As they had a losing record in 1984-85 season, they entered the first ever NBA Draft Lottery.
They won the number one pick and eventually got Patrick Ewing from Georgetown University. In Ewing’s rookie season, he averaged 20 points and 9 rebounds per game as he led all the rookies with those categories and won the Rookie of the Year award. Despite his productive performance, the team still finished the season with a losing record of 23-59 and the next season 24-58.
In 1987-88 season, they hired Rick Pitino as the head coach and acquired Mark Jackson from the draft. They improved their record to 38-44 and were qualified to the postseason. They lost against the Celtics in the first round.
The next season, they got Charles Oakley in exchange for Bill Cartwright. They improved to a 52-30 season and got their first division title in almost 20 years. They routed the 76ers in the first round and lost to the Chicago Bulls in semifinals of the Eastern Conference.
As the 1989-90 season start, Pitino left the Knicks and replaced by Stu Jackson. They finished the season with 45-37 and advanced through the playoffs. They defeated the Boston Celtics in the first round and lost to the Detroit Pistons in the next. The next season, Jackson was replaced by John McLeod and had a 39-43 record.
They were swept by the Bulls in the first round. Prior to the 1991-92 season, they hired Pat Riley as the head coach. They also included John Starks in their roster. They ended the season with a better 51-31 record. They won over the Pistons in the first round of the postseason but lost again versus the Bulls in the 2nd.
In the 1992-93 season, they traded Mark Jackson to acquire Charles Smith, Doc Rivers, and Bo Kimble from the Los Angeles Clippers. The Knicks held a record of 60-22 and advanced through the Eastern Conference Finals against the Bulls. Again, they lost to the Bulls.
Prior to the 1993-94 season, they acquired Derek Harper and won the Atlantic Division and had a 57-25 record. They defeated the New Jersey Nets in the first round and won over the Jordan-less Bulls in the second round. In the Eastern Conference Finals, they faced and defeated the Indiana Pacers. They played against the Houston Rockets in the NBA Finals and lost in seven games.
The next season, they finished second in the Atlantic Division with a 55-27 win-loss record. They lost against the Pacers in the second round of the postseason. Riley resigned and Don Nelson was hired. After 59 games of the 1995-96 season, they hired Jeff Van Gundy to replace Nelson. They had a 47-35 record and swept the Cavs in the first round. They lost to the Bulls in the second round.
In 1996-97 season, they added Larry Johnson and Allan Houston in their roster and finished the season with an improved 57-25 record.
They swept the Hornets in the first round and faced the Heat in the second. They lost the series against the Heat because of the suspension of players they had.
The next season, Ewing missed the whole year and the team garnered a 43-39 record. They shocked the Heat in the first round and faced the Pacers in the second in which Ewing returned from the injury. They were eliminated by the Pacers. Before the 1988-99 season, they traded John Starks to the Golden State Warriors for Latrell Sprewell and trading Charles Oakley for Marcus Camby.
They managed to advance in the playoffs as the 8th seed and defeated the Heat in the first round. They won over the Hawks in the second and over the Pacers in the Conference Finals. They faced the San Antonio Spurs in the NBA Finals as they were the first 8th seed to reached the NBA finals. They lost in five games against the Spurs. The 1999-00 season was the last for Ewing.
They had a 50-32 record and defeated Miami and advanced to the Easteran Conference Finals against the Pacers. The Pacers defeated the Knicks in six games. Ewing was traded to the Seattle Supersonics in the before the start of the next season.