The New York Knicks haven’t won an NBA championship since 1973. But that could’ve changed if they just listened to their head coach.

The Knicks were one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference during the ’90s despite never winning a title, making the playoffs every year while also reaching the NBA Finals twice. While most people credit Patrick Ewing, the other Pat, Pat Riley, was just as important.

Before Riley took over, the Knicks were a sub-.500 team and were swept by the Chicago Bulls in the first round. In his four years coaching the Knicks, they improved each season. They went 51-31 and were a win away from knocking out the Bulls in the semifinals his first year, made the conference finals in Year 2, and in Year 3, the Knicks were a win away from winning the NBA championship.

As high as the Knicks were those three seasons, everything came crashing down in a matter of months. Glenn “Doc” Rivers began fuming about his lack of playing time and John Starks fought Ewing because he wanted to be even more involved in the offense.

Meanwhile, for Riley, he also wanted something more. The Knicks offered him a five-year, $15-million extension, which would’ve made him the highest-paid coach in the NBA. Surprisingly, Riley declined. He wanted a 10-20 percent ownership stake of the franchise and be named the team’s president. However, team president Dave Checketts disagreed with his proposal. In his mind, their offer was more than “extraordinary.”

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Once Riley realized the Knicks were never going to budge, he began to explore his options discreetly. When the Miami Heat faced the Knicks on Feb. 16, 1995, Heat owner Micky Arison had a meeting with Riley the morning before the game.

Nothing materialized until the Knicks were eliminated in Game 7 to the Indiana Pacers in the second round. Riley sent Arison his list of demands, which turned out to be longer than the wingspan of Manute Bol. He asked for a 10-year, $50 million contract, 20% ownership of the team, a limo service to and from games, $300 per diem, and for Arison to buy his homes near Los Angeles and New York.

But when you’re a listless franchise, Arison agreed. On June 15, 1995, Riley sent his resignation letter via fax saying he’d be taking his talents to South Beach. For the Knicks, it was too late. Riley immediately went to Greece and all the Knicks could get in return was a first-round pick that turned out to be Walter McCarty.

Since Riley took over, the Heat have been to the Finals six times and won three championships. Not a bad trade.