Reminiscing on the New York Knicks’ 2000 Mother’s Day playoff victory against the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Semifinals.
Over the past 20 years, the New York Knicks have typically spent their Mother’s Day at home with their families. The Knicks last Mother’s Day weekend matchup was Game 3 of the 2013 Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Indiana Pacers. The Knicks suffered a disappointing 82-71 loss on that day to further turn the momentum of the series away from the team. However, better fortunes arose on Mother’s Day 2000, the beginning of the millennium, when the Knicks hosted the Miami Heat for Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals.
The 1999-2000 Knicks and Heat were two teams neck and neck with one another, but on different trajectories. The Knicks, fresh off a NBA Finals run the previous season, were 50-32, but realized the Patrick Ewing era was near the end and thus centered their team around both Allan Houston and Latrell Sprewell.
The Heat once again led the Atlantic Division with both Alonzo Mourning & Jamal Mashburn in their prime. However, Miami could not get past the Knicks the previous two seasons and needed to prove themselves as a legitimate NBA Finals contender.
The Knicks stole home court advantage after splitting the first two games of the series. They were on their way to a Game 3 victory before future Knick, then a Heat rookie, Anthony Carter hit a game-winning behind-the-backboard shot to put the Knicks down 2-1 in the series.
New York, 33-8 at home in Madison Square Garden during the regular season, could not afford to let the Heat gain another victory on their turf. Charlie Ward, the second longest tenured Knick behind Ewing, came to the rescue.
Ward had his shining moment in Game 4 on Mother’s Day in 2000. The former Heisman winner led the Knicks in an all-around effort with 20 points on 8-13 shooting, including 3-6 from downtown, with 7 rebounds, 4 assists, and 3 steals.
As the Heat swarmed to double both Houston and Sprewell, Ward made the Heat pay with open threes and wide open layups. Ward’s quickness left both Carter and Hardaway dazed. His defense guarding the primary ball-handler led to 17 Heat turnovers. Ward scored the last nine points for the Knicks as the crowd chanted “Charlie Charlie.” The Knicks defeated the Heat 91-83 to tie the series.
New York ultimately defeated the Heat in seven games to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals against the Indiana Pacers. The Knicks lost to the Pacers in six games, as that marked the last season the team reached the Eastern Conference Finals.
This also marked the end of the Knicks/Heat rivalry in its historic form. The Knicks traded Ewing before the 2000-01 season and have only won one playoff series since.