MLK Day and the Trent Tucker Rule

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(Stat Mann is our newest writer. If you want to know if that is his real name, you’ll have to read the bio at the bottom of his debut Five Fun Facts item highlighting five cool things that happened in yesterday’s NBA games. That feature will run every night on this site. As a bonus, the new guy is providing you with a history lesson from the MLK Day archives. I was at that game, sitting in the stands with a purchased ticket, when I was a 26-year-old city desk writer working the graveyard shift. Bill Barnard, the AP’s basketball writer at the time, hooked me up with the seats. Thanks, Billy Bob — CS)

As we celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. birthday on Monday, my memory takes me back to my sophomore year in high school when I was growing up on Long Island.

That day, January 15, 1990, the Knicks were getting a chance at revenge on the Michael Jordan led Chicago Bulls, who had eliminated the Knicks in the playoffs the season before. The Knicks were led by Patrick Ewing, who was having his finest season as a pro. They were coached by Stu Jackson, who had taken over for Rick Pitino after Pitino left following the 1988-89 season to go revive the Kentucky program.

I was listening to the game on the radio as I did all Knicks home games back then (WFAN’s Jim Karvellas and first-year radio man Walt Frazier), since our street was one of the few remaining streets on Long Island that did not have cable lines.

The game was tied at 106 as the Knicks prepared to inbounds the ball with just 00.1 remaining on the clock. Since this was the first season the NBA used tenths of a second on the clock, no one really thought about the least amount of time it took to catch and shoot the ball, and as long as there was time left on the clock, anything was possible.

Mark Jackson looked for Patrick Ewing driving to the basket for a tip-in, but he was covered, so he threw the ball to Tucker, who caught the ball and spun in the same movement, throwing up a desperation shot along the sideline, just beyond 3-point range. The timekeeper’s buzzer went off AFTER Tucker released the ball, which went perfectly in the basket to give the Knicks the win.

Video after the jump:

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