Keeping busy in quarantine by watching classic New York Knicks games.
2020 has been a year full of discussion about things we can’t, or aren’t legally allowed to do. There are plenty of places on the internet to indulge and wax poetic about when and how we can do those things again, but this is not one of them.
How about we talk about things we’ve always wanted to do, but never had the right excuse to do? Such as, re-watching Knicks games from the good old days (at least, good old day for millennials)?
Could you imagine telling a friend or significant other in 2018 or 2019 that you didn’t want to grab dinner because you wanted to catch a tri-state area battle between the Knicks and Nets that happened over 27 years ago? If you actually have done that pre-2020, please text me at 3**-***-****, because I’d love to be friends with you.
One of the first re-watches I took on was a game from February 28, 1993*, when the Knicks visited the New Jersey (are some of you even old enough to remember that?) Nets. Because this game happened so long ago, I had the advantage of watching it to observe, learn, remember, and be entertained, rather than fully invest myself in the result. It’s a pretty cool way to take in basketball history, and even laugh at some of the aspects of the game that were prevalent back then, that have fallen by the wayside now.
Chris Dudley Was a Monster (Playing For the Nets)
I know, reading that sub headline has probably decreased my credibility meter by about 75%. We remember Chris Dudley as the air-balling free thrower, or the stiff defender, or the guy who fired a perfect fastball right into Shaquille O’Neal’s backside from 45 feet away. Whenever we saw Dudley on the court in lieu of Patrick Ewing, Marcus Camby, or Kurt Thomas, chills shot down our spine.
But I’m here to tell you that there was a time (a not so small sample size of time) where Dudley was actually a respected and talented rebounder. Marv Albert and Mike Fratello mention on the NBC telecast that he demanded a long term contract from New Jersey. He was even quoted as saying that he didn’t want to play for the Nets past the ’93 season if Drazen Petrovic and Derrick Coleman weren’t around. The cojones on this guy!
In this particular game though, Dudley out-rebounded Patrick Ewing, Charles Smith and Charles Oakley combined, by himself, and it wasn’t close. The Yale grad hauled in 21 rebounds against what was considered one of the most formidable frontlines in the NBA.
Doc Rivers’ Last Legs (Playing for the Knicks)
He only played 8 minutes in this game, and to be fair, he did play 4 more seasons in the NBA, but you could tell he was only out there for his veteran presence and know-how. The idea was he would keep the seat warm and tutor former UNLV star Greg Anthony into becoming the point guard the Knicks hadn’t had since Mark Jackson left the team.
During the game, Albert and Fratello commented how similar Anthony’s and Rivers’ game was as young players. They specifically addressed how defenders were going under the pick-and-roll against Anthony, which was a similar strategy employed against Rivers in his early NBA seasons.
The Starks-Petrovic Rivalry That Never Was
Starks had a decent performance in this contest, scoring 13 points with 6 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 steals. But this game underscored the fact that while Starks could dial up big games from time to time, the level of talent opposite his number in Drazen Petrovic was the stuff legends are made of.
Had Petrovic not tragically passed away later in 1993, and battled with Starks throughout the entire 1990’s in this Hudson River rivalry, we may have seen the level of animosity Starks built up for Michael Jordan and Reggie Miller directed at the Croatian comet. Had he been able to slow Petrovic down in those non-existent future matchups, Starks’ reputation as a noted defender could have been even further solidified.