We conclude our look at who you voted for as your top 25 favorite Knicks of the Modern Era (1979-present, also known as the “Three-Point Era,” as that is when the three-pointer was adopted by the NBA)! Every weekday we have revealed two more Knicks until we reached #1! And now we’re here! Click here for a master list of the top 25!
2. Charles Oakley
Charles Oakley came to the Knicks in a big trade in 1988 for Bill Cartwright. It is rare to see players as good as Oakley and Cartwright traded for each other, particularly when the better player, Oakley, was six years younger than the other player. However, good centers are always in short supply in the NBA, so the Bulls were willing to give up a significant asset in Oakley to get one (the Bulls did move up in the draft in the deal, as well, getting the Knicks’ #11 pick for their #19 pick).
Oakley was just coming off a dramatic battle with Michael Cage over the rebounding title in the NBA, a battle Oakley just barely lost (Oakley led the NBA in total rebounds and rebound rate in both 1987 and 1988, but Cage edged him out on rebounds per game in 1988 and Charles Barkley edged him out in 1987, so Oakley never led the league in rebounds per game).
His rebounds were obviously curtailed as a Knick, what with him being paired with Patrick Ewing, but Oakley and Ewing combined to provide the Knicks with an extremely formidable center/power forward combo.
Oakley was not a particularly efficient scorer for the Bulls, but for the Knicks he upped his efficiency dramatically, becoming a very efficient scorer for the Knicks during his prime years (he had two years over 58% TS%!). He also was practically the Pope of the Riley Church of Hard Knocks. Oakley was the pre-eminent enforcer of the Riley Era. And he played well enough that he actually made an All-Star Game in 1993-94, a rarity for players of Oakley’s ilk (for instance, we all know how important Dennis Rodman was to the Chicago Bulls, but he never made an All-Star Game as a Bull). That season Oakley also made the NBA All-Defensive First
Oakley’s second All-Defensive Second Team membership as a Knick came in one of his most impressive seasons as a Knick, not so much in stats (as his numbers were actually down across the board) but in the fact that he played center for the Knicks for most of the 1997-98 season. After that impressive year, though, the Knicks traded him for Marcus Camby, which was hard to take as a Knick fan at the time, but looking back, man, what a great trade – not only did Camby become a great player (better than peak Oakley, even), but Oakley also fell off a cliff the very next season. Talk about timing a trade well!
Oakley finished his career with three mediocre (but intimidating) seasons with Toronto, a terrible season in Chicago, a revitalized season in Washington with his old friend, Michael Jordan, plus a shockingly decent seven-game stretch with his old coach, Jeff Van Gundy, in Houston, at the age of 40.
In his ten seasons with the Knicks, Charles Oakley produced 67.6 win shares (fittingly, he was second on that list, as well). For more of his stats, check out his profile at Basketball Reference!
1. Patrick Ewing
You’d have to have a paper as long as Patrick Ewing himself to properly capture all the honors and accolades the long-time Knick center received during his career.
How about a Rookie of the Year Award in 1985-86, despite missing 30 games to an injury?
How about eleven All-Star appearances?
How about eight All-NBA teams?
How about finishing in the top five in the MVP balloting six times?
And yet, no matter how amazing Ewing was as a Knick, a great offensive player (he got his TS% over 60% in one season – and for a guy who took a sizable amount of outside shots, that’s really amazing) and a brilliant defensive player (three-time All-Defensive Second Team) who was the anchor for some of the best defensive basketball teams of ALL-TIME (that one got caps and bold!), fans still wanted more from him.
He never won a title as a Knick, and that weighed on him like the proverbial albatross. But, like other greats who never won titles, he was not fully appreciated until he was no longer there.
Now fans fully get how great Ewing was as a Knick. Double-digit Win Shares from 1988-89 through 1993-94, and still a valuable player even after his wrist was practically ruined in 1997.
Ewing was clearly the best Knick of the Three-Point Era, and now we know he is the favorite Knick of the readers of this website.
In his fifteen seasons with the Knicks, Patrick Ewing produced 123.0 win shares (fittingly, he was first on that list, as well). For more of his stats, check out his profile at Basketball Reference!
That’s the countdown! I hope you enjoyed it!