Today is the 17th anniversary of a game that the two coaches at the NBA Finals will recall with widely differing degrees of fondness.
In New York, it will forever be known as the "Charles Smith game" -- a night in 1993 when Smith missed four consecutive shots underneath in the final seconds, and a 60-win New York Knicks team quarterbacked by Rivers fell behind 3-2 in the Eastern Conference finals to the eventual NBA champion Chicago Bulls.
Rivers and I were recalling that game last week on an off day during the Eastern Conference finals between the Celtics and Magic when I asked him how many of the Knicks' missed free throws was he responsible for.
"None," Rivers replied, startled that I had remembered one of the long-forgotten details of that game, how the Knicks had gone to the free throw line 35 times and missed 15 of them (Rivers was 3-for-3).
"And the thing of it was, I was the designated technical foul shooter for that team, and the Bulls had two techs called on them -- both while I was on the bench -- and we missed both," said Rivers, who was limited to 32 minutes in that game by coach Pat Riley. (Hat tip to Jonathan Supranowitz of the Knicks PR department for e-mailing over a grainy play-by-play photocopy, which shows John Starks and Patrick Ewing each missed an illegal defense technical free throw on the Knicks' first two offensive possessions after Rivers was subbed out for Greg Anthony early in the fourth quarter).
To read more, including links to the game stories from June 3, 1993 from the archives of The New York Times and The Los Angeles Times (yes, it was Heisler covering the game, of course), click over to this longer post on the ESPNNewYork site.