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[DimeMag] John Starks - What Really Happened In The 1994 NBA Finals

Discussion in 'Houston Rockets: Game Action & Roster Moves' started by Rockets34Legend, Jul 26, 2011.

  1. Rockets34Legend

    Rockets34Legend Contributing Member

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    Long, but good read. If wrong forum, Clutch, please move.....thanks.

    http://dimemag.com/2011/07/pass-the-mic-john-starks-and-what-really-happened-in-the-1994-nba-finals

    As the exciting 2011 NBA Playoffs came to a climax with the NBA Finals, we found ourselves watching a very intriguing match-up between the Dallas Mavericks and the Miami Heat, a rematch of sorts from the 2006 NBA Finals. Both teams were stacked with many NBA veterans looking to break through and win their first NBA Championship. Dirk Nowitzki, LeBron James, Shawn Marion, Jason Kidd, Chris Bosh, Jason Terry, Tyson Chandler, Mike Bibby, Peja Stojakovic were among the long list of veterans hungry to win their first title.

    Going back 17 years we also had a battle of two veteran teams looking to break through and win the NBA Championship, as the New York Knicks faced off against the Houston Rockets in the 1994 NBA Finals. Patrick Ewing, Hakeem Olajuwon, Charles Oakley, Kenny Smith and John Starks were among the veterans looking to come through and win it for the first time.

    Unfortunately for Knick fans, New York came up short losing in seven games. Since 1973, it has been the closest the Knicks have come to winning the NBA Championship, and still till this day, people in New York sulk about that infamous series. Almost every game was closely played and some games went right down to the wire. Sometimes people are found pointing the finger at New York City’s beloved John Starks, who shot very poorly and did not play well in Game 7 (shooting 2-18 with eight points) as the Knicks went on to lose the game 90-84. You still hear about this all the time, references to John’s bad Game 7, in articles and on television.

    Just this past January after the Knicks beat the Heat at the Garden 93-88, ESPN’s Ian O’Connor said that “LeBron James shot the ball like John Starks did in Game 7 of the ‘94 Finals”. It’s still to this day a bitter pill to swallow for Knicks fans. Yet the full story of John Starks and the 1994 NBA Finals is never truly discussed and is unknown to many basketball fans.

    Let’s look at the other side of the coin and see things from a different perspective. As badly as Starks played in Game 7, the prior game produced the exact opposite results for the All-Star guard. So many people have forgotten that John played amazing basketball in the all important Game 6. John scored 27 points and dished out eight assists as he brought the Knicks back in the game; he had 16 points alone in the fourth quarter! But to this day no one ever talks about that. You never hear any articles or any mention of that great game that John had in such a big moment in the Finals. You only hear about his notorious Game 7.

    Entering Game 6, the Knicks were holding a 3-2 series lead. The Knicks were down ten at the half, but cut the deficit to only three going into the fourth quarter. Soon, Houston extended the lead; it looked like the game was completely slipping away for New York. As the Knicks were looking for someone to create a spark to start a comeback, John Starks stepped up and took over the game. John carried the Knicks on his shoulders and scored 16 points in the fourth quarter. Draining three three-pointers, driving to the basket, setting up teammates, and just single-handedly willed his team back into the game. In the final seconds after Kenny Smith missed a long two-pointer, the Knicks secured the rebound and called a timeout. The Knicks found themselves only down by two points with less than 10 seconds remaining, thanks to the great performance of John Starks.

    They ran a pick-and-roll play with John and Patrick Ewing setting the screen. Starks then went left and shot the potential game-winning three pointer. He got a good look. John till this day would tell you it was going in, that it felt good upon release. Unfortunately by a bad twist of fate for the Knicks, Hakeem Olajuwon got a finger (a finger!) on John’s three-point attempt, and the ball sailed out of bounds and the game ended with the Knicks losing 86-84.

    Unfortunately we will never know if John Starks’ three-point attempt would have gone in. John didn’t miss; it was just a great block. Watching that game live, I can honestly tell you that John was on fire and there was no doubt it was going in. John had already hit three triples in the quarter, and he was in such a zone that if that shot was not deflected, it was most likely going through that nylon. Then the Knicks would have won the championship, and thus Game 7 would have never happened. It took an amazing block by the Hall of Famer Olajuwon to save the day for Houston. An amazing defensive play.

    That defensive play cost the Knicks the NBA Championship. It cost John Starks the MVP of the 1994 NBA Finals. It caused the cancellation of the ticker tape parade in NYC. It caused the debacle of Game 7 against Houston which still leaves a bitter taste in the mouths of many Knicks fans. It is also a factor in why to this day John Starks’ and Charles Oakley’s numbers have yet to be retired with the other Knicks greats.

    We cannot take away the greatness that was John Starks in Game 6. Even though the Knicks lost the game, John did everything and more to try and win it. ‘Till this day it was one of the best performances in a big NBA Finals fourth quarter ever. John had a big game and a good series overall, averaging 17.7 pts, 3.1 rebounds and 5.9 assists per game. At different points in the Finals, John was a definite MVP candidate, yet we forget about this and we only read articles and jabs at him about Game 7.

    Pat Riley, then head coach of the New York Knicks, was quoted as saying:

    “All the critics and the naysayers that looked hard at that and criticized the fact that John was still in the game don’t and did not, take into account that we would have never gotten to Game 7 if it wasn’t for John. In Games 4 and 5, he had double-digit fourth quarter performances. In Game 5, without him getting 11 points in the fourth quarter, we wouldn’t have won. In Game 6, he had 16 points in the fourth quarter. He was really, really playing well in fourth quarters, making big shots and making big plays.”

    Unfortunately many times in life people remember your bad moments over your good moments; it’s human nature. However it’s a discredit to John when talk of Game 7 comes up and not of Game 6 and the rest of the series for that matter. In the 1994 Finals, it was so defensive that every possession was a battle not only to score, but just to even get off a decent shot. Someone on the Knicks had to take the bull by the horns and just shoot. While some of the Knicks looked tentative to take the big shots in that series, John had the balls and heart to take them. He hit them in Game 6 and in other games in the series, but unfortunately he missed them in the finale.

    In reality you could say he left it all out on the floor, with guns blazing and no more bullets in his holster. He went for it, unlike other athletes in other big time moments who don’t go for it.

    17 years have passed since the 1994 NBA Finals. Unfortunately for John Starks he was unable to make a return to the NBA Finals and secure that coveted championship. Dirk Nowitzki made it back to the Finals, five years after losing that tough heartbreaking series to Miami, and was able to finally get that ring.

    Meanwhile the Knicks and the city of New York are hungry to see their team win an NBA championship. As Amar’e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony lead the current Knicks back to significance in the NBA, there is a new era of Knicks fans, some fans that were not even born back in June of 1994. They don’t really know the full story of John Starks, the Knicks and the 1994 NBA Finals. However l would simply tell them this: Did you see Dirk Nowitzki on fire recently? He looked like John Starks in Game 6 against Houston.
     
  2. CDrex

    CDrex Contributing Member

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    Interesting read, but I don't think you can paint Starks as a hero of that series based on his overall stats. He had one great game, three good games, one iffy game (20 pts, 9 assists, 6-16 shooting) and two historically brutal games (the series bookends of games 1 and 7). For sure the Knicks won games when he played well, but that doesn't mean that a series line of 18 points and 6 assists on 37% shooting makes him more than a high-usage, fairly disappointing #2 guy who was willing to take fourth quarter shots and might win a game for you or lose it.

    However, accepting that this was done from a Knicks perspective I liked the article, it gave something to think about.
     
  3. tinman

    tinman Contributing Member
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    Starks was a streak shooter.
     
  4. Damion Laverne

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    What Really Happened In The 1994 NBA Finals

    John Starks: "I choked when it mattered the most. Damn you Hakeem!"
     
  5. rimrocker

    rimrocker Contributing Member

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    Damn right.

    [​IMG]
     
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  6. Ziggy

    Ziggy QUEEN ANON

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    Where I can I read Nick Anderson's take on the 95 finals?
     
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  7. REEKO_HTOWN

    REEKO_HTOWN I'm Rich Biiiiaaatch!

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    Olajuwon, Olajuwon....
     
  8. basso

    basso Contributing Member
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    indeed. still, a defining moment for the rockets, and Hakeem.
     
  9. val_modus

    val_modus Member

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    THIS. LOL :grin:
     
  10. johnstarks

    johnstarks Member

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    Starks had a lot of heart, which helped him have crazy performances like game 6 and be fearless about going up against Jordan, but it also made him unable to settle down when he needed to. The thing the article neglects to mention is that Starks couldn't sleep the night before game 7 because he kept thinking about Hakeem's fingernail block. The streakiness was just who Starks was. But he had a great run. This dude went from bagging groceries to being a New York City legend despite choking in game 7.
     
  11. t_mac1

    t_mac1 Contributing Member

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    I liked John Starks. He had a horrible game 7, but he showed a ton of heart. The Knicks were a formidable opponent, and I gave that team props for how they played. We earned that championship series, as nothing was given to us.

    One of the best playoff series I saw in my lifetime still.
     
  12. tinman

    tinman Contributing Member
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    Found a video of Starks in Game 7.

    <iframe width="425" height="349" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/ASxTyFlLYso" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>
     
  13. iconoclastic

    iconoclastic Member

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    Did he just did done do this?
     
  14. johnstarks

    johnstarks Member

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    Good times. Max and Starks were two really streaky players going up against each other. It's good to have one of those microwave type players that can really heat up in a completely irrational way like Terry this year as long as they stop shooting when they're cold.
     
  15. FranchiseBlade

    FranchiseBlade Contributing Member
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    My friends and I were all die hard Rockets fans and living in NY at the time. Starks scared us after game 6. Before game 7 we found a few basketball cards of Starks, put them in an ashtray, got one our female friends lipstick, and put it on our faces as Rockets war paint, and danced around the burning John Starks cards the whole pregame and into the first period.

    Our curse worked. If the writer had looked into Carroll Gardens neighborhood of Brooklyn that day, he would have found out what really happened to John Starks. The neighbors who were naturally Knicks fans hated us.
     
    5 people like this.
  16. IBTL

    IBTL Member
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    I agree with basso twice in one day. Whatever med you are taking right now basso make sure to let you doc know.

    write it down on your arm somewhere if you have too. Yes I know it makes your mouth dry
     
  17. mylilpony

    mylilpony Member

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    i had a roomate that is from the phoenix area, and one day i asked him if he remembered the suns rox series where mario elie sank a three to win the series and he got pale and quiet.

    Its fun seeing the otherside of greatness. I hate being on that side now.
     
  18. Pat

    Pat Contributing Member
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    Gee Mom, thanks for such a good article - John
     
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  19. Deckard

    Deckard Blade Runner
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    Great story! That, folks, is a Rockets fan. :cool:
     
  20. JoeBarelyCares

    JoeBarelyCares Contributing Member

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    Derek Harper had a better series than Starks, and would have been the MVP if the Knicks had won.
     

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