Established in 1946, the New York Knicks are one of the most lucrative franchises in the NBA. The Knicks are only one of 2 teams that are still located in their original city, having an arena at Madison Square Garden.
How many times have the New York Knicks won the NBA Championship? During their existence, the New York Knicks won 2 championship titles in 1970 (4-1) and 1973 (4-3) respectively. Both in these Finals, the Knicks defeated the Los Angeles Lakers and under the guidance of Red Holzman and a fantastic performance from Willis Reed.
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Since then the New York Knicks struggled to get another championship title. Even though they had legendary players, the championship evaded them. In this article, we will talk more about their championship path and the following results.
1970 NBA Finals
The 1970 NBA Finals was a best of seven format series, which the Knicks won against the Lakers 4-3. The series is considered one of the best matchups in the history of the NBA. Numerous incredible players took part such as Wilt Chamberlain, Jerry West, Walt Frazier, Willis Reed. Before making it to the Finals, the Knicks defeated the Milwaukee Bucks 4-1, while the Lakers swept the Atlanta Hawks 4-0.
The Finals were pretty close and the overall result clearly indicated that. Game 7 of the series is often considered the best match in the history of the Finals. While the Knicks won 113-99 against the Lakers, who had dominant Chamberlain in their team, Walt Frazier had a fantastic performance with 36 points and 19 assists – something that is difficult to accomplish in the decisive game of the series. Willis Reed eventually became an MVP averaging 23.0 points and 10.5 rebounds. Reed was the epitome of an MVP, the Knicks were in game five of the finals Reed tore his thigh muscle. The knicks lost game five and this meant that the Knicks were 3-2 down in the series. Reed had been putting up a stat line of an MVP but what he achieved in game six cemented Reed’s performance. Everyone knew that Reed would be out for the rest of the series, everyone except Willis Reed. Reed got painkiller injections in his leg walked out on to the court and started warming up. The Lakers players stopped warming up in disbelief and Madison Square Garden was rocking. Walt Frazier, point guard for the Kincks looked at the Lakers players reaction and thought:
“something told me we might have these guys.”
Reed played a half only scoring 4 points however, he managed to get numerous boards and played hard defence on Wilt Chamberlain. The Knicks won the game and went on to win the Championship.This was the first championship title in the history of the franchise. Of course, the Knicks were massively praised by their fans.
1973 NBA Finals
The second and last championship title came 3 years later, against the Lakers and with Red Holzman main coach. The series was a repeat of the previous Finals, in which the Lakers won 4-1. The Finals ended with the same score, with the difference being that the Knicks emerged victorious in the end.
Before going to the Finals, the Knicks defeated the Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals 4-3. The Lakers in their turn beat the Warriors 4-1. Everyone anticipated a tough matchup between these two teams. The Lakers won the first match but lost the consecutive 4. The match was close however and it was the final game that Chamberlain played in the NBA. Willis Reed, the captain of the team once again became an MVP. The Knicks really deserved to win the title. A season after they once again made it to the Eastern Conference Finals, but unfortunately were beaten by the Boston Celtics in 5 games. After this series, Willis Reed retired from basketball and the franchise’s plans shifted one more time.
Patrick Ewing Era
After 2 successful seasons, the Knicks struggled to add another championship title to their tally. When Patrick Ewing emerged as a leader of the team, the New York Knicks had a great chance to clinch another title. Ewing was one of the most dominant centers of his generation, but…Michael Jordan appeared that shattered dreams and chances of teams. Even though the Knicks had a really good team and at some point, Jordan retired from basketball, still they could not win a championship title. The New York Knicks fell short against the Houston Rockets and Hakeem Olajuwon. In the 1999 Finals, against the San Antonio Spurs, Ewing was injured and did not take part in any match. The Spurs eventually defeated their opponent 4-1. Even Pat Riley could not lead the Knicks to the desired title and Ewing eventually retired without a championship ring.
Carmelo/Stoudemire Era and Revival
When Carmelo Anthony moved to the New York Knicks alongside Amar’e Stoudemire, the chances of the Knicks winning the championship title rose sharply. Carmelo was one of the best players at that time and an elite scorer. He was exactly what New York lacked for a long time – a leader that would spearhead the team in difficult situations. The Knicks made it to the playoffs and were playing good basketball but they could not compete against LeBron James who dominated the Eastern Conference for almost 10 years.
The emergence of Jeremy Lin was also a sign of something good. This period was also known as Linsanity when the Chinese player surprised everyone in the absence of leaders. It seemed like the team had everything needed to make it to the Conference Finals, but they did not manage to achieve this feat.
The chances of winning a championship declined notably in recent years. Prior to the 2020/2021 season, the Knicks failed to make the playoffs for eight consecutive years, which was a massive blow for the franchise. They had one of the worst records in the whole league, but the 2020/2021 season was an exception where the Knicks somewhat found their game and entered the playoffs, where they lost in the first round against the Atlanta Hawks.
In the 2021/2022 season, the Knicks will be contenders for the playoffs, as they have added Kemba Walker. Tom Thibodeau, head coach of the team, is experienced and he might find a way to find the optimal lineup. However, the dreams of becoming the champions are still far away – they do not have enough superstar players to fight against heavyweight opponents.