Since the 1990s, many former Knicks players and staff have been asked who was their favorite New York Knicks member during that time period. The most often stated answer was former power forward Charles Oakley. Oakley has often been described as one of the friendliest players during his career and also as someone who was connected all around the city. If there was a restaurant or club to get into, Oakley always knew someone involved. Former Knicks personnel has said that Oakley was always nice to the fans, whether they were famous or complete strangers.
The New York Knicks had signed athletic guard Gerald Wilkins to fill the need of a tough perimeter defender. Another reason why Wilkins was signed, was to help stop Michael Jordan in the playoffs. Wilkins became so obsessed with the task of guarding Jordan that he kept pictures of Michael everywhere in his house. Wilkins even had a picture of Jordan on his bathroom mirror so he can remind himself of Jordan while brushing his teeth and shaving. In the end, Wilkins did little to stop or even slow down Jordan, as Jordan ended up with 32 points per game for the series on 48% shooting.
Here is one of the most famous insider Knick stories and one that former New York Knicks players still laugh at today. One day in 1995, John Starks was asked to sign something for a fan. Starks was always nice to the fan’s requests and tried to sign each and every item a fan asked. The fan told Starks to address the signature to his brother Mark, but his name was spelled Marc with a c (like Marc Gasol). Starks signed the card: To Cark John Starks
While Pat Riley was the coach of the Knicks, he and power forward Anthony Mason were constantly butting heads. Riley and Mason fought so many times in practice, that the Knicks actually had two separate official rosters: one without Mason and one with Mason. Riley used to threaten Mason that he would not play so many times, that the Knicks secretly kept a second roster incase Riley told Mason he wouldn’t be playing in hopes that he would change his mind and let him play at the last minute.
And here is an interesting story that might upset faithful Knicks fans. In 1994, the Knicks led the Houston Rockets in the NBA Finals 3-2 going into game 6 which was going to be played in Houston. After the losing effort, Rocket’s forward Mario Ellie worried about the loss, and went to hang out with Olajuwon in his hotel room. Olajuwon was in his hotel room eating fish and acting as if he didn’t have a care in the world. Ellie was wondering how Hakeem was not as worried as he was, and said Hakeem told them they were going back home and not to worry about a thing. So in summary, down 3-2 in the NBA Finals, Hakeem was still 100% confident they would win.
During the 1992 playoffs with the World Champion Chicago Bulls, the Knicks knew that they could no longer intimidate and bully Michael Jordan. Jordan and the Bulls had finally got passed the bruising Detroit Pistons and really didn’t fear any team after three years of losing battles. The Knicks assumed that Scottie Pippen was not as mentally tough as Michael was and was their main target of intimidation.
During Don Nelson’s time as New York Knicks head coach, he really wanted to acquire Shaquille O’Neal from the Orlando Magic. O’Neal was going to be a free agent and was the most sought after player on the market. Nellie had plans to first trade Patrick Ewing in 1995 to clear his salary off the books and sign O’Neal when he became a free agent. Nelson has said that other members of the Knicks front office did not agree with the move.
And speaking of past proposed Patrick Ewing trades, Patrick Ewing almost became a member of the 1992 Golden State Warriors team aka Run-TMC. To make a very long short: the Golden State Warriors tried acquiring Ewing through a little known clause in Ewing’s contract. In Ewing’s contract was a clause in the fine print that stated if Ewing was not in the top four of salaried players in the NBA then he could become a free agent. Now, Ewing had been involved in trade talks before and at that time did prefer to join the Warriors over the Knicks. Had Chris Mullin restructered his contract, he would have been making more money than Ewing, thus kicking Patrick Ewing out of the top four, and then making him a free agent. Mullin was torn on the issue and being a New York City native, did not want to be the reason Ewing left the Knicks.
During Michael Jordan’s famous 55-point “double nickel” game in March of 1995, many have forgotten just what a monstrous game Center Patrick Ewing had. In 42 minutes of playing, Ewing finished with 36 points, 7 rebounds, 4 blocks, 3 steals, 2 assists and only 1 turnover in a losing effort. To this day, no one ever talks about how good a game he had.
And here is another little tidbit about John Starks career as a New York City Knick. During one practice during his first year with the Knicks, John Starks tried throwing a dunk down in Patrick Ewing’s face. Ewing was angered by the attempt and threw John Starks on the floor, injuring his knee in the process. The Knicks had been thinking about cutting Starks loose from the roster, but the rules then stated then that no player on the injured list could be cut from the roster. Starks was technically stuck on the Knick’s roster whether they liked it or not. Starks did improve by a wide margin after his first year and found a long term home with Knicks. All because of a missed dunk. What exactly possessed Starks to try and dunk on his own center???