By Ben Horney, Knicks fan since '94
While it's not on the same precise date every year, Mother's Day is always falls smack dab in the middle of the playoffs. The Knicks have played ten times on Mother's Day, and are 5-5 in those games. All 10 games were part of the Eastern Conference semifinals, and all but the first two of the Mother's Day matches have been at Madison Square Garden.
To celebrate, let's take a look back at Mother's Days in Knicks history.
Their first three Mother's Day performances were flops, as the Knicks lost to the Celtics in 1984, the Bulls in 1989 and the Pistons in 1990. In 1992, they finally broke through when they beat Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls in Game 4, 93-86, to tie the series at two games apiece. Xavier McDaniel led the Knicks to victory that night (24 points and 7 rebounds), with plenty of help from Patrick Ewing (15 points and 11 rebounds) and John Starks (16 points and five assists off the bench).
Despite ultimately losing that series, the Knicks brought their Mother's Day momentum into the next season, when they defeated the Charlotte Hornets in Game 1, 111-95. The Knicks were led by a typically tremendous Ewing stat line of 33 points, 10 rebounds, four assists and four blocks, with help from Charles Oakley (17 points and 10 boards) and Starks (14 points and 12 assists). Alonzo Mourning foreshadowed the fact that he would be a Knicks rival for years to come, leading the Hornets with 27 points, 13 rebounds and four blocks in the losing effort. The Knicks won the series handily in just five games.
The Knicks kept their Mother's Day winning streak alive a year later, with a 90-86 Game 1 victory over the Bulls. Of course, Michael Jordan was working on his baseball swing at the time -- but even without Jordan, Phil Jackson and Scottie Pippen had led the Bulls to 55 wins that season. The Knicks won this game behind a balanced effort; Ewing led the way (18 points, 12 boards), followed by Starks (17 points). Oakley and Anthony Mason contributed 11 points each. The Knicks would go on to win that series in seven.
After beginning their Mother's Day history with a three-game losing streak followed by a three-game winning streak, the Knicks have split their other four games on the holiday, beginning with a Game 4 loss in 1996 to the Bulls, 94-91. Michael Jordan was back, and simply too much to handle (27 points, 8 rebounds and 8 assists). Ewing did all he could (29 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks), but the Knicks fell just short. The Bulls would win the series in five and go on to win the title.
The Knicks bounced back in 1997, defeating the Heat in Game 3, 77-73, behind Patrick Ewing (25 points, 11 rebounds). The Knicks went on to lose the series, however, after a Game 5 brawl led to some controversial suspensions for the Knicks.
In 1998, the Knicks lost Game 4 in overtime to the Pacers, 118-107, behind Reggie Miller's 38 points. The Knicks had a balanced attack in the loss, led by 19 points apiece from Houston and Starks, followed by 18 from Johnson and 17 from Ewing. The Pacers would win the series in five.
2000 was the last time the Knicks played a game on Mother's Day, and they were victorious, winning Game 4 against the Heat, 91-83. The Knicks leading scorer wasn't Ewing, Houston, Johnson or even Latrell Sprewell. It was Charlie Ward, who scored 20 points and had seven rebounds, four assists and three steals. Ewing, nearing the end of his celebrated Knicks career, scored 12 points and had 11 boards. The victory tied the series at two, and the Knicks would go on to win the series in seven.
So who is the Knicks' Mother's Day MVP? Patrick Ewing, who played in nine of the ten possible games, and scored 189 total points (21 per game), grabbed 91 total rebounds (10 per game) and had 14 total blocks (1.6), which is nearly identical to his overall career averages.
Happy Mother’s Day!