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It’s an honor to have designed the Knicks’ City Edition uniforms the past two years, just as it is to have worked on it again this year. Before we debut it, I want to tell you about the team that inspired it - the 1998-99 Knicks.
The year is 1999, I’m a 16-year-old kid in Jamaica, Queens. The NBA had been in a lockout and season was shortened to 50 games. We entered the year as a new team, having dealt John Starks for arguably the most controversial player at the time, Latrell Sprewell, as well as sending Charles Oakley to Toronto for the young Marcus Camby. We also signed Kurt Thomas from free agency.
Our starting five was Ewing, Houston, Johnson, Thomas and Ward. Sprewell was coming off the bench. We didn’t have the star power. But we were tough, gritty, New York. We capped the season by winning 6 of our last 8 games to secure the 8th seed in the playoffs. The moments that would follow are instilled in my memory forever.
Round 1 against the top-seeded Heat. Tied at 2-2, we were in Miami for Game 5. With 4.5 seconds left, Houston got the ball and sent up a floater that sunk the hearts of Heat fans and lifted the Knicks to the quarterfinals. One of the greatest Knicks moments ever. I still remember watching it with my dad and us both freaking out in the living room.
Then we swept the Hawks. Light work. But that pitted us against the Pacers in the Eastern Conference Finals. We went to Indiana and took Game 1, but they got us in Game 2. But Game 3 is when everything changed. Now I was working in the city at this time, so my dad used to tape the Knicks games. As I walked into my house my dad goes, “Knicks lost.” I was pissed, but I still went up to my room and watched the tape. With 11.9 seconds left, the Pacers were up 91-88. I’m sitting there thinking they lost but still wanted to see the final buzzer. Pacers tipped our inbound, but Larry Johnson recovered it. Clock goes down to 6.3 seconds when LJ puts up a big 3…AND IT WENT IN. He goes to the line, hits the free throw. We won. I was in awe. I went running to my dad’s room, who had stayed up while I watched it. As soon as I barged in he goes, “Can you believe it!!??” We went on to win that series and advance to the finals.
We became the first, and still only, 8th seed to make it to the NBA Finals. We lost to the Spurs. But the memories of that season have lived with me ever since. Those feelings are what I wanted to capture with our new City Edition uniform design, as well as our upcoming Kith for the New York Knicks Collection. From New York to the world.