SportsCastr • Interview w/ Paul Knepper, Author of the Knicks of the Nineties
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Interview w/ Paul Knepper, Author of the Knicks of the Nineties
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00:00:45
ladies and gentlemen, you are now tuned into the Nikki's show.
00:00:49
My name is Mo, and I'm here with my partner, Nafi.
00:00:51
And today we're excited to bring in a special guest with us.
00:00:54
He is an author and former New York Knicks featured writer for Bleacher Report Mr Paul Knepper, who is the author of Knicks of the Nineties Ewing, Oakley, Starks and Brawlers that almost won it all.
00:01:07
We're excited.
00:01:08
For the first time ever, we're bringing a published author, so we're gonna bring him right now.
00:01:13
Paul.
00:01:14
Welcome to the show, man.
00:01:15
How you doing? Good.
00:01:16
Hey, Mohei, Enough. You Thanks for having me on.
00:01:18
Appreciate you coming on a Z.
00:01:20
My partner said it's not too often we find ourselves with a published author.
00:01:24
So figure this is a great way to pop art Cherry eso, Paul, we we we tried toe listen to as many of the podcast that you were on lately.
00:01:35
I know after the book came out, you were on a number of podcast, and what I noticed was actually that majority of those who were the host of these podcasts were those who watch the nineties next live and not myself were both, actually, nineties kids.
00:01:50
So what we're used to is, ah, a level of mediocrity or, you know, if you want to even call it that So, uh, just off the bat, um, as fans of the more so on the younger side who didn't have a chance to witness the nineties Knicks live.
00:02:04
How would you best summarize that specific era to younger fans who have known this last mediocrity or last bit of mediocrity for the past 20 years? Yeah.
00:02:13
Oh, man, it's It's, you know, that area is what keeps Knick fans like myself going.
00:02:17
I don't know how your younger guys do it, who haven't who weren't there for the glory years.
00:02:21
Um, I mean, the best thing I could say about it was, you know, the Knicks of the nineties.
00:02:26
They played hard every night, and they were, um, really almost every season in the nineties.
00:02:32
In the considered championship contenders on DSO.
00:02:36
There were a lot of, you know, heartbreaking moments with that certainly, and ultimately they never got that ring.
00:02:41
But anyone who was along for that ride in the nineties will tell you how great it was.
00:02:47
Um, it was a team.
00:02:48
We could really be proud of his Knicks fans because I said because they because they brought it every night, they left it all out on the floor.
00:02:54
Um, they were tough, hard nosed team.
00:02:56
And I think New York, you know, a really, really blue collar town really identified with that.
00:03:03
And, uh, but more than anything, it was just the excitement of of big time basketball of, you know, watching basketball and routing late into May into June in some years.
00:03:14
And it was it was amazing, and you really saw how much I talked about this in the book a little bit.
00:03:20
New York City is a basketball town, for sure, and we haven't seen it is much lately because the Knicks have been terrible for most of the 21st century.
00:03:28
But when when the Knicks were winning, that city comes alive and rallies around the team like no other team because, you know, the Yankees and the Mets are.
00:03:37
There may be more Yankee fans, but there's a significant split there, and there's certainly a split with the Giants and Jets.
00:03:43
And but back in the day, you remember to back then the Nets were in Jersey.
00:03:47
Knicks had the five boroughs, all of themselves for generation.
00:03:51
So went back so long was really kind of built in, passed down from generation to generation.
00:03:56
And when the Knicks were playing well in the nineties that the city was just in love with them, it was a really a great time.
00:04:03
It's beautiful.
00:04:04
So that definitively definitively answer the question of whether we're basketball town or not.
00:04:08
I mean, we pretty much are right like, Yeah, I think so.
00:04:12
It's the lifeblood of the city.
00:04:13
Yeah, and I'm gonna around, You know, I don't anymore, but I lived in Manhattan for a long time.
00:04:19
You walk around, you can't walk more than 10, 15 blocks without seeing a basket somewhere, you know, it should, uh, it's kind of like embedded in the city.
00:04:27
Yeah, and absolutely.
00:04:29
And I know it's a good point that you made in your book itself.
00:04:31
I believe you put in the prologue where the Knicks just own all five boroughs and the really the rest of the state.
00:04:37
Long Island itself, Long Island included, and even parts of jersey.
00:04:41
We're rooting for the Knicks, even though they had the Nets fans.
00:04:42
They still had empty seats in there when they have finals games going on over there.
00:04:46
So I know you mentioned in another podcast that you grew up in Queens.
00:04:51
Uh, not you and I are actually Queens kids to it's It's part of our bio two kids from Queens.
00:04:55
So where exactly in Queens that you grew up in? So I love the quiz.
00:04:59
Oh, I was about 10.
00:05:00
I lived in Douglaston.
00:05:02
Uh, on.
00:05:03
Then I moved out to Long Island to Jericho as Long Island.
00:05:06
So I do.
00:05:07
I do have queens roots, and Long Island is well, nice.
00:05:12
Nice as, uh, Woodside.
00:05:15
What side? And Astoria? Yeah.
00:05:20
As one of our podcasting of friends would like to say, Queens is definitely in the building right now.
00:05:25
Uh, s Oh, yeah.
00:05:28
I mean, getting right into your book.
00:05:30
Um, one of the main questions I had just because I know we're writing a book.
00:05:34
I mean, obviously, neither more.
00:05:35
I have written one, you know yet, you know, stay tuned, but yeah, yeah, yeah, but just kind of what your approach with the book did you kind of go in trying to be more so a historian or just ah, fan.
00:05:48
That's kind of went back to revisit, you know, the golden era.
00:05:51
Did you try to keep a level of objectivity or just went in, like as a fan? That's like trying to kind of confirm, um, you know, you're good memories or, you know, nostalgia.
00:06:00
Marsa.
00:06:01
Yeah, that's a good question.
00:06:02
I mean, I I think my fan hood was the inspiration for writing it, but I very much wanted to approach it as a professional reporter.
00:06:12
And so I I did do my absolute best to remain objective.
00:06:16
And that was a little tricky at times, given my fan hood, because I certainly came in with biases is as I think anybody who writes the book does.
00:06:24
But, um, and you know, the last thing you want is guys.
00:06:27
You looked up to her who, you know you admired toe.
00:06:31
You find out otherwise it may be different.
00:06:33
Great guys, whatever.
00:06:35
And there were certainly things that I found out about guys that I admire that were unflattering, but that was I mean, my goal was to reported as as the research dictated, and so I tried certainly tried as hard as I could to be objective and and to report it as Azaz.
00:06:53
Other people were told it to me.
00:06:56
Nice.
00:06:57
Okay? I mean, yeah, that definitely jumped off the page.
00:06:58
You know, like there was certain moments, obviously, where the with the fan hood came into play.
00:07:02
But it definitely seemed like a well reported, well reported book.
00:07:05
First and foremost, you know, So definitely appreciate the hard work that went into that.
00:07:09
Um, were there a lot of sleepless nights, you know? Uh, yeah, yeah.
00:07:16
Um, yeah.
00:07:18
Sometimes you just get, um you're gonna get down.
00:07:23
Ah, wormhole in research.
00:07:25
You know, you could get you could get in a YouTube, sometimes YouTube, but I've been looking at highlights.
00:07:30
So I've been looking at specific games, and I'd be like, All right, finish that game.
00:07:33
Might move on to this game or or or sometimes is within the writing process itself and just figuring out how doe I All right? This is a great story.
00:07:42
But how do I incorporated into the narrative? How do I make it work within the book? And so, yeah, sometimes I just find myself actually in bed, just lying, just lying, like trying to fall asleep, but the e you know, I get.
00:07:55
So I get so wrapped up in the projects.
00:07:57
Sometimes I couldn't put it down and go to sleep.
00:08:00
I'd be lying there in bed thinking about it.
00:08:01
So for sure.
00:08:03
Nice dedication.
00:08:10
Believe Mo had the next question.
00:08:11
Oh, yeah.
00:08:13
Well, one of one of questions that we actually we're gonna ask was Yeah, holidays You spend researching before you started writing the book itself? Um, yeah, that's so all in all, it took me over two years close to 2.
00:08:28
5 years.
00:08:29
I'd say the majority that was researching.
00:08:32
I definitely spent Mawr.
00:08:34
So maybe a year and a half of that researching, Um, definitely mawr time researching and writing reading, you know, tons and tons of newspaper articles, um, magazines listening to podcast, doing the interviews and then transcribing the interviews, which I've never really had to do before.
00:08:53
And that's picks forever if you have.
00:08:55
If you do it for me, you know, like a half hour interview would take me like an hour and a half to two hours to type it out.
00:09:02
Um, and so it's That's a long process.
00:09:06
So yeah, the research was was pretty hefty right now, pivoting a little bit deeper into the nineties themselves.
00:09:14
I'm sure you, as as many other NBA fans, washed the last dance this past summer and you know, resonated with a lot of what what was going on with Jordan's Bulls and Chicago Bulls.
00:09:24
And now one of the rumors that really came out that fans were reminded of was the fact that in 95 possibly that, uh, Jordan received an offer to join the Knicks, Uh, and to come out of retirement.
00:09:36
And, um, he was offer a nice $25 million.
00:09:41
And, uh, David Faulk, Jordan's agent, was was pressuring the Bulls to kind of out do that number.
00:09:48
Now, how how much of that rumor are you familiar with or are you aware of? And how much truth do you think was really behind that rumor? Yeah, so it was actually 96 on Bond.
00:09:59
There was talk.
00:10:00
So I talked to I talked to David Falk, who was Michael's agent.
00:10:04
I talked Thio David Checketts, who was president of the next of the time on President Madison Square Garden, about it.
00:10:11
They spoke about it.
00:10:12
They spoke about it at length.
00:10:13
Um, it was a tricky situation.
00:10:16
They had to cir***vent the salary cap.
00:10:19
So the Knicks only had about $10 million in salary cap space, But they were gonna offer Jordan $25 million worth essentially, and the way they were gonna do that was one of the companies that own the Knicks.
00:10:29
I t t, um, had a number of other companies that they owned.
00:10:34
For example, one was shared in hotels, and one thing that was tossed around was maybe Michael could they give him $10 million in salary cap space and he would do promotional stuff for sharing hotels toe to make up the other money.
00:10:48
Um, but which which typically is illegal.
00:10:51
But David start at this time Said he would allow it.
00:10:54
Uh, yeah, right.
00:10:56
Basically said, this guy has a marketing capacity, unlike anyone other.
00:11:00
This is in a normal situation, and we're gonna make an exception.
00:11:03
So, Jordan, they talked, um, David Falk going back to the Bulls and told Jerry Reinsdorf like you need to make an offer.
00:11:10
And Michael told Falk you didn't want, uh, Michael Falk.
00:11:15
He didn't want Fox to negotiate with Ryan stuff.
00:11:18
Hey said, I've given everything to this franchise.
00:11:20
I've done so much for this franchise for a long time.
00:11:23
I want them to make an offer that is that is worthy of what I've contributed and ultimately rhymes off off of $30 million in Jordan said Okay, Jordan swears that he would have left if Ryan's off didn't make a reasonable offer.
00:11:40
Um, what do you have? I don't know, you know, he told Roland Lazenby, a writer, did a great book on the on the Bulls in the nineties, and Jordan told Lazenby that, um, after the fact, he said, I absolutely 100% was going to leave if they didn't make the right off on.
00:11:59
Yeah, it's interesting.
00:12:00
It's I mean, it's fascinating, right? And you could see it from the standpoint off during his very good friends with with Charles Oakley, they're still very close.
00:12:09
He was good friends with Patrick on.
00:12:12
The Knicks had the kind of roster where Michael went there.
00:12:14
They probably would have won a championship there so he could have gone, you know, and of course, the marketing possibilities of being in New York.
00:12:21
It wasn't like he was leaving for a rebuilding team.
00:12:24
You know, he was walking right into another championship situation.
00:12:27
Um, and so I think it's possible.
00:12:30
I think it's possible if he would have.
00:12:31
He's very proud, man.
00:12:33
I think if he felt if he felt disrespected by the Bulls, yeah, he might have gotten.
00:12:38
It's crazy to think about, Yeah, e mean in that same vein, you know, going down the free agent possibility.
00:12:45
Rabbit hole.
00:12:46
Um, there was a chapter, I believe, about the summer of 96 it was an excerpt that really caught my eye.
00:12:52
I think it was.
00:12:53
Reggie Miller was pretty complimentary about the Knicks, just his potential fit with the roster.
00:12:58
That kind of red is also a shot at John Starks.
00:13:01
So I got was the genuine interest from on Reggie's end to join the Knicks.
00:13:05
And what was the feeling at the in the organization at the time? Was that something they even wanted to pursue or even entertained internally? Yeah, So the Knicks So I talk to check.
00:13:16
It's about this, and already Grunfeld GM, the next word intent on getting a shooting guard, um, stars has had a great run with New York that starts is very erratic.
00:13:26
Probably best served as 1/6 man.
00:13:28
Um, but he was starting and, um, going into 96.
00:13:33
Their first priority was a shooting guard, and they're the order.
00:13:37
Their preferences were Allan Houston one, Reggie Miller to and Steve Smith, three on the reason Reggie was it was an age thing that Houston was, I think 24 Reggie was 31 they thought in Houston was a really good player.
00:13:52
I mean, he wasn't the Hall of Famer that Reggie was, but they thought, Well, get a lot more good.
00:13:56
You know, he's just entering his prime, whereas revenues probably at the end of it, you know, towards the end of his prime, now eso Houston was the first target, and they made a big offered Houston.
00:14:07
And while Houston was way in the offer, the Knicks had a meeting set up with Indiana on.
00:14:12
They told they gave Houston a deadline.
00:14:14
They said, If you don't, if you don't accept this offer by doing today, we're me, Reggie Miller and we're gonna make him an offer or were meeting with his representative, we're gonna make him an offer um and I'm not, You know, Reggie swears.
00:14:28
Reggie said after the fact he was never going in the Knicks, that he was using them for bargaining power again.
00:14:35
You never know, right? I mean, if they would have given him a lot more money than Indiana, I assume he probably would have gone.
00:14:40
Um, but he was He was definitely sweet talking an extra while and because he knew they needed a player just like him on.
00:14:48
And it was a business decision.
00:14:49
You know, guys do that all the time with the Knicks.
00:14:51
They do it in baseball with the Yankees.
00:14:53
They talk with the Yankees, even if they don't want to go to Yankees.
00:14:55
Because the Yankees have a lot of money, and that will drive up there.
00:14:58
The price.
00:14:59
You know what? They're the demand for them in free agency.
00:15:03
So I guess only Reggie knows for sure if he would have really left.
00:15:07
But there was He was the next second choice.
00:15:09
So there was interest.
00:15:11
Okay.
00:15:12
I mean, on a personal level, do you think if they did go down the route, if it was a mutual kind of interest and you know, they um, they agreed to terms.
00:15:20
Do you think that would have put the Knicks at that time over the top to win a championship? Would would that have been the kind of core that would have, you know, put us on the map in that era, especially with the Bulls.
00:15:30
And I think Michael had just made his return, um, in full in that season.
00:15:34
So yeah, it, uh, maybe.
00:15:40
I mean, Houston was great.
00:15:41
Ended up being great, you know, in like, 99 when the next went the finalist Houston was fantastic.
00:15:46
He hit the big shot to beat the Bulls.
00:15:48
Um, I don't think Reggie was that much better.
00:15:51
Maybe a little bit.
00:15:52
The huge upside to it, of course.
00:15:54
Sort of been that one of the next chief rivals in the late nineties was the Pacers.
00:15:59
So if you take Reggie off of the Pacers, you know, I mean, the Pacers beat.
00:16:04
So the Pacers beat the Knicks in the playoffs in 98 they beat them in the conference finals in 2000.
00:16:11
So if you take Reggie off of those teams, that might have been the difference of the next getting to the finals or impossibility of championship.
00:16:17
So, yeah, that could have.
00:16:19
Could have changed everything.
00:16:20
Even more so because Reggie wouldn't have been in Indiana than that Reggie would have made the next that much better.
00:16:28
Now, sticking with just the book itself are for for sorry formula.
00:16:33
In the book you have, you have a broken about two parts, I think 22 chapters.
00:16:37
Which chapter would you say is the hardest one to write or took the most research? Um, that's a great question.
00:16:48
Um, I would say, in general the earlier chapters were a little harder.
00:16:54
Um, if only because I remember the later ones better.
00:16:57
Um, in that, you know.
00:16:59
So I had mawr of a kind of outline in my head of toe where exactly, I was going to go with those chapters.
00:17:07
Um, I mean, not, you know, look, I mean, 98 99 it's over 20 years ago, right? But, um, just even given my age, like the 91 season, updating myself here.
00:17:19
But 91 I was 14.
00:17:20
Um, so by the end of it, I was in my early twenties.
00:17:24
Just, you know, the memories are a little more crystal in my head and some of the incidents and some of the storylines.
00:17:30
So, um, so the earlier ones were more difficult in that I needed to do a lot of research before I could kind of figure out where I was going to go with them right now, coming off memory, Um, or with that in mind, were there any particular moments where you could have sworn happened in the nineties because you remember watching it, But when researching it, it really wasn't the case.
00:17:53
I was a little different than what you remembered.
00:17:57
Um, there were some and I'm trying to remember.
00:18:07
I'm sorry.
00:18:08
I'm having a It's okay.
00:18:10
They did happen at the time.
00:18:12
But I've had, like, the correct version in my head for a couple of years now.
00:18:18
E don't remember.
00:18:19
It's a good it did come up absolutely came up.
00:18:23
It's a tricky thing with memory.
00:18:24
Even some of the guys that I interviewed, you know, I'm asking questions about stuff that happened 2025 almost 30 years ago, and memories of weird thing.
00:18:34
You know, sometimes your memory is inaccurate.
00:18:36
Is your alluded to in that question, you know, and so some of the times they would recount things, and then I'd have to go out afterwards.
00:18:43
I've researched it and I'd be like, You know what? They have that completely wrong, Not how it That's not how these guys do played in the games themselves or or might be just a simple a simple thing.
00:18:53
Like they you know, it was 98 when a story they told me about a story.
00:18:57
They said it happened in 98 I research.
00:18:59
And that actually happened in 96 or 97 or stuff like that.
00:19:03
Um, and sometimes it was, you know, I talkto Oakley and he was telling me things about Pat Riley.
00:19:09
And I like, you know, he had quotes.
00:19:12
I have quotes from the time that from like 95 that were completely different from what he was telling me.
00:19:18
Now, Andi, I have to assume that, you know, I mean, he said those things in 95 you know, the multi checked I had like it was in the New York Times, so I was like, all right, maybe the times had it wrong, because he's telling me something completely opposite now on.
00:19:31
Then I checked no, like the Daily News has that, too.
00:19:33
And The Post has That tube is a direct quote, and he's just remembering it differently now over time.
00:19:40
So I think that's it's definitely a challenge when you write any, uh, you know, any kind of any kind of book like that historical book toe to deal with lapses in memory and stuff like that? Yeah.
00:19:53
I could barely remember what I did two days ago, Uh, much less 30 years ago.
00:19:58
You know, um, on that topic of memory, though I know one of the kind of, uh things that have been kind of lost to history and that I hear a lot from, you know, older Knicks fans, especially on, you know, Nick's Twitter quote unquote is the idea that, you know, exactly McDonnell back in the nineties, um, he was that he would have been the missing piece that would have put, you know, the Knicks over the bulls.
00:20:22
And there's a rumor, really almost mythological.
00:20:25
Rumor that David ****.
00:20:27
You know, his agent? Same agent as MJ.
00:20:29
You know, they kind of steered him away from the Knicks, so, you know, did in your research or in the course of your research and interviews.
00:20:36
Did that even Did that come up? And what was the real story behind that? Because you know, you there's some old heads or older fans out there that will swear that he was the missing link.
00:20:45
You know, he was that that that secret part of the recipe that we didn't have or had lost, you know? Yeah.
00:20:51
Um wow.
00:20:54
So I asked David Falk about that.
00:20:55
He said, It's ridiculous.
00:20:56
You would never you know, he would never I mean, I don't mean just It's a good question, and that is that's out there.
00:21:02
I mean, that's out there.
00:21:03
People talk about that folk.
00:21:05
Um, I mean, his responses like I would never sacrifice the interests of one of my clients.
00:21:11
You know, Please, anyone, Michael Jordan or anyone else.
00:21:14
Um, so that the story as I and I talked to ex man and first going back McDaniel was he had He was in New York for one year, 91 92.
00:21:24
Hey, Had an okay season.
00:21:26
Probably a little disappointed.
00:21:27
Regular season, the playoffs.
00:21:29
He was phenomenal.
00:21:31
He was great against the Pistons in the first round and in the second round against the Bulls, and he was in Scotty's head big time.
00:21:38
He was pushed him around, knocking around Um, and as X Man said it to me and I agree with him, you know, the MBA is very much about matchups, and he said to me he was like their players.
00:21:50
He said James Worthy kicked my ass.
00:21:53
I just couldn't I just couldn't figure him out.
00:21:55
Uhm, Mark McGwire, he said, was another guy you know, dominated him.
00:22:00
Who just was a very difficult matchup for him.
00:22:02
He said, For whatever reason, he said, I matched up really well with Scott.
00:22:06
My strength gave him trouble.
00:22:08
He didn't like to bang with me.
00:22:09
He like to be on the perimeter perimeter and I could bang with him down low.
00:22:13
And yet I have the athleticism to kind of keep up with him.
00:22:16
And it was true.
00:22:17
It was a great Matthew for the Knicks.
00:22:19
You give him a lot of trouble in 92 go into the and in the summer of 92 X was a free agent and the Knicks were a couple of things one.
00:22:29
They were very worried about his knees.
00:22:31
Onda Nick, doctors told management, Those needs are gonna hold up very long.
00:22:36
You had surgery on one knee and, like don't don't invest a lot of money.
00:22:40
This guy, he's not gonna hold up.
00:22:43
And then the other thing was, the Knicks had a little salary cap space, and they wanted Thio improve on the roster.
00:22:49
They had taken the Bulls to seven games in 92 by the way.
00:22:52
And, um, the deal Waas with a salary cap is that you can You can go over the salary cap to resign your own players.
00:23:02
So there's incentive to so their strategy was okay, Let's get some other people added first.
00:23:09
And then when we have our roster pretty set, then we'll go back to X and we'll bring him back because we can't do it the other way around.
00:23:16
If you sign X first, we can't go over the salary cap to sign someone else's.
00:23:20
There's so they made a big offer.
00:23:22
Thio Harvey Grant, whose harshest grants twin brother Andre, tried to trade for Charles Smith, which eventually got done.
00:23:30
But they kind of put X on the back burner, and it came to like September mid September actually told me training camp was opening like two or three weeks, and the Knicks still hadn't made him even made him an offer on.
00:23:42
And so the Celtics.
00:23:44
So he he and fall decide.
00:23:45
They need to look around, Um, which they did.
00:23:49
And he met with the Celtics and read our back.
00:23:52
The great Red Auerbach was still around.
00:23:53
He was the president Celtics.
00:23:55
Then he got Falk and X in the room, and he said to them, We're making Here's your offer.
00:24:00
Take it or leave it and take it or leave it before you leave the room like we're not.
00:24:05
We're not leaving here.
00:24:06
You're not leaving here without an answer.
00:24:07
You want an answer If you leave here, the offer's off the table.
00:24:11
X man called Patrick.
00:24:14
They were good friends.
00:24:15
You said Patrick.
00:24:17
Hey, man, I got this offer from the Celtics.
00:24:19
The Knicks told me they're going to take care of me like, what do I do here? And Patrick told, if they didn't take if they haven't take care of you, if they haven't taken care of you yet, they're not going to take care of you with best for your family.
00:24:33
Wow! And so X took the deal Check.
00:24:36
It's Riley.
00:24:37
They were stunt check.
00:24:38
It's thought he had an understanding with false that eventually they would get around to it and they would take care of Exponent.
00:24:44
Um, Fox was skeptical that they would pay as much as the Celtics did, because check it swore for a year of negotiations that they wouldn't and and the check it and Faulcon expands.
00:24:57
Attitude was like, Well, you've been telling us all summer you're gonna get around to us like training camp starts in a few weeks on what if you don't come through? You know what? Let's say the Celtics signed someone else and there are. There are.
00:25:09
It's the end of training.
00:25:10
It's the end of like the free agent period.
00:25:12
Not too many teams have money left.
00:25:14
Like what if we don't take this deal and you know, we could be left out in the cold.
00:25:18
So he took the money.
00:25:21
Both sides kind of regretted.
00:25:23
Um, I think the next you know, if they had to do it over again, they would have kept him.
00:25:28
And I don't think X regrets taking the money because it was his best option at the time, but he certainly feels like he could have been the difference, uh, to beat the bulls, and, uh, he very well might have been he might have a wow.
00:25:42
I mean, they say the rest is history, right? Yeah, we could We could stay diving into the biggest what ifs, which I'm sure you have done as you wrote this book.
00:25:52
The book itself is very, very well organized.
00:25:55
I love the historical context in the order that you went through.
00:25:57
The pictures themselves were nice.
00:25:59
Nice add on.
00:26:00
And I think it was very obvious that you wrote this with a lot of passion.
00:26:05
And you're probably one of the top experts.
00:26:07
19 nineties next basketball.
00:26:09
Do you? Would you say you carry that same kind of passion to for the Knicks this past decade? Uh, no e.
00:26:20
I love the e love the next.
00:26:23
I still watched him a lot.
00:26:25
It's a couple of things.
00:26:26
One that was, um, you know, that was my formative years.
00:26:31
My teenager teenage years, early twenties.
00:26:34
Um, I had a lot less going on less responsibility.
00:26:39
You know, I'm a father now.
00:26:41
Is it? Honestly, I mean, When I was 16, the Knicks were the most important thing in the world.
00:26:46
Now, my son is the most important thing in the world to me, you know, UNIX or maybe still top five.
00:26:52
But it changes your perspective a little, so I'm not quite as die hard in that sense.
00:26:57
And, uh and you know, the I mean, you know, you guys know the last 10 years has been it's been rough.
00:27:06
I mean, not only have been lost, but it's been, you know, it's not as much fun to watch, and they're losing for sure.
00:27:12
Heart.
00:27:13
They haven't had the same type of players.
00:27:16
Um, you know, the Knicks won in large part in the nineties because they had not just talented players with guys that competed every night and played hard and on guys, you got accustomed to guys that were around for a while.
00:27:29
There's been so much eternal Knicks, you know, with the roster with coaching.
00:27:34
So I mean, Melo was there for a while.
00:27:36
Um, you know, I got really excited about forcing us, and he was gone, and it's just there's just been a lot of turnover, whereas the nineties, you know, Patrick was there from 1985 to 2000.
00:27:48
You have the star player who you really identify with.
00:27:52
You know, Oakley was there for 10 years.
00:27:54
Starts was there for eight years.
00:27:55
So there are a lot of guys they had the same coaches for a long time.
00:27:59
So, um, I got mawr attached to those guys in addition to the pleasure that they provided, which has kind of been absent right now.
00:28:09
Speaking of coaching Thibodeau, obviously the new head coach of the Knicks was assistant under Van Gundy.
00:28:14
Or were there any stories that you learn while doing your research for your book regarding Tom Thibodeau? And you know what he might be able to bring on to the next this season.
00:28:23
Yeah, Tibbs was first of all, I said, Tibbs, you know, you see him on TV, and he, um he's got that, like, gruff demeanor, right? Always kind of intense and a little angry.
00:28:34
E mean, he was, like, downright jovial When I talked to him.
00:28:39
He was like, he sounded like, like, laughing a lot of joking around.
00:28:45
Um, I talked him before.
00:28:46
Just for the record.
00:28:47
I talked him before he got the next job.
00:28:48
This was after he was after he left Minnesota, and he wasn't.
00:28:52
I guess he was doing some TV at the time, but he wasn't in coaching.
00:28:55
Um, yeah.
00:28:57
I mean, you know, the guys talked about his intensity.
00:29:00
Um, uh, the guys who coached with him and played for him talked about how intense he waas.
00:29:06
Uh, he's a lifer.
00:29:08
You know, he's one of those basketball junkies always watching film, always figuring out trying to figure out how to get better.
00:29:16
Um, you know, he talked about what a great influence those years were on him coaching as assistant with the Knicks.
00:29:25
And there's a quote I have in the book, but he kind of talks about, you know, he says Van Gundy was the head coach.
00:29:32
He said Jeff Van Gundy coached under Pat Riley and Rick Pitino and Stew Jackson and got his father was a college coach.
00:29:41
And then he points Thio.
00:29:43
Brendan Malone was one of the systems, and he said Malone, coach under Chuck Daly, and he kind of went down the line.
00:29:50
Of all the assistant coaches and all their experience, they were extremely experienced, had been under a lot of good coaches, and he talked about how they have coaching meetings and they'd sit down and someone would say, Well, to talk about how to defend a certain play And they said, Well, this is how Pat Rather used to do it And this is how Chuck Daly used to do it.
00:30:09
And so he said, I believe what I believe that it was.
00:30:12
It was like it was like working at the best clinic in the world every single day on and that how much he learned from those years as an assistant coach, Um, but yeah, and he kind of he did all different roles.
00:30:26
You know, I talked to him about true, you know, with the Celtics for a while to get that was a defensive specialist, and a lot of a lot of times they have guys have those more defined roles.
00:30:36
Van Gundy's philosophy was he wanted all his all of his coaches to be involved in every aspect of the plan.
00:30:42
Hey didn't like to give them specific roles like that because he felt that having them involved in everything best prepared them to be head coaches themselves.
00:30:51
One day on DSO Hey didn't have any specific role in that sense.
00:30:57
He was part of everything, and he did.
00:30:58
A lot of he worked a lot with Larry Johnson.
00:31:02
Larry Johnson gave him a lot of credit.
00:31:04
LJ, when he came to the next, was a low post player and kind of developed as the back got bad and his mobility decreased.
00:31:11
He became more of a shooter.
00:31:12
Three point shooter, of course, had the famous four point play, and he used the everyday before practice.
00:31:19
Thibodeau work with LJ every day, one on one for a couple hours on 303 point shooting.
00:31:25
So he was one of those guys who was just always there.
00:31:27
You know, if you needed to get in some work tips, was there to help you out.
00:31:30
And he was no nonsense.
00:31:33
Yeah.
00:31:34
I mean, even just the current, they even zoom press conferences.
00:31:37
I feel like his intensity intensity kind of just reverberates even in, like those virtual press conferences, you know, like attention to detail and all that.
00:31:45
Um, kinda stay on tips a little bit.
00:31:48
You know the word we here and I think he himself confirmed that.
00:31:51
What was that like you know, this was his dream job coaching the Knicks, Did he? You know, I mean, he is a pro's pro, right? But that he did he give any kind of indication, like of that to you? When you, you know, had had a chance to interview him? That that this was something he was actively seeking toe kind of coach the Knicks at some point or just actively pursue that job? No, he didn't say anything about that.
00:32:13
I talked to him.
00:32:15
Appreciate.
00:32:16
It was last summer, Summer of 2019.
00:32:19
So, you know, a tat point.
00:32:24
People still felt okay about Fizdale.
00:32:26
You know, the year before was terrible, but it was like, all right, we didn't have any talent.
00:32:29
And we brought in all these new guys over the summer.
00:32:32
Let's see, how does with these guys? And so there wasn't, you know, the job wasn't open, and there wasn't really speculation it would be open very soon.
00:32:41
Um, so I don't believe I asked him about that, and we never really didn't really got into that.
00:32:47
Okay? Yeah.
00:32:48
I mean, I figured tips was in the type of God even, you know, talk about pursuing another man's job either.
00:32:52
So, you know, it seems like a pretty classy dude.
00:32:55
Yeah.
00:32:56
Um, I guess you know, Tibbs obviously is the coach of the Knicks.
00:33:00
Now, I know Mom and I were pretty happy about it.
00:33:03
Um, his credentials, his resume just speaks for itself.
00:33:06
Right, but kind of a pivot to the current day knicks.
00:33:09
Um, what are your expectations for the tips era? You know, um, do you think he could kind of bring a little bit of that nineties? Um, Aura, that five to the current day Knicks.
00:33:19
And you know what? Your expectations.
00:33:21
Yeah, I do.
00:33:23
I think, uh, tips had a He had a line about the late nineties.
00:33:27
Next.
00:33:28
Van Gundy told me this tips always used to say, um maybe outplayed, but never have competed those in the late nineties next.
00:33:35
And I love that.
00:33:36
That's a start, right? I mean, that's a start, like and I So I feel really good about a couple of things.
00:33:42
I think they're gonna play hard.
00:33:44
They're going to play discipline.
00:33:46
And I think, um, based on his you touched on his attention to detail.
00:33:52
I think he will be very good for the development of the young guys.
00:33:58
Um e I think he's going to set the by bar very high for them.
00:34:02
He's a little old school in that sense and that he's gonna push them, you know, and he's going to challenge them.
00:34:08
And I think that's good.
00:34:09
And and he has the basketball a***en and expertise to teach them.
00:34:14
And so I think I think the next will compete harder on a nightly basis.
00:34:19
And I think, um, I think the young guys will get better and that's that's what we need right now the young guys to get better right on.
00:34:27
But I think, uh, but ultimately it z going to come out to management.
00:34:32
Can they give him? Can they get him the right players? But it's it's gonna take time.
00:34:37
I mean, they're gonna They're gonna be bad this year.
00:34:39
They're gonna be there gonna be bad.
00:34:41
Uh, talent.
00:34:42
Yeah, The challenges isn't there yet.
00:34:44
You know, Obviously we hope the better the last year.
00:34:47
Um, but mawr importantly, I think I think for now, short term like let's see, let's make sure that there's effort, that there's improvement, that their structure and kind of those things that we could build on and hopefully get some more talent in future.
00:35:02
Right? And that's basically the recipe for a successful New York Knicks team.
00:35:05
Now with the with the n b a draft in a little over a week from now.
00:35:09
Are there any particular players you see would be a good fit for this Knicks roster and Thibodeau? Um, yeah.
00:35:16
You know, I love a point guard.
00:35:19
I mean, they could use so much, right? I mean, they need shooting.
00:35:23
They, you know, they could use a good wing.
00:35:25
Um, yeah, shooter or a point guard I like.
00:35:31
I like killing Hes a lot.
00:35:32
The French kid, Um I like Halliburton a lot.
00:35:36
Uh, who could play point guard? I like Halliburton because he could play on the ball or off the ball.
00:35:42
And I think I think Barrett needs the ball in his lot.
00:35:45
It hands a lot.
00:35:47
Andi could really drive and get to the basket, so I like I like I like to have another ball handler on the floor, but ideally be great.
00:35:54
I don't know if we need, like, a ball dominant one who has the ball in his hands, all the time.
00:35:58
So Halliburton may be great for that reason.
00:36:00
I like the kid vassal.
00:36:03
Um, that's a potential, you know, three and D guy a wing who could shoot e.
00:36:09
I think, you know, way got to ride out Robinson in the center and the big spot.
00:36:14
And teams will really play with two bigs anymore.
00:36:16
So the wing of point guard is the priority.
00:36:20
And those those a few guys who I think would be nice editions.
00:36:25
Yeah, I think e I think we both agree in the sentiment.
00:36:29
I think our our favorite are at least my favorite Hayes and vassal.
00:36:33
Maybe a coral.
00:36:34
A swell, uh, e think they'll fit really well with the Thibodeau system.
00:36:39
Um, Paul, we're I think we're gonna wrap up.
00:36:41
This episode is a pleasure to have you on, Uh, for those you guys watching Paul's new book, Nick of the nineties is available on Amazon.
00:36:49
All bookstores, Um and we we bought off Kindle.
00:36:52
So it's it's available there as well.
00:36:54
Are there any final messages you'd like? Thio.
00:36:56
Make sure that the viewers here, Paul, um you know, I try me an optimist.
00:37:04
The Knicks will rise again.
00:37:06
Uh, keep the faith.
00:37:08
E don't know.
00:37:09
I don't know when, but they will rise again, eh? So we'll make sure that the link to the book is available.
00:37:16
Uh, on on on all podcasting platforms.
00:37:18
This will be also available there as well.
00:37:20
Paul, we really appreciate you coming on to show we loved your book.
00:37:24
We hope that more and more viewers and listeners will get chance to read it.
00:37:28
And there's so much so many nuggets in there for for, you know, readers and expand such as ourselves that toe learn from So again, Paul, Thank you so much for coming onto the show.
00:37:37
Thank Small.
00:37:38
Thanks. Not fee. I really enjoyed it.
00:37:40
Definitely.
00:37:41
Thanks a lot.
00:37:42
All right.
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Interview w/ Paul Knepper, Author of the Knicks of the Nineties

190 Views
Knick- ish @knickishshow

Transcript hideup

00:00:45
ladies and gentlemen, you are now tuned into the Nikki's show.
00:00:49
My name is Mo, and I'm here with my partner, Nafi.
00:00:51
And today we're excited to bring in a special guest with us.
00:00:54
He is an author and former New York Knicks featured writer for Bleacher Report Mr Paul Knepper, who is the author of Knicks of the Nineties Ewing, Oakley, Starks and Brawlers that almost won it all.
00:01:07
We're excited.
00:01:08
For the first time ever, we're bringing a published author, so we're gonna bring him right now.
00:01:13
Paul.
00:01:14
Welcome to the show, man.
00:01:15
How you doing? Good.
00:01:16
Hey, Mohei, Enough. You Thanks for having me on.
00:01:18
Appreciate you coming on a Z.
00:01:20
My partner said it's not too often we find ourselves with a published author.
00:01:24
So figure this is a great way to pop art Cherry eso, Paul, we we we tried toe listen to as many of the podcast that you were on lately.
00:01:35
I know after the book came out, you were on a number of podcast, and what I noticed was actually that majority of those who were the host of these podcasts were those who watch the nineties next live and not myself were both, actually, nineties kids.
00:01:50
So what we're used to is, ah, a level of mediocrity or, you know, if you want to even call it that So, uh, just off the bat, um, as fans of the more so on the younger side who didn't have a chance to witness the nineties Knicks live.
00:02:04
How would you best summarize that specific era to younger fans who have known this last mediocrity or last bit of mediocrity for the past 20 years? Yeah.
00:02:13
Oh, man, it's It's, you know, that area is what keeps Knick fans like myself going.
00:02:17
I don't know how your younger guys do it, who haven't who weren't there for the glory years.
00:02:21
Um, I mean, the best thing I could say about it was, you know, the Knicks of the nineties.
00:02:26
They played hard every night, and they were, um, really almost every season in the nineties.
00:02:32
In the considered championship contenders on DSO.
00:02:36
There were a lot of, you know, heartbreaking moments with that certainly, and ultimately they never got that ring.
00:02:41
But anyone who was along for that ride in the nineties will tell you how great it was.
00:02:47
Um, it was a team.
00:02:48
We could really be proud of his Knicks fans because I said because they because they brought it every night, they left it all out on the floor.
00:02:54
Um, they were tough, hard nosed team.
00:02:56
And I think New York, you know, a really, really blue collar town really identified with that.
00:03:03
And, uh, but more than anything, it was just the excitement of of big time basketball of, you know, watching basketball and routing late into May into June in some years.
00:03:14
And it was it was amazing, and you really saw how much I talked about this in the book a little bit.
00:03:20
New York City is a basketball town, for sure, and we haven't seen it is much lately because the Knicks have been terrible for most of the 21st century.
00:03:28
But when when the Knicks were winning, that city comes alive and rallies around the team like no other team because, you know, the Yankees and the Mets are.
00:03:37
There may be more Yankee fans, but there's a significant split there, and there's certainly a split with the Giants and Jets.
00:03:43
And but back in the day, you remember to back then the Nets were in Jersey.
00:03:47
Knicks had the five boroughs, all of themselves for generation.
00:03:51
So went back so long was really kind of built in, passed down from generation to generation.
00:03:56
And when the Knicks were playing well in the nineties that the city was just in love with them, it was a really a great time.
00:04:03
It's beautiful.
00:04:04
So that definitively definitively answer the question of whether we're basketball town or not.
00:04:08
I mean, we pretty much are right like, Yeah, I think so.
00:04:12
It's the lifeblood of the city.
00:04:13
Yeah, and I'm gonna around, You know, I don't anymore, but I lived in Manhattan for a long time.
00:04:19
You walk around, you can't walk more than 10, 15 blocks without seeing a basket somewhere, you know, it should, uh, it's kind of like embedded in the city.
00:04:27
Yeah, and absolutely.
00:04:29
And I know it's a good point that you made in your book itself.
00:04:31
I believe you put in the prologue where the Knicks just own all five boroughs and the really the rest of the state.
00:04:37
Long Island itself, Long Island included, and even parts of jersey.
00:04:41
We're rooting for the Knicks, even though they had the Nets fans.
00:04:42
They still had empty seats in there when they have finals games going on over there.
00:04:46
So I know you mentioned in another podcast that you grew up in Queens.
00:04:51
Uh, not you and I are actually Queens kids to it's It's part of our bio two kids from Queens.
00:04:55
So where exactly in Queens that you grew up in? So I love the quiz.
00:04:59
Oh, I was about 10.
00:05:00
I lived in Douglaston.
00:05:02
Uh, on.
00:05:03
Then I moved out to Long Island to Jericho as Long Island.
00:05:06
So I do.
00:05:07
I do have queens roots, and Long Island is well, nice.
00:05:12
Nice as, uh, Woodside.
00:05:15
What side? And Astoria? Yeah.
00:05:20
As one of our podcasting of friends would like to say, Queens is definitely in the building right now.
00:05:25
Uh, s Oh, yeah.
00:05:28
I mean, getting right into your book.
00:05:30
Um, one of the main questions I had just because I know we're writing a book.
00:05:34
I mean, obviously, neither more.
00:05:35
I have written one, you know yet, you know, stay tuned, but yeah, yeah, yeah, but just kind of what your approach with the book did you kind of go in trying to be more so a historian or just ah, fan.
00:05:48
That's kind of went back to revisit, you know, the golden era.
00:05:51
Did you try to keep a level of objectivity or just went in, like as a fan? That's like trying to kind of confirm, um, you know, you're good memories or, you know, nostalgia.
00:06:00
Marsa.
00:06:01
Yeah, that's a good question.
00:06:02
I mean, I I think my fan hood was the inspiration for writing it, but I very much wanted to approach it as a professional reporter.
00:06:12
And so I I did do my absolute best to remain objective.
00:06:16
And that was a little tricky at times, given my fan hood, because I certainly came in with biases is as I think anybody who writes the book does.
00:06:24
But, um, and you know, the last thing you want is guys.
00:06:27
You looked up to her who, you know you admired toe.
00:06:31
You find out otherwise it may be different.
00:06:33
Great guys, whatever.
00:06:35
And there were certainly things that I found out about guys that I admire that were unflattering, but that was I mean, my goal was to reported as as the research dictated, and so I tried certainly tried as hard as I could to be objective and and to report it as Azaz.
00:06:53
Other people were told it to me.
00:06:56
Nice.
00:06:57
Okay? I mean, yeah, that definitely jumped off the page.
00:06:58
You know, like there was certain moments, obviously, where the with the fan hood came into play.
00:07:02
But it definitely seemed like a well reported, well reported book.
00:07:05
First and foremost, you know, So definitely appreciate the hard work that went into that.
00:07:09
Um, were there a lot of sleepless nights, you know? Uh, yeah, yeah.
00:07:16
Um, yeah.
00:07:18
Sometimes you just get, um you're gonna get down.
00:07:23
Ah, wormhole in research.
00:07:25
You know, you could get you could get in a YouTube, sometimes YouTube, but I've been looking at highlights.
00:07:30
So I've been looking at specific games, and I'd be like, All right, finish that game.
00:07:33
Might move on to this game or or or sometimes is within the writing process itself and just figuring out how doe I All right? This is a great story.
00:07:42
But how do I incorporated into the narrative? How do I make it work within the book? And so, yeah, sometimes I just find myself actually in bed, just lying, just lying, like trying to fall asleep, but the e you know, I get.
00:07:55
So I get so wrapped up in the projects.
00:07:57
Sometimes I couldn't put it down and go to sleep.
00:08:00
I'd be lying there in bed thinking about it.
00:08:01
So for sure.
00:08:03
Nice dedication.
00:08:10
Believe Mo had the next question.
00:08:11
Oh, yeah.
00:08:13
Well, one of one of questions that we actually we're gonna ask was Yeah, holidays You spend researching before you started writing the book itself? Um, yeah, that's so all in all, it took me over two years close to 2.
00:08:28
5 years.
00:08:29
I'd say the majority that was researching.
00:08:32
I definitely spent Mawr.
00:08:34
So maybe a year and a half of that researching, Um, definitely mawr time researching and writing reading, you know, tons and tons of newspaper articles, um, magazines listening to podcast, doing the interviews and then transcribing the interviews, which I've never really had to do before.
00:08:53
And that's picks forever if you have.
00:08:55
If you do it for me, you know, like a half hour interview would take me like an hour and a half to two hours to type it out.
00:09:02
Um, and so it's That's a long process.
00:09:06
So yeah, the research was was pretty hefty right now, pivoting a little bit deeper into the nineties themselves.
00:09:14
I'm sure you, as as many other NBA fans, washed the last dance this past summer and you know, resonated with a lot of what what was going on with Jordan's Bulls and Chicago Bulls.
00:09:24
And now one of the rumors that really came out that fans were reminded of was the fact that in 95 possibly that, uh, Jordan received an offer to join the Knicks, Uh, and to come out of retirement.
00:09:36
And, um, he was offer a nice $25 million.
00:09:41
And, uh, David Faulk, Jordan's agent, was was pressuring the Bulls to kind of out do that number.
00:09:48
Now, how how much of that rumor are you familiar with or are you aware of? And how much truth do you think was really behind that rumor? Yeah, so it was actually 96 on Bond.
00:09:59
There was talk.
00:10:00
So I talked to I talked to David Falk, who was Michael's agent.
00:10:04
I talked Thio David Checketts, who was president of the next of the time on President Madison Square Garden, about it.
00:10:11
They spoke about it.
00:10:12
They spoke about it at length.
00:10:13
Um, it was a tricky situation.
00:10:16
They had to cir***vent the salary cap.
00:10:19
So the Knicks only had about $10 million in salary cap space, But they were gonna offer Jordan $25 million worth essentially, and the way they were gonna do that was one of the companies that own the Knicks.
00:10:29
I t t, um, had a number of other companies that they owned.
00:10:34
For example, one was shared in hotels, and one thing that was tossed around was maybe Michael could they give him $10 million in salary cap space and he would do promotional stuff for sharing hotels toe to make up the other money.
00:10:48
Um, but which which typically is illegal.
00:10:51
But David start at this time Said he would allow it.
00:10:54
Uh, yeah, right.
00:10:56
Basically said, this guy has a marketing capacity, unlike anyone other.
00:11:00
This is in a normal situation, and we're gonna make an exception.
00:11:03
So, Jordan, they talked, um, David Falk going back to the Bulls and told Jerry Reinsdorf like you need to make an offer.
00:11:10
And Michael told Falk you didn't want, uh, Michael Falk.
00:11:15
He didn't want Fox to negotiate with Ryan stuff.
00:11:18
Hey said, I've given everything to this franchise.
00:11:20
I've done so much for this franchise for a long time.
00:11:23
I want them to make an offer that is that is worthy of what I've contributed and ultimately rhymes off off of $30 million in Jordan said Okay, Jordan swears that he would have left if Ryan's off didn't make a reasonable offer.
00:11:40
Um, what do you have? I don't know, you know, he told Roland Lazenby, a writer, did a great book on the on the Bulls in the nineties, and Jordan told Lazenby that, um, after the fact, he said, I absolutely 100% was going to leave if they didn't make the right off on.
00:11:59
Yeah, it's interesting.
00:12:00
It's I mean, it's fascinating, right? And you could see it from the standpoint off during his very good friends with with Charles Oakley, they're still very close.
00:12:09
He was good friends with Patrick on.
00:12:12
The Knicks had the kind of roster where Michael went there.
00:12:14
They probably would have won a championship there so he could have gone, you know, and of course, the marketing possibilities of being in New York.
00:12:21
It wasn't like he was leaving for a rebuilding team.
00:12:24
You know, he was walking right into another championship situation.
00:12:27
Um, and so I think it's possible.
00:12:30
I think it's possible if he would have.
00:12:31
He's very proud, man.
00:12:33
I think if he felt if he felt disrespected by the Bulls, yeah, he might have gotten.
00:12:38
It's crazy to think about, Yeah, e mean in that same vein, you know, going down the free agent possibility.
00:12:45
Rabbit hole.
00:12:46
Um, there was a chapter, I believe, about the summer of 96 it was an excerpt that really caught my eye.
00:12:52
I think it was.
00:12:53
Reggie Miller was pretty complimentary about the Knicks, just his potential fit with the roster.
00:12:58
That kind of red is also a shot at John Starks.
00:13:01
So I got was the genuine interest from on Reggie's end to join the Knicks.
00:13:05
And what was the feeling at the in the organization at the time? Was that something they even wanted to pursue or even entertained internally? Yeah, So the Knicks So I talk to check.
00:13:16
It's about this, and already Grunfeld GM, the next word intent on getting a shooting guard, um, stars has had a great run with New York that starts is very erratic.
00:13:26
Probably best served as 1/6 man.
00:13:28
Um, but he was starting and, um, going into 96.
00:13:33
Their first priority was a shooting guard, and they're the order.
00:13:37
Their preferences were Allan Houston one, Reggie Miller to and Steve Smith, three on the reason Reggie was it was an age thing that Houston was, I think 24 Reggie was 31 they thought in Houston was a really good player.
00:13:52
I mean, he wasn't the Hall of Famer that Reggie was, but they thought, Well, get a lot more good.
00:13:56
You know, he's just entering his prime, whereas revenues probably at the end of it, you know, towards the end of his prime, now eso Houston was the first target, and they made a big offered Houston.
00:14:07
And while Houston was way in the offer, the Knicks had a meeting set up with Indiana on.
00:14:12
They told they gave Houston a deadline.
00:14:14
They said, If you don't, if you don't accept this offer by doing today, we're me, Reggie Miller and we're gonna make him an offer or were meeting with his representative, we're gonna make him an offer um and I'm not, You know, Reggie swears.
00:14:28
Reggie said after the fact he was never going in the Knicks, that he was using them for bargaining power again.
00:14:35
You never know, right? I mean, if they would have given him a lot more money than Indiana, I assume he probably would have gone.
00:14:40
Um, but he was He was definitely sweet talking an extra while and because he knew they needed a player just like him on.
00:14:48
And it was a business decision.
00:14:49
You know, guys do that all the time with the Knicks.
00:14:51
They do it in baseball with the Yankees.
00:14:53
They talk with the Yankees, even if they don't want to go to Yankees.
00:14:55
Because the Yankees have a lot of money, and that will drive up there.
00:14:58
The price.
00:14:59
You know what? They're the demand for them in free agency.
00:15:03
So I guess only Reggie knows for sure if he would have really left.
00:15:07
But there was He was the next second choice.
00:15:09
So there was interest.
00:15:11
Okay.
00:15:12
I mean, on a personal level, do you think if they did go down the route, if it was a mutual kind of interest and you know, they um, they agreed to terms.
00:15:20
Do you think that would have put the Knicks at that time over the top to win a championship? Would would that have been the kind of core that would have, you know, put us on the map in that era, especially with the Bulls.
00:15:30
And I think Michael had just made his return, um, in full in that season.
00:15:34
So yeah, it, uh, maybe.
00:15:40
I mean, Houston was great.
00:15:41
Ended up being great, you know, in like, 99 when the next went the finalist Houston was fantastic.
00:15:46
He hit the big shot to beat the Bulls.
00:15:48
Um, I don't think Reggie was that much better.
00:15:51
Maybe a little bit.
00:15:52
The huge upside to it, of course.
00:15:54
Sort of been that one of the next chief rivals in the late nineties was the Pacers.
00:15:59
So if you take Reggie off of the Pacers, you know, I mean, the Pacers beat.
00:16:04
So the Pacers beat the Knicks in the playoffs in 98 they beat them in the conference finals in 2000.
00:16:11
So if you take Reggie off of those teams, that might have been the difference of the next getting to the finals or impossibility of championship.
00:16:17
So, yeah, that could have.
00:16:19
Could have changed everything.
00:16:20
Even more so because Reggie wouldn't have been in Indiana than that Reggie would have made the next that much better.
00:16:28
Now, sticking with just the book itself are for for sorry formula.
00:16:33
In the book you have, you have a broken about two parts, I think 22 chapters.
00:16:37
Which chapter would you say is the hardest one to write or took the most research? Um, that's a great question.
00:16:48
Um, I would say, in general the earlier chapters were a little harder.
00:16:54
Um, if only because I remember the later ones better.
00:16:57
Um, in that, you know.
00:16:59
So I had mawr of a kind of outline in my head of toe where exactly, I was going to go with those chapters.
00:17:07
Um, I mean, not, you know, look, I mean, 98 99 it's over 20 years ago, right? But, um, just even given my age, like the 91 season, updating myself here.
00:17:19
But 91 I was 14.
00:17:20
Um, so by the end of it, I was in my early twenties.
00:17:24
Just, you know, the memories are a little more crystal in my head and some of the incidents and some of the storylines.
00:17:30
So, um, so the earlier ones were more difficult in that I needed to do a lot of research before I could kind of figure out where I was going to go with them right now, coming off memory, Um, or with that in mind, were there any particular moments where you could have sworn happened in the nineties because you remember watching it, But when researching it, it really wasn't the case.
00:17:53
I was a little different than what you remembered.
00:17:57
Um, there were some and I'm trying to remember.
00:18:07
I'm sorry.
00:18:08
I'm having a It's okay.
00:18:10
They did happen at the time.
00:18:12
But I've had, like, the correct version in my head for a couple of years now.
00:18:18
E don't remember.
00:18:19
It's a good it did come up absolutely came up.
00:18:23
It's a tricky thing with memory.
00:18:24
Even some of the guys that I interviewed, you know, I'm asking questions about stuff that happened 2025 almost 30 years ago, and memories of weird thing.
00:18:34
You know, sometimes your memory is inaccurate.
00:18:36
Is your alluded to in that question, you know, and so some of the times they would recount things, and then I'd have to go out afterwards.
00:18:43
I've researched it and I'd be like, You know what? They have that completely wrong, Not how it That's not how these guys do played in the games themselves or or might be just a simple a simple thing.
00:18:53
Like they you know, it was 98 when a story they told me about a story.
00:18:57
They said it happened in 98 I research.
00:18:59
And that actually happened in 96 or 97 or stuff like that.
00:19:03
Um, and sometimes it was, you know, I talkto Oakley and he was telling me things about Pat Riley.
00:19:09
And I like, you know, he had quotes.
00:19:12
I have quotes from the time that from like 95 that were completely different from what he was telling me.
00:19:18
Now, Andi, I have to assume that, you know, I mean, he said those things in 95 you know, the multi checked I had like it was in the New York Times, so I was like, all right, maybe the times had it wrong, because he's telling me something completely opposite now on.
00:19:31
Then I checked no, like the Daily News has that, too.
00:19:33
And The Post has That tube is a direct quote, and he's just remembering it differently now over time.
00:19:40
So I think that's it's definitely a challenge when you write any, uh, you know, any kind of any kind of book like that historical book toe to deal with lapses in memory and stuff like that? Yeah.
00:19:53
I could barely remember what I did two days ago, Uh, much less 30 years ago.
00:19:58
You know, um, on that topic of memory, though I know one of the kind of, uh things that have been kind of lost to history and that I hear a lot from, you know, older Knicks fans, especially on, you know, Nick's Twitter quote unquote is the idea that, you know, exactly McDonnell back in the nineties, um, he was that he would have been the missing piece that would have put, you know, the Knicks over the bulls.
00:20:22
And there's a rumor, really almost mythological.
00:20:25
Rumor that David ****.
00:20:27
You know, his agent? Same agent as MJ.
00:20:29
You know, they kind of steered him away from the Knicks, so, you know, did in your research or in the course of your research and interviews.
00:20:36
Did that even Did that come up? And what was the real story behind that? Because you know, you there's some old heads or older fans out there that will swear that he was the missing link.
00:20:45
You know, he was that that that secret part of the recipe that we didn't have or had lost, you know? Yeah.
00:20:51
Um wow.
00:20:54
So I asked David Falk about that.
00:20:55
He said, It's ridiculous.
00:20:56
You would never you know, he would never I mean, I don't mean just It's a good question, and that is that's out there.
00:21:02
I mean, that's out there.
00:21:03
People talk about that folk.
00:21:05
Um, I mean, his responses like I would never sacrifice the interests of one of my clients.
00:21:11
You know, Please, anyone, Michael Jordan or anyone else.
00:21:14
Um, so that the story as I and I talked to ex man and first going back McDaniel was he had He was in New York for one year, 91 92.
00:21:24
Hey, Had an okay season.
00:21:26
Probably a little disappointed.
00:21:27
Regular season, the playoffs.
00:21:29
He was phenomenal.
00:21:31
He was great against the Pistons in the first round and in the second round against the Bulls, and he was in Scotty's head big time.
00:21:38
He was pushed him around, knocking around Um, and as X Man said it to me and I agree with him, you know, the MBA is very much about matchups, and he said to me he was like their players.
00:21:50
He said James Worthy kicked my ass.
00:21:53
I just couldn't I just couldn't figure him out.
00:21:55
Uhm, Mark McGwire, he said, was another guy you know, dominated him.
00:22:00
Who just was a very difficult matchup for him.
00:22:02
He said, For whatever reason, he said, I matched up really well with Scott.
00:22:06
My strength gave him trouble.
00:22:08
He didn't like to bang with me.
00:22:09
He like to be on the perimeter perimeter and I could bang with him down low.
00:22:13
And yet I have the athleticism to kind of keep up with him.
00:22:16
And it was true.
00:22:17
It was a great Matthew for the Knicks.
00:22:19
You give him a lot of trouble in 92 go into the and in the summer of 92 X was a free agent and the Knicks were a couple of things one.
00:22:29
They were very worried about his knees.
00:22:31
Onda Nick, doctors told management, Those needs are gonna hold up very long.
00:22:36
You had surgery on one knee and, like don't don't invest a lot of money.
00:22:40
This guy, he's not gonna hold up.
00:22:43
And then the other thing was, the Knicks had a little salary cap space, and they wanted Thio improve on the roster.
00:22:49
They had taken the Bulls to seven games in 92 by the way.
00:22:52
And, um, the deal Waas with a salary cap is that you can You can go over the salary cap to resign your own players.
00:23:02
So there's incentive to so their strategy was okay, Let's get some other people added first.
00:23:09
And then when we have our roster pretty set, then we'll go back to X and we'll bring him back because we can't do it the other way around.
00:23:16
If you sign X first, we can't go over the salary cap to sign someone else's.
00:23:20
There's so they made a big offer.
00:23:22
Thio Harvey Grant, whose harshest grants twin brother Andre, tried to trade for Charles Smith, which eventually got done.
00:23:30
But they kind of put X on the back burner, and it came to like September mid September actually told me training camp was opening like two or three weeks, and the Knicks still hadn't made him even made him an offer on.
00:23:42
And so the Celtics.
00:23:44
So he he and fall decide.
00:23:45
They need to look around, Um, which they did.
00:23:49
And he met with the Celtics and read our back.
00:23:52
The great Red Auerbach was still around.
00:23:53
He was the president Celtics.
00:23:55
Then he got Falk and X in the room, and he said to them, We're making Here's your offer.
00:24:00
Take it or leave it and take it or leave it before you leave the room like we're not.
00:24:05
We're not leaving here.
00:24:06
You're not leaving here without an answer.
00:24:07
You want an answer If you leave here, the offer's off the table.
00:24:11
X man called Patrick.
00:24:14
They were good friends.
00:24:15
You said Patrick.
00:24:17
Hey, man, I got this offer from the Celtics.
00:24:19
The Knicks told me they're going to take care of me like, what do I do here? And Patrick told, if they didn't take if they haven't take care of you, if they haven't taken care of you yet, they're not going to take care of you with best for your family.
00:24:33
Wow! And so X took the deal Check.
00:24:36
It's Riley.
00:24:37
They were stunt check.
00:24:38
It's thought he had an understanding with false that eventually they would get around to it and they would take care of Exponent.
00:24:44
Um, Fox was skeptical that they would pay as much as the Celtics did, because check it swore for a year of negotiations that they wouldn't and and the check it and Faulcon expands.
00:24:57
Attitude was like, Well, you've been telling us all summer you're gonna get around to us like training camp starts in a few weeks on what if you don't come through? You know what? Let's say the Celtics signed someone else and there are. There are.
00:25:09
It's the end of training.
00:25:10
It's the end of like the free agent period.
00:25:12
Not too many teams have money left.
00:25:14
Like what if we don't take this deal and you know, we could be left out in the cold.
00:25:18
So he took the money.
00:25:21
Both sides kind of regretted.
00:25:23
Um, I think the next you know, if they had to do it over again, they would have kept him.
00:25:28
And I don't think X regrets taking the money because it was his best option at the time, but he certainly feels like he could have been the difference, uh, to beat the bulls, and, uh, he very well might have been he might have a wow.
00:25:42
I mean, they say the rest is history, right? Yeah, we could We could stay diving into the biggest what ifs, which I'm sure you have done as you wrote this book.
00:25:52
The book itself is very, very well organized.
00:25:55
I love the historical context in the order that you went through.
00:25:57
The pictures themselves were nice.
00:25:59
Nice add on.
00:26:00
And I think it was very obvious that you wrote this with a lot of passion.
00:26:05
And you're probably one of the top experts.
00:26:07
19 nineties next basketball.
00:26:09
Do you? Would you say you carry that same kind of passion to for the Knicks this past decade? Uh, no e.
00:26:20
I love the e love the next.
00:26:23
I still watched him a lot.
00:26:25
It's a couple of things.
00:26:26
One that was, um, you know, that was my formative years.
00:26:31
My teenager teenage years, early twenties.
00:26:34
Um, I had a lot less going on less responsibility.
00:26:39
You know, I'm a father now.
00:26:41
Is it? Honestly, I mean, When I was 16, the Knicks were the most important thing in the world.
00:26:46
Now, my son is the most important thing in the world to me, you know, UNIX or maybe still top five.
00:26:52
But it changes your perspective a little, so I'm not quite as die hard in that sense.
00:26:57
And, uh and you know, the I mean, you know, you guys know the last 10 years has been it's been rough.
00:27:06
I mean, not only have been lost, but it's been, you know, it's not as much fun to watch, and they're losing for sure.
00:27:12
Heart.
00:27:13
They haven't had the same type of players.
00:27:16
Um, you know, the Knicks won in large part in the nineties because they had not just talented players with guys that competed every night and played hard and on guys, you got accustomed to guys that were around for a while.
00:27:29
There's been so much eternal Knicks, you know, with the roster with coaching.
00:27:34
So I mean, Melo was there for a while.
00:27:36
Um, you know, I got really excited about forcing us, and he was gone, and it's just there's just been a lot of turnover, whereas the nineties, you know, Patrick was there from 1985 to 2000.
00:27:48
You have the star player who you really identify with.
00:27:52
You know, Oakley was there for 10 years.
00:27:54
Starts was there for eight years.
00:27:55
So there are a lot of guys they had the same coaches for a long time.
00:27:59
So, um, I got mawr attached to those guys in addition to the pleasure that they provided, which has kind of been absent right now.
00:28:09
Speaking of coaching Thibodeau, obviously the new head coach of the Knicks was assistant under Van Gundy.
00:28:14
Or were there any stories that you learn while doing your research for your book regarding Tom Thibodeau? And you know what he might be able to bring on to the next this season.
00:28:23
Yeah, Tibbs was first of all, I said, Tibbs, you know, you see him on TV, and he, um he's got that, like, gruff demeanor, right? Always kind of intense and a little angry.
00:28:34
E mean, he was, like, downright jovial When I talked to him.
00:28:39
He was like, he sounded like, like, laughing a lot of joking around.
00:28:45
Um, I talked him before.
00:28:46
Just for the record.
00:28:47
I talked him before he got the next job.
00:28:48
This was after he was after he left Minnesota, and he wasn't.
00:28:52
I guess he was doing some TV at the time, but he wasn't in coaching.
00:28:55
Um, yeah.
00:28:57
I mean, you know, the guys talked about his intensity.
00:29:00
Um, uh, the guys who coached with him and played for him talked about how intense he waas.
00:29:06
Uh, he's a lifer.
00:29:08
You know, he's one of those basketball junkies always watching film, always figuring out trying to figure out how to get better.
00:29:16
Um, you know, he talked about what a great influence those years were on him coaching as assistant with the Knicks.
00:29:25
And there's a quote I have in the book, but he kind of talks about, you know, he says Van Gundy was the head coach.
00:29:32
He said Jeff Van Gundy coached under Pat Riley and Rick Pitino and Stew Jackson and got his father was a college coach.
00:29:41
And then he points Thio.
00:29:43
Brendan Malone was one of the systems, and he said Malone, coach under Chuck Daly, and he kind of went down the line.
00:29:50
Of all the assistant coaches and all their experience, they were extremely experienced, had been under a lot of good coaches, and he talked about how they have coaching meetings and they'd sit down and someone would say, Well, to talk about how to defend a certain play And they said, Well, this is how Pat Rather used to do it And this is how Chuck Daly used to do it.
00:30:09
And so he said, I believe what I believe that it was.
00:30:12
It was like it was like working at the best clinic in the world every single day on and that how much he learned from those years as an assistant coach, Um, but yeah, and he kind of he did all different roles.
00:30:26
You know, I talked to him about true, you know, with the Celtics for a while to get that was a defensive specialist, and a lot of a lot of times they have guys have those more defined roles.
00:30:36
Van Gundy's philosophy was he wanted all his all of his coaches to be involved in every aspect of the plan.
00:30:42
Hey didn't like to give them specific roles like that because he felt that having them involved in everything best prepared them to be head coaches themselves.
00:30:51
One day on DSO Hey didn't have any specific role in that sense.
00:30:57
He was part of everything, and he did.
00:30:58
A lot of he worked a lot with Larry Johnson.
00:31:02
Larry Johnson gave him a lot of credit.
00:31:04
LJ, when he came to the next, was a low post player and kind of developed as the back got bad and his mobility decreased.
00:31:11
He became more of a shooter.
00:31:12
Three point shooter, of course, had the famous four point play, and he used the everyday before practice.
00:31:19
Thibodeau work with LJ every day, one on one for a couple hours on 303 point shooting.
00:31:25
So he was one of those guys who was just always there.
00:31:27
You know, if you needed to get in some work tips, was there to help you out.
00:31:30
And he was no nonsense.
00:31:33
Yeah.
00:31:34
I mean, even just the current, they even zoom press conferences.
00:31:37
I feel like his intensity intensity kind of just reverberates even in, like those virtual press conferences, you know, like attention to detail and all that.
00:31:45
Um, kinda stay on tips a little bit.
00:31:48
You know the word we here and I think he himself confirmed that.
00:31:51
What was that like you know, this was his dream job coaching the Knicks, Did he? You know, I mean, he is a pro's pro, right? But that he did he give any kind of indication, like of that to you? When you, you know, had had a chance to interview him? That that this was something he was actively seeking toe kind of coach the Knicks at some point or just actively pursue that job? No, he didn't say anything about that.
00:32:13
I talked to him.
00:32:15
Appreciate.
00:32:16
It was last summer, Summer of 2019.
00:32:19
So, you know, a tat point.
00:32:24
People still felt okay about Fizdale.
00:32:26
You know, the year before was terrible, but it was like, all right, we didn't have any talent.
00:32:29
And we brought in all these new guys over the summer.
00:32:32
Let's see, how does with these guys? And so there wasn't, you know, the job wasn't open, and there wasn't really speculation it would be open very soon.
00:32:41
Um, so I don't believe I asked him about that, and we never really didn't really got into that.
00:32:47
Okay? Yeah.
00:32:48
I mean, I figured tips was in the type of God even, you know, talk about pursuing another man's job either.
00:32:52
So, you know, it seems like a pretty classy dude.
00:32:55
Yeah.
00:32:56
Um, I guess you know, Tibbs obviously is the coach of the Knicks.
00:33:00
Now, I know Mom and I were pretty happy about it.
00:33:03
Um, his credentials, his resume just speaks for itself.
00:33:06
Right, but kind of a pivot to the current day knicks.
00:33:09
Um, what are your expectations for the tips era? You know, um, do you think he could kind of bring a little bit of that nineties? Um, Aura, that five to the current day Knicks.
00:33:19
And you know what? Your expectations.
00:33:21
Yeah, I do.
00:33:23
I think, uh, tips had a He had a line about the late nineties.
00:33:27
Next.
00:33:28
Van Gundy told me this tips always used to say, um maybe outplayed, but never have competed those in the late nineties next.
00:33:35
And I love that.
00:33:36
That's a start, right? I mean, that's a start, like and I So I feel really good about a couple of things.
00:33:42
I think they're gonna play hard.
00:33:44
They're going to play discipline.
00:33:46
And I think, um, based on his you touched on his attention to detail.
00:33:52
I think he will be very good for the development of the young guys.
00:33:58
Um e I think he's going to set the by bar very high for them.
00:34:02
He's a little old school in that sense and that he's gonna push them, you know, and he's going to challenge them.
00:34:08
And I think that's good.
00:34:09
And and he has the basketball a***en and expertise to teach them.
00:34:14
And so I think I think the next will compete harder on a nightly basis.
00:34:19
And I think, um, I think the young guys will get better and that's that's what we need right now the young guys to get better right on.
00:34:27
But I think, uh, but ultimately it z going to come out to management.
00:34:32
Can they give him? Can they get him the right players? But it's it's gonna take time.
00:34:37
I mean, they're gonna They're gonna be bad this year.
00:34:39
They're gonna be there gonna be bad.
00:34:41
Uh, talent.
00:34:42
Yeah, The challenges isn't there yet.
00:34:44
You know, Obviously we hope the better the last year.
00:34:47
Um, but mawr importantly, I think I think for now, short term like let's see, let's make sure that there's effort, that there's improvement, that their structure and kind of those things that we could build on and hopefully get some more talent in future.
00:35:02
Right? And that's basically the recipe for a successful New York Knicks team.
00:35:05
Now with the with the n b a draft in a little over a week from now.
00:35:09
Are there any particular players you see would be a good fit for this Knicks roster and Thibodeau? Um, yeah.
00:35:16
You know, I love a point guard.
00:35:19
I mean, they could use so much, right? I mean, they need shooting.
00:35:23
They, you know, they could use a good wing.
00:35:25
Um, yeah, shooter or a point guard I like.
00:35:31
I like killing Hes a lot.
00:35:32
The French kid, Um I like Halliburton a lot.
00:35:36
Uh, who could play point guard? I like Halliburton because he could play on the ball or off the ball.
00:35:42
And I think I think Barrett needs the ball in his lot.
00:35:45
It hands a lot.
00:35:47
Andi could really drive and get to the basket, so I like I like I like to have another ball handler on the floor, but ideally be great.
00:35:54
I don't know if we need, like, a ball dominant one who has the ball in his hands, all the time.
00:35:58
So Halliburton may be great for that reason.
00:36:00
I like the kid vassal.
00:36:03
Um, that's a potential, you know, three and D guy a wing who could shoot e.
00:36:09
I think, you know, way got to ride out Robinson in the center and the big spot.
00:36:14
And teams will really play with two bigs anymore.
00:36:16
So the wing of point guard is the priority.
00:36:20
And those those a few guys who I think would be nice editions.
00:36:25
Yeah, I think e I think we both agree in the sentiment.
00:36:29
I think our our favorite are at least my favorite Hayes and vassal.
00:36:33
Maybe a coral.
00:36:34
A swell, uh, e think they'll fit really well with the Thibodeau system.
00:36:39
Um, Paul, we're I think we're gonna wrap up.
00:36:41
This episode is a pleasure to have you on, Uh, for those you guys watching Paul's new book, Nick of the nineties is available on Amazon.
00:36:49
All bookstores, Um and we we bought off Kindle.
00:36:52
So it's it's available there as well.
00:36:54
Are there any final messages you'd like? Thio.
00:36:56
Make sure that the viewers here, Paul, um you know, I try me an optimist.
00:37:04
The Knicks will rise again.
00:37:06
Uh, keep the faith.
00:37:08
E don't know.
00:37:09
I don't know when, but they will rise again, eh? So we'll make sure that the link to the book is available.
00:37:16
Uh, on on on all podcasting platforms.
00:37:18
This will be also available there as well.
00:37:20
Paul, we really appreciate you coming on to show we loved your book.
00:37:24
We hope that more and more viewers and listeners will get chance to read it.
00:37:28
And there's so much so many nuggets in there for for, you know, readers and expand such as ourselves that toe learn from So again, Paul, Thank you so much for coming onto the show.
00:37:37
Thank Small.
00:37:38
Thanks. Not fee. I really enjoyed it.
00:37:40
Definitely.
00:37:41
Thanks a lot.
00:37:42
All right.

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