The Knicks-Heat rivalry of the late ‘90s was violent and slow and ugly and...really, really fun. Its pinnacle, at least in terms of basketball, has to have been the final moments of Game 5 in the 1999 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals. To understand what made that last-second finish so meaningful, you have to understand the whole rivalry.
It goes back to Pat Riley leaving the Knicks for the Heat. Riley acquired Alonzo Mourning, a player once recruited to Georgetown by Knicks star Patrick Ewing and once at odds with Hornets co-star Larry Johnson, who would eventually become a Knick. Riley also employed Stan Van Gundy, brother of Knicks coach Jeff, as an assistant.
If you’re having trouble following that tangled web of Knicks-Heat connections, you’ll understand exactly why the multiple consecutive playoff series these teams played were so intense. These two teams knew each other as well as any rivals have ever.
There was a huge fight in 1997. There was a huge fight in 1998. But in 1999, there was just a wild seesaw of a series delayed and complicated by a long lockout and the retirement of Michael Jordan. The series culminated in one of the greatest shots ever on a play that was totally predictable because of all that familiarity.
You might know what happened, but watch Rewinder above to really understand it, and check out more episodes of the show here.