The New York Knicks franchise has not exactly been synonymous with “great moments” in recent years, though the 2020-21 season finally has the good vibes going again. Prior to this century (and the Dolans), the Knicks were amongst the league’s most storied organizations, and produced multiple eras of sustained competency — and often contention.

Let’s revisit the top five moments in franchise history. 

5. Allan Houston Gets the Roll

The Knicks and the Miami Heat had one of the league’s best rivalries in the late 1990s, sparked, in part, by Pat Riley’s move to South Beach in 1995 after helming the Knicks since 1991-92.

In the first round of the 1999 playoffs—a rematch of their 1998 series, which New York won—the no. 8 seeded Knicks took on the top-seeded Heat. In the deciding Game 5, with Miami up 77-76 and under five seconds remaining, Houston drove the lane put up a floater that softly bounced off the front rim, kissed the backboard, then plopped through the net to give New York the upset.

The Knicks would keep their playoff magic going all the way to the NBA Finals.

4. Linsanity

Live and breathe sports?

🚨 Get viral graphics, memes, rumors and trending sports news delivered right to your inbox with the Clutch Newsletter.

For any Knicks fan under a certain age, the February 2012 stretch when Jeremy Lin took over the team and became a worldwide phenomenon is likely their most cherished memory.

As the team dealt with multiple injuries, Mike D’Antoni gave Lin a chance—and he seized the opportunity like no one could ever have envisioned. Lin dropped 25 points in his first start vs. the Nets, then proceeded to average 23.8 points and 9.4 assists over the next 10 contest—of which the Knicks won eight.

Lin’s meteoric rise peaked with his Valentine’s Day game-winning three on the Toronto Raptors—two days after torching Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers for 38 points on national television.

3. John Starks Throws It Down

Perhaps the most iconic single play of Knicks history—and certainly of the beloved ‘90s squads.

In Game 2 of the 1993 Eastern Conference Finals, with the Knicks up 1-0, the Chicago Bulls led 91-88 with under a minute to go and looked prime to win back home court. Instead, the 6’3 Starks drove baseline for a left-handed flush on Horace Grant and (kind of) Jordan. The jam sparked an 8-0 rally and a Knicks win.

New York lost the series, but Starks’ poster remains one of the franchise’s most celebrated moments.

2. Larry Johnson’s Four-Point Play 

Amid their Cinderella run to the 1999 Finals—despite losing Patrick Ewing to injury early in the playoffs—the scrappy Knicks led by Houston, Latrell Sprewell, and Ewing’s replacement, Marcus Camby, impressively held down the fort.

But on June 5, in Game 3 of the conference finals, it was another veteran, Larry Johnson, who became a hero. With 11.9 seconds left against the no. 2 seeded Indiana Pacers and the Knicks trailing 91-88.

Grandmama found a sliver of space on the wing and sank a deep three—plus the foul. Johnson threw up his trademark “LJ” sign, sank the free throw, and the Knicks took the game 92-91.

1. “Here Comes Willis”

Undoubtedly the greatest moment in franchise history, and one of the signature moments in NBA Finals history.

Prior to Game 7 in 1970—pitting the Knicks against Wilt Chamberlain, Jerry West, and the favored Los Angeles Lakers—Willis Reed, who had missed game six with a torn thigh muscle, was doubtful. The Madison Square Garden crowd rumbled with angst with uncertainty on whether their center would be up for the bout with Chamberlain.

Then, during warm-ups, The Captain appeared in the tunnel­—sending MSG into a frenzy. Reed improbably started and even sank two jumpers on Chamberlain at the onset. Reed only made two shots and hobbled through 27 minutes, but his presence was enough to inspire his teammates and the Knicks won 113-99 for their first title.

Walt Frazier dropped 36 points and 19 assists in Game 7, but Reed was named Finals MVP.