Behind the ’93-94 Knicks Story

7 11 2011

A public relations rep at MSG Network approached me a month ago about a Knicks-related show. Regional sports networks that broadcast games of the NBA team in its market have had to get creative with their programming. The NBA lockout has forced them into finding ways to show content about their local team while training camp, the preseason and, now, regular season games are missed. MSG Network has found one solution to their problem by starting a series called 1994: March To The Finals.

The series shows 20 significant games from the Knicks’ 1993-94 season. Rather than write a story documenting why MSG Network is running the series (obvious) and getting quotes from a MSG executive (boring), I decided to speak with players, coaches and other folks connected to that team – sort of an oral history.

I began by looking into what players would chat. Herb Williams was easily accessible since he coaches for the Knicks. The team PR staff hooked me up there. I sent interview requests to the Magic (Patrick Ewing), Bobcats (Charles Oakley) and Celtics (Doc Rivers), but they went nowhere. I got at Greg Anthony to Turner Sports PR. I ended up talking with Jeff Van Gundy by going to ESPN’s PR folks. Oakley and I actually spoke for the story after I found out about an event in downtown NYC in which he was promoting his new clothing line.

I asked the Knicks if they had a team historian – they do. So, he and I chatted for an hour and a half about that ’93-94 Knicks team. In that conversation, the historian – Dennis D’Agostino – told me I should speak with Mike Saunders, who the Knicks’ trainer that season and for 26 other campaigns. Through a Google search, I found that Saunders, no longer in the NBA, runs a physical therapy practice north of New York City.

In research for a story about the famous Reno Trip, which D’Agostino told me, I read a news story of that account by Clifton Brown, who during that ’93-94 season was a Knicks beat reporter for the New York Times. Clifton and I chatted for 20 minutes about that season. Then I remembered that I’m Twitter friends with Clarence Gaines, who was a scout and front office executive for the Chicago Bulls during the Michael Jordan Era. He and I discussed what that time meant for the Knicks-Bulls rivalry.

In all, I spoke with three former Knicks players, a former Knicks coach, their team historian, their former athletic trainer, a former beat reporter who covered them and a former scout of a rival team. This is how a story can be turned from a simple run-through of a TV network’s program to an in-depth story – or stories – of a team that means a lot to a lot of people.

Click on the links below to read the stories:

’93-94 New York Knicks In Review

’93-94 Knicks In Review, Pt. 2

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