- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
- TAMPA BAY buccaneersENEMY lines WHAT A RIVAL COACH SAYSJune 28, 2012
- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
EXCERPT | June 28, 1999
The Knicks' last shot at a title was ruined by the Spurs
Given the Knicks' present streak of eight seasons without winning a playoff game, it's hard to recall a time when they were a championship contender. In the team's last trip to the NBA Finals—when it was coached by current ABC analyst Jeff Van Gundy—it went as an upstart eighth seed facing the imposing Spurs. This Phil Taylor story was written after Game 3, which would be the only game that New York won.
Gregg Popovich loosened his tie and leaned back in his office chair last Friday, an hour after the Spurs had gone up two games to none over the Knicks in the NBA Finals. But despite his body language, Popovich, the San Antonio coach, was anything but relaxed. While the fans outside the Alamodome were chanting for a sweep, Popovich was thinking of the hazards that lay ahead.
His uneasy feeling was well-founded. The Knicks revived themselves—and breathed life into the series—with an 89--81 victory at Madison Square Garden on Monday. New York won largely because coach Jeff Van Gundy made a strategic shift. He stationed the two Knicks being guarded by Tim Duncan and David Robinson near the three-point arc, drawing the Spurs' 7-footers away from the basket. With neither San Antonio big man clogging the lane, Knicks guards Allan Houston and Latrell Sprewell found it easier to get inside, and were also able to draw fouls on their smaller defenders.
There was off-the-court intrigue as well. Sprewell spent part of his week denying an SI report that he had told teammates that he wants to be traded to the Hawks if Van Gundy returns next season. The coach, though, was mainly concerned with the task at hand. Now, Van Gundy said, "we have to decide if we just want to avoid a sweep, or if we believe we can win this series."
SI.COM | Breaking News | Real-time Scores | Daily Analysis
The All-New SI.com
Sleek, dynamic and easy to use