The 13 Knicks Rebuilds Since their Last Title in 1973: Rebuild #5

5. The Patrick Ewing  Rebuild II (Pat  Riley)


  • Dave Checketts became President of the Knicks at 35 yrs old (he came from Utah where he became their GM at age 28). Checketts replaced Al Bianchi. He named Ernie Grunfeld as GM, and brought in 5-time champion coach Pat Riley. The Ewing Championship-contending Era was on.


  • Riley immediately made his mark on the Knicks. Word out of training camp in his first summer was that Riley was making the Knicks the most conditioned team in the NBA. They came out of the gate as a terrific defensive team — and won 51 games (vs 39 the year before).
  • Anthony Mason and John Starks, both undrafted, were pulled out of thin air by Riley.
  • Xavier McDaniel was added to start the 1991-92 season in a trade sending Trent Tucker to Phoenix. McDaniel gave them a star small forward to battle Michael Jordan (in addition to Mason). McDaniel was only 27 but a bad back made him 75% of what he had been.
  • After one season, Riley had Mark Jackson traded to the Clippers for Doc Rivers and Charles Smith. Just like that — the Knicks had replaced their two stud young point guards who they were trying to choose between — Rod Strickland and Mark Jackson — with Doc Rivers. Smith gave them a quality big man off the bench to battle Chicago.
  • Derek Harper replaced injured Doc Rivers for the Knicks 1994 finals run.
  • Herb Williams, a former star-caliber center, was added as a free agent at age 34 for the 1992-93 center as a backup to Ewing and big man off the bench.
  • Rolando Blackman at age 33 was added for the playoff run in 1991-92.


  • The Ewing Glory years.
  • Knicks won 51, 60, 57, and 55 games in 4 years
  • Knicks had best record in NBA in 1993. Jordan’s Bulls (and the refs*) beat them in playoffs. (*Charles Smith seemed to be fouled at least once on that final play in Game 5, 1993, let alone all the calls Michael Jordan got earlier in that decisive game; there are videos on youtube analyzing that game.)
  • Knicks went to finals in 1994 and were a jump shot away from a title (Starks 3-pointer blocked at the buzzer of game 6, which would have been the title winner if he made it)

The End:

  • Pat Riley and Dave Checketts had a behind-the-scenes war for control of the team. Checketts won and Riley resigned.
  • Riley leaving was a dagger to Knicks fans and would prove to be a turning point and one of the worst moments in Knicks history. Don Nelson replaced Riley and things fell apart, and soon it was on to Rebuild #6…

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