cover image Blood in the Garden: The Flagrant History of the 1990s New York Knicks

Blood in the Garden: The Flagrant History of the 1990s New York Knicks

Chris Herring. Atria, $28 (368p) ISBN 978-1-982132-11-8

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. (Jan.)