Over the years, the Knicks have housed a wide array of all-time greats and each one of them has had their fair share of historic moments at the Garden. Legends like Bernard King, “Clyde” Frazier, and Patrick Ewing often top the list in that category but John Starks will always have a special place in the hearts of the Knickerbockers faithful.
How “The Dunk” happened
During the 1992-93 NBA season, the Knicks were the most dominant team in the East, having finished the campaign at the top seed. However, many still viewed them as underdogs when they finally crossed paths with the then-two-time defending champions Chicago Bulls in the conference finals.
In Game 2 of the series, Starks, who recorded his best-scoring tally in the regular season at the time with 17.5 points per game, made his mark in the Garden.
With just 50 seconds remaining in the close game, Starks ran the ball from court to court and drove straight to the right wing, off the screen from Ewing. He then leaped from the baseline and threw a stunning left-handed slam against a couple of Bulls, including Michael Jordan.
The highlight-worthy dunk went on to become known in the NBA simply as “The Dunk.”
Starks almost did it again
The fact that the Knicks won the first two games of the series against the Bulls certainly added some flair to "The Dunk.” However, New York eventually succumbed to the Bulls’ dominance and lost the four games in a row.
The following season, Jordan was out of the picture and the Knicks made it to the East finals once again. This time around, they faced their conference nemesis Indiana Pacers.
As expected, both teams played physical basketball throughout the series which reached Game 7. At the time, Knicks fans may have forgotten about Starks’ epic dunk on the Bulls for a minute as they were more concerned about making it to the Finals. However, after two-and-a-half decades, Starks revealed that he almost repeated “The Dunk” on the Pacers at one point during that game.
“Game 7 against the Indiana Pacers. The game was on the line and I was just coming off knee surgery and I remember I had a pick and roll with me and Patrick [Ewing]. In my mind I’m trying to recreate ‘The Dunk’ again, I was seeing the same thing happening,” Starks recalled in an interview in 2019 via Metro.
“I went up and the hops weren’t there! I went up against Dale Davis. I was going to go up left and I had to change it and all I could do was get it up off the board and I missed the shot,” he recalled. “Here comes Patrick, out of nowhere, to save me and dunk it back in."
The Knicks may have not won a championship during their glory days in the 90s but at least Starks gave New York fans a great memory to look back on.