The 13 Knicks Rebuilds Since their Last Title in 1973: Rebuild #4

4. The Ewing Rebuild I (Bomb Squad)



  • The night Dave DeBusschere won the lottery and the right to pick Patrick Ewing, it looked like the Knicks were destined to win 5 championships.
  • Knicks put up two horrible 20+ win seasons in Ewing’s first two years. There was talk of making Ewing a power forward or even trading Ewing and keeping Cartwright.
  • Out went DeBusschere and coach Hubie Brown and in came Al Bianchi as GM, who hired college wiz kid coach Rick Pitino.
  • Got Charles Oakley & 1st-round pick (ended up being Rod Strickland) in trade for Bill Cartwright
  • Drafted Mark Jackson.
  • Drafted Gerald Wilkins in 2nd round.
  • Picked up Johnny Newman off waivers from Cleveland.
  • Pitino stressed full-court, pressure defense and shooting 3’s.
  • The Knicks had the bomb squad of Trent Tucker, Mark Jackson, Gerald Wilkins, Johnny Newman and Rod Strickland — youth, athleticism, 3-point shooting, defense, and Ewing (and Oakley).


  • Pitino’s 1988-89 club won 52 games, famously swept the 76’ers in the first round, with Charles Barkley crying on the floor and the Knicks young players literally taking out brooms.
  • Knicks lost to Jordan and the Chicago Bulls in the 2nd round, 4-2.

The End:

  • Live by the 3, die by the 3. The 3-pt offense was deemed a gimmick — you couldn’t win in the NBA that way. Ahead of his time. Pitino quit to accept a job back in the college ranks with Kentucky.
  • Stu Jackson replaced Pitino and the Knicks went into purgatory (45 wins).
  • John MacLeod replaced Stu Jackson and the Knicks plummeted more (39 wins), and it was on to Rebuild #5…

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