Golden State’s Stephen Curry, right, recently lit up Madison Square Garden for 54 points, making 11 of 13 three-pointers in a loss to the Knicks. Curry’s majestic performance raised the obvious questions about all-time scoring heroics at MSG.
New York Newsday has a slide show on MSG’s 50-point games at both the old Garden on Eighth Avenue and the current facility atop Penn Station, which opened in 1968. Here are 10 factoids about the top scoring games at Madison Square Garden, the so-called world’s most famous arena and the mecca of basketball.
1. No surprise here. Wilt Chamberlain has held the record for most points scored at MSG for more than 50 years. In November of 1962, the Big Dipper, playing for the San Francisco Warriors, dropped 73 points on the Knicks at the old Garden.
2. Chamberlain indeed has recorded five of the top eight scoring games at MSG. In addition to his 73-point outburst, Wilt scored 62 (3rd all-time), 59 (6th), and 58 twice (7th and 8th). All came at the old Garden in a four-year span between 1960 and 1964.
3. Lakers forward Elgin Baylor set the NBA single-game scoring record in November, 1960, when he scored 71 against the Knicks. Baylor also had 25 rebounds at MSG that night.
4. Another Laker, Kobe Bryant, scored 61 at the current MSG — aka MSG IV, the NBA’s oldest arena — in February of 2009. Bryant made all 20 of his free throws that night.
5. The Knick single-game scoring record is 60, set by Bernard King, left, on Christmas Day in 1984 in a loss to the New Jersey Nets. That new Garden record stood for nearly 25 years until Kobe broke it.
6. All told, five Knicks have eclipsed 50 points at the Garden. Richie Guerin had 57 and 51 at the old MSG, and King (55,52), Patrick Ewing (51,50), Jamaal Crawford (52) and Allan Houston (50) at the new place.
7. Guerin’s 57 in 1959 broke the Garden record held by Neil Johnston of the Philadelphia Warriors. Johnston was the first player to score 50 points in a game against the Syracuse Nationals in 1954 — part of an all-NBA doubleheader at MSG.
8. Michael Jordan twice scored 50 at MSG, including the famous double nickel 55 in 1995. Exactly 3,069 days earlier Jordan hit for 50 in 1986, the only player to shoot less than 50 percent in a 50-point effort at the Garden.
9. As a Cleveland Cavalier, LeBron James surpassed the half century mark twice in New York, with 52 in 2009 and 50 one year earlier. At the time, LeBron’s 50-point, 10-assist game was only the third since the ABA-NBA merger.
10. The only other players to score 50 or more in an NBA game at the Garden were Rick Barry, who scored 57 as a rookie with San Francisco in 1965 and Richard Hamilton of the Detroit Pistons, who scored 51 points in a triple overtime loss to the Knicks in 200
The “heat” is on Miami’s LeBron James following his Game 4 flame-out.
When LeBron James pulled his disappearing act against the Dallas Mavs in Game 4 of the NBA Finals the other night, he evoked memories of another classic underachiever — Wilt Chamberlain.
LBJ is considered by many to be the best player in the NBA today. He’s been compared to some of the all-time greats, including his Airness himself, Michael Jordan.
But in these NBA Finals, LeBron is not even the best player on the Miami Heat. Dwayne Wade, pure and simple, has been Miami’s best player and their go-to-guy down the stretch.
King James scored eight points in Game 4. Eight points. Are you serious? You have to go back 434 games to find the last time the great Lebron scored eight points or less in a game.
LeBron made just three of 11 shots and came up empty when it mattered most, down the stretch in the fourth quarter.
James did finish with had nine rebounds and seven assists. But all that really matters is that the Heat got eight points from the most dominant basketball force on the planet and lost by three with a chance to put a stranglehold on the series.
Wilt in The Clutch
Sounds like Wilt Chamberlain, the Big Dipper. Wilt was a virtually unstoppable force who once averaged 50 points for an entire season and scored 100 points in a single game.
For years in the 60s, Wilt’s teams — the Philadelphia Warriors and later the 76ers — came up short against the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference playoffs before the Sixers won the NBA title in 1967.
The following year, Philly blew a 3-1 lead and lost to the Celtics in a seventh game where Wilt, far right against Bill Russell, scored only 14 points and failed to score a single point in the second half.
Wilt was traded to the Lakers in the off-season, and took LA to the NBA Finals. But in Game 7 of the 1968 Finals, Chamberlain took himself out of the game midway through the fourth quarter, never returned, and the Lakers lost to the Celtics.
In 1970, it happened again. Lakers-Knicks in the NBA Finals, Game 5, and New York’s Willis Reed went down in the first quarter with a thigh injury. The Lakers led by 13 at the half, but collapsed in the second half when Wilt and Jerry West combined for just five shots.
Wilt had a monster Game 6 with 45 points and 27 rebounds as the Lakers forced a seventh game. But facing a hobbled Reed in Game 7, Chamberlain was barely visible as the Knicks romped to their first NBA Championship.
Two Titles for Chamberlain
Wilt did manage to win a second NBA title in 1972 when Reed was once again sidelined by injury.
In Chamberlain’s defense, he faced Hall of Fame centers like Russell, Reed, Nate Thurmond and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and led far inferior teams to near titles.
LeBron, who is seeking his first NBA Championship, has an edge in talent in these finals. The Heat were heavily favored coming in, and hold the homecourt advantage over Dallas.
“I’ll come back in Game 5 and do things that need to be done to help our team win,” LBJ said after the Game 4 meltdown.
The jury is still out on that one.
There are at least 10 reasons to hate the Miami Heat – but this isn’t one of them.
My entire life, I’ve rooted against the Boston Celtics. I was the guy pulling for Jerry West, Wilt Chamberlain and all the others who fell to the relentless Green Machine. Larry Bird was a legend, but Magic Johnson was my guy. And don’t remind me of the countless times the Celtics have embarrassed the Knicks, including this year.
But I’m changing my stripes for the NBA playoffs. For those who know me, rooting for Boston is way off base, totally out of character.
Heck, there are countless reasons to root for the Celtics to beat the Miami Heat. Especially for New York fans. Here’s 10 of ‘em:
1. LeBron James, who teased New York fans before taking his “talents” to South Beach.
2. Pat Riley, who infamously FAXed in his resignation to the Knicks and fled to Miami.
3. The winters, which are warmer in Miami.
4. Beat the Heat and Hate the Heat roll off the tongue. And fittingly, Heat and hate are anagrams.
5. LeBron wasn’t very nice to Cleveland either.
6. Dwayne Wade, who not only kills the Knickerbockers, he killed my alma mater, Holy Cross, in the NCAAs when he played at Marquette.
7. The arrogant Heat players and management, who felt they could “arrange” a championship.
8. That tasteless show the Heat put on last summer when they introduced LeBron and Chris Bosh to South Florida.
9. New York basketball fans are smarter.
10. Riley’s slick hairdo.
There’s plenty of work to be done before LeBron James and the Miami Heat can claim an NBA Championship ring.
What more can be said about LeBron James (now known as LeGone) that hasn’t already been written, aired, tweeted, barked and otherwise discussed by basketball fans and casual onlookers across America.
For some strange reason, the LeGone signing reminded me of the time Jason Giambi, like LeGone a former MVP, signed with the Yankees in 2002. At the press conference at Yankee Stadium heralding his arrival, Giambi mentioned that he was happy to be a Yankee, and that now it was time to start collecting his rings, as if it was as easy as getting the ring finger measured as a high school senior.
Only it never happened for Giambi. In his seven years in pinstripes, Giambi’s Yankees failed to win a single World Series.
You see, there are no guarantees in sports. Just because a team has the most superstars, or the most money, or loudest fans, doesn’t mean victory is automatic. Just ask the Giambi.
Sure the Miami Heat are now loaded with LeGone and D-Wade and Chris Bosch. They’ll be favored to win the NBA Championship next year.
But there are plenty of other good teams and superstars out there, who will have a say in this. The heat will be on the Heat, the pressure to win it all.
In the short time since the LeGone signing, the Heat have managed to paint a big, bright target on their collective backs. Hate and Heat are anagrams, and “Hate the Heat” has already become a catchphrase.
LeGone indicated the main reason he chose Miami over Cleveland and the other suitors was simple — the Heat gave him his best chance to win a long-coveted championship.
“I think the major factor, the major reason, in my decision was the best opportunity to win, and to win now and to win into the future also,” the King turned Prince told ESPN viewers as he revealed his decision to head south.
Only time will tell.
In The Headlines
LeGone’s decision spurred all kinds of intriguing headlines in the newspapers of the cities towns LeGone passed over.
New York: Son of a Beach
Chicago: That’s Bull
One wag referred to LeGone as LeBronedict Arnold. A New York headline cried “Knixed” mourning New York’s failed effort to get LeGone.
Best of The SportsLifer: This blog was originally posted nearly a year and a half ago, in January of 2009. Some of the particulars may have changed, but the words still ring true. LeBron James was made for New York.
This is my 300th post since The SportsLifer was created in 2008. Just passed the 100,000 mark in page views – thanks to my loyal readers.
LeBron James would be a perfect fit with the New York Knicks.
You don’t know me, but you should read what I have to say. Or better yet, what New York basketball fans have to say.
Please come to New York. Come to the Knicks.
Oh, you could be comfortable and stick with Cleveland, a nice team in a rust belt town. You could see if the Lakers or Celtics could get under the cap, perhaps try to continue the winning tradition in San Antonio or Detroit, somewhere like that..
But if you want to live up to the nickname King James, if you really want to be the King, you’ll come to New York.
LeBron, New York is the place to be. To quote Sinatra, if you can make it there, you can make it anywhere.
You’ll have more business opportunities than you can imagine. Your profile will be elevated to another level.
There’s plenty of money here in Manhattan. Salary cap. What salary cap? Isiah Thomas complained about it for years, Donnie Walsh took care of the problem in 15 minutes on a Friday afternoon last November.
Plenty of Room
The Knicks have already made room for you, two years ahead of time.
And if you win a championship in New York, you will be set for life in the most important city in the world.
Lead the Knicks to the promised land, and you’ll never have to buy another meal or a drink in this city.
But don’t ask me, ask the guys that have been there, done that.
Make sure to speak to Walt “Clyde” Frazier, the Captain Willis Reed and Senator Bill Bradley about what it’s like to win an NBA championship in New York.
Ask them to tell you about May 8, 1970, when Willis walked on the court to a deafening ovation and Clyde played the game of his life to help the Knicks beat the Lakers for their first championship.
Those Knicks, and the Knicks that won a second title three years later, are still revered in New York sports lore, still remembered 36 years after those championship runs.
Yeah, talk to those Knicks and their fans who’ve experienced that Garden electricity and the buzz that envelops Madison Square Garden, the world’s most famous arena, during a big game.
New York Loves a Winner
Ask guys like Joe Namath or Mark Messier, who guaranteed victory for their New York teams and then delivered.
Ask Eli Manning, whose Giants won over this city in February with an improbable Super Bowl victory and turned jeers to cheers.
You’re a Yankee fan LeBron. Ask Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera what it was like to wear the pinstripes in the late 90s, when the Yankees owned the world…and more importantly, owned New York.
New York is a sports town, and basketball is the city game. It’s a perfect match.
So LeBron, come to the Knicks and you can have all that. Come here and win a championship and you will be king for life.
King of the biggest, most important city in the world, the center of the universe.
King of New York.
It’s there for the taking, LeBron.
All the best,