Knicks drafted some quality players: Willis Reed, the future NBA Rookie of the Year, Bill Bradley, and Dave Stallworth. After showing promise in 1967, the Knicks General Manager hired Red Holzman to be their head coach; the Knicks made the playoffs again that year. In 1969, the Knicks made it to the finals but lost to the Boston Celtics.
The Knicks won an impressive 18 games in a row during the 1969-1970 season; they finished that year with a 60-22 record—the best in the team’s history. The Knicks would meet the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA Championship in 1970. They won in dramatic fashion in game seven, when an injured Willis Reed walked on the court and shot two baskets—this incident was later voted one of the greatest moments in Madison Square Garden history. The entire starting five from the 1970 Knicks team has had their jersey numbers retired.
The team failed to return to the NBA Championships in 1971. They played in the NBA Championship again in 1972, but this time the Knicks lost to the Los Angeles Lakers in five games. The following year, the Knicks turned the tables on the Lakers and defeated them in five games to win their second NBA Championship in three years. 1973-1974 was another impressive year for the Knicks; they reached the Eastern Conference finals where they were defeated by the Celtics in five games. Willis Reed retired after this season, placing the Knicks’ future in jeopardy.
The rest of the 1970s were pretty unremarkable for the New York Knicks, except to mention that a young bench player and defensive specialist named Phil Jackson was a member of those teams; Jackson went on to coach the Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers to a total of nine championships; tied with professional basketball coaching legend Red Auerbach.
After a disappointing 1984-1985 season, the Knicks won the first pick in the first-ever NBA Draft Lottery; they chose center Patrick Ewing from Georgetown University. Ewing won the NBA Rookie of the Year Award in 1986; however, the team did not fare as well that year. The Knicks went on to win four division titles with Ewing, as well as two Conference titles.
Today, it seems that the Knicks are in another one of their multi-year declines. If history is any indication, some new blood will shake up the organization again and put the Knicks on the road to winning another NBA Championship.