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Knick Knack

So the Knicks did it again on Wednesday night, winning at the buzzer on David Lee's tip-in of Jamal Crawford's inbounds pass in a rather improbable double-overtime ending. It's that time of year in which the Knicks have historically had a lot of success winning games in this fashion.

For most, it brought back memories of one particular game, though for our purposes, we'll reference three such contests.

The first is the obvious one, the Knicks victory over the Bulls on January 15, 1990, when Trent Tucker took an inbounds pass with 0.1 seconds remaining and flipped in a 3-pointer at the buzzer for the win. The laws of mathematics, as well as common sense dictate this kind of play to be an impossibility, but the NBA was not prepared for this kind of dispute in it's first season using tenths-of-a-second to measure the final minute. The basket led to the creation of what's known as the "Tucker Rule" which states that the only way that you can score in such circumstances is off a tip-in, as the Knicks executed perfectly.

A lot was made in the media of how Michael Jordan, who played in that game (and shot a paltry 9-24) was at Madison Square Garden for this most recent one. So was Patrick Ewing, who scored 33 points in that victory, one that upped the Knicks to 26-10, 17-1 at home.

The play for Tucker was actually designed as an alley-oop for Ewing that went awry (Jordan stayed back, preventing the lob pass and forcing Mark Jackson to pass to Tucker instead). It's just as well because Ewing probably would have missed it.

While I will be happy to talk about what a great player Ewing was, making buzzer-beaters was not his forte. In fact, in his entire Knicks career, he only made one walk-off basket.

It so happens that we're coming up on the 20th anniversary of it, and oh by the way, Michael Jordan was in the house for that one too. I'm talking about December 25, 1986 (2 months to the day of Bill Buckner's error) when the Knicks and Bulls met on Christmas Day.

The Bulls took an 85-84 lead on a 3-point play by Dave Corzine with 6 seconds remaining. The Knicks response was to get the ball to Tucker, but on this occasion he happened to miss a long jump shot after being challenged by Corzine. The rebound tipped off Jordan's hands and came right to Ewing, whose short shot in the lane went through the nets as the horn sounded.

Jordan told the media afterwards: ''It was a great shot but a desperation shot. Tomorrow he will be in church and say his prayers of thanks.''

The Knicks have had their share of Christmastime miracle wins (one against the Celtics comes to mind) but the one most similar to Wednesday came during the championship season of 1969-70. That year, the Knicks couldn't miss- literally. They started 23-1, as my dad likes to tell me, and had improbable victories, such as the one on December 25, 1969, against the Pistons.

Briefly recounted in Dennis D'Agostino's Garden Glory, the story goes that the Knicks found themselves down one after a Walt Bellamy layup with one second remaining. New York called time and came up with a response- an inbounds pass from Walt Frazier to Willis Reed, who caught the ball in mid-leap and laid it in at the buzzer. As Reed noted in the book about the play "...I don't think we ever ran it again. Or if it did, it never worked again."

At least not until Wednesday night.

True Metkerbocker fans know...Since the 2004-05 season, the Knicks have had six different players make a game-winning buzzer-beating shot: Lee, Stephon Marbury, Nate Robinson, Michael Sweetney, Tim Thomas, and Jamal Crawford.

I should point out that I have no plans to start a site titled "Knicks Walk-Offs and Other Minutiae" anytime soon, as much fun as something like that would be.


Anonymous said…
If anyone wonders where this blogger got his love of sports from :):), well I guess I have to take credit.
I was at that Willis Reed tip in game,,, back in the days when the Knicks knew how to play basketball.

The Bloggers Dad

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