13 Memorable Knicks Games on MLK Day

It’s a tradition for the New York Knicks to take the court on Martin Luther King Jr. Day in honor of the iconic civil rights leader.

The Knicks hold a 20-12 overall record on MLK Day and traditionally played at Madison Square Garden every year up until last year’s victory against the Nets. This year, the Knicks are back at The Garden to take on the Thunder.

Take a look back at some of the more memorable games that took place on MLK Day. (Games listed in date order).

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1 First Home Game on MLK Day

The Knicks would host the then-defending champion Celtics in a matchup that would feature future Basketball Hall of Famers on both sides. Patrick Ewing (22 points, 9 rebounds) and Bill Cartwright (21 points, 13 rebounds) led the way for the Knicks, who held a 100-88 lead with just over six minutes remaining.

However, Larry Bird spearheaded a Celtics comeback, and with eight seconds left, the Knicks had the ball with the game tied at 109. It would be up to Louis Orr to save the day for the home team, as the Knicks’ guard drove the length of the court, pulled up just inside the 3-point line and hit a bank shot to give the Knicks the upset victory.

2 The Trent Tucker Rule

With the Knicks and Bulls tied at 106 with just 0.1 seconds remaining, the Knicks planned to throw an alley-oop tip-in to Patrick Ewing. However, the Bulls had the play covered so Mark Jackson in-bounded to the only open player, Trent Tucker. Tucker caught the ball, turned around and drained a 3-pointer before the buzzer, giving the Knicks a 109-106 victory.

However, replays showed that the clock didn’t start until Tucker’s shot was already in mid-air. The Bulls filed an official protest with the league, and while it was disallowed, the NBA eventually instituted a rule (aka “The Trent Tucker Rule”) stating that there needed to be at least 0.4 seconds left to perform a catch-and-shoot.

3 Barkley Goes Bananas

The revamped Phoenix Suns visited The Garden in what some were calling a potential preview of the NBA Finals. The Knicks edged the Suns for a 106-103 win, but the real drama came after the final buzzer.

Guarded closely by Anthony Mason, Charles Barkley’s last-second attempt came up short. Barkley thought he was fouled on the play and was not happy about it. He proceeded to leap over the scorer’s table in an attempt to chase after referee Jim Clark to plead his case.

4 Ewing Reaches 15,000 Points

In a battle of two of the best centers in the league, Patrick Ewing got the better of Shaquille O’Neal on this day. Ewing put up 26 points and grabbed 19 rebounds as the Knicks held off the Magic, 100-95.

During the game, Ewing cemented his status as one of the best Knicks of all-time and became the first player in franchise history to reach 15,000 career points.

5 Houston Leads Knicks to 21st Straight over Boston

For a stretch in the mid-1990s, the Knicks owned the Celtics. Entering MLK Day in 1998, New York had won 20 consecutive meetings against their rivals from Boston.

Led by a 23-point effort from Allan Houston, the Knicks extended their streak with a 98-82 victory.

6 Knicks-Spurs Brawl

The Knicks handled the Spurs easily, cruising to a 104-82 victory, but the result wasn’t the story. With just over three minutes remaining, Marcus Camby got poked in the eye by Danny Ferry and was not happy with Ferry, who had elbowed Camby earlier in the game.

After initially being restrained, Camby broke free and attempted to punch Ferry, but instead accidentally nailed then-Knicks coach Jeff Van Gundy as he tried to break up the fracas. Camby received a five-game suspension while Van Gundy received about 15 stitches.

7 Knicks Grab Thrilling Double-Overtime Win

The Knicks led the 76ers by as many of 18 points in the third quarter, but Philadelphia came storming back and took a three-point lead with under one minute remaining in the fourth. With time running out, Carmelo Anthony drained a clutch 3-pointer over Nerlens Noel with 3.4 seconds left in the game to force overtime.

But one overtime wasn’t enough in this classic. New York was finally able to pull away in double OT, winning 119-113.

8 Ben Gordon Gets Revenge for Bulls

Fifteen years after the Trent Tucker game, the Knicks and Bulls met again on MLK Day. The Knicks led for most of the fourth quarter, but the Bulls kept coming back.

With the game tied and time running out, Mount Vernon native Ben Gordon drove to the hoop and threw up a floater that hit nothing but net with 0.1 seconds left. Unlike 15 years ago, the Knicks would not have any last-second heroics.

9 Jamal Crawford Steps Up in Crunch Time

Despite being demoted to a reserve role for the Knicks’ MLK matinee against the Kings, Jamal Crawford came up big for the Knicks when they needed him the most. Crawford only scored 10 points on the day, but eight of them came in the final 1:07 of the game.

He put the Knicks up for good with 18 seconds remaining with a runner in the paint and then put the game on ice with four free throws in the final seconds as the Knicks edged the Kings, 102-97.

10 Knicks Edge Bulls Late

Four years after the Bulls beat the Knicks in the final seconds on MLK Day, the two teams squared off again with revenge on the Knicks mind. Playing against his former team, Knicks point guard Chris Duhon put the Knicks up by one with a reverse lay-up with 31.2 seconds left and then added two free throws to increase the lead to three.

However, Ben Gordon, who hit the game-winner four years ago, had one final chance to tie it for the Bulls… but he air-balled a 3-pointer and the Knicks held on for the win.

11 First Meeting With Brooklyn on MLK Day

In the first year of the “new” Knicks-Nets rivalry, the teams met on MLK Day for the fourth and final time that season. The season series was at stake, as the Knicks won two of the first three meetings.

Carmelo Anthony gave the Knicks a one-point lead with under a minute remaining, but Joe Johnson would hit a go-ahead jumper with 22 seconds left. The Knicks had one last chance to tie it, but J.R. Smith‘s 3-point attempt bounced off the rim as time expired.

12 Knicks End Franchise-Long Losing Streak

Carmelo Anthony dropped in a game-high 24 points and Langston Galloway – playing in his fifth career game and making his first start – scored a then career-high 21 as the Knicks put an end to a 16-game losing streak with an exciting 99-92 victory over the Pelicans.

The skid was the longest single-season losing streak in Knicks’ history.

13 Knicks Bench Makes A Big Impact in Brooklyn

With the Grammy’s taking over The Garden for three weeks in early 2018, the Knicks were forced to take their longest road trip in 30 years and the tradition MLK Day game was played in Brooklyn.

Kristaps Porzingis had 26 points and nine rebounds, but the bench scored 70 points, led by Michael Beasley’s 23, to power the Knicks to a 119-104 victory over the rival Nets.