The definitive history of the 1990s New York Knicks, illustrating how Pat Riley, Patrick Ewing, John Starks, Charles Oakley, and Anthony Mason resurrected the iconic franchise through oppressive physicality and unmatched grit.
For nearly an entire generation, the New York Knicks have been a laughingstock franchise. Since 2001, they’ve spent more money, lost more games, and won fewer playoff series than any other NBA team.
But during the preceding era, the Big Apple had a club it was madly in love with—one that earned respect not only by winning, but through brute force. The Knicks were always looking for fights, often at the encouragement of Pat Riley. They fought opposing players. They fought each other. Hell, they even occasionally fought their own coaches.
The NBA didn’t take kindly to their fighting spirit. Within two years, league officials moved to alter several rules to stop New York from turning its basketball games into bloody mudwrestling matches. Nevertheless, as the 1990s progressed, the Knicks endeared themselves to millions of fans; not for how much they won, but for their colorful cast of characters and their hardworking mentality.
Now, through his original reporting and interviews with more than two hundred people, author Chris Herring delves into the origin, evolution, and eventual demise of the iconic club. He takes us inside the locker room, executive boardrooms, and onto the court for the key moments that lifted the club to new heights, and the ones that threatened to send everything crashing down in spectacular fashion.
Blood in the Garden is a portrait filled with eye-opening details that have never been shared before, revealing the full story of the franchise in the midst of the NBA’s golden era. And rest assured, no punches will be pulled. Which is just how those rough-and-tumble Knicks would like it.
Herring, a senior writer for Sports Illustrated, takes a warts-and-all deep dive into the New York Knicks teams of the 1990s, "the league's most fascinating decade," in his spirited debut. Armed with behind-the-scenes knowledge culled from more than 200 interviews with players, coaches, and executives, Herring delivers a thrilling narrative that skillfully evokes the intensity and tension of pro basketball. Under the guidance of coaches Pat Riley and Jeff Van Gundy and players including Patrick Ewing, Charles Oakley, and Anthony Mason the Knicks made the playoffs routinely, and the finals twice, nearly capturing their first title since 1973. Taking into account the team's post-'90s record of failure "No franchise has burned through more coaches, lost more games, or tallied fewer playoff wins" Herring probes what worked and what didn't for the team during their last sustained run of success, citing Riley's success in creating the "NBA's nastiest defense" and the fallout sparked by Van Gundy's resignation in 2001. The result yields humanizing portraits of all involved, including Ewing, who faced horrific racist taunts before entering the NBA; Riley, a strict martinet who survived a difficult childhood; and Van Gundy, who risked his own safety to protect his players during a brawl with the Miami Heat. Hoops fans will relish this riveting ride. Agent: Daniel Greenberg, Levine Greenberg Rostan Literary.