Knicks vs Nets: the rivalry, circa 1993

Raymond Felton says that New York will always belong to the Knicks. Paul Pierce says that “it’s time for the Nets to start running this city.” The two teams do not play each other until December 5th, so for now let us delve into the archives for a look at how this rivalry used to play out during a much more physical era – when tough talk was backed up by hard fouls, and hard fouls were an accepted part of the game.

It’s the 1992/93 season, and the New Jersey Nets have two potential superstars in power forward Derrick Coleman and point guard Kenny Anderson to go with one of the best shooters in the game in Drazen Petrovic, and a two-time title-winning coach in Chuck Daly. They enter the second half of the season with a chip on their shoulder. Despite their resurgence as a franchise, none of their players got voted onto the All-Star team; no one respects them. Playing on national TV for the first time since 1984, this is their chance to make a statement.

February 28, 1993: New York Knicks @ New Jersey Nets

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It’s the NBA on NBC, and it’s a young Hannah Storm! She informs us that the Nets are a “potentially dangerous ballclub.”

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Petrovic: the only top 15 scorer in the league to not play in the All-Star Game.

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The Knicks: the greatest defensive team of the Jordan era.

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It’s 1993, which can only mean one thing: hi-top fades!

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John Starks: forever a Knicks hero. Two months later, he did THIS.

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Chuck Daly: apparently not a fan of early Sunday afternoon tip-offs.

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The 6’10” Coleman shows off his crossover dribble and swishes a long two. Few big men have been as talented.

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Petrovic pulls up for an open 3 on the fast break: easy money. The Knicks know better than to leave him open. Mike Fratello: “He’s the best there is right now (in terms of shooters) – although Mark Price might argue a little bit.” Three months later, he was dead.

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Coleman swishes the 3 as a scrambling Charles Oakley can’t get there in time. DC has a game-high 17 points and the Knicks’ vaunted defense is nowhere to be found. Halftime: Nets 52, Knicks 43.

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Sam Bowie’s statline: 11 minutes, 4 points, 4 fouls – just in case you were wondering if the Blazers made the right choice choosing him ahead of MJ in 1985.

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Patrick Ewing is not happy with the refs.

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An aggressive Ewing gets the ball down low and overpowers Dudley for the layup. He’s 7-for-9 from the field; his teammates are something much worse.

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Fratello on Charles Smith: “He’s got the great body, he’s got the muscles, but does he get it done for you on a regular basis? That’s what the Knicks want to find out.” Marv confirms: “He’s got to show that he can do it when the game is on the line.” The Knicks would soon get their answer.

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Ewing is doubled in the post, and Dudley reaches around to poke the ball away. Then this happens:

Much to the Nets’ anger, Anderson’s wrist turned out to be broken, causing him to miss the rest of the ‘92/93 season and experience pain throughout the ‘93/94 season before finally having surgery in the ’94 offseason. Starks received a flagrant foul on the play. In today’s league, he would likely be ejected (after an exhaustingly long replay review) and subsequently suspended.

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Marv breaks down how the Knicks are perceived around the league: “Some say dirty, some say aggressive, some say physical.” In the NBA of 2013 they’d be lucky to get through a week without drawing a suspension. Long live the early ‘90s.

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The next play down the floor, Coleman gives Starks a forearm to the chest in retaliation. Words and menacing stares are exchanged, and Dudley has to be restrained by a ref. No technical fouls are given out. Marv gives the scene his age-old stamp of approval: “And things are beginning to get testy.” The Knicks/Nets rivalry, never really a serious proposition until this point, is officially alive.

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The rout is on as Petrovic hits an absurd off-balance one-hander and the Nets continue to light it up, much to their fans’ approval. Marv: “This is the first time that I can recall at a Knicks/Nets game at the Meadowlands that most of the home crowd is rooting for the home team.”

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Just for good measure, Coleman clobbers Anthony from behind on a layup attempt. Anthony dusts himself off without complaint. Marv: “We may see more hitting here in the second half than at the Devils’ National Hockey League game taking place tonight.”

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A Tate George sighting! The 22nd pick in the 1990 Draft, George averaged 4.2 points over 177 career games. In undoubtedly the highlight of his career, he once put up 18 points and 9 assists against Magic Johnson and the Lakers.

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A Bernard King sighting! The last time the Nets played on national TV (Christmas Day 1984), he scored 60 on them. This was Bernard’s final season and he only appeared in 32 games, but he still knew how to put the ball in the basket: 13.4 minutes, 7.0 points, 51.4% shooting. Career stats: 874 games, 33.7 minutes, 22.5 points, 5.8 rebounds, 51.8% shooting. Respect.

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Dudley goes to the foul line after being whacked by Anthony Mason. Marv pokes fun at Dudley’s free throw technique as only Marv can: “This sets up an adventure… watch the form here…” Indeed, it is a must-watch:

Dudley: 691-for-158 from the line for his career.

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Tate George compiled 11 blocked shots in his NBA career. This was one of them.

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Coleman hits another three. DC and Ewing exchange words and nudges running down the floor, and finally a straight-arm shove. The refs call nothing. I miss this NBA. Nets 83, Knicks 56.

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With the game out of hand, comedian Bill Murray tells Ahmad Rashad: “I’m from Illinois, I’m scouting both these teams for the Bulls. These are the strangest fans I’ve ever seen… I don’t know what these people eat before they come in. This is a really strange group of people.”

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Dudley blocks Tony Campbell, and is having himself a night: 7 points, 21 rebounds, 4 blocks. Nets 93, Knicks 67.

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Anderson receives counsel on the bench from backup guard Mo Cheeks, who would go on to become an NBA head coach with the Trailblazers, Sixers and now the Pistons.

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Player of the game, Derrick Coleman: 39 minutes, 26 points, 10 rebounds, 3 blocks, 3 assists, 8-for-16 FGs.

Final score: Nets 102, Knicks 76. Marv: “In recent franchise history of the New Jersey Nets, this performance has to be one of their shining moments, perhaps a benchmark, a warning that they have arrived.”

The game would prove to be a wake-up call for the Knicks, who went on an immediate 9-game winning streak and won 24 of 28 games to close the regular season with a 60-22 record, the best in the East. Ewing averaged 26 points and 13 rebounds over those 28 games, perhaps the finest two-month spell of his career. If the MVP award was based on games played in March and April, he would have won it that year. Alas, Jordan and the Bulls awaited in the Conference Finals.

Sadly for the Nets, their so-called “arrival” turned out to be a non-starter. Without the injured Anderson, they lost 10 of their last 11 regular season games, finishing 43-39. As a 6th seed, they lost 3-2 to the Brad Daugherty and Mark Price-led Cavs in the first round, and Petrovic would tragically die in a car crash that offseason. The following year, the Nets improved to 45-37, winning four of five regular season games against the Knicks before facing them in the first round of the playoffs. New York won the series 3-1, effectively putting an end to any plans the upstart Nets had of challenging their supremacy in the tri-state area – until they moved to Brooklyn 20 years later.

2 thoughts on “Knicks vs Nets: the rivalry, circa 1993

  1. Laffin at that Coleman (today’s nick: DC44) pic at the end. Classic. Reminsicent of NVE. Daly would probably leave him alone just like Del would Nick when he was going towelhead. Drajan let a woman drive that day. Cost him his life. I’m sure the League FO is in love with the idea of the Nets and Clippers being > the Knicks and Lakers. Let’s see how that works out for them. These cunt deadbeat owners who wanted to slant the salary cap, BRI, TV monies from OTHER teams, FA rules, etc, as well as their inherent yearly placement in the lottery as perpetually lousy franchises benefit from profitable (hence, strong) marquee teams, as do the networks. When the Nets and Clippers are “running” shit, it’s a bad sign, not a good one. Sour grapes maybe, but don’t pull that happy horseshit right after the league’s best player colludes with two other franchise players to join up, thus ensuring the continuation of the lack of parity that they claimed to want to turn around. Boggles my mind that the weasel Stern would be pressured by owners and GMs who consistently do the wrong things instead of listening to voices like Jerry Buss, when he was alive. Personally going to the length of voiding a trade for “basketball reasons”. The type of crooked dealings that caused widespread resentment in 30s-40s Europe. If David Stern were around back then, he would’ve worked against his own people for a wage. I find it ironic that someone said he knows where all the bodies are buried. He would’ve been one of the volunteers who saved his own neck by digging their graves.

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