Highlights and Lowlights of the Aughts
While we’re killing time after a rough pair of losses (at least they were rough pair of losses to teams better than the Knicks), I thought it would be fun to take a look at the last decade of Knicks basketball and point out the highlight and lowlight of each year.
Feel free to argue about what you thought was the highlight/lowlight of each respective year!
HIGHLIGHT: Once again upsetting the Miami Heat in the playoffs, this time as a #3 seed beating the #2 seed Heat in the second round, with a victory in Miami in Game 7, a game in which Miami had multiple opportunities to win, but the Knicks held on (Jamal Mashburn – perhaps you should have thought twice about passing the ball to Clarence Weatherspoon with only a few seconds left if you were planning on him getting you the ball back for the final shot).
LOWLIGHT: Reggie Miller pouring in 34 points to help the Pacers win Game 6 in Madison Square Garden to eliminate the Knicks in the Eastern Conference Finals, which would turn out to be Patrick Ewing’s final game as a Knick.
You could argue for the September trade of Ewing as the lowlight of the year, as well.
HIGHLIGHT: I suppose I would pick getting the #4 seed with a team that was not really all that impressive on paper (their three top players, minutes-wise, all played basically the same position – shooting guard).
Also, they had 33 straight games holding their opponent under 100 points.
Plus they had two players make the All Star Team in Allan Houston and Latrell Sprewell.
The last two highlights were made a big deal of at the time, but the former was more a case of the Knicks’ slow pace (although they did play strong defense this season) and the latter was undeserved, so I guess the first highlight (getting the #4 seed with an odd team) should be the pick.
LOWLIGHT: Being eliminated in the first round by the Raptors in Game 5 on the Knicks’ home court.
Also, trading for Shandon Anderson and Howard Eisley was brutal.
Plus, Allan Houston’s $100 million contract extension was no picnic, either.
HIGHLIGHT: Probably the double overtime victory over the Bucks in January 2002 where Sprewell hit nine three pointers.
Also in the running was an overtime victory over the Mavericks, also in January, and a victory over the Spurs at the end of December, 2002.
LOWLIGHT: Missing the playoffs for the first time in almost fifteen years.
Also, Jeff Van Gundy resigning was sad.
In addition, trading Marcus Camby and the pick that became Nene Hilario (and could have also been Amare Stoudemire) for Antonio McDyess.
HIGHLIGHT: Easily Allan Houston’s 53 points in a win against the Lakers in February.
Also, at the time, drafting Maciej Lampe was a big deal.
LOWLIGHT: Losing 45 games and missing the playoffs for the second straight year (remember when 45 losses seemed unsightly?)
HIGHLIGHT: Making the playoffs (even with a record of 39-43).
There was also a really cool comeback against the Bucks while the Knicks were making their playoff “run” in the 2004-05 season.
In one of his first games back from an injury in December of 2004, Houston nailed an end of regulation game-tying three-pointer against the Sixers in a game the Knicks would win in overtime.
LOWLIGHT: Hiring Isiah Thomas as the President of the team (this was more of a lowlight than getting swept by the Nets in the first round of the playoffs)
Fired Marv Albert as the voice of the Knicks.
HIGHLIGHT: Trading Jamison Brewer and Nazr Mohammed to the Spurs for the draft pick that became David Lee.
Drafting David Lee with the 29th pick in the first round of the 2005 NBA Draft.
Marbury actually had a very good season in 2004-05.
LOWLIGHT: Losing 49 games (remember when that seemed like a lot?
Trading two first round draft picks (well, one draft pick and one “ability to swap picks”) for Eddy Curry and then extending Curry for $10 million a year until the year 2011.
HIGHLIGHT: David Lee tips in the game-winning shot against Charlotte in December with 0.1 seconds left in the game.
In November, Jamal Crawford winning a game against Denver with one of the most improbable plays you’ll ever see. He went to go attempt a game-winning three, but JR Smith steals the ball from him and passes it to Eduardo Najera. Crawford, though, manages to steal the ball from Najera, then runs down court and hits the game-winning three with less than four seconds left in the game.
Winning six in a row to open 2006, including a dramatic victory to open the streak against Phoenix, where the Knicks would win in triple overtime (a game I happened to attend). David Lee would go into the starting lineup during this streak.
Nate Robinson won the Slam Dunk Contest.
LOWLIGHT: Losing 59 games.
Having a brutal brawl with the Denver Nuggets in December after the Knicks felt that the Nuggets were “showing them up” (they were, but still, you can’t start a brawl over it).
Trading Trevor Ariza for Steve Francis.
Firing Larry Brown after one season, with $30 million left on his contract.
Isiah Thomas becoming head coach.
HIGHLIGHT: The Knicks improved their record by 10 games and were in the playoff hunt until the last week of the 2006-07 season.
David Lee was the star of the Rookies/Sophomores game at the All-Star Game.
LOWLIGHT: The Knicks lost a sexual harassment suit filed by a former employee (lots of sordid details came out during the trials involving Isiah Thomas and Stephon Marbury).
In November, lost to the Boston Celtics 104–59, with only a last second three keeping them from their lowest scoring game ever.
Signed Jared Jeffries to a five-year deal.
HIGHLIGHT: Fired Isiah Thomas as Coach and President of the Knicks.
Hired Mike D’Antoni to coach the team.
Drafted Danilo Gallinari.
Robinson won the Slam Dunk Contest again.
LOWLIGHT: Once again lost 59 games.
HIGHLIGHT: Posting a winning December for the first time in, well, a long time. The team is currently one game out of having the 8th best record in the Eastern Conference.
Blowing out the team with the best record in the NBA at the time (the Phoenix Suns) in early December.
LOWLIGHT: Lost at least 50 games in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 1984-1986 (interestingly enough, in that instance, the first 50+ loss season led to the draft where they got Ewing – this Knicks’ team’s first 50+ loss season led to the drafting of Danilo Gallinari…hmmmmmmmmmmm).
Drafted Jonah Hill.