Top 5 moments from the Knicks-Pacers rivalry in the '90s
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Top 5 moments from the Knicks-Pacers rivalry in the ’90s

Those of you who grew up watching the NBA in the ’90s surely have vivid memories of the intense rivalry between the New York Knicks and Indiana Pacers.

Patrick Ewing. Reggie Miller. Spike Lee.

It had it all.

The Knicks and Pacers met six times in the playoffs between 1993 and 2000, with the two teams splitting the series 3-3.

Neither team won a championship during that span, mainly because they kept running into this guy named Michael Jordan, but there is no doubt that New York and Indiana were heavyweights at that time.

For those of you who may have been too young to remember or simply were not born then, yes; there was a time when the Knicks were legitimately good.

So, here are the top five moments of the Knicks-Pacers rivalry:

5. The end of the Knicks

The final playoff meeting between these two clubs during that era was in the 2000 Eastern Conference Finals, when the Pacers ultimately dispatched the Knicks in six games.

This was actually probably one of the least memorable series all-around during this rivalry, but what makes it so significant is that it marked the end an era for New York.

Since this loss Indiana, the Knicks have won just one playoff series and have made the playoffs just five times overall.

James Dolan took over as team owner in 1999, and perhaps not so coincidentally, it has been downhill for New York ever since.

The Pacers closed out this conference finals series with a 13-point win at Madison Square Garden, shutting the door on what was a truly exciting era of Knickerbockers basketball.

4. Patrick Ewing’s missed layup

Ewing is unquestionably one of the greatest centers to ever play the game, but he had a love-hate relationship with Knicks fans during his legendary tenure in the Big Apple that began in June 1985 and ended in 2000.

The Hall-of-Famer never delivered on his promise of bringing a championship to New York, making to just one finals and losing to Hakeem Olajuwon and the Houston Rockets in 1994.

One of the biggest lowlights of Ewing’s Knicks tenure came during a second-round playoff matchup with the Pacers in 1995, when New York lost in seven games.

What made is so tough? Well, in Game 7, with the Knicks trailing by two points with five seconds left at the Garden, Ewing missed a finger-roll layup as time expired, preserving the series win for the Pacers.

Let’s not get it twisted: this was not an easy shot, especially for a seven-footer, but it was a layup that most feel Ewing, one of the best players in the league at the time, should have made.

No one knows what would have happened had Ewing converted, but that miss has followed the big man ever since.

3. Reggie Miller flashes the choke sign at Spike Lee

Miller is well-known for being one of the most fervent trash talkers this game has ever seen, and one of the main victims of his assaults has been Lee.

In Game 5 of the 1994 Eastern Conference Finals, Miller poured in 39 points at Madison Square Garden and engaged with a verbal back-and-forth with Lee throughout the contest, famously flashing a choke sign at Lee after burying a shot from the corner.

The Pacers would go on to win the game and take a 3-2 lead in the series, but ironically, it was Indiana that would choke in the end, as the Knicks won Games 6 and 7 to win the series and advance to the finals.

However, in spite of the fact that New York won the series, Miller’s exchange with Lee was quite easily the most memorable moment of the battle.

2. 8 Points in 9 Seconds

In Game 1 of the aforementioned 1995 second-round playoff series between these two squads, the Knicks seemed to be well on their way to victory, holding a six-point lead with 18.7 seconds remaining.

As you all likely know, the lead vanished almost instantly.

Miller buried a three-pointer off of an inbounds pass to trim the lead to three and then stole an inbounds pass from the Knicks, stepped behind the line and drained another triple to tie things up.

As if that wasn’t bad enough for New York, John Starks missed a pair of free throws, Ewing missed a putback shot and Miller grabbed the rebound and was fouled. He converted two foul shots on the other end.

During that frantic sequence of events, just 8.9 seconds had come off the clock, and Miller had scored eight points to give Indy a two-point lead. The Knicks had 7.5 seconds left with the ball, but they weren’t even able to get a shot off.

To this day, this represents the most famous (or infamous, depending on who you ask) moment of Miller’s career.

1. Larry Johnson’s four-point play

How could you one-up Miller Time’s legendary moment in 1995?

Larry Johnson did in 1999. Somehow.

During yet another Eastern Conference Finals matchup between the Knicks and Pacers, New York was trailing by three points with 11.9 seconds remaining in Game 3 at the Garden (notice how all of these top moments came at MSG?).

Charlie Ward was inbounding the ball, which was tipped by a Pacers defender but found the hands of Johnson. While being defended by Antonio Davis, Johnson took a couple of jab steps before moving to his left, popping a three and getting fouled by Davis. The three fell, Johnson made the free throw and the Knicks took a one-point lead.

New York would win the game and would ultimately win the series, becoming the first No. 8 seed in NBA history to make it all the way to the finals.

The Garden hasn’t been the same ever since.