KNICKS CLOSE OUT BOSTON IN BOSTON 1990
The Knick renaissance that began in 1985 with the addition of Patrick Ewing and accelerated with the hiring of Rick Pitino peaked in 1989, when they swept Philadelphia before losing a tough series against some lugs from Chicago. Pitino left to return to the college ranks and Stu Jackson took over, leading the Knicks to a 26-10 start. The rest of the year they stumbled around like Julius Randle spinning into a triple-team, finishing 19-27 and fifth in the conference. The first round featured the first Knicks/Celtics playoffs since 1984, when Bernard King nearly single-handedly overcame the Celts at the height of their powers. 1990 was a different animal.
For one thing, the best player in the series was a Knick. Ewing finished fifth in MVP voting after averaging nearly 29 points, 11 rebounds and four blocks. The Celtics’ Big Three of Larry Bird, Kevin McHale and Robert Parish were 33, 32 and 36. The only Knicks on the wrong side of 30 were Maurice Cheeks and Kiki Vandeweghe. Still, this was the Celtics. They made the Eastern conference finals or NBA Finals eight of the prior nine years. Then they went out and won the first two of the best-of-five at home, including putting up 157 points in a Game 2 rout.
But Ewing scored 33 and 44 the next two games, forcing a decisive Game 5 at Boston Garden, where the Knicks had lost 26 in a row. The game was a microcosm of the series: the Celtics got off to a hot start, but the Knicks stormed back and dropped a 71-point second half. With just over two minutes left New York led by nine. It was all but over when Charles Oakley busted out one of his typical “WTF was that, Oak?” passes. Here, as was so often the case, it fell to Ewing to pick up the slack for his delusional teammate.
Just look at that murderers’ row of miserable mugs behind Coach Stu.