NEW YORK vs. MIAMI (1999)
Pat Riley is still trying to understand what in the name of Allan Houston went wrong in this series. The Knicks had finished six games behind Miami at the end of the lockout-shortened regular season and faced a team with in-their-primes ‘Zo and Tim Hardaway. Then they won by 20 in Game 1, in Miami, and 24 in Game 3; huh?
The moment — before Larry Johnson‘s iconic four-point play against the Pacers — we most associate with the Knicks-Heat rivalry in general belongs to Houston. He took the ball at the three, dipped to the free-throw line and hit his one-handed runner for the 78-77 win. Maybe even more indelible about the moment is his full-court spring and punch in the air at the Miami fans. Remember, this was the third straight year the teams met in the playoffs and the first two times someone actually got punched.
If you think this is the easy moment to reach for, you’re right because this was the only close game of the entire series; Game 4′s 10-point win by Miami was the next closest. The The Knicks in 1999 are the only team go from from an 8-seed to the NBA Finals. From here they knocked off swept Atlanta, 4-0, in the East semis, then beat Indiana, 4-2, in the East finals. But first to feel it was Miami, which spawned the cover photo, which I call, Alonzo in mourning (had to). If you get a chance, watch this video on the Knicks’ ’99 season.