So I think it is fair to say the tableau we will take away from last night, that series, this season, is the Roy Hibbert block of Carmelo Anthony’s dunk attempt with the Knicks ahead, 92-90 in the fourth quarter last night.
How awful that ultimately becomes will be determined by context, much of which is still to come. I have it fifth, though, in my lifetime.
5. The Hibbert Block: Kept the Knicks from a four point lead, stopped momentum in a win that would have led to a Game 7 at MSG and a matchup with LeBron.
4. The Wandering Bench, 1997: Ahead 3-2 even had they lost the Game 5 to the Heat, here came P.J. Brown to throw Charlie Ward to the ground. Patrick Ewing alertly jumped off the bench to keep his teammates from fighting. He drew a suspension for it. I think that was the best of the Ewing Knicks teams, and they never got a chance to face Jordan and the Bulls.
3. The Finger Roll, 1995: Kept the Knicks from the NBA Finals rematch when Patrick Ewing missed the easiest of shots in Game 7 of the 1995 Eastern Conference Finals, allowing his critics to pretend the limited roster around Ewing was somehow his fault. (Get ready for more of that, Carmelo Anthony edition.) It let Reggie Miller celebrate. It ended the Pat Riley era. Brutal.
2. Charles Smith Game, 1993: seven missed opportunities right by the basket, victory within inches on the United Center floor. A symbol for the limitations of Ewing’s supporting cast, with Smith’s injuries cutting short a promising career. Xavier McDaniel, much older, seemed like the poorer long-tem bet. You know he dunks that ball. Well, I know it.
3. Hakeem Olajuwon’s block of John Starks to end Game 6, 1994: it is so easy to picture John Starks as a New York hero above most after he capped his magnificent Game 6 with a NBA Finals-winning shot over Olajuwon. Just inches away from avoiding that 2-for-18 Game 7, Starks was blocked along the baseline.
Only Anthony’s dunk came closer to falling than Starks’ last attempt of the game. Or maybe Ewing’s finger roll was closer. Or Smith’s layup attempts. Or Ewing’s feet along the out-of-bounds line.
Think I’m going to lie down now.